Acty of Kindness: 1981 Honda Acty Street

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You meet the nicest people on (or, in) a Honda. We all remember that famous slogan in regards to their two-wheel offerings in the 1960s. This 1981 Honda Acty Street van has kind eyes – headlights – and it would be hard to be mean or too unkind behind the wheel of this fun little van. This one can be found here on eBay with a $12,370 buy it now price or you can make an offer. It’s located in Jacksonville, Florida and it sounds like it could be driven home if you stay off of the freeway, so plan on a few days on the road.

Obviously, this van came before the current (lame) aggressive car-face look that almost every vehicle from every country and every maker has now. I’ve always wondered if it was the chicken of the egg syndrome: did people get to be aggressive drivers because their vehicles look aggressive or did car makers just finally give up and add fuel to the flames of aggressive driving habits by giving their vehicles angry eyes and frowning electric-razor evil grins? Who knows, who cares, we’re talking about this friendly-looking Honda van! If you like friendly-looking vehicles like I do, you’ll want this 1981 model as in 1982 Honda added square headlights, the thin edge of the wedge towards angry-eye cars! (too dramatic?)

The only angry drivers anywhere near this Acty will be the ones behind you if you insist on driving in the left lane. These vehicles were never made for freeway travel, even though that comes up with the regularity of a blue sky in Tucson. Every. Single. Time. If you check out the seller’s photos, you’ll see that there are a few nicks and dings and touched-up spots on this van from decades of use. The Honda Acty came to be in mid-1977 and this first-generation Acty van is a top-trim-level passenger version called the “Street”. A lot of these vehicles were work trucks and vans but the Street came with seats in the back.

And, cool seats they were. I’m a huge fan of red interiors but second on my list would be any plaid pattern fabric like this butterscotch tan fabric. Also in the next year, 1982, an automatic transmission would be an option. I think that most of us would prefer a manual in a vehicle this small and powerless. I mean, without a lot of power. This is a rear-wheel-drive van, 4WD wouldn’t be added for a couple of years, unfortunately.

There are no engine photos, unfortunately. It’s tucked away underneath for the most part so it’s not like it’s as easy as 90% of online sellers who don’t bother to open the hood for a photo. It should have Honda’s 545 cc water-cooled two-cylinder (no, really) engine with 27.6 hp. In case you were wondering, when the 4WD Acty came out in 1983, Honda bumped up the wheel size to 12-inches and they also went nuts on power, adding 1 extra horsepower, up to 28.6! It’s a good thing those high-back buckets are in there to cut down on whiplash at green lights. It looks like there is a reasonable amount of room in the back with the rear seats folded and I think this would be a fun way to haul a few oddball Japanese-market scooters to shows in. Have any of you seen a Honda Acty Street van?

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  1. Dave

    I’ve seen them in the Bahamas, along with other cool things they don’t sell here in the States

    Like 4
  2. Sheffieldcortinacentre

    I used to drive an 81 box van in the mid 80s around Sheffield in the UK 50 mph down hill with the wind behind it flat out lol.
    Was amazing what could be carried in it.

    Like 2
  3. Miguel

    These are too dangerous for American roads.

    It should find its way back to Japan where it is at home.

    Like 0
    • Beatnik Bedouin

      If the price wasn’t so ridiculous, Hermano, I’d be happy to drive it on NZ roads.

      Something tells me I really need to make that trip to the Land of the Rising Sun… ;-)

      Like 3
  4. Mark

    Looks like wind would blow it over here driving on I-95, maybe to drive in small town, but no idea of any use. For that Dough!

    Like 1
  5. Howard A. Howard AMember

    I agree with Miguel, too dangerous for US roads.Be different if everybody drove these. Don’t forget, many states have limitations on mini cars and trucks. With those wheelbarrow tires, I think this qualifies as a mini truck.

    Like 3
  6. Kenneth Carney

    I would use it as a grocery delivery vehicle. Here in Fl, Publix a major super-
    market chain, has resumed home delivery
    here in Winter Haven and this van would
    be ideal for that purpose. Oh sure, you
    wouldn’t want to drive it on Havendale
    Boulevard, but the gas mileage would
    be phenomenal! Just set your GPS for
    travel on secondary roads, and watch
    the profits roll in! A microvan like this
    would surely attract attention when
    wrapped in Publix logos. Other than
    that, it would be an expensive playtoy
    with no real use other than cruising it.
    Just sayin’….

    Like 3
  7. Joe B

    I used to travel to Japan often for work as I worked for Honda. I drove a number of these little machines over the years. The best was a 90’s version that had a turbo. It was zippy!!

    Like 4
  8. Mark

    You might meet the nicest people in a Honda…..but get in a wreck with one of these things and you’ll find that it will be far too close up and personal.

    Like 2
  9. canadainmarkseh

    Why not just up the engine size a bit. Somthing like a 1200cc goldwing engine it would double the HP. And make it so it would keep up with traffic. The boxer engine would fit underneath better too. It would still be all Honda and with the GW engine you would have reliability.

    Like 4
  10. Gay Car Nut

    Nice looking car. I’ve heard of the Honda Acty. But for some reason, this was never sold in the USA. I can’t imagine this would’ve been a good car/van for long distance freeway driving. But for around town, where the speed limit is between 20 mph and 40 mph, this would be perfect.

    Like 3
  11. soleman56

    Looked through the Ebay pictures – I realize this is a “microcar” but would very much appreciate a photo of someone standing next to the Acty or see it parked next to another vehicle so you get a real sense of scale.

    Like 2
  12. scotto

    theses are perfectly fine for US roads if you use them appropriately. like it says in the story these arent made for the highway.

    i live in a big city. most of my driving is on city streets where no one is ever going more than 50 MPH. 40MPH or less is more common. that is what this vehicle is good for. i wouldn’t make it my only vehicle, but i could get a lot of use out of it running around the city.

    ive had my eye out for one of these vans, or a truck version. it would take care of 75% of my driving needs with plenty of utility and easy parking, all while being interesting and not using much fuel.

    not in the market for one in this price range since it would be a driver, but at half this price, newer ones are available that would work just as well.

    Like 2
  13. paul oberman

    i would love this in california, but….. you know smog cert, not to mention overpriced.

    Like 1
  14. David Rhoces

    another great dog hauler

    Like 3
  15. pat gill

    just remember to replace the timing belt, do that and it will run forever, back in the 80’s I had three Acty vans and a pickup for car parts delivery, you could get a BMW E12 bonnet—-hood in one, try that with a ford escort van

    Like 4
  16. Forrest

    Don’t listen to these haters! It’s worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it, I think it’s incredible and if I had it like that I’d take a road trip and snatch this OG Honda Street Van up. I recently purchased a 96 Honda Acty SDX and it’s a game changer, I really love this little Minitruck and to be honest it’s gets love everywhere I go. The Minitruck global community is tighter than expected too, I’ve bought all necessary parts suggested in maintaining with minor research.
    The mods are cool but I love the original mint condition stuff.

    Like 1

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