Country of Origin : JAPANEstablished : 1948
Soichiro Honda was born in 1906 in central Japan, the eldest of nine children. His father repaired bicycles and Soichiro was fascinated by his workshop. This natural interest and ability with anything mechanical was boosted considerably when he saw his first Model T Ford at the age of eight. He was determined to work with cars and became an apprentice at a garage in Tokyo.
He went on to build and drive racing cars himself, winning several races, but his career was cut short when he almost died during the All Japan Speed Rally of 1936. As a consolation his average speed that day (75mph) remained a Japanese race record for almost 20 years.
In 1937 he went into business for himself supplying the military with piston rings, patenting his ideas on die casting, even learning metallurgy so that he could supply Toyota and the Nakajima Aircraft company.
After the war he sold the company to Toyota and took a year off before starting the Honda Technical Research Institute in October 1945 which two years later became the Honda Motor Company. He was extremely proud of his plant's industrial relations which, he claimed, worked as a 'meritocracy'. The prosperity of his company was 'based on trust of youth and the promotion of creative people'.
These high ideals aside, he was known to visit the shop floor with spanner in hand for a noisy tirade on poor performance or shoddy workmanship. The tirade would often end with a well aimed throw!
Personally testing models until he was 65, like his peer, Ferry Porsche, he barred his family from senior positions.
Soichiro insisted that the presidency should be gained on the basis of merit, passed "to a person possessing the most distinguished qualities of leadership."
Soichiro died in August 1991, aged 85, leaving a wife, Sachi, a son and two daughters and also a dominant motorcycle company and possibly the world most advance Automotive engine producers.
HONDA MOTOR EUROPE LTD. (UK)