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Spotless Classic: 1972 Honda Z600 with 1,000 Original Miles

Classic cars with owners making extraordinary mileage claims are nothing new, and some bear better scrutiny than others. That brings us to this 1972 Honda Z600. It undeniably presents exceptionally well, and if the seller’s assertion that it has a genuine 1,000 miles on the clock is accurate, that is unsurprising. They encourage in-person inspections and test drives, confirming they have nothing to hide. They have listed the baby Honda here on Craigslist in Santa Rosa, California. They set their price at $21,000 OBO, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder PRA4SNW for spotting this fantastic classic.

When Honda boldly claimed in the late 1960s that it aimed to become a major player in the passenger car market, many people looked at cars like the existing N360 and could barely contain their mirth. The company’s bread and butter was its motorcycle division, and its passenger vehicle experience was mainly confined to Kei Cars. The Z600 emerged in 1970, and while few realized it at the time, this model would set the groundwork for Honda to achieve its goal and become a powerhouse in global motorsport. The “Z” remained in production until 1974, and its contribution to developing the larger and more conventional Civic model released in 1972 can never be underestimated. The original owner ordered this Honda in Ceramic White, and its presentation is exceptional. The paint shines nicely, and if there are any imperfections in it or the panels, they don’t show in the supplied photos. There is no evidence of rust, and the seller doesn’t mention any prior restoration or repairs. The trim and glass are exceptional, and its sweet little styled 10″ steel wheels are free from stains and damage.

The Z600 is a triumph of packaging efficiency because while the tape measure reveals an overall length of just over ten feet, the Honda can seat four adults. The secret rested under the hood, with its 598cc twin-cylinder powerplant sending 36hp and 32 ft/lbs of torque to the front wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. Those figures are, to be diplomatic, pretty modest. However, with a curb weight of a mere 1,312 lbs, the “Z” is a surprisingly energetic performer ideal for tackling heavy city traffic. The company claimed a top speed of 76mph, but I’m not sure I would like to sit at that speed for too long on the open road. This little gem is in sound mechanical health, running and driving perfectly. The seller actively encourages inspections and test drives, which is promising. However, I will stick my neck out and question the odometer reading of 1,000 miles. They state they use the Honda as a daily driver, which I wouldn’t typically expect in such cases. That makes me wonder whether the reading is how many miles the car has clocked since it underwent restoration. It isn’t mentioned, but it is a question worth asking.

This Honda’s interior presents as impressively as the rest of the vehicle, with no apparent needs or problems. The Black and White seatcovers are unlike any I’ve seen in a “Z” of this vintage, although that theme continues onto the remaining upholstered surfaces. There is no wear or physical damage, with the same true of the carpet and dash. A cover keeps the pad from prying eyes, while the leather-wrapped wheel should improve driver comfort. There are changes and modifications beyond what appears to be custom trim because the aftermarket speakers mounted in various locations suggest there is a stereo hidden somewhere inside this classic. These modifications add further weight to my belief that the odometer reading relates more to a project build than the distance covered since this classic rolled off the line.

The Honda Z600 was a pivotal car in the company’s history. While it remained in production until 1974, North American sales ended in 1972 as it made way for the more conventional Civic model. This one is a gem, and while the seller’s price seems high, the figure isn’t unprecedented. The question mark hanging over the odometer reading is the only aspect of this Honda that raises doubt in my mind. Still, the approachable seller should make clarifying the situation pretty straightforward. I’m not sure if it is a sign of the current market’s volatility, but values have climbed significantly during the past year. The trend shows no sign of easing, suggesting now might be a good time to park one of these sweet little cars in your garage. Does this one tempt you, or is the Z600 a classic that doesn’t tick the boxes for you?

Comments

  1. HoA Howard A Member

    Like many Asian car companies, blows me away their humble beginnings, into a mega giant they are today. The 600 is probably the car Honda would like to forget. Even on the “Power of Dreams” schtick ads, they start with the Civic. You won’t see many Subaru ads with the 360 either, and why should they? These were merely novelty items, and nobody took them seriously. I wonder how many 600s were totaled by someone in their Caddy backing into it. Not much there. Never cared for Honda, had a ’95 Civic for a short time that I hated, my GWs were nice, but junk. I always felt, Honda was the lesser of the Asian makes, great when new, but throw away cars once the miles add up. They are programmed to fail. Can’t have them last forever or they would be out of business. Packard comes to mind there. Apparently, only Cal. sellers think they have the Golden Goat with this stuff, when in fact, it’s still just a novelty item.

    Like 7
    • Bob

      ha, ha,”throwaway cars”. My 2009 Honda Fit is running as great as the day it was born. They build very dependable cars and it was their CVCC engine that was so efficient that they showed the Americans how to build an engine without a ton of emission control extras to bog it down. Packard didn’t go out of business because they built cars too well. They didnt know how to change with the times.

