This week we will introduce Mr. Hayashi Kageyama who works in Subaru’s engineering group and researched the comprehensive history of 4WD vehicles around the world which was compiled into a book. The excerpt shown in this blog is an interview that was printed in Cartopia soon after the book was published.
This interview gives a rare glimpse of the real story behind vehicle development at the time and discusses functional beauty throughout modern Subaru vehicles.
A discussion about the FF layout – “Practical cars are beautiful”
Passion for cars starts at an early age
Interviewer: We have previously featured the 4WD historical compilation book written by Mr. Kageyama in this magazine and it has turned out to be extremely popular with our readers, many of who have purchased the book themselves.
Kageyama: I am so glad to hear that. As I am the first person in Japan to compile a book on 4WD vehicles many people assume that I have a great passion for them. However, this is not quite accurate. I decided to create this book because there were no similar books on the market. I am not only interested in 4WD vehicles and I am just as fond of vehicles with FF, RR, or FR layouts. My interest even extends to motorcycles, cars, airplanes, and boats. You can say that if it moves, I am interested in it.
Interviewer: Yes, I know what you mean. So you liked machines ever since you were a kid?
Kageyama: Yeah, my father was also an engineer. We often had books about cars around the house and I repeatedly read pre-war automotive engineering books written by renowned authors such as Goro Kikuchi and Jyunji Tsukiyama. At the end of the book by Tsukiyama there was an introduction to the newly developed Volkswagen which started my love for vehicles with the RR layout. I really wanted to see the real thing.
Interviewer: So from then on, automobiles became your passion?
Kageyama: That’s right. I used to go to elementary school by bus and train. At that time buses would frequently break down as they mainly used charcoal powered vehicles . The driver would always get off the bus to burn wood or charcoal and adjust the water level. After that type of experience, I think anyone would become interested in motorcars. Another memory that is particularly vivid for me is just after the war when the American forces came to the Nagano civilian evacuation facilities. I was amazed by their Jeeps and other vehicles that I had never seen before.
Interviewer: So this increased your love of cars which eventually was the reason why you entered the automotive industry?
Kageyama: You could say that. It led me to become an active member of the automotive club at university. I felt just like a child longing to play with their favorite toy. I am blessed that I could turn my passion into a job and continue this feeling to the present.
Interviewer: Were you put in charge of testing soon after you started working at FHI?
Kageyama: I started out by working on body design for scooters. Around one year later I was moved to the testing section where I continued to work for 19 years. This was a really interesting. Vehicle testing in Japan originally started with strength testing of aircraft technology that was adopted during the war. Airplanes and automobiles are the same in that, most importantly, they cannot break.
As vehicles becomes more structurally sound and we can accurately test their strength, then we have more room to move onto researching vibration and noise prevention to make quieter and more comfortable vehicles. Then, along with faster and faster vehicles, we can progress to tackling issues of handling and braking. The next progression is to focus on safety and exhaust emission issues. Looking back, this is just how my career in the automotive industry progressed. I almost feel like I played a part in automotive history.
To be continued next week…
Extract from Cartopia Vol. 83 (Issued May 1st 1979)