The Day I Purchased A Honda S800M

When it pertains to automobiles, what was it that eventually shaped brand name commitment, platform choice or preferred engineering for you?

My roots are relatable to most American millennials that matured in the Quick & & Furious age. As Japanese automobile culture blew up on the cinema and web, I was drawn to it like a fat fly to a huge bug zapper. My very first lorry was a 1991 Honda CRX Si (amounted to), followed by a 1993 Honda Civic Si (taken), and after that a 2007 Honda Fit (enhanced). Can you see a pattern here? Things vectored a little off course after I relocated to California and meddled affordable-at-the-time Europeans classics consisting of a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16V and a 1970 BMW 2002. Ultimately I went back to familiar Japanese metal with a 1969 Nissan Bluebird (see Speedhunters story here) that I kept for several years.

The 510 was an fantastic maker that I believed I would never ever offer, however after 12 years of numerous military tasks as a United States service member, I had growing inch to go back to my Honda roots.

Speedhunters_S800M Outside Shop Rear

In early 2019, I came across an old ‘for sale’ post from Skorj of Japanese Sentimental Cars And Truck, noting hiswell-known Honda S800M This stimulated my interest as I had actually been following the job for a long time.

Sadly, the S800M had actually offered months prior, nevertheless something motivated me to connect to Skorj and a minimum of reveal my appreciation for offering such fantastic ownership protection of Honda’s very first cars for many years.

Little did I understand at the time, however this very first contact started a long journey where — spoiler alert, if you can not currently inform by the images — I ended up being the brand-new custodian of Skorj’s previous pride and happiness.

Speedhunters_S800M Engine

For nearly 2 years, no less than 263 e-mails crossed in between myself, Skorj, his automobile collector buddy that bought the S800M (a guy who owns 2 Toyota 2000GTs for paradise’s sake!), and their shared Honda S-chassis master mechanic buddy from a regional lover club. Then a chance manifested itself that was too great to skip.

Speedhunters_S800M Interior Front

Once I was validated a transfer to Japan by the United States military, I understood that this was an indication from the Honda gods. What started as an e-mail stating thank you, had actually progressed into the purchase the very automobile that began all of it for me.

As an immigrant, I simply can not completely in articulate the amazing level of hospitality, persistence, versatility and trust I got through this whole procedure. Whether is was addressing my concerns, offering images or guidance, comprehending travel hold-up demands or consenting to alter strategies due to restrictions on my part, I was accommodated all the method.

Speedhunters_Omiyage Gift

Back to the story … Late in 2015, I was lastly on my method individual to finish the purchase. I had actually been on the island of Okinawa for nearly a year, however then, yeah … COVID.

To my partner’s amusement, this was going to be a single excursion with departure and return within a 12-hour window, with approximately 5 physical hours on mainland Japan. With my omiyage (present) protected and a coffee in hand, I waited for the brief flight.

In no time at all it was wheels down at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, and I would be lying to state I concealed my enjoyment well. The mechanic I discussed earlier– a really kind and gifted semi-retired engineer that is thirty years my senior– existed to choose me up. After an exchange of the typical Japanese greetings and regard (in normal gaijin kind I am horrible at this), I was consulted with a really enjoyable surprise.

Speedhunters_S800M Airport Pickup

The automobile I had actually just seen on digital screens for 8 years was now being in front of me in all its metal magnificence. Drizzling and cooled temperature level be damned, I might not conceal my interest and circled around the little automobile a number of times.

We were set up to drive about an hour west to the mechanic’s individual store, however considering that I did not understand where we were going and had no hands-on experience driving an S800M, I was material on being a guest.

Speedhunters_S800M First Ride

Do not stress, we did swap seats about midway, and although I do not have pictures of me piloting the little monster, I will state it drove like a well-tuned vintage cars on the exact same quality of an early Porsche. Even with the weather condition, the Yokohama Advan Neovas connected to the 13 × 5-inch RS Watanabe wheels did a terrific task holding grip. Being extremely tactile in my motions, I dabbled momentum readily available in a platform weighing under 850kg (1,875 pound) with both people onboard.

I likewise was shocked by the quantity of grunt readily available throughout the power-band from simply 800cc. Just like all automobiles of this time, your senses are bombarded with analog marvels and visceral noises and smells. The S800M’s driving position is extremely low, simply above regular size automobile tires in traffic to your sides, and your feet nearly extend in the deceivingly-long cabin.

Manual shifts were direct and smooth into each equipment with little to no slop. The suspension was tight however not extremely firm, and all lights, indications and cabin functions worked as planned.

I might inform this was no garage queen; the whole bundle exuded the self-confidence of a well-cared-for vehicle that sees more time on the roadway than gathering dust. It more than invited a couple of 9,000+ rpm tunnel pulls when I remained in the chauffeur’s seat.