      Like 9
      • Chris Cornetto

        Yeah, My 87 Caprice which now has 260k on it has just as much emissions junk as my 84 Carolla. My 95 Integra has far less as technology changed.Cars are only as good as the folks driving them. ALL of them have engineering conundrums. If you don’t believe it, just walk through a u pull it yard. They all go there in the end.

        Like 2
  2. Dave

    All car companies, that are still around, had humble beginnings. And Honda does make “throwaway” cars. After 200K miles people get tired of them and throw them away, lets see a Packard do that. This car has less than 1000 miles on it. Someone must have parked it behind a door and forgot about it.

    This model was the first front wheel drive car I had a ride in as a teen. My buddy was trying to sell me on the idea of front wheel drive being better, but I just wanted to get to the lake.

    Like 8
  3. bugnbox

    Definitely NOT 1000 original miles by a long shot. This car has been totally restored, and quite frankly done incorrectly in many ways. Honda never sold the Z coupe in this color or with that interior. Emblems on the hood are incorrect , etc. Nice looking car, and perhaps the 1000 miles is since completion of the resto … but this is no time capsule collectors piece.

    Like 24
    • Tim Maxwell

      I had a 1972 Z600. Back then it was referred to by the dealers as the 600 Coupe (there was a 600 Sedan too). I was attending college at an urban commuter school and parking was always a big problem. Missed several exams because of no parking availability.

      When I discovered the 600 and bought one (total cost with taxes and license $2000.67) my GPA went up because I could squeeze into spaces no one else could. Man, I know some folks must have really been angry with me. :-)

      It was also very helpful in traffic jams because – and I’m not proud of this – I could drive on the sidewalk and get around tie-ups. Fortunately, if a police officer ever saw me do that, they were too preoccupied by traffic to care.

      It was a fun little vehicle to drive, especially in the city. On the highway, you’d get left in the dust by just about every other kind of car. But in the city, this was a glorified go-cart. It went where you pointed it. It just stopped running one day and I parked it. I don’t even remember if I sold it or it got towed away and I didn’t bother to recover it?? Later I found out I just had a timing belt failure that could have been fixed.

      You are correct. They didn’t pay much attention to originality in the restoration. The Z600 Coupe never came in white. Only yellow, orange, green and blue. The Sedan version did come in white. And the interior was just black. And chances are, even in California, this car had significant rust. They were notorious for that. I also do not recall the “Honda” name on the hood bulge. I can’t see paying more than $4-5K for ANY Z600. They weren’t that rare, nor were they ever in much demand because they were tiny. Not much different in size than a Smart Car.

      I had a friend who also had one, but he somehow squeezed a larger Honda motorcycle engine in his. It was a BEAST. The original was a like 596 cc two cylinder air-cooled Honda motorcycle engine and the transaxle was a 4 speed, also pulled from Honda’s motorcycle parts bin. The biggest negative to me was that it didn’t do well in the winter, being air-cooled. Sometimes, the only way I could start it in cold weather was a push start or rolling it downhill. The upside, was in other seasons I could actually push it by myself fast enough on level ground to get it running if the battery was dead.

      I loved that little car and if I had known that it was fixable with a new belt or chain (can’t remember which it had, but I think it was a belt), I might still have it.

      Like 2
    • Ray

      I seriously doubt that 1000 mile claim. But even if that was true, I can’t see on any planet where this car is worth more than $8,000-$10,000. But, as the saying goes, there’s one for every seat.

      Like 6
    • Poppy

      It clearly states in the listing that it’s 1000 miles on the rebuild.

      Like 9
      • Harry

        You’ll notice Poppy that some of the readers here struggle with comprehension. As is evidenced in many of the comments.

        Like 8
      • 370zpp 370zpp Member

        Harry puts things in perspective. Thank you.

        Like 3
      • Poppy

        To be fair to Ray and bugnbox, the headline from Adam still declares “1000 original miles.” (c’mon Barnfinds)

        Like 6
  4. Art Engel

    I drove a few of these while working at the Honda dealer in about 1975 and wow talk about crude, like a golf cart with a clutch and 4 speed gearbox. Our mechanic would unbolt these engines, reach in with both hands and pull the engine out, put it on his bench to rebuild it after lunch.

    Like 6
    • Charles Grindbender III

      Part of your story sounds like a tall tale Art. Particularly the part about rebuilding the motor. I find it hard to believe any new car dealer would rebuild a motor from car that’s under warranty or new. Most assuredly they would simply replace it with a factory built crate motor. But hey it was ’75 and that’s a long time ago

      Like 0
    • Chris Cornetto

      lol, we did that at the junkyard in the 80s. I would bury these in small out of the way places on stands and when we needed something, just unbolt it and carry it out or my customers would as lots of younger kids and cheap old men had them and they were good money makers and were virtually give aways by the mid 80s.

