A plaque in the Honda Collection
Hall recalls the days when Soichiro Honda went from
being a motorcycle manufacturer to a maverick carmaker. "I didn't want to build a car
like everyone else's" Honda said.
So his first car, the 1963 S500, was a sports car, a two-seat
roadster that borrowed its styling and its front-engine/rear-drive
architecture, but not much else, from British roadsters.
While other Japanese carmakers used cast-iron engines,
Honda developed a water-cooled, double-overhead-cam, four-cylinder
aluminum power plant, fed by four carburetors.
The half-liter engine spun to 8000 rpm - Honda hadn't
gone grand prix motorcycle racing without learning a few
things about high-revving engines. The engine drove the
rear wheels through an innovative chain-drive system.
Instead of a solid rear axle, the S500 had an independent
rear suspension, with aluminum cases that served a dual
purpose: They housed the chain drives and acted as motorcycle-style
suspension swing arms.
The S600 was the first Honda car offered in two trims
Engine capacity 606 cc Horse power: 57 at 8500 rpm Top
speed: 90 mph Redline: 9,500 RPM Carburetors: 4 Convertible
weight: 1576 pounds.