Cool Kei Car: 1991 Honda Beat

Kei cars are one of the ultra-cool breed of vehicles on American roads today, and nice examples are highly sought. The fact that they were all designed for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) means that most of them have found their way from Japan via private imports. The 1991 Honda Beat is just such a car, and they really don’t come much cooler than this. I have to really thank Barn Finders Chuck F and 55chevy for referring this amazing little car to us. If you fancy owning an entertaining car that isn’t much bigger than your average tennis shoe, then you will find the Beat located in Gainesville, Florida, and listed for sale here on Facebook. The owner is asking $7,300 for this awesome little car.

The Beat is finished in Festival Red and features a Black soft-top. The original body styling for the littlest Honda was undertaken by Pininfarina, and the aggressive styling belies just how tiny this car is. This photo should provide some insight into this, with the car being barely 11′ in length. Weight is similarly low, at a mere 1,675lbs. The car looks to be in very nice condition, with no signs of any rust or problems. The Beat has been fitted with 15″ aftermarket wheels, but the photos show it fitted with two different styles. I’m not sure which ones are actually fitted at present, but both would appear to be a step up from the original steel wheels. It is also worth considering that build totals for the Beat were surprisingly low. Honda only produced around 36,000 examples, and not that many have managed to find their way out of Japan.

There are no interior or engine photos supplied by the owner, but we do know that the car is in mechanical good health. It has covered a genuine 56,000 miles and has recently been treated to a new timing belt, new tires, and a valve adjustment. These are a car that brings everything to the table to provide an entertaining motoring experience. They are a mid-engined sports car, and although the engine is a normally-aspirated engine of only 656cc, it pumps out an impressive 65hp. Those ponies are sent to the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual transaxle. This little 3-pot is a true screamer, with maximum power being delivered at 8,100rpm. It achieves this by using a complex fuel injection system that utilizes an individual throttle body for each of the engine’s 3-cylinders. Acceleration isn’t “supercar fast,” but the Beat will accelerate from 0-60mph in around 13 seconds, and will wind on to an electronically-limited top speed of 84mph. That might not sound fast, but speed always seems to magnify as a vehicle’s size diminishes. If you’ve ever driven a go-kart, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

The interior is an interesting mix of zebra-print upholstery, and typical plastic trim. The car features an instrument panel that is not dissimilar to that of a motorcycle, and it is dominated by the tachometer. For such a tiny car, it does come quite well equipped. For your money, you received air conditioning, power windows, and power locks as standard. A driver’s airbag was an optional extra, but it isn’t clear whether this car features one.

I am willing to admit that I have never had the good fortune to drive a Honda Beat, and I say good fortune for a very good reason. In researching this story I searched far and wide for information and car reviews for the Beat, and I struggled to find a story critical of these little cars. The closest I came was to find some minor issues with comfort for people like me who are slightly…um…wider than average. Otherwise, all I have read are stories about just how much fun these are to drive. If you’ve ever driven a go-kart at any time in the past, this is probably as close as you can come to a road-legal and affordable version. It might not be a muscle car, but it seems like it is a car that would put a grin on your face every time that you drove it. The world is a serious place, and sometimes we just need to take the time to smile and enjoy ourselves. Laughter is said to be the best medicine, and that might even make it easier to justify buying this cool little car. Come on…it’s medicinal.

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Comments

  1. Nitehawk770

    A bucket-list car for me. I’ll never be able to afford an R-32 GTR with the insane prices they’re getting…..so a Beat is the next best thing. I’ve seen one in person, and they really are like an oversized go-kart. I’ve also heard that little 660cc 3 cranked out to 8.1k in anger, and they sound gooooood.

    Like 3
    • Mike W

      Actually, RedLine motors here in NC gets the R32s in all the time around 20k running and ready to roll. Their website has upcoming shipments listed.

  2. Joe Phillippi

    I had a chance to “flog” one at Honda’s test complex in1991 on a small version of the Suzuka circuit as part of a trip to tour the NSX factory. Think of some 6-8 of these buzzing round like a pack of yellow jackets. What an absolute hoot. Wanted one then, still do.

    Like 4
  3. John

    If you ever drive one, you will want one. And, you can park it sideways in most garages and still have room for the CRV.

  4. ChipsBe

    I’ve owned one for two years now, drove it from N Carolina to my home in Wisconsin. Mine is very road worthy, stable at highway speeds and in corners, handles bumps with a light but complying manner and looks good everywhere. The engine is a thrill to listen to, sounds nearly like a peppy V6, not unlike a Ferrari Dino. It is a spirited and enthusiastic engine, always makes the happiest sounds.
    I have heard some have ‘governors’ keeping the vehicle from exceeding speeds around 55 mph. Mine doesn’t have one and easily keeps with interstate traffic.

    Having a new timing belt installed is a plus !

    Like 1
  5. joe phillippi

    Anyone have info on the number registered in USA? Also, what seems to be an average transaction price?

  6. joe phillippi

    Up here in North Jersey I spotted a former gas station now repair shop with a Pao and Figaro for sale. I’ll get prices and post.

    Like 1
  7. Mark Evans

    Duncan Imports currently has a yellow one with 97000 miles for $4700.00. Hope that gives some price perspective.

  8. Joseph Phillippi

    Mark, 97000 miles or K’s?

  9. Mark Evans

    Joseph, When I checked back on the site (DuncanImports.com) They have a dozen Beats for sale with various mileage & pricing. Mileage is shown in Kilos & miles. They’re located in New Smyrna Tennessee. Hope this Helps.

  10. chrlsful

    wrong side drive – doesn’t take long for driver learning, it just hills & passing for us 2 lane livers (90% of the USA road mi). City? not sure but the RHD means no tolls, drive-up conveniences, etc. Is this 1 sm enuff to reach across? could B?

    I did the RHD in Bermuda but so did every1 else.
    Some can swap “over” inexpensively, that’s B my choice if buying (add 1K$+).

    The pair the “odd balls on the same side” wheel trick is rather disingenuous…

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