      Like 1
  5. Tim Maxwell

    I don’t agree that Honda makes ‘throw away’ cars. I’ve owned many and they were always reliable and lasted a long time. I had a 1989 Civic Si that had 279,000 miles on it when I hit a curb and did suspension damage to it that would have cost me (I’m not mechanically adept) more to repair than it was worth at the time. It sat at my mechanic’s shop for a couple of years until one of his mechanics bought it from me for $600. He fixed the suspension damage, drained and replaced the fluids, put in new gas and a new battery and was still driving it several years later.

    Like 13
    • 370zpp 370zpp Member

      I have owned two S2000s and these were clearly not throw away cars. Not by a long shot. Aside from the performance, the attention to detail and level of workmanship were top notch.

      Like 5
  6. Casey

    10 ” wheels !!! ….Do they still make tires that small ?
    Holy cow, you can get a pizza bigger than that. ….😂

    Like 8
    • Derek

      Same size as Mini tyres. Proper Minis, anyway…

      Like 6
  7. Danny

    Everything has been redone on that car. lol

    Like 2
  8. Beauwayne5000

    Fit in nicely here in Europe with its tiny French & Italian 3 wheelers & mini UPS electric cars here in the cities
    Be great with a Hybuska motor

    Like 3
    • Derek

      There’s a guy called Chris Maries who has a business called Z cars; he puts bike engines in the back of Minis. I’ve seen them racing and they look odd because the back’s hanging out rather than the front pushing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d done one of these.

      Hayabusa, R1, Fireblade engines.

      Like 1
    • Chris Cornetto

      Considering how much I love my Busa and how it performs, you are likely correct. Google Smart car with a Hyabusa engine and watch that.

      Like 0
  9. Eddie Culp

    These are great little cars which had design nuances that were ground breaking. I have had the pleasure of owning 3 of them. One new off of the motorcycle dealership floor in 72, another about 10 years ago and my daily driver that I have currently.

    Like 0
  10. K. R. V

    Back in the late 90’s a buddy and I had found one of these, that had rusted badly underneath, all suspension points were bad, both strut towers were soft in front and rear. So we also had a Suzuki Samari that had the same issue with its body, but ran great with a solid chassis. So we did some cutting and throwing away, along with grafting that Z600 body onto the bare 4×4 chassis, that surprisingly saved a couple hundred pounds overall. That really helped liven up the little beast. Sadly all I have left is memories of that little Zbeast be called it.

    Like 3
    • Chris Cornetto

      Bummer, that sounds rather cool. Did the metal muncher dine on it or is it perhaps hidden now in some out of the way place?

      Like 0
  11. Philbo427

    Honda are throw away cars? Programmed to fail? I don’t think so. When I went to auto tech school the term “planned obsolescence” was used regarding the big three. What do you think MoPar stands for? That’s their parts division where they make the money.

    I love muscle cars, have one, and worked on American made cars a long time ago and then I started working on Japanese cars and realized the quality in design of Hondas. I eventually worked at an Acura dealership in the service department a long time ago and it really solidified to me how well Honda products are made. I’m not a “fanboy” of Honda but objective facts can’t be denied.

    One time I went to a Ford dealership to get parts in my Acura uniform. The techs there called me “The Maytag Man”!

    Like 4
  12. Philbo427

    One thing Hondas have been notorious for from the a long time is their cars do rust out. Much improved since the 70s but finding an old Honda, especially from New England area, is really hard to find.

    Like 1
  13. Bama

    I’d rather have the one Newbern and Cotten built on Motor Trend tv. With a motorcycle engine and transmission in the rear and a set of ATV tires, it looked to be a hoot on a dirt oval track!

    Like 2
  14. MILES G CHAPPELL

    I know the owner of this coupe and he wants me to leave some comments on the car. It was originally Yellow and it has 1000 miles on it since the engine rebuild. As for me, Miles Chappell, I sell new brake parts & used parts for these cars 600miles.com

    Like 5
  15. Smokey Smokerson

    Just drop in a modern 600cc motorcycle engine…that would liven things up a bit.

    Like 1
  16. Joe 246

    I have to say, as a 16 year old I would have happily driven this car. I would have driven anything, but I like this thing. Now it would be a novelty at shows just to have a little fun. Park it next to a GTO or something just for a discrepancy ☺️

    Like 0
  17. Christopher Eakin

    Not a comment on Honda specifically, but why does anybody design an overhead cam engine without cam bearings, so that when the head wears you need a new head? Did anybody make a kit to install cam bearings on any aluminum head engine or is the machining too expensive?

    Like 0
    • Miles Chappell

      The Honda 600 cam does not run in the head like a Honda CB360. The cam is above the head and each end is in an aluminum housing which is also the bearing, easily replaceable. The only reason you would need to replace a head that doesn’t have bearings is if you ran it out of oil or the oil ways became plugged.

      Like 1
  18. Timothy Vose

    Nice condition. Not original. For the collector there’s too many speaker holes.

    Like 0

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