The Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese company specializing in automobiles, four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), outboard marine engines, wheelchairs and a variety of other small internal combustion engines.
The Suzuki Motor Corporation was founded in 1909 as Suzuki Loom Works by Michio Suzuki and initially made, as the name suggests, weaving machines for Japan’s growing silk industry. In 1937, after almost 30 successful years of manufacturing high complexity looms, Mr Suzuki decided that he needed to expand his business and they started looking at other products.
The project began in 1937, and within two years Suzuki had completed several compact prototype cars. A then-innovative, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-cylinder engine powered these first Suzuki motor vehicles. It had a cast aluminium crankcase and gearbox and generated 13 horsepower from a displacement of less than 800cc. Unfortunately, due to WWII, plans were halted as passenger cars were deemed as a ‘non-essential commodity’. After the war Suzuki returned to manufacturing looms when the US Government gave permission to export cotton to Japan. However, in 1951 the cotton market collapsed and Suzuki was at a stand still.
A number of firms began offering “clip-on” petrol-powered engines that could be attached to a bicycle. Suzuki’s first two-wheel vehicle came in the form a bicycle fitted with a motor called, the “Power Free.” Designed to be inexpensive and simple to build and maintain, the 1952 Power Free had a 36 cc, 1hp, two-stroke engine. The double-sprocket gear system enabled the rider to either pedal with the engine assisting, pedal without engine assist, or simply disconnect the pedals and run on engine power alone. The government granted Suzuki a financial subsidy to continue research in motorcycle engineering, and so was born Suzuki Motor Corporation. By 1954, Suzuki was producing 6,000 motorcycles per month and had officially changed its name to Suzuki Motor Co. Ltd.
Following the success of its first motorcycles, Suzuki created an even more successful automobile: the 1955 Suzuki Suzulight. Suzuki showcased its innovation from the beginning. The Suzulight included front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, which were not common on cars until at least three decades later.
From then on, Suzuki was set to become a household name in more ways that Michio ever thought. They now manufacture many different models of engines and vehicles with the iconic GSX-R and Hayabusa motorcycles. Suzuki were eventually to manufacture the Hayabusa, the fastest mass produced motorcycle in the world between 1999 to 2000 with iconic Suzuki fairings.
Suzuki’s motorcycles are some of the highest regarded of the Japanese range, main contenders with the GSX-R, Hayabusa, SV650 and V-Strom to name a few. They all have iconic Suzuki fairings and build quality that rivals most other motorcycle brands.
Over the years Suzuki has evolved and adapted to overcome problems with incredibly complex machines that have been designed to be simple for the user. There is truly some incredible engineering that has gone into the designs behind Suzuki automobiles and their experience of over 100 years of manufacturing complex products has laid testament to their ingenuity and success.