marine engine digest logo

Yamaha's First Outboard Motor

Yamaha Marine's first outboard motor: the P7

Yamaha Marine's first outboard motor model: the P-7.

In 2010 Yamaha Marine Celebrated 50 years
In the Outboard Motor Business

More than fifty years have passed since the birth of the first Yamaha outboard motor. Research and development began back in 1958 with a project staff of just two engineers. They started from scratch. Testing prototypes consisted of running the engines 24-hours a day until a part broke. Then it was back to the drawing board to improve the failed part. Eventually, the company segued into production. The image above-left shows the Showa Seisakusho factory where the first Yamaha outboards were manufactured. Yamaha Marine's Showa Seisakusho factory

Yamaha's first outboard motor model was dubbed the P-7 and it was first marketed in Japan in 1960. It vibrated and was so loud fishermen used to joke about it, "You can tell it is an outboard motor built by a musical instrument maker because it puts out quite a sound!"

Yamaha Motors next built a more compact, lighter weight and quieter outboard motor. Dubbed the P-3, it was the first outboard motor manufactured in Japan using die-cast parts, a method that rather neatly reduced weight and contributed to its more compact design.

Quite unlike the development of the earlier P-7 model, most of which had been conducted by trial and error, the P-3 project rather wisely included market research and due diligence. Yamaha engineers frequently visited dealers and end users to find out exactly what they needed. For example, the first test marketing was done in a market in Chiba prefecture in Japan where lobster fishing was popular at the time. The net result: Within a few years the entire harbor was filled with the distinctive yellow cowls of the P-3.

Since those early days Yamaha Motors has established itself a world leader in outboard motor production. In March of 2010 the company's total outboard production reached the lofty 9 million mark. Today Yamaha Marine builds more than 1,000 variations of the venerable outboard motor.