Needs Only Minor Cosmetics! 1971 Honda Z600

In the early 1960s, Honda, by then masterful with motorcycles, decided to turn its hand to making vehicles. The first was a tiny truck that it sold only in Japan. From there, it vaulted to passenger cars, and by the late 1960s, it had set its sights on the American market – a timely maneuver since the oil crisis was lurking in the future, and Honda’s cars sipped fuel. The first car it exported to American shores arrived in Hawaii – a perfect test bed for the little guy, called the N600. This car was a sedan, powered by an air-cooled 598 cc motorcycle engine. Honda swiftly offered a sportier version of the 600, which it named the Z600. The Z had two doors and a hatchback but was mechanically identical to the N. Both sold reasonably well on the mainland. Here on craigslist is a nearly-sorted 1971 Honda Z600 for sale at $7,700, located in Pleasant Hill, California. Thanks to Matt R. for this tip!

The Z600  was a more powerful cousin to the N360, offered only in Japan. America required more horsepower thanks to its long roadways, so the larger engine is a SOHC 598 cc air-cooled two-cylinder, producing about 36 bhp. But Honda couldn’t give Americans too much power: the 598 was detuned after experience with the first fifty cars demonstrated that if Honda allowed the engine to produce the 40-plus bhp it was capable of, Americans tended to blow up the motors!

The cosmetics are already better than most of the cars we see at Barn Finds, except for the seats. But not to worry! The seller has many extra parts to improve the car further, including an upholstery kit, carpets, rear window trim, and new rubber bits. This car has a four-speed manual transmission – some came with the Hondamatic. The seller has performed substantial work, including a complete brake job from the master cylinder to the hoses, a rebuilt carburetor, fluids flushed and renewed, and new Falken tires on powder-coated wheels. It is said to run and drive well. All lights and even the stock radio work.

Amazingly, the car comes with its original owner’s manual, two service manuals, and a set of tools including the jack. So often these items are lost after so many decades. The car is registered with a clean title. I’m a sucker for small-motored, green cars, and this car has “easy restoration” written all over it. Sorely tempted here, what about you?

Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    I don’t think I have seen one in this good of condition with a sale that includes just about everything you need to bring this back to tip top condition. I never saw these on the east coast because they rusted out so quickly. Also didn’t Honda buy them back to be recycled? Maybe someone could validate that theory. I read the CL ad and the sale is due to the passing of his friend as they were in process of restoring. So sad I almost want to reach out just to give condolences. Life is too short!

    Like 13
  2. RoughDiamond Member

    This Z600 is in incredible condition and some Honda enthusiast will most likely jump on this pretty quick. I don’t believe you could ever do better on one of these all things considered from the condition, the backstory, the original manuals plus the parts galore, both NOS and used that are included. I could have sworn when I looked in the window of one these in the late ’70s it had a really tall straight shifter coming out of the floor. I guess not as I was known to toke the weed back in those days. If I were closer and could transport it myself I would pull the trigger. However, having the unfortunate gut wrenching ordeal and costly expense of having a muscle car being transported from OR to TN in an enclosed trailer and sustaining heavy damage, I am hesitant to ever have another vehicle transported again.

    Like 6
  3. angliagt angliagt Member

    RoughDiamond,

    Buy it & drive it home.
    Think of the adventure!

    Like 7
    • Kim in Lanark

      what happens if the rubber band breaks?

      Like 3
  4. RayT Member

    This is the car I bought in 1972, color and all. Traded my N600 in on it. I loved it until someone backed into it and subsequent repairs were not exactly well done….

    All I can say is: if I hadn’t just bought a car, I’d already be negotiating for this one. I suspect others will be, too. I see no reason at all not to fork over the ask. Well, except that I can’t right now.

    Like 5
  5. RoughDiamond Member

    @angliagt-Thanks for the vote of confidence. That’s the problem, I am afraid it would turn out to be an adventure and not one to my liking lol.

    Wonder if a 36 HP Bug would outrun one of these in a drag (snail) race?

    Like 5
    • Derek

      I’d be interested in competing; my 2CV is thereabouts too (rather than the standard 29bhp)….

      Like 4
      • Quidditas

        The 2CV is in a different class altogether and you get more smiles per mile in a 2CV than a micro Honda.

