I've just come back from Hamamatsu, the industrial city in central Japan, where Suzuki has its world headquarters. It's there that Suzuki has just opened this wonderfully eclectic museum to mark its first 100 years of manufacturing.

Now, Suzuki has never been one to shout about things from the rooftops. In fact it's one of the most low profile makers around that runs a very tight ship.

But it is in its own way, Suzuki is a highly successful operation and it has some  story to tell, as you discover when you walk about the museum.

Suzuki started out in 1909 making weaving looms, then made its first spindly bicycle-meets-motorcycle, the 36 cc "Power Free" in 1952.

An impressive selection of both (looms and motorcycles) have been restored and are on display but hands up those who knew that in 1955 Suzuki built the Suzulight, a tiny 360 cc front drive saloon, years before the Mini. True, only a handful were made and even fewer survive now. But at Hamamatsu, Suzuki has a runner up there on display.

The Suzukis that Brits know well, the Jeeps, Swifts and Cappucinos of this world, are all here. So too are a couple of examples of that delectable rear-engined SC100 Whizz-kid coupe, a little bomb originally designed by Giugiaro and known variously in Japan as the Fronte and Cervo.

Suzuki was, and still is, something of a small car master. Some models like the Whizz-Kid and 1967 Fronte 360 cc, you just want to pick up and hug. Just imagine, maybe they could  be reformatted for the modern age and turned into EVs or something. . 

Switching eras, on a separate technology floor, Suzuki's come right up to date with a mock up styling studio, clay model room and production line.

The idea, to explain (mainly to children) exactly what goes into planning, designing and building a car today, and to get them revved up about it, at a time when young Japanese are turning off cars in a big way.

Something different and you have to say the whole thing, complete with 3D studio with robots you can operate, is really well done, and a long way from dry, dusty and boring.

Compact and short on glitz, it may be, but I found this 'Suzuki World' a fascinating escape. With luck, Suzuki will put it all online before long so can check it out for yourself. 

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