Honda 600 Taxi
The Honda 600 was the first model of the make to be imported to the United States, in 1969, beginning on the West Coast. A derivate of the N360 “kei car,” a small automobile complying with Japan’s formula for entry-level cars, the 600 had a two-cylinder air-cooled engine of 599 cc. Quite sophisticated for an automaker’s early efforts, the overhead cam unit had the benefit of the manufacturer’s long experience with motorcycles. The light alloy engine could rev to 9,000 rpm and developed as much as 45 bhp enabling a top speed of more than 80 mph.
A plus for the U.S. market was the availability of a “Hondamatic” transmission, which dispensed with the conventional clutch. While the unit had to be manually shifted between its two gear ratios, it used a torque converter like all modern automatics and served as Honda’s only automatic until 1980. U.S. sales were not immense, with fewer than 5,000 in 1970 and nearly twice that many the following year. The car gained a good reputation, however, setting the stage for the larger and fabulously successful Civic in 1973.
Outfitted as a taxi, this Honda 600 is painted orange and carries a lighted “TAXI” sign on the roof. The black interior has a toy slot machine in place of the requisite taximeter. It was restored in 1999 by the current owner. Not currently running, it needs a thorough recommissioning before being roadworthy. A file of pertinent records is included with the car.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
36 bhp, 598 cc OHC inline twin-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, MacPherson strut independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and hydraulic front disc and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 78.8"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Stephen Goodal