March 1, 1966 - American Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp. is incorporated in Illinois, starting business with a sales office located at 208 South LaSalle St. Chicago, IL, and a parts warehouse set up in an old meat packing company at 2860 North Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL.
American Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp. Jim Deehan, a talented road racer and Kawasaki technician, enters and wins its first road race in America with the newly released Samurai 250cc A1 at Willow Springs, CA. A1-250cc Samurai twin-cylinder two-stroke.
Kawasaki introduces a new racing machine based on the Samurai 250 called the A1R, featuring racing red fuel tank colors adopted from earlier B8M 125cc racing machines. American Kawasaki executives begin to discuss competition racing in America and the need to stay ahead of other manufacturers when it comes to performance and style.
To increase visibility in racing events a new color is chosen. Kawasaki Racing Green, a special color blended by the famous custom painter Molly (Rollin Sanders) is used.
Kawasaki introduces a new motorcycle, the H1 500cc three-cylinder two-stroke named the Mach III. The motorcycle world is stunned by the Mach III motorcycle’s high performance, as it quickly becomes the world’s fastest production motorcycle.
The H1R-500cc Road Racer is based off the street version of the H1 and features a two-stroke, three-cylinder engine.
To expand and strengthen its operations, KMC opens a new South Region sales and parts operation in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kawasaki R&D develops a 450cc works motocross bike named the F12M. Brad Lackey rides the F12M to the championship, winning Kawasaki its first AMA 500cc National Moto-Cross Championship.
Sales commence for the new Kawasaki four-cylinder four-stroke named the Z1-900. The Z1 quickly becomes the performance king of the superbikes by shattering the 24-hour World Record and setting 45 other World and AMA records at Daytona.
KMC test-markets a new product, the Jet Ski® personal watercraft. Two new models, the WSAA and WSAB are sold in limited quantities with great success.
Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. opens its Lincoln, Nebraska facility.
The KZ400 is the first Kawasaki motorcycle to roll out of the Lincoln plant on January 22nd.
The Jet Ski 400 watercraft soon follows.
Kawasaki celebrates its 10th anniversary in America. 1976 brings two variations of the KZ900 motorcycle, including the KZ900-B1 LTD, which is the first Japanese Custom Cruiser to come with a lot of chrome and bolt on accessories.
Randy Cleet helps set eight World and AMA endurance records at Daytona on the KZ650, shattering the current 750cc records.
Marcia Holley becomes the first woman to break the 200 MPH barrier on two wheels riding the turbocharged KZ1000. Don Vesco sets the world land speed record of 318.598 MPH aboard the “World’s Fastest Motorcycle”— the Kawasaki turbocharged twin KZ1000 powered streamliner.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI) develops a single shock suspension system under the “Uni-Trak” name. The revolutionary Uni-Trak® system was initially installed on works motocross machines and later became standard on select products. The Uni-Trak is the first mass produced linkage system in the motorcycle industry.
The MULE™ utility vehicle—is born in San Diego, California, on a cocktail napkin in August of 1980. This new creation is named the “Pony Truck” and is nicknamed the four-wheeled three-wheeler. Three employees of Rocky Mountain Kawasaki (RMK)—a distributor of KMC—sketch their ideas out with a simple concept in mind: build a vehicle with four wheels that can carry two people and heavier loads than an ATV.
The Team Green™ racing team starts in the winter of 1981. The starting gate drops on the revolutionary Team Green motocross program for the very first time and history is born.
Eddie Lawson wins his first AMA Superbike Championship on the KZ1000 and Formula II 250 AMA Championship on the KR250cc.
8-year-old “Hammerin” Hank Moree races and posts the very first win on the first-ever KX™60 (1983 pre-production) mini-bike at Ponca City. This begins a 19-year legacy of KX60 mini bike domination that continues through 2001 when Kawasaki ceases production of the KX60 model and ultimately replace it with the newly updated KX™65 dirtbike.
Wayne Rainey wins the AMA Superbike Championship on a GPZ-750 motorcycle.
Kawasaki welcomes the world to a new generation of high-performance motorcycles by introducing the Ninja® 900 sportbike to the world press at the famous Laguna Seca Raceway.
The 1985 Vulcan® 750 marks the first time a Kawasaki motorcycle features a V-twin and is also Kawasaki’s first foray in the cruiser category. The VN750 was originally sold in the US with a 699cc engine before a tariff was lifted in 1986.
The 20th Anniversary of KMC in America
KMC moves to a new corporate headquarters in Irvine, consolidating its sales, marketing, planning, finance, legal and administration functions, which were originally housed in four separate buildings in Orange County, California.
The Team Green™ racing team enters the world of off-road racing, winning its first Baja 1000 race with established riders Larry Roeseler and Ted Hunnicut.
Kawasaki introduces its first production utility vehicle–the 1988 KAF450-B1. Featuring a pick-up-truck-type design, the Kawasaki MULE™ side x side revolutionized the lightweight utility vehicle category. Powered by a liquid-cooled 454cc twin-cylinder engine mounted in an open-cab utility chassis with independent front and rear suspension, and rolling on four all-terrain tires with rear differential lock feature, the MULE 1000 utility vehicle is an immediate success.
Jeff Ward wins the AMA 500cc National Moto-Cross Championship and becomes the only rider in AMA history to win every class on the same brand of bike: Kawasaki.
One-millionth unit is assembled at KMM’s Lincoln facility KMC forms Kawasaki Robotics (USA), Inc., its entirely owned subsidiary.
