Honda Z600 (1974)
One of only 918 examples in European specification.
By the early seventies, Japanese manufacturers had virtually left the European market. Honda was known for its motorcycles, but in terms of cars the manufacturer only offered the flamboyant little roadster S800. In 1970, the brand launched in Europe with a surprising small city car with very modest dimensions: 3,12 meters long and 1,3 meters wide. These dimensions were necessary to comply with Japanese Kei-car legislation, which placed these cars in a lower tax category. With its surprising curves, its rear window in the shape of a television screen and its small 10-inch rims, the Honda Z 600 did not go unnoticed. Especially because it was mainly offered in vibrant colors : in France (at that time Honda's largest market in Europe) the Z600 was only available in… orange.
For the mechanical architecture, Honda seemed to have taken inspiration from the Mini : the wheels on the extreme corners of the body, transverse engine, front-wheel drive and tiny wheels. The biggest difference was the engine which was derived from motorcycle. This two-cylinder in-line of 600 cc produced 36 bhp and had air cooling. It was fun, agile and well equipped, yet it never managed to break into the car market as there was no Honda car dealer network yet and it was only available over the motorcycle concessions. Honda only sold 918 examples of the Z600 in Europe (mainly in France).
As the Z600 was not available in Germany, these cars were imported from France and then converted to comply with the German "Klasse 4" regulations. The engine was detuned to 250 cc and so it was possible to drive the Z600 in Germany without a driving license on the German roads. Times have changed a lot since, and this example is one of these extremely rare survivors. It was registered in Germany on the 8th of May 1974 with a special notice on the Fahrzeugbrief that it is a "Klasse 4" vehicle - with an attestation of the Fa. Calabrese who was specialised in this kind of conversion. The car has two owners in total, and the mileage of 41.128 km is correct and demonstrable by a number of invoices and technical inspections. The second owner was a Honda dealership, and he took the car out of traffic in 1995. The Z600 has been in his showroom until his demise, and is in a very remarkable and original condition. Some outer panels are repainted once, but it is mostly still in first paint. The engine starts on the button and the interior is still completely original as it left the factory. The carpets are worn, but the vinyl seats are still very good.
This is a very rare city car, which fits any car or motorcycle collection. Despite the fact that the US market had many more Z600's in the seventies, the prices of the Z600 are soaring in American auctions. This example as a very rare European version without the ugly USA sidelights and front chrome bar, and in remarkable original condition. A true gem in the world of the city cars.