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Newsletter : Footsteps from Challenges: Our Corporate Culture Told through Historical Vehicles --Over 200 Models Restored in an Undertaking Spanning 25 Years--

June 25, 2024

The Communication Plaza is Yamaha Motor's corporate museum housing products from our past, which are put on display for visitors to enjoy in the Product History Zone on the 2nd floor.

These historical vehicles have not only been painstakingly restored to their original appearance, but their functions and performance have been as well. In this issue, we introduce the ongoing work aimed at creating and fostering our corporate culture and toward using and preserving these vehicles as historical assets.

■Important Assets Communicating Our Corporate Culture
A Communication Plaza exhibition in 2018 explaining the processes that go into restoring vehicles

Yamaha Motor has been engaged in restoring numerous products it previously manufactured and sold-including our first motorcycle, the 1955 YA-1-for display at the Communication Plaza, our corporate museum. These restorations began when the Plaza first opened in 1998, and over the last 25 years or so, more than 200 models have been successfully restored.
 There are two objectives behind the proactive efforts to restore products from our past: to create and foster our corporate culture and to use and preserve these vehicles as historical assets. Models that have been restored to their original state are important cultural assets for Yamaha Motor. They provide a bird's eye view of the Unique Style of Yamaha that has been passed down through the years and thereby play a role in passing down that culture to later generations. Restored vehicles also serve as valuable references for understanding the development ideals and trends from when they were first manufactured.
 Vintage Yamahas are brought back to life through a series of time-consuming processes, from polishing rusted parts and keeping repaint jobs faithful to the original colors to making molds for parts no longer available. Once the long restoration journey is complete, finished vehicles are put on display at the Communication Plaza, exhibited at events around the world, and frequently examined by our engineers and designers, who value them for the lessons and hints they provide for the modern day.
Restoration work is mainly handled by semi-retired employees, who use their wealth of knowledge and expertise to bring models back to how they were when they were first built.

■Conveying Classic Functions and Performance to Later Generations
The Historic Models Demonstration Run is held to maintain the functions and performance of restored models. President Hidaka rode the YA-1 as a previous participant.

The most noteworthy point of Yamaha Motor's restoration work is our commitment to keeping every vehicle in running condition. This is rooted in our belief that only when these vehicles are as they once were when they were first built-not only in appearance but also their functions and performance-do they become important historical references for future generations. To keep their functions and performance in good condition, we regularly fire up their engines and perform checks, so in essence, even restored vehicles still receive periodic attention.
 What is representative of these efforts is the Historic Models Demonstration Run held on Yamaha's main test course. It was originally started as a formality for conducting maintenance and inspections of classic Yamahas, thus only those involved were present. But now, it has evolved into a proper event open to employees and occasionally the public, offering a rare opportunity to hear the exhaust notes of vintage products echo through the air. In recent years, employees wishing to take part join in as volunteer test riders.
 The scope of our restorations is not limited to production motorcycles either. The first products of our various businesses, from outboard motors and boats to snowmobiles and generators, have also been restored and are on display at the Plaza to convey their places in the company's history. In addition, legendary machines that dominated Grand Prix motorcycle racing, as well as cars symbolizing the challenges Yamaha Motor took on, such as the OX99-11 and the Toyota 2000GT, have also been restored and can be heard in all their glory at the Historic Models Demonstration Run.

The event also features racebikes and sports cars that wrote pages of Yamaha Motor history. Guest riders sometimes participate, such as the legendary Kenny Roberts, who was reunited with his old racebike (top photo).

Communication Plaza homepage

Models in the Communication Plaza collection
*Video and exhaust sounds available for some models.

Message from the Editor
Our restorations are done according to established guidelines aimed at faithfully reproducing the original appearance and performance of the vehicle as much as possible. When disassembling a base vehicle's chassis and engine, parts deemed to be unusable due to damage or wear are also not discarded; they are logged and stored as valuable historical materials. While doing this work, a vast array of materials is prepared to ensure an accurate restoration, including period parts catalogs, service manuals, blueprints, and paint specification charts.

I'm often amazed at how people were able to manufacture products with such precision back when the advanced materials and machinery of today did not exist. One member of the restoration team shares that when he's working on a restoration, it's as if he can feel the knowledge and passion of the engineers of the time. It alluded to how not only the restored vehicle but also the restoration process itself plays a role in carrying on our company culture and spirit.

KAWAI, Maiko

■Contact us from the Press
Corporate Communication Division, PR group
Headquarters : +81-538-32-1145
Tokyo Office : +81-3-5220-7211 

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