Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd

Suzuki logo

Suzuki's rise to its current position as a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality four wheeled vehicles, motorcycles, and outboard marine motors would have been hard to predict nearly 100 years ago when the company was started by Michio Suzuki in the small seacoast village of Hamamatsu, Japan. At that time, Suzuki's only desire was to build better, more user-friendly weaving looms for the textile market and for the first 30 years of the company's existence, its sole production focus was on these exceptionally complex machines.

Michio Suzuki

Suzuki textile looms were more innovative and higher in quality than competing machines of that era, and displaced the previously dominant British and Dutch products, as they were set to achieve with other Japanese competitors in motorcycle innovation and manufacture. Michio Suzuki was even awarded a Blue Ribbon Medal by the government of Japan for his contribution to the growth of the nation's economy through his industry-leading inventions. Despite the success of his looms, Michio Suzuki realized that his company had to diversify, and he began to look at other products. He decided that building a small car would be the most practical new venture, based on the company's financial situation and current expertise.

The project began in 1937, and by 1939 several compact prototypes had been completed. These first vehicles were powered by a Suzuki designed and manufactured, then innovative, liquid cooled, 4 stroke, 4 cylinder engine. It featured a cast aluminum crankcase and gearbox and generated an impressive 13 horsepower from its less than 1 litre, 800cc capacity. Development of the project came to a halt when the government declared civilian passenger cars to be a "non-essential commodity," and Suzuki was ordered to halt production.

Following the conclusion of WWII in the Pacific in 1945, Suzuki once again began the production of looms, but, due to materials being scarce, demand fluctuated wildly and Suzuki was unable to match pre-war levels of production. In order to ensure that the enterprise would survive, Suzuki applied its engineering skills to diversify into as many products that there was a demand for namely farm implements, heaters, tools--even musical instruments.

From 1946, loom production was again on the agenda spurred by the U.S. Government's agreement to import cotton to Japan and Suzuki's fortunes brightened as orders began to show an increase from domestic textile manufacturers. That demand was however, short-lived, because in 1951 the cotton market collapsed and faced with this downturn, Michio Suzuki once again looked towards the average Japanese citizen's need for inexpensive transportation, and decided to introduce a new type of motor vehicle.

Suzuki factory

His first effort was a motorized bicycle called the Power Free, designed to be inexpensive, simple to build and maintain, featuring a 36cc 2-stroke engine. An unprecedented feature was the double-sprocket gear system, which enabled the rider to pedal with the engine assisting, pedal without engine assist, or disconnect the pedals and run with engine power alone. The system was so ingenious, the patent office of the new democratic government granted Suzuki a financial subsidy to continue motorcycle engineering research. In a short time, the Power Free was upgraded to a two-speed transmission, and was joined by a more powerful 60cc version called the Diamond Free.

By 1954, Suzuki was producing 6,000 motorcycles per month and had changed its name to Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. The die for Suzuki's future was cast. Beginning in 1960, when Suzuki was awarded a Replica Trophy for its initial entry in the 125cc class at the Isle of Man TT, Suzuki riders have netted a disproportionate share of victories--including nine World Championships in the premier class of GP road racing, 27 World Motocross GP titles and scores of AMA Championships, plus victories at LeMans, the Bol d'Or, and class sweeps at the circuit where it all started:the Isle of Man.

What was once a small group of dedicated engineers, designing the world's finest weaving machinery, has today grown into a worldwide company of almost 15,000 people, who create and distribute products in more than 170 nations. Worldwide, Suzuki sells more than 1,800,000 cars and sport-utilities every year, with Suzuki motorcycles the choice of more than 2,000,000 riders.

Suzuki factory work

Whilst on the road to these, and future successes, the GT750 was born. For the enjoyment this machine has given to its owners, past and present, we will all be forever grateful!


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