ENGINES: YAMAHA MOTOR
Name: Yamaha Motor
Torakusu Yamaha began building reed organs in 1885 and in 1897 established the Nippon Gakki company. In the 1920s the company diversified into propeller production under the control of the Kawakami family. In 1954 Genichi Kawakami decided to begin producing motorcycles and in 1955 opened a factory in Hamakita, establishing Yamaha Motor as an independent operation.
Nippon Gakki (which became the Yamaha Corporation) diversified into a variety of different businesses including sports equipment, electronics and music schools but ran into trouble in 1992 when Hiroshi Kawakami tried to reduce the work force. He was forced to resign and the company was taken over by Seisuke Ueshima.
Yamaha diversified into outboard motors and fishing boats but success in motorcycle racing drove the company's motorcycle sales. The company has won more than 40 World Championship titles with riders such as Phil Read, Kent Andersson, Johnny Cecotto, Giacomo Agostini, Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey. The tradition of competition remains at the core of Yamaha Motor corporate philosophy.
In 1965 Yamaha began its involvement with Toyota, developing the six-cylinder engine for the Toyota 2000GT sportscar, which achieved its first major success in 1966 by winning the Suzuka 1000kms. The relationship with Toyota continued with the Toyota 1600GT and the Toyota 7 racing car in 1969. In 1968 the company diversified into snowmobiles, go-karts, yachts, golf carts, snow ploughs, swimming pools and, in 1979, into an all-terrain vehicle called the Land Car.
Seeing automobile engineering as an area of potential development, the company began to build its own racing engines in 1984 and the Yamaha OX66 V6 engine won its debut race in the Japanese F2 Championship of 1986.
In 1989 Yamaha entered F1 with the West Zakspeed team and the OX88 V8 engine. It was a disaster: Bernd Schneider qualified for only two races and retired in both, while Aguri Suzuki failed to qualify at all. Yamaha withdrew for 1990 but returned in 1991 with the OX99 V12 engine supplied exclusively to the Brabham team. Mark Blundell gave the company its first F1 point at Spa and Martin Brundle finished fifth to net two more points in Japan.
In addition to its involvement with Toyota, Yamaha began to build road car engines for the Ford Motor Company. At the same time the company built the America's Yacht Nippon. Automotive development resulted in the plan to build a supercar but the OX99-11 of 1992 never went into production.
The company's F1 programme was never a success although in 1996 Judd designed the JV - which was known as the Yamaha OX11 - the first of the new generation of small, lightweight F1 V10s. It was not reliable although Damon Hill came close to victory in Hungary the following year in an Arrows.
Yamaha left Formula 1 when Arrows announced that it would be using its own F1 engines at the start of 1998.