Honda's Marysville, Ohio, factory was built long after Soichiro Honda retired, but the company founder played a major role in the decision to assemble cars in the United States.
"He was retired, but he was still a kind of a symbolic figure," says Shoichiro Irimajiri, the top executive at Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. from 1984 to 1989.
"Every critical decision was reported to him. Once or twice he came to Ohio. For the Americans it was a kind of great honor. I was always talking about him."
Sometimes the American employees got an up-close view of the founder.
Dave Nelson, a former executive at Honda of America Manufacturing, remembers playing golf with Soichiro Honda at the nationally known Oakland Hills golf club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., in 1989.