Guest contributor: Skorj on the 50th Anniversary of Honda Sports
MCB Japan correspondent and Honda S-car owner Skorj was on hand recently for the 50th Anniversary of Honda Sports— here is his report.
Starting with the 1963 Tokyo Motor Show S360 prototype, the subsequent release of the limited production S500, then the larger volume S600 and S800, the early Honda Sports cars were a clear manifestation of Soichiro Honda’s vision of fun merged with competition. A hard man known to hit his engineers, he was driven by spurts of engineering brilliance and a fierce desire to compete. His S-cars were a direct outcome, and Honda recently allocated a weekend to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Honda Sports with track laps, photographs, original engineering team members, period newsreels, and a remarkable range of food and drink for the two-day event.
The S-cars’ twin-cammed, roller-bearing, modular crank, solid rod, and quad-carbureted engines are a remarkable feat of specific output— about 100 bhp per liter. Revving to over 9000 rpm in street trim and to 12,000 rpm and higher in race form, they made a noise like nothing else. Fifty years later, their screaming little engines gathered at Honda’s Motegi Twin Ring, with plenty of examples on hand of the standard trim S500, S600, S800, coupe, roadster, and specials including Formula Honda, Macransa, Coniglio, Griffon, the original RSC Nürburgring 500km-under-1000cc class winner, and the giant-killing S600 of Denny Hulme sounding as good as it did when he fluffed a Le Mans start and supposedly passed over 40 cars on the first lap, giving Soichiro Honda his first four-wheeled victory.
To drive the Motegi circuit in the company of such a historic group with over 120 other S-cars was indeed a highlight. Even if it was at normal road speeds, it didn’t matter.
(Technical details: all photographs taken on a period Bronica S2 and Kodak Ektar C-41 color negative film.)