Honda co-founder Takeo Fujisawa has been inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame

Honda co-founder Takeo Fujisawa has been inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame

Co-founder of Honda Takeo Fujisawa has been inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, a shrine to outstanding figures in the Detroit-area automotive industry.

Fujisawa was Soichiro Honda’s business partner and was instrumental in building Honda into a successful company. While Honda supplied the ideas, Fujisawa brought pragmatic business sense to the operation.

Born on November 10, 1910, Fujisawa originally thought of becoming a teacher, but ended up working in sales at a steel products company and then a lumber company. He was introduced to Honda in 1949, about a year after founding his eponymous company, which was then a small plant in Hamamatsu, Japan. The company has just transitioned from the production of small bikes mounted on bicycle frames to the production of complete motorcycles after launching the Dream D-Type.

Despite their different personalities (Fujisawa was much more reserved than Honda), the two hit it off. Fujisawa officially joined Honda in October 1949 as Honda’s right-hand man, responsible for sales, finance and marketing. He helped guide Honda, maintaining control over product development and design and making many key decisions to grow the company.

Honda co-founder Takeo Fujisawa (second from right) at the opening of Honda’s second US headquarters

One such decision was American Honda was founded in 1959, the company’s first overseas branch, which Soichiro Honda was initially unenthusiastic about. He hoped to build the company’s reputation mainly through motorsports, but Fujisawa considered it more important to enter the US market, stating that “to be successful in the United States is to be successful worldwide”.

Fujisawa also insisted that Honda establish its own US dealer network (selling motorcycles at first, then cars) rather than relying on an importer, as most Japanese companies did at the time. In 1960, he also established Honda R&D as a separate company, ensuring that research was funded separately and not dependent on the uncertain car and motorcycle market.

Honda co-founders Soichiro Honda (left) and Takeo Fujisawa (right)

Honda and Fujisawa agreed to retire together, which they did in March 1973. Fujisawa died in December 1998.

Located in Dearborn, Michigan, adjacent to the Henry Ford Museum, the Automotive Hall of Fame was established in 1939 to honor individuals who have made a significant impact on the automotive industry. It doesn’t just include car company founders like for example Ferruccio Lamborghinibut the fans also like it Jay Leno and the conference organizer Helene Rother. Fujisawa will be officially installed in July 2023.

This article was originally published by Motor Vehicle Authority, editorial partner

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