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Everyone loves the S500

Everyone loves the S500 – you just don’t see that many. In fact, I’ve only ever seen a couple in the flesh – or should that be the metal? And I’ve been lurking around classic car shows in the UK for a couple of decades now!

If you’re wondering what the S500 is then shame on you. It’s the classic sports car from Honda.

Aficionados may say it’s the only classic sports car from Honda. I’d vehemently disagree, but never argue about religion, politics … or sports cars of course!

Anyway, in case you’re still wondering, the Honda S500 was the Japanese company’s first step into the glorious world of car production after they’d spent decades messing around with motorbikes!

In many ways, the S500 was a motorbike. It was certainly built on motorcycle technology and it was absolutely tiny.

The first Honda S500 came off Honda’s production line in 1963. The diminutive sports model followed the Honda T360 truck into production. The small car was a very slightly larger version of the S360 roadster. That car had been prepared for sale in 1962, but it never entered full-scale production.

The Honda S500 used an engine made from Honda's motorcycles – and this was, by dint of fortune almost, a leap forward in automobile technology as it had dual overhead cam straight-4 cylinders with four carburettors, no less, and a 9,500 rpm limit.

It was produced with a 500cc engine and produced 44 horsepower at 8,000 rpm. It weighed in at a mere 1,500 pounds – very light for its time - and could get to a top speed of an impressive 80 mph; not bad for 500 ccs!

At the time, the S500 cost $1,275. Now why didn’t my grandfather buy half a dozen or so and mothball them!? And if you fancied a hardtop, you could get a fibreglass one for a little extra cash.

Honda didn’t make many – which is why we don’t see them of course. In fact, the company made just 1,363 S500s between October 1963 and September 1964

These days, Honda is a world-renowned mass manufacturer, of course, with a well-deserved reputation for building (amongst many other things) the kind of eco cars UK environmentalists are so keen on these days. But if only they’d build a few more S500s today, I’d be first in line!

© OMR UK 2011 Comment on this Article by email