Speedhunters_S800 Restoration

Reaching the mechanic’s workshop seemed like an appropriate sequel to a currently impressive experience. In spite of not being established for visitors, this individual store would leave any Honda fan’s jaw large open for the totality of a go to.

Speedhunters_S-Chassis Fiberglass Race Car
Speedhunters_S800 Shop Pit

Although area is at a premium, surprisingly this garage has several effective work bays, an engine structure area, a collection of motorbikes kept away, and even walk-down pits for simple underbody work gain access to. All around were numerous Honda S-chassis automobiles in various states of repair work and restoration; some getting a mechanical refresh, interior overhaul, or body-off repair. There was even a complete fiberglass body job waiting to be become a pureblood track automobile.

Speedhunters_S800M Outside Shop Profile

Eventually, Skorj visited the store in his brand-new Porsche to see his old buddy and satisfy me personally. He was likewise kind sufficient to stroll me through the ins and outs of the S800M that was his for many years.

I learnt more about a few of the electrical upgrades he carried out to make the automobile a more comfy everyday chauffeur, such as setting up a sneaky MP3 cable television to the back of a duration right radio. He likewise gushed over the unusual Auricoste 36-9 air travel clock selector that shares the exact same manufacture date as the S800M and includes some rally style.

This specific automobile rolled off the assembly line at Honda’s Suzuka plant in late 1969 for the worldwide market, and is the last model of the early S designs. A heavy hand in style and dazzling engineering from business creator Soichiro Honda exist throughout.

These later development automobiles still keep the ’60s styling hint of sweeping curves and sloping fastbacks of the age. The twin overhead webcam engine with side-draft carburetors and a needle bearing crankshaft have roots in Formula 1. Am I validating the awesomeness enough yet?

Speedhunters_S800M and S800 Rally Car

For me, this is the very best variation to own. Not just is it the most effective however likewise gain from the elimination of lots of peculiarities discovered in the earlier automobiles like the double chain rear-wheel drive systems and special independent suspension, changed with a more reasonable and easier-to-maintain strong axle style with a spring/shock combination. Front discs with a dual-circuit brake system and an enhanced steering rack likewise came basic by this design year, that makes the automobile a lot more happy and more secure to drive right approximately the limitation, which is over 100mph. I have actually constantly chosen coupes over roadsters too, not simply for much better chassis tightness, however the all-year usefulness.

Just 1,548 examples were sent out abroad in between 1967 and 1970, making this specimen rather unusual even prior to you consider its general story. This particular lorry invested the majority of its life in the UK prior to going back to Japan back in 2012, by means of Skorj.

If anybody desires more information about these terrific devices I motivate you to go to Skorj’s extremely comprehensive 22-page thread on Honda-Tech that covers years into his ownership.

Speedhunters_S800M & S600

Aside from its notability, a huge factor I bought this specific lorry was due to the fact that of its substantial service and upkeep history. A few of the significant mechanical highlights are 2 engine reconstructs, a transmission overhaul, carburetor refresh, setup of LSD, coilover suspension, a modification from a generator to generator system, an oil filter adaptor produced for modern-day replacements, and a circuit box conversion to make the entire bundle far more trusted.

To continue these efforts, I have actually set up the replacement of some rusted body sheet metal and the fabrication of a couple of custom-made suspension bits to bring the automobile in line with my vision. It will stay in the care of the mechanic throughout of 2021.

Speedhunters_S800M Interior Side

Enough drooling on my end, it was time to seal the transfer of ownership. Purchase payment made in money, easily the S800M was formally mine.

I will state that the return to Okinawa had a bittersweet taste. After being so elated from the whole experience I understood this was simply one action in a a lot longer procedure. A minimum of I still have a really RADwood-worthy 1989 Mitsubishi Minicab 4 × 4 supercharged kei van to keep me amused in the meantime.

Speedhunters_S-Chassis Spec Sheet

I likewise now have a lorry log book with all the invoices from the S800M’s 50-year history. Moreover, I was talented a book on the history of the very first Honda autos with comprehensive images. I will read this in terrific information to end up being acquainted with the initial part functions, in addition to a service handbook composed for the European market that must complete any holes.

Speedhunters_Leaving S800M

With the S800M predicted to stay in mainland Japan for the next year for the small repair work and continued adjustments, it will be rather a long time prior to I can bring a sequel to this story. However felt confident, pending travel constraints, I prepare to take an impressive trip from Tokyo to southern Japan, followed by a ferryboat to Okinawa. Obviously, all will be recorded in addition to the automobile’s inescapable departure to the U.S.A..

It appears like a great deal of persistence will be needed progressing, however I believe it’s going to be well worth the wait.

Brian McIntyre Ray
Instagram: brianmr87


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