In 1965 Japan launched its next image car at the Tokyo Motor Show; this was set to compete with the British and Italian dominance in the European market when it came to sporting coupes and roadsters. The Honda S800 was the last to wear the S badge until 1999 with the S2000 being produced.
The little S800 not only had more than adequate performance considering its tiny engine size being just 791 cc it also had good fuel economy at 35 mpg. With just over 11,500 sales worldwide it wasn’t massively successful against stiff competition such as the MG Midget and the Fiat 850 spider but did act as a shop window for the Honda engineer’s talent. The S800 still has a loyal following today.
The Honda S800 holds a good value in today’s market being a fun car to drive plus its rarity and it sounds like a mini Formula 1 car. Honda produced a little gem back in the sixties as it still does today.
The Honda S800 has never been that popular in the UK and so there won’t be a massive choice if you’re looking to buy one of these high revving little sports cars, but that will be down to the fact only 1100 coupes were sold in the UK and just 250 roadsters.
Hopefully as these little beauties will have probably been owned by an enthusiast they should be in good condition, so serious corrosion is unlikely. The key areas to check are the cross member under the diff and the outriggers. More problematic is the joint between the inner and outer front wings, sills, rear valance and rear wings these can all corrode badly as do A-posts, door bottoms and floor pans.
Engines are reliable but will need rebuilding at around 70,000 miles. Check for any oil leaks and any uneven idling caused by cracks in the carburettor mountings.
Exhaust systems need to be checked for corrosion and due to their complexity can be tough to replace. Clutches are strong and the transmission was designed to handle a lot more power and so will wear well. Rear axles are also robust although a little whining is inevitable.
In April 1967 the Honda S800 became the fastest production car in the world under 1 litre. The S800 could rev up to 10,000 rpm and reach over 100 mph with a 791 cc engine.
Mark Wilkinson, Managing Director Says:
“The Honda S800 was a foreign underdog back in the sixties with the likes of the British making fine roadsters like the MG B and the Healey Sprite. The S800 was cheaper than a Mini and more comfortable than the Midget, but home grown talent was too strong for the Japanese pocket rocket!”