It’s been over 50 years since the first car bearing the Honda badge was sold in the US. That car, the N600, still influences the Japanese automaker’s designs. But it also inspired an immediate successor series of cars. And one of the earliest, the Honda S600, is this week’s Bring a Trailer bargain buy.
The Honda S600: the S2000’s high-revving vintage ancestor
In the early 1960s, Honda was known more for its bikes, like the Super Cub, than for cars. Its first automobile was the N360 kei car, the N600’s smaller, JDM predecessor. That led to 2 small-scale sports cars, the S360 and S500. And by 1964, it was ready to release its first truly global car, the Honda S600, Petrolicious reports.
If the Honda S600’s name rings any bells, that’s not surprising. The sadly-discontinued and rising-in-value S2000 is its direct descendant, Automobile reports. And just like the S2000, the Honda S600’s main attraction is its engine.
Under the Honda S600’s hood is a 606cc four-cylinder engine rated at 57 hp and 38 lb-ft, Hemmings reports. It’s linked to a 4-speed manual, which sends the power to the rear wheels via a motorcycle-like chain drive. And thanks to Formula 1-style tech, it revs like a motorcycle engine, too, Motor Trend reports. Redline is at 9500 RPM, but the Honda S600 can and will rev to 11,000 RPM.
The Honda S600 is also still fun to drive, Jalopnik reports. It has independent suspension at each wheel, Hagerty reports, and weighs less than 1600 pounds. With a 0-60 time of 11.5 seconds and a top speed of 90 mph, it’s not fast by any means.
But the shifter works with delightful mechanical precision, and the suspension, while soft, delivers what would have been relatively flat handling back in the day. Plus, the trunk is big enough for grocery shopping, and despite its small size, the interior is somewhat spacious.
The 1966 Honda S600 coupe on Bring a Trailer
Originally, the Honda S600 was sold as a roadster. But there was also a coupe version available. And as of this writing, there’s one available on Bring a Trailer.
The 1966 Honda S600 coupe shown here is fairly stock. It has finned drum brakes at all 4 wheels, and inside the only amenities are pop-out rear windows, a radio, some gauges and indicator lights, and the heater/defroster controls.
The red color, though, is a repaint. And the cabin was reupholstered some time ago in brown vinyl. However, it has less than 10,000 miles showing on the odometer. And outside of some light interior wear and underbody rust, it appears to be in good condition.
What makes it a bargain?
As of this writing, the 1966 Honda S600 coupe is listed on Bring a Trailer for $5100 with 3 days remaining in the auction.
That’s a fairly low price for an S600, particularly a coupe, which is noticeably rarer than the roadster. Bring a Trailer reports Honda only made 281 S600 coupes in 1966, the last year of production. The automaker made 1800 S600 coupes in total, Silodrome reports, compared to 11,284 roadsters. After that, it was replaced by the larger-capacity S800.
Although it’s possible to find examples for $10k-$15k, Hagerty reports, the typical S600 commands close to $30,000 on Bring a Trailer. In October 2019, a 1966 roadster sold for $48,500.
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