Honda is big in the US today. The reputation cars made by the Japanese brand enjoys for their reliability, quality and high residual value is second to none. However, before the late Sixties, Honda was known Stateside only for its motorcycles. It was the iconic N600 “kei-car” that introduced Americans to the brand as a carmaker. In 1967, Honda shipped 50 units of the N600, an adaptation of the Japanese market N360, to America to be tested and evaluated for the market. The very first of these, serial number N600-1000001, has now been fully restored and revealed by Honda in the final episode of the documentary series ‘Serial One’ it kicked off in March this year.
The series, which followed Los Angeles-based Honda specialist Tim Mings over months as he restored the historically significant car to mint condition, revealed the completed vehicle yesterday. Mings, who chanced upon the extraordinary car about a decade ago, is also the owner of the other two pre-production examples that survived. The rest of the first batch of 50 evaluation cars were crushed by Honda.
“Throughout the incredible journey of Honda's Serial One to a complete restoration, fans have been able to witness firsthand how meticulous the process has been to bring the first N600 in America back to its original form,” says Alicia Jones, Honda’s social media manager, referring to the documentary which is online. “Sharing the restoration process with car enthusiasts and Honda fans everywhere is what this program has been all about,” she adds.
The N600, which played a significant role in establishing Honda as one of America’s favourite automobile brands, was powered by an all-alloy 600cc engine that made 45 horsepower, revving all the way up to 9,000rpm.