        No contest.

        Like 3
  6. Tom71Mustangs Member

    This little Honda is the polar opposite to the types of vehicles that pique my interest, but WOW, what a cool little time capsule! Good write-up, Michelle.

    The pic of the jack and tools was of particular interest. It reminded me that it has been quite some time since I’ve seen since I’ve seen an item (NOT a vehicle) that has been “showcased” on this site. I’m not sure that the overall opinion of covering those items was positive(?), but as long as those items were “vintage” auto or transportation related, I can easily image that as a “Sister site” or spin-off to Barnfinds. Hey- if you could have found it in a barn, and it’s a cool item- I’m interested!

    Like 2
  7. Brian Joseph

    A reasonable price for the car. We love these cars a have all of the 4 colors made. We have a green one,with 31k miles…buy one and you will be the center of attention at any car show

    Like 5
  8. nlpnt

    The local Honda dealer here has one on display by the parts counter. It’s small enough a late-model Fit looms over it like a Tahoe.

    Like 4
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      When I see one of these on this site, I wish there was a photo of it parked beside a F-350. The contrast would be striking.

      Like 6
      • Andrew S Mace Member

        My sister had an orange one of these back in the mid-1970s. Her husband at the time had a ’49 Hudson Commodore. Somewhere, packed away, I do have a photo of the two of them in our driveway; alas, I cannot lay my hands on it at the moment!

        Like 2
      • angliagt angliagt Member

        …..or in the bed f it.o

        Like 1
  9. CCFisher

    If the engine were truly capable of 40 hp, they wouldn’t blow up.

    Like 2
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      I dunno, I see plenty of race engines overtuned for the block that blow up on the track. I think what the Japanese didn’t expect was the long distances and high speeds over long time frames that Americans travel.

      Like 1
  10. Ben T Spanner

    I had an orange 1972 I bought used. I test drove a new one in 1972, but bought a V6 Capri instead. In Central Ohio these did not rust as quickly as the original Civics or contemporary Datsuns.
    The owner’s manual said “when encountering a pedestrian on the roadway, one should tootl one’s horn trmpet”.
    I bpught 2 parts from the Honda dealer; a battery and an exhaust system. Both were in stock and cheap.

    Like 3
  11. Car Nut Tacoma Washington

    Lovely looking car. I remember seeing a Honda Z600 in person at a Honda dealer parking lot. I never bought the car, unfortunately, but I did get a closer look at the car. I found it way more attractive than the Civic that was later offered.

    Like 3
  12. Malcolm Boyes

    Anyone else remember a shoe repair shop in West LA that had one these dressed up like a hiking boot? It was a great travelling billboard for the business. I think Honda was looking at the Mini when they created this..similar HP but the hatchback is a plus..and it’s aircooled ( air cooled fan here).!

    Like 4
    • Howie

      Yes, it was on Santa Monica Blvd., just west of the 405, on the north side of the street.

      Like 2
  13. Homer Cook

    I went to work for a Honda dealer in 1972 and they were getting them in at that time. The Honda rep had talked to other dealers in town about the franchise and were turned down by all. When he talked to one of our owners who said yes, he asked if there was a board meeting to approve signing for the franchise. The answer was “no, when my butt is in the chair the board is in session”. Great fun back than.

    Like 4
  14. Malcolm Boyes

    Howie..yes that was it..I wonder where that creation is now! Love addbalss like that..

    Like 1
  15. Quidditas

    The 2CV is in a different class altogether and you get more smiles per mile in a 2CV than a micro Honda.

    No contest.

    Like 2
  16. Wayne

    RoughDiamond, If you had driven one, you would remember the shifter! It is even hinkyer than a 2CV. One assured that the shifter is in the neutral position. (The sloppiest spot.) Move shifter up (like you are pouring a pitcher of water) to the stop and then rotate shifter counterclockwise to engage 1st gear. To shift to second rotate wrist back to the center, move shifter down (like the pitcher is now empty) to the stop and then again rotate counter clockwise to engage second gear, etc, etc, etc, Once reaching 4th gear you have now managed to achieve 25MPH! I knwo it sounds wierd and slow, but I had a blast driving one for a week or two.

    Like 3
  17. Melton Mooney

    Any chance that it’s powered by the original hamster?

    Like 1

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