Kawasaki celebrates its 25th anniversary in America. Scott Russell takes first in the 750 Supersport and Mike Kiedrowski wins the 125cc AMA National Motocross Championship.
Scott Russell wins Daytona 200—the first ever for Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. Scott Russell also takes first at the AMA Superbike championship and the AMA 750 Supersport Championship.
Jeff Ward retires with 7 National Championships, 20 Supercross victories and 55 National Motocross wins, all on Kawasaki motorcycles. Pro Circuit Racing joins Kawasaki supporting the factory motocross teams.
Victor Sheldon wins IJSBA Pro Runabout 785 National Championship. KMC starts first factory sponsored professional Personal Watercraft race team. Minoru Kanamori crowned IJSBA Pro Runabout 785 World champion and Pro Slalom World Champion. Nicolas Rius wins IJSBA Pro Ski National Championship.
KMC celebrates its 30-year anniversary in America. Doug Chandler wins AMA Superbike Championship.
The Team Green™ racing team runs its 10th and final Baja race taking home another win, claiming victories for 10 consecutive years.
Jeff Emig wins World SX and AMA 250cc National MX Championships.
The “G” model of the ZX600 (ZX™-6R) is introduced, cementing Kawasaki’s reputation as the sportbike brand to have. With more power resulting from a redesigned airbox, the ZX-6R is able to keep up with the 750cc superbikes of this time.
KMC establishes its Gas Turbine (KGTA) division in Grand Rapids, MI.
Kawasaki introduces the MULE™ 2510 Diesel (KAF950-A1)—the first diesel product in its side x side lineup. The diesel engine allows for better fuel economy and increased cargo capacity and is a popular choice in agriculture where diesel is widely used.
Eric Bostrom wins AMA 600 Supersport Championship. James Stewart takes the record for most career amateur national championships. He claims his 11th AMA Amateur National Championship, surpassing Ricky Carmichael as the all-time winningest amateur rider.
Ricky Carmichael wins the AMA Supercross and National Moto-Cross Championships on the KX™250SR motorcycle.
Team Green™ racing team rider Jeff Fredette is inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. James Stewart takes AMA 125cc National MX Championship.
Streetbike Shootout National Champion, Rickey Gadson, finishes the season with 6 wins out of 8 races.
Tommy Hayden takes first in the AMA 600 Supersport Championship followed by his brother, Roger Hayden in second, both aboard Ninja® ZX600 motorcycles.
Kawasaki, continuing its legacy as a pioneer in the utility vehicle market, release the world’s first convertible MULE™ side x side. At first glance the MULE 3010 Trans4x4® looks like other 3000 Series MULE side x sides, but the Trans4x4 model features two rows of seats, enabling it to accommodate up to four passengers and giving the Trans4x4 greater flexibility. In four-passenger mode, a family, work crew or group of hunters can be accommodated; in two-passenger mode, cargo space is maximized.
KMC celebrates its 40th anniversary in America. James Stewart wins the World FIM Supercross Championship.
Ryan Villopoto captures the Supercross Lites West and the AMA MX Lites title.
Kawasaki appeals to the outdoor segment with its 2008 Teryx® 750 4x4 side x side by offering three models. The versatile side by side gives hunters a new way to bring two people and all of their gear out on the hunt.
Blake Baggett adds 250A/Pro Sport title to his list of championships. The Team Green™ racing team dominates Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Motocross with 17 championships.
Teryx® claims Baja 500 and Baja 1000 victories.
Kawasaki takes the Supernaked concept in a new direction introducing the all-new Z1000 designed with complete design freedom. The new engine pumps out more horsepower and is hung in a new all-aluminum twin-spar backbone frame. It's finished off with new bodywork and a riding position that emphasizes both ride comfort and control. About the only thing that didn't change is the Z1000 mission: To provide an exhilarating ride!
The Jet Ski® Ultra® 300X watercraft is introduced—raising the bar, it’s the first time a manufacturer produces a supercharged engine available in a production watercraft. New technology features like the electronic throttle valves, new riding modes like Fuel Economy Assistance Mode, One-touch 5 mph Mode and Electronic Cruise Control, and an electric trim-control system all contribute to its dominant performance.
Blake Baggett wins the AMA National Moto-Cross Championship on a KX™250F motorcycle.
Ryan Villopoto wins his 4th consecutive Monster Energy AMA Supercross FIM World Championship on the KX™450F motorcycle.
The Kawasaki Ninja H2™R hypersport motorcycle is an engineering marvel, made possible only through the sourcing of technological expertise from multiple divisions of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI). The result of this unprecedented collaboration is a system of carefully crafted premium components that work in concert to create an unbelievably powerful machine—one that’s more than worthy of the legendary H2 name.
Kawasaki changes the utility side x side market with the introduction of the MULE PRO-FXT™ model. Since the inception of the MULE™ over 35 years ago, and inspired by over 130 years of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. engineering, the latest edition of the MULE PRO-FXT has become a truly innovative new way to work and play. This full-size, high capacity, model featuring the three-to-six passenger Trans Cab™ system brings a whole new level of comfort and performance.
Exactly 50 years ago, on March 1, 1966, American Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp. (AKMC) opened for business in Chicago, with a modest sales office at 208 South La Salle Street and a two-story parts warehouse at 2860 North Lincoln Avenue. Today KMC has nearly 1,100 dealers in all 50 states and offers a wide range of products in five categories, including streetbikes, off-road motorcycles, ATVs, MULE™ utility vehicles, and Jet Ski® personal watercraft. Many of the four-wheel products and personal watercraft are assembled at Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., U.S.A. in Lincoln, Nebraska.