On this day in auto history - August 5th

Thu 5th Aug 2021

It was on this day in 1991 that the maverick Japanese engineer and industrialist Soichiro Honda - founder of the Honda Motor Company - died of liver failure at the age of 84.

Born in a small village in the shadows of Mount Fuji, Honda shunned a formal education in favour of helping his blacksmith father with his bicycle repair business before obtaining an apprenticeship at a local garage.

In 1928, aged just 22, Honda started his own auto repair business out of a ramshackle hut before going on to mass-produce piston rings for Toyota and then - after aiding Japan’s World War II war effort - branching out to develop motorcycles under the name ‘Honda'. By 1964, Honda had become the world’s largest manufacturer in motorcycle field, a position it has never relinquished.

The first production automobile from Honda was the T360 mini pick-up truck which went on sale in 1963. Over the next few decades, Honda worked hard to expand its product range in Japan before enjoying a major global breakthrough with the success of the award-winning Honda Civic which opened up the marque to the lucrative American and European markets.

By the time Honda himself was all but retired in 1980, his company had gate-crashed the top five automakers in the world with a global workforce in excess of 200,000.