***Insurance agreed value is £27000, auction reserve is significantly below this figure as owner is keen to sell to make way for a new project***
• One of three known cars in the UK
• Extensively restored to a high standard
• Has only covered 68 miles since 2017
As a measure of their success before they even considered producing a four-wheeled vehicle, Honda had established itself as the worlds largest motorcycle company. With this confidence and motivation to succeed, they turned their attention to passenger cars in 1963.
These early offerings were powered by high revving but finely tuned engines, developed from Honda's motorcycle expertise. As a result, they were capable of redlining at almost unbelievable limits.
The first passenger car arrived in the shape of the Honda S500 roadster. The reception to the car was enthusiastic, due to its frantic power delivery culminating in a harmonious cacophony. Won over by Honda's approach to avant-garde engineering, the brand quickly became known for its progressive thinking.
Although the S600, the export version of the original, was never listed in the UK, the better-known S800, with its larger engine, became part of the official Honda UK lineup in 1966.
The S600, which is essentially the same car as the later version, is not only a significant part of Honda's history but also a memorable contribution to the success of the Japanese motor industry.
The owner spotted the car on eBay Australia, which didn’t faze him as he has a deep connection with the country and could rely on resources to check the car over.
With the knowledge that Australians tend to keep their mileages low and the added bonus of a damp-free climate, he shipped the fully restored car over to the UK in 2017. Motivated by Australia’s relatively close proximity to Japan, which has facilitated a fluid passage to obtain genuine parts, he felt that this was the best opportunity to obtain such an innovative and pioneering piece of engineering.
Bought to use and enjoy, rather than display at car shows, it has been used for the occasional warm evening sprints around the picturesque lanes of Oxfordshire but a lack of indoor storage space now forces the sale of the car.
Originally sold in a New South Wales dealer in Australia in 1965, it has since been subjected to a high-quality ground-up restoration. Imported into the UK just 4 years ago, the car has been retained by the same owner since then, forming a part of a collection of sports cars.
It is a tax-exempt classified car and has only covered 68 miles since its first MOT. Stored in a damp-free barn and under a bespoke dust cover, the car also comes with its original dealer folder with its handbook, a hard to find factory manual and the current V5.
The snug and appealing cabin has also been subjected to a rather convincing overhaul and as a result, the interior is in very smart condition.
The seats are in very good order, with no rips noted on the vinyl, with the owner commenting that they are surprisingly comfortable. The back of the driver's seat has loose stitching but doesn’t appear to be in danger of falling apart.
The door cards are good, with all-round operationally functioning winding windows. The carpets are virtually unworn, so it would be safe to assume they’re recent items. The headlining follows the same script and are unmarked.
The dashboard is solid and has held up well over the years, with what appears to be a repair by the base of the binnacle on the top of the facia, but it is otherwise crack-free and shows minor suggestions of age.
The elegantly designed dials are in good condition, with no significant wear noted on the switches and dials. All are said to function. The steering wheel and gearstick are in good condition. The car has also been fitted with a set of updated seat belts, proudly displaying a padded Honda logo on the harness.
The boot is well carpeted and features the original tool kit and tools. As a standard spec model, the car is not fitted with a radio, but the engine provides a more than adequate aural experience.
The cars exposure to 50-odd years of a sub-tropical climate has meant that the car's body is unlikely to have been affected by serious corrosion. It would require a very detailed inspection to verify the actual finishing of the restoration, but the impressions are rather positive.
The car structure is sound, the separate chassis is in solid condition with no significant suggestions of damage noted. The underbody is very good too and retains its body colour to allow an easier passage of inspection.
The engine bay is very clean and exceptionally well kept, with inners wings, suspension turrets and mounts, boot well and floor pan all confirming a high level of restoration.
The doors, boot and bonnet are in excellent condition, with no issues with their operation. The boot and bonnet stay functions work, although the driver's door struggles to remain open if the car is on a slight incline. The panel fit is very good, with equal panel gaps and no signs of any dents.
The paint has a good lustre, and has been well applied with a deep shine but there are minor imperfections noted under the paint, the seller has pointed out that it might be down to a primer reaction but the top coat paint is smooth to touch. It doesn’t affect the whole car and is most noticeable when you inspect the tops of the front wings closely.
Otherwise, the deep red paint finish is even and show no evidence of overspray, matting or runs. The car is free from any significant paint chips at eye level. The chrome trim, grill and finishers are in excellent condition, with no notable damage, pitting or dents.
The glass is good, with just a small crack observed on the left side of the windscreen. The owner has said it has not become worse over the years but would be worth keeping an eye on. The glass rubber and door seals are all good, with no evidence of water ingress.
The headlamps and rear lenses are all good. The car comes with a driver's side door mirror, which will need to be reattached. The original 5 spoke steel rims are in excellent condition, with a set of near-perfect hubcaps. The tyres all date from 2015 and have plenty of tread on them.
Mechanically the car supports the evidence that the oily aspects of the Honda have been subject to a major overhaul, with the entire drive train in good condition. Honda's motorcycle racing background has influenced the S600's technology, offering an all-alloy four-cylinder engine with twin overhead camshafts and four carburettors and a roller-bearing crankshaft to boot.
The car starts up instantly, with the DOHC 606cc engine running well with no hesitancy on tick-over and reaching temperature without problems. The car has a fascinating set-up, with chain drive that doubles as the trailing arm suspension, again a legacy of its motorcycle roots.
The mechanical overhaul was carried out during its restoration in Australia, confirmed by the observation of many new or refurbished parts.
The car has not covered much more than 70 miles since it was imported into the UK and therefore has not needed much in terms of attention, although the owner has fitted a SU Type of electric fuel pump to bypasses the original which is still in place.
The car drives well but is said to have a slight flat spot at the lower range of its rev band. The Koni shock absorbers are all new, with the rear items being modestly softened to help the ride and they're said to perform well, with no knocking coming from the suspension.
The finned aluminium drum brakes work as well as one would expect for such a light car with no drama while in use. The exhaust physical and performing conditions are positive. The ‘switch-like' gearbox is said to be a delight to use and operates well, with no reported issues with the clutch.
As Hondas very first mass-market car, this standard trim model is believed to be one of just 1,500 produced in 1965, as Honda was preparing itself to an embryonic rise to success.
As a piece of historic Japanese engineering, it holds considerable appeal. As a spritely well balanced little sports car, it simply offers a completely unique experience.
Honda’s reputation for quality, engineering and Motorsports, all stem from this charming little car thanks to that absolute gem of an engine.
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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.
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