Trade for Kei Truck: 1971 Honda AN600

I had a deep fascination with these little Honda AN600s, no thanks to Barn Finds listing an Exclusive for one a few years ago that piqued my curiosity. While not everyone digs the microcar scene, these were pretty clever machines, with front-wheel drive and an air-cooled, chain-driven engine. This example is tired cosmetically but sounds like a runner based on the description here on craigslist, where it’s listed for $5,500 OBO or trade for a Honda Acty minitruck. 

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Roger for the find. The N600 was the first Honda officially sold in the U.S., and was an “upsized” version of the first iteration known as the Honda N360. For me, the air cooled motor and styling details won my affections, like the chunky taillight lenses and dog-dish style hubcaps. I could far too easily imagine one of these lowered on some period Panasports or Enkei wheels, with that pre-VTEC motor screaming away.

The other nifty feature was the gear selector, which extended out of the dash and fell right to the natural extension of one’s arm and hand. This style of shifter popped up years later in a mid-2000s version of the Honda Civic Si hatch, and it’s a shame it didn’t stick around – it made a lot of sense to me. The interior looks to be in good shape, but it’s hard to get a total view of the car based on the limited photos provided.

Those photos are key, as some of the trim bits have become extremely hard to find. Sometimes, an owner can lose interest in a project if a particular component or part goes NLA or becomes too costly to re-produce. Of course, there’s a robust enthusiast network behind these cars, with minor celebrities like Tim Ming helping to keep them on the road, so that shouldn’t scare you off from buying one – or maybe going completely nuts and building one with a VFR800 engine swap!

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Comments

  1. Al

    So how much have vehicles improved over the decades?¿?!!!!

    This vehicle is „chain drive“, much like the vehicles from about 1890’s to the 1920’s.

    Like 3
    • Alex

      I thought that was only the S600, not the N600.

  2. Wayne from Oz

    Chain driven engine????? That’s a first. Normally engines chain drive.

  3. h5mind

    I remember people poking fun at “Japanese junk” in the late 60’s and early 70’s. They sure showed us, didn’t they? Interestingly, I now live in Spain and from time to time I’ll see a Chinese microcar trundling along the city streets. They carry the same plates as scooters, so their displacement must be very small- possibly under 50cc. I’ll have to submit some pics next time so you guys can see these quirky little things.

    Like 4
  4. paul oberman

    5500 bucks?? sorry this is all going too far

    Like 1
  5. Rex Rice

    Too much $ for such a noisy critter. I love small cars and this is on the list. I drove one years ago and you can tell it is motorcycle powered.

  6. Z600

    The have a differential and CV joint axles I know I own several Honda 600s

    Like 1
    • Al

      This must be either an Australian or New Zealand view.

      If my ears grew longer, then maybe I could walk there as well.

      Like 11
  7. Will Owen Member

    If it’s mechanically sound that’s not a totally ridiculous price, but that IF is pretty huge. Rebuilt cranks are easier to find now than they used to be, I think – they’re on roller bearings, which used to render a 600 engine non-rebuildable. Still not cheap, though.

    The biggest thing about these is how doggone much fun they are to drive. I’ve had two BMC Minis, and have driven some hot ones, but a ride in a recently-tuned-up N600 through a previously sleepy Nashville neighborhood one morning was about three times more fun than any Mini had ever shown me. The apparent flimsiness is part of the charm, and the fact that the mechanic who’d tuned it was at the wheel sorta made it all right – if he blew the engine it’d probably mean his job. Thought the N cars did not have a tach like the Z600 coupes, I pretty much knew what 6 or 7,000 rpm sounded like, and this was a good bit more for sure!

    All that surface rust is pretty off-putting, though. I have seen ratty-looking cars with solid innards, but that’s usually some kind of Statement about the meaninglessness of appearances yada yada. This just looks too much like simple neglect, which bodes ill.

    Like 1
  8. DeeAnn Hopings

    It’s interesting to compare the 600’s with Minis, which they used as a template. While neither car, in most stock forms, was going to rip the tires off the rims, they were “honest” cars. In other words, they gave you all they had and didn’t tease at giving more. For the record, I bought a yellow Z600 new in the summer of ’72. It had an unfortunate meeting with a telephone pole ~4 years later.

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