Japanese Fastback: 1965 Honda S600

1965 Honda S600 Coupe

When I first spotted this Honda Coupe, I honestly thought it was a British car! Obviously, once I saw the front end I knew exactly what it was, but you just don’t see these cars often. This example has been in a barn since the ’80s. The current seller bought it a few years back with plans for it, but hasn’t ever gotten around to it. They’ve decided to list it here on eBay in┬áStaunton, Virginia where bidding has already reached $5k!

1965 Honda S600 Coupe Interior

These little cars really are fascinating pieces of engineering. The rear end is a marvel, with a roller chain design allowing for independent wheel travel. While it works well, it’s known to be complicated and delicate. Personally, I love the design and would enjoy experiencing one of these nimble sports cars. The engine is a tiny 606 cc four cylinder with about 57 hp. That’s not much, but the car only weighs 1,500, so you really don’t need much to have fun!

1965 Honda S600 Interior

The British similarities continue to the interior! This one needs some work, but it looks complete. I don’t know much about parts support for these cars, so having everything intact could be a huge plus! So do any of you have experience restoring one of the Hondas?

Honda S600 Coupe

I really like the looks of this car and I think it would be a blast! I’ve seen some crazy custom S600s, but this one looks complete and solid enough to justify restoring it. Of course, it would be pretty fun to drop a modern 4 cylinder motorcycle engine in it, maybe a Hayabusa? So what route would you go with this Honda?

Comments

  1. Scotty G

    That’s somewhat of a holy grail find for vintage Japanese car lovers (of which I am very much one). These cars typically sell in the $30,000-$40,000 range in great condition so it would have to be mostly a do-it-yourself project if a person were buying it as an investment and a full restoration was the plan. I would bring it back to original spec in every way possible, but that’s just the way that I like my vehicles. I know that I’m in a vast minority on that feeling here, and in most car circles, where restomods are all the rage.

    • RayT

      I agree. No need to swap in a hotter modern engine, as these rev like crazy and provide all the entertainment most people could want. Personally, I’d rather have an S800, but would keep that stock, too.

      Josh, the rear drive/suspension was clever, but I recall it led to some handling issues. I drove an S800 once, but wasn’t able to push hard enough to feel the “swing axle” bite. But I’d think a major horsepower increase would lead to some unpleasant surprises when cornering.

      Early Hondas were cleverly engineered and fun. The last one I drove that really knocked me out was a Beat, and by boy racer standards it was underpowered, too.

    • The Walrus

      All the rage is one thing. Pure stock is, was and always will be where the real money/value is. Sure ‘Resto Mods’ of popular cars sometimes bring more than a bone stock restoration, but when you add up all the cost of the non stock parts and associated labor, restoring something more or less complete to original will always be the best bet, or at least lose less money in the process. Most of those ‘Resto Moded’ cars that bring $65K-$90K are break even propositions at best, because they have to be either pioneering or perfect to bring it. Most ‘customized restorations’ which are really a type of cheap restomod when you think about it, typically bring much less than a bone stock would bring.

      • Scotty G

        That’s a great point. And, then a person is stuck with what someone else thought was cool, like some 22″ chrome wheels or a (zzzzzzzzz) 350 sbc, or a yellow / orange / red / lime green Willys coupe, etc.

  2. Daytona

    Wow neat

  3. George

    Local, but out of reach.

  4. Francisco

    These are only going to go up in value. The partially seized motor scares me, though.

  5. Howard A

    Neat little car. Since this pre-dates the GT-6 by 2 years, who copied who? While the engine is a masterpiece, I’m not sure I’d want to be driving a car around at 6,000 rpms all day. Wish people would include pictures of those items. Why they went with the rear axle setup is anybody’s guess. Very similar to old “chain-drive” trucks years ago. http://clubhondasnz.pagesperso-orange.fr/Images/Chain%20Type.jpg

  6. John K

    The engine is a jewel. Roller-bearings throughout, IIRC. Even on the crank. Jay Leno did a few features on his: restoration; drivetrain; and finally completed and driving. Well worth the trip to JLG just to hear that engine (spoiler alert: it sounds glorious).

    For its day it was well ahead of any MG, Triumph, Austin, etc.

    Prices have rocketed up on these over the past few years. Maybe 5 years ago or so you could have had your pick of the litter for $12K. Now non-running ones with rust issues can do that.

  7. MountainMan

    These are such interesting cars and as mentioned above they are going up in value steadily. Hopefully the engine is repairable as Im not sure how easy finding one would be. Sure they are out there but prices are likely pretty high. Sure would be fun with a CB750 engine or something vintage but bone stock would be my preferred method of restoration on a something like this.

  8. Dolphin Dolphin

    These are rare compared to the cabrio version, and most other cars for that matter. I didn’t see where it said the engine in this car had any problems, but as much as these appeal for their rarity and unique build, I would probably shy away for two reasons.

    One is the need to be sure the engine is always driven properly, without any low speed-big throttle driving. I believe roller bearing engines like this need to have the revs kept up and can be damaged by low speed-big throttle use. The engine was either adopted from or based on small-displacement motorcycle design I think, and not really suited to general use trundling around town.

    The second thing would be the small size. This car is in rural Virginia, but I would not want to take it out among 18-wheelers, big SUVs, and pickups. Call me chicken, but I’ve made it this far and I would not tempt fate any more than I have so far.

    This would be terrific for attending car events, and that’s what I would mostly use it for. This car looks like it could be brought back by a good paint shop, maybe without any serious metal work needed depending on what the underside is like. Then some restoration work to the chrome and interior. If it really does have just under 25K miles and hasn’t been abused the engine and drivetrain might be OK.

  9. Alan (Michigan)

    Three decades ago, an SCCA guy took one and modified the heck out of it, using a twisted up 12A rotary for power. It was light, seemed to handle well, and went like stink!

    But then, at the time it was just an old, small Japanese car, more curiosity than collectible. This will bring serious money before the end of the auction. The appearance of rust behind the front wheels will not deter bidders.

    Jay has a roadster in his garage, and by his own words, “loves the car”, as it is “fun to drive”. Hey Mr. Leno, how about a closed S600 to go with the open air one? (See his YouTube channel for a piece on a roadster he featured, which had a liter-bike engine installed.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsbfzmPCYX4

  10. Dan

    Way back when these were only a few years old I was going to buy one as my first car. (These were available in Canada. I don’t think they were officially imported into the US.)
    The one I wanted was at the local garage having the rear end worked on. I had made a deal with the garage to buy it for $350.00. Unfortunately the mechanics had trouble repairing the rear end and the car ended up with 4 speeds in reverse and a very low speed forward. I ended up with an old bugeye sprite but I still would like one of these hard to find Honda Coupes.

  11. rusty

    Had one that was missing motor..I believe it was just about to have an alternative engine installed. I kept it for many years as part of my micro car collection but realised chasing an engine would be difficult even back then..Decided to let it go to a guy who had experience with them..I think he probably had the required parts..I assume it was restored long long ago.

    What I remember is a very lovely interior for its day, purposeful and roomy enough [hey I was driving a Goggo Dart at the Time it was roomy hee hee.].

    It was rusty around the front my guess it probably lived sticking out of a carport. With difficulty of stumbling on a motor [I wasnt directly chasing one] and the rust in the front panels the decision was made to let a more S600 expert person take it on. The meagre money I got for it best used on goggo stuff.

    These rust badly. But what a lovely shaped body. These are big car lines reduced proportionately unlike many other micro cars.

  12. Oddimotive Cason

    The Grail!

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