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Marusho Motor Co., Ltd designed and manufactured motorcycles from 1948 to 1967. The company was founded by Masashi Ito in 1948 in Hamamatsu, Japan. Ito did his apprenticeship with Soichiro Honda. The company produced the Lilac machines; a range of motorcycles which were shaft-driven. The Marusho machines proved their worth when they competed favorable against Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and other competitors at the Mount Asama Volcano Race.
The Lilac model was recognized by Japan’s Society of Automotive Engineers. The society also included the 1950 Marusho Lilac ML as one of the Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology.
In 1951, the company’s name was changed to Marusho Motorcycle Industrial Co., Ltd. Ito’s firm was closed temporarily between 1951 and 1961. The reason given was bankruptcy. During that period, Marusho completed thirty-one motorcycle models under the Lilac brand.
Ito was able to get the company back on its feet in 1963. He had spent the previous year as a subcontractor for Honda to pay the company’s debts. The company was renamed Lilac Co., Ltd. It resumed production in 1964 as a noticeably smaller company. Its main purpose was to manufacture a large opposed twin for the profitable American market.
The company struck a deal with importers based in California and U.S Marusho Corp was established. Genichiro Roy Hiraishi incorporated the new company on the 26th of May 1964. Tsuneo Tom Nakamura was the vice-president. Hiraishi passed away in 2002.
Interesting Facts about Marusho
- The brand name Lilac was chosen because it was Ito’s wife’s favorite flower.
- When production began, Tokyo Toyota was Marusho’s agent.
- Marusho’s best year was 1959. The company produced 11,241 motorcycles in that year.
- Facing difficulties selling their Silver Pigeon scooters, Mitsubishi Nippon Heavy Industries struck a deal with Marusho to produce AS-71 which they named Silver Pigeon Galepet. As part of the deal, Mitsubishi agreed to lend Marusho ¥300,000,000. Ito spent at least a half of that money on equipment for his plant. The agreement, however, fell through when Mitsubishi reneged on their contract. They had agreed to sell 10,000 Silver Pigeon Galepet units but they went back on that agreement deciding to sell only 6,000 units.
- Lilac closed down again in 1966/67 after the manufacture of the 1967 Electras.
Supported MARUSHO-LILAC models
|MARUSHO-LILAC||ML||1950 - 0||1|
|MARUSHO-LILAC||JF-2 Baby Lilac||1953 - 1956||1|
|MARUSHO-LILAC||SW Lancer||1955 - 1956||1|
|MARUSHO-LILAC||TW Dragon||1953 - 1954||1|
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