Soichiro Honda was the founder of Honda Motor Co. Ltd., an automobile and motorcycle manufacturer. Honda is one of the largest motorcycle and car manufacturers in the world, and in 2013, the company was reported to have raked in a revenue of $117.7 billion.
Unfortunately, Soichiro Honda is no longer around to see just how big Honda has become, but that's alright. At the time of his death, which was in 1991, Honda was already big enough a name to make giant waves in the automobile industry. But Honda wasn't just his life.
Soichiro was also an accomplished artist and thoroughly enjoyed extreme sports such as ballooning, skiing and hang gliding and he did all this until he was 77 years old. He, along with his wife, also had their individual licenses as private pilots. What an accomplished life they must have led!
But the sky wasn't always the limit for Soichiro, especially when he was a young boy. Find out below how truly inspirational this man is, and how he was able to realize his dreams all the while keeping his feet planted firmly to the ground.
Soichiro was born on November 17, 1906, in a small village near Mount Fuji. His family had a small business repairing biycles, and his father served as the blacksmith. Soichiro would spend a huge part of his childhood helping out his father while his mother works as a weaver.
Soichiro wasn't too keen in learning in school, and he wasn't getting good grades. Every time his teacher hand out his report card to be shown to parents, he would hide it. The school would require for the grade report to be returned to them, and it would have to be stamped with the family seal to prove that a parent saw it.
Soichiro created a stamp of his own made of an old rubber bicycle pedal cover to forge the family seal. He was able to get away with it for a time. Other children discovered it soon after and wanted one of their own. Eventually, the fraud was discovered and Soichiro got a severe scolding from his parents and the school as well.
Once, he went to see an airplane demonstration, and that was the time he knew how in love he was with machinery. His first job was an apprentice at a car garage when he was only 15 years old. 6 years later, having sufficient knowledge about cars, he returned home to his village to start an auto repair business on his own.
Soichiro, having earned enough from his auto repair business and having carved a niche in the automobile business, started the Tokai Seiki company, a piston ring production company. However, his Yamashita Plant in 1944 was destroyed when a B-29 bomber from the US blew it up. His other plant in Itawa collapsed during the great earthquake in Mikawa. Not knowing what else to do, he sold what he could salvage to Toyota and founded the Honda Technical Research Institute in 1946.
He first produced the motorized bicycle, the Type A, in 1948. The following year, he created the true motorcycle, the Type D, which became the very 1st motorcycle in the Dream series. Both these models were included in the 240 Landmarks of Japanese AutomotiveTechnology by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan.
Today, the Honda Motor Company, through the leadership of Soichiro is considered to be the one of the best, if not the best, when it comes to producing world-class motorcycles and automobiles. Through the help of Takeo Fujisawa, he was able to expand to other countries and in 1959, Honda opened its very first US dealership.
He retired in 1973 but still stayed on as director and supreme advisor, though he became more busy with numerous charity works with the Honda Foundation.
In 1982, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, in recognition of the achievements made by Mr. Honda, established the Soichiro Honda Medal to recognize important contributions in the name of engineering and personal transportation.
His induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame happened in 1989, 2 years before his death.
Soichiro will always remain one of the biggest contributor in the development of automotives. His knowledge and expertise will never be forgotten. An exceptional man who never gave up on his dreams and worked relentlessly on even when he lost everything.
Soichiro’s life is an example to all of us that if we never give up on our dreams we can achieve it. Temporary defeats are just like a bump in the road. After you cross it, the journey will be much smoother.