That American engineer being one William R. Gorham, a man who was hugely influential in the development of Nissan Motor Company in it’s early days and well as helping many other Japanese companies such as Hitachi and Canon to become the successes they are today. His extraordinary life makes a fascinating subject, one which you can now read about for yourself in his biography, translated from it’s original Japanese by his son Don Cyril Gorham. This book is a comprehensive and extremely interesting read and a must for anyone interested in the history of Nissan and Japanese industry. The book contains not only a good deal of information about Nissan and Gorhams work there but also his work with Tobata Imono, Toa denki, Hitachi and Fuji Motors as well as his own Gorham Engineering Company (GECO). It follows his life from his childhood In America, through his life in Japan in the early years of the 20th century and during the war to his short illness and untimely death at the age of 61.

Gorham was born in San Francisco in 1888 and showed great talent as an engineer in his youth, designing his own engine at the age of 19 and establishing his own engineering company but the time he was 23. In 1918 He went to Japan, initially with an interest in manufacturing aircraft but this soon proved to not be viable so he ended up in charge of production technology at Jitsuyo Jidosha Seizo (Practical Motorcar Manufacturing) where he stayed until 1921. It was at this time he was invited to work at Tobata Imono (Tobata Foundry) by Yoshisuke Aikawa who would later become the first president of Nissan.

In 1933, Tobata Foundry went into the production of car parts and acquired a small concern by the name of Dat Jidosha Seizo, manufacturers of the Dat motor car, for-runner of the Datsun. It was at this time that Gorham contribution became greatest as in order for the company to mass manufacture their new small cars they needed help with production. It was Gorham who then returned to the US and employed a number of experienced production engineers in order that they could go to Japan to assist in developing production line technology based on the systems used in Detroit. At the end of 1933 the Nissan Motor Company was established and the new production line would produce the Datsun Type 14.

A little over three months after William Gorhams death in 1949, several people who knew him well gathered at a restaurant in Tokyo to commemorate their friend and there it was agreed that a biography should be written to honour his tremendous contribution and achievements. Using notes written by the man himself along with contributions from friends and colleagues a manuscript was created over the following few months which was then published in Japan in 1950. We can be thankful to his son, Don Cyril Gorham, himself a professional interpreter, for undertaking the monumental task of translating this volume into English for us all to enjoy.

You can buy the book as a paperback from or download it as a PDF document.

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