Classic Collector’s Item: The 1966 Honda S600 Roadster in the Spotlight

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  • A sports car was one of Honda’s first passenger vehicles.
  • With a curb weight of 1500 pounds and a redline of 9500 rpm, this small roadster is a hybrid of a car and a motorcycle.
  • This is an uncommon model that was originally from the island of Okinawa and is left-hand drive.

1966 Honda S600: A white Honda S600 was sent to Europe by a Japanese journalist called Shotaro Kobayashi in the middle of the 1960s, and over the next two months and 7,500 kilometers, he saw all the major sights. While the Porsche plant was getting ready to start producing the 911 (then known as the 901), he took a tour of it. Colin Chapman was thrilled when he showed up at Lotus and let Chapman take a spin in the small Honda. Most significantly, Kobayashi and his S600 attended Honda’s F1 début at the Nürburgring, when the company unveiled its spider-like RA271. That kind of adventure is something everyone would want to relive.

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Okay, then maybe you can. Though having a steering wheel on the left side, more suitable for American highways, Kobayashi’s tiny road-tripping roadster is nearly identical to the one up for auction on Bring a Trailer, which is owned by Hearst Autos like Car and Driver. This 1966 Honda S600 is a rare example of a passenger car from Honda, more akin to a motorbike than a car.

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The 1966 Honda S600 saga started with motorbikes and continued in the United States with the affordable and practical N600 model from the early 1970s. The S600 is essentially the region where those two worlds cross on a Venn diagram: It features a 606cc fuel-sipping engine with four small carburetors, one for each cylinder, that redlines at 9500 rpm.

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While certain left-hand drive examples of the 1966 Honda S600 were imported into Canada by a few motorcycle stores, the vehicle was never formally sold in the United States. Because it was first sent to Okinawa, which was governed by the United States at the time, this version is a left-hooker. Actually, before June 1978, Okinawans only drove on the right side of the road.

The barely sixty-horsepower four-cylinder engine of the 1966 Honda S600 spins with such fury, yet the driving experience is enhanced beyond that. Rather, the 1500-pound curb weight—which is as light as a modern Lotus Elan—is the main focus. Operating an S600 is akin to equipping a hummingbird with a Honda emblem and a saddle. It must have been a complete discovery in the 1960s, as its lack of inertia makes it feel agile and darting even now.

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With the equivalent of 54K miles on the odometer, this vehicle has recently undergone thorough mechanical maintenance. The twin rear chain drives, as well as the engine and gearbox, were disassembled and rebuilt. The electrical system was examined and the fuel system was cleaned.

The red and white color scheme of this automobile is the closest to Honda’s original Formula One car, which is the nicest aspect. White highlights this small car’s tastefully understated appearance to its fullest.

Even a quick weekend drive will seem thrilling in something so compact and quick, even though 7500 miles in today’s traffic might not be feasible. You’ll ride shotgun with the spirits of Shotaro and Soichiro, grinning through the first turn.

1966 Honda S600 review on Youtube

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