N600 now a serious classic... as long as you’re not tall
VALUE 2012 £5000
VALUE NOW £7000
Don’t laugh. The tiny Honda-N600 of 1969 is a landmark car. The first four-wheeled Honda to be officially exported to North America and sold from motorbike dealerships, it’s said that the air-cooled 43bhp, 600cc alloy twin inspired the engine in the CB750 that decimated the British motorcycle industry in the Seventies.
Revving to a frantic 9000rpm with front-wheel drive, front servo discs and a plastic tailgate and dashboard to save weight, it was hailed by period ads as a ‘Frisky companion for the busy man’. Some 35,000 were sold in the US between ’1969 and ’1973 but the N600 couldn’t match the elfin charm or lower price of the Mini in Britain, which is why a mere 10 survivors are currently listed on the DVLA database.
But like all microcars, good N600s now fetch big money. Motorcycles Unlimited in Middlesex has a beautifully original rhd ’1973 in white with one lady owner, 14,000 miles, history and all books and manuals for £16,000. Hofman Classics in Leek, Holland has a nicely restored ’1971 in green, fresh from 30-year ownership, for €7900 (£7070) – which doesn’t sound dear. Especially given that in July Brightwells sold an unrestored ‘1963 Peel P50 microcar for £49,000.
The N600 was also the first US car to attract a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. In 1982 a Florida court ordered Honda to pay $6m – then the biggest damages ever paid to a single plaintiff – for injuries sustained in an N600 crash by a badly designed windscreen support. Taller investors might want to look at something more commodious.