Bring a Trailer Auction – 1970 Honda N600 Sedan

1970 Honda N600

1970 Honda N600 Sedan

  • Example of the first Honda automobile officially sold in United States
  • First model year N600 sold in United States
  • Completely restored by Honda N/Z600 specialist, Merciless Mings
  • Numbers-matching example with Southern California ownership history
  • Currently offered for sale at Bring a Trailer

Honda. The name is attached to such a wide variety of products that it’s really easier to ask what aren’t they associated with, than what they are. As a powerhouse in the motorcycle and power equipment world, they happen to be more than just a player in the aviation and marine industry. Oh yeah, and you might recognize a few cars they’ve made, too.

The “Genesis” for Honda automobiles was its T360, a tiny truck built only for their home market of Japan. Later that same year in 1963, the public would have the chance to get their hands on Honda’s first production car, the exciting and high revving S500 roadster. With 4-wheel independent suspension, four carburetors, a chain-driven driveline and a 9,500 rpm rev limit, the S500 was a lot like nothing.

Honda’s first sports car was eventually offered with larger displacement in coupe and roadster form, and represents some of the innovative thinking from Soichiro Honda. The direction that Mr. Honda was interested in taking after this point involved air-cooled power plants, as he would later display with their air-cooled, RA302 Formula 1 car in 1968. With the use of air/oil-cooled engines already popular with European automakers at the time, it seemed like a logical move – simple engineering using fewer parts, smaller packaging and an emphasis on weight savings.

The first and only mass-produced cars to benefit from Soichiro Honda’s air-cooled philosophy was the new range of “Kei” cars. Designed to fit within the home-market tax legislation, the initial N360 model fit neatly within required 360 cubic centimeters of engine displacement and did not exceed the maximum length of ten feet. To call the N360 a success would be a major understatement, as it would go onto become the best-selling Kei car of Japan, and would enjoy success abroad, with a N600 model produced to satisfy a market the demanded higher top speeds. While not the commercial success that the later Civic was, the N600 represents Honda’s humble beginnings in what is now their biggest market.

The example offered here is from our personal Sports Car Digest fleet. We think it’s important as it’s one of the first Honda automobiles sold in the US, as well as the very first model year available the United States. This 1970 Honda N600 sedan wears its Magma red exterior well, contrasted by a black interior that shows at a very high level.

Completely restored in 2000 by Honda 600 specialist, Tim Mings of Merciless Mings, chassis 1022709 enjoyed a life in Southern California prior to being brought to North Carolina in 2008. This N600 shows to a high degree and was recently invited to participate in the Micro Car class at the 2015 Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance.

Mechanically, this Honda is still very much a Honda. It fires on first crank and operates without drama. Its engine was completely rebuilt by Tim Mings using one of the last remaining original NOS crankshafts and has enough power to make it entirely useful in an urban environment. This N600 has enjoyed fastidious ownership during recent years with crucial valve adjustments performed on a regular basis. Chassis 1022709 recently enjoyed a major service and is ready to be enjoyed.

Climb inside the N600 and you’re met with more space than one might expect. Much like the original Mini, the clever packaging yielded enough space to get four real people inside. Surfaces are surprisingly nice in this example, especially given its cheap car roots (the N600 sold new for $1,250!). The dash and thin steering wheel are crack-free, seats solid, carpet tight and bare metal surfaces all nicely plated.

1970 Honda N600 Sedan
Chassis: 1022709
Engine: 1020762
Odometer showing: 58,729 miles

The sale of this Honda includes the following:

  • Original emergency jack
  • Original Honda N600 owner’s manual
  • Original Honda Technical Service manual
  • Honda parts manual
  • California “70 HONDA” license plate
  • Brochures and period magazines featuring Honda N600
  • Clean North Carolina title

Most N600 Sedans were chewed up and spit out during the past 45 years, making finding examples in nice and original order very close to impossible. Many have survived to this day because of their robust mechanicals, with everything around the running gear slowly falling apart. The restoration of these cars is made difficult as the limited support from the manufacturer and the small amount of good used parts that remain today. The “buy the best car you can afford” mantra being something that deserves serious consideration.

With the interest in vintage Japanese cars finally heating up, the N600 got our attention because of its important place in Honda’s history and its useable micro car charm. If you’ve never had the privilege of owning a micro car, you owe to yourself. These tiny cars will likely get more attention than your 365 GTB/4 at your local Cars and Coffee event and they’re further proof to not take yourself too seriously.

We’ve handed the N600 to our friends at Bring a Trailer where the car will be sold on at auction. The Honda currently sits at our climate-controlled office in Charlotte, NC. For additional information, please visit 1970 Honda N600 at Bring a Trailer.

Similar models sold at auction:

1970 Honda N600 Sedan For Sale – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture)

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