In the grand scheme of Honda-badged vehicles, the tiny N600 sits near the bottom of the totem pole. But the N600 in the video above isn’t just any N600; it’s the first automobile Honda imported to the United States.
Although the N600 wouldn’t officially go on sale in the U.S. until the 1970 model year, N600 serial number one is one of 50 N600s that Honda sent to the states in 1967 to test the vehicle’s viability in the marketplace. What sort of life serial number one led after testing completed remains a mystery, but it was in rough shape by the time Tim Mings took possession of it.
Mings makes a living restoring N600s, and serial number one was in desperate need of an overhaul. But even Mings didn’t realize what made this beat-up green N600 so special. In fact, it took him a couple of years to scrape the gunk from the car’s serial number to reveal this N600’s provenance.
Once restoration began, Mings and his colleagues made it their mission to return serial number one to its former glory, and the finished product was finally revealed months later at the Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California. No longer coated in a dastardly green hue, the restored car now sports the same shade of white paint it wore when it rolled into the U.S. more than 50 years ago.
The N600 might not excite us in the same way other Honda-badged products do (we’re looking at you Civic Type R and S2000), but that doesn’t make it any less important to die-hard Honda fans. Without the N600’s success in the U.S., Honda’s best products might have never seen the light of day. So in a way, the N600 – and N600 serial number one, in particular – doesn't just take up a spot on the totem pole; it is the totem pole.