The legendary 3,000km test drive
The first LD1 diesel truck was completed in November 1939. But it was the test drive shortly after that really got people talking. The majority of Japan’s roads at the time were unpaved and the country was full of narrow roads and bridges that were barely wide enough to fit a horse and cart. The course selected for the test drive was riddled with steep slopes and curves traversing perilous mountain passes. With the entire journey clocking in at a distance of 3,000km, or 1.5 times the length of the Japanese archipelago, it marked an endurance test the likes of which the nation had never seen. Some people were of the opinion that the test could easily be conducted in urban areas instead of going to such extremes. President Adachi had other ideas.
“What we want is a truck that can handle any road, no questions asked. If the truck doesn’t clear this test, we can’t expect our customers to feel confident in it. I know everyone has put a lot of hard work into this first model, but it’s crucial that we test the truck out in trying conditions, even if that means it gets wrecked.”
- Kenzo Adachi to this team - 1939
The truck departed the Kawaguchi Plant with President Adachi on board just a week after it was completed. The accompanying team envisioned a host of troubles along the way and as a matter of fact prepared various repair tools and replacement parts. The roads turned out to be much worse than expected. The mountain passes twisted and turned, flanked by perilous cliff faces. It felt more like an adventure that was not for the faint-hearted than an endurance test. The truck could barely even squeeze along many of the roads. The team looked for an alternative route, but each time to no avail. It was only their strong will and determination that got them through and they arrived back to the plant safe and sound after 13 grueling days on November 20.
In addition to merely completing the 3,000km journey unscathed, the results were superb. Not a single bolt came loose and not a single spring broke on the LD1 the entire time. What’s more, the ND1 remained in tip-top condition right up until the very end. The repair tools and replacement parts brought along were totally unnecessary. The milestone test was solid proof of the company’s exceptional production technology. This was something to be proud of, and when the truck successfully arrived back at the plant, everyone shared in the satisfaction. Four years had passed since the company first tried its hand at making a diesel truck in 1935. It was a time wrought with trials and tribulations.
Through it all, each person learned the importance of quality and worked as a team to boost production capabilities, and that’s what saw them through such a treacherous test without trouble. The company had succeeded in producing a diesel truck that possessed some of the most advanced technologies that Japan, and the world, had ever seen. This achievement instilled confidence and solidarity in the company’s employees and drove them toward the next endeavor—the mass production of diesel trucks.