I always liked these little Honda N600s. These were the first cars to be officially exported to America by Honda; sure some earlier S500 and S600 roadsters had been brought in, but this little Mini-like car was the first actually-approved-by-Honda one. This was also Honda’s first front engine/FWD car, and in that sense was really the true template for Hondas to come. I think they’re really charming little things, too, and in that picture up there it almost feels like a wildlife photo, a wild N600 scrambling up a grassy hill to feed on a natural petroleum seep, just out of frame. But what I especially like about this old brochure is the technical depth it gets into.
It’s not a huge amount of technical depth, and that page up there is pretty conventional for a car brochure of the era, around 1967 or so. It’s very rational and straightforward, showing the features of this little economy car. It’s what they decided to put on the last page that impresses and confuses me:
Look at this: you’ve got charts for accelleration and speed, with different plots per gear, and a whole engine performance chart with brake horsepower (BHP) and torque curves, along with fuel consumption. This is all fantastic info to have, but are the prospective buyers of a 45 bhp economy/city car looking for this kind of information? Most brochures of this era didn’t include anything like this, and those that did tended to be for actual performance cars with triple the power, not some little air-cooled two-cylinder wheeled box. It’s amazing!
Were people choosing their bottom-of-the-market little cheap cars based on torque and power curves? Maybe!
Also interesting: these used an inline twin with a 360° crankshaft angle, which means both pistons moved in unison, just firing at different times. That always seemed odd when I picture it in my head.