Scott King's 1965 S600 Roadster & S600 Coupe
As most Honda enthusiasts know, in 1999 Honda introduced the S2000 convertible in celebration of their 50th anniversary. The sporty roadster created a worldwide buzz, with many calling it an instant classic. What many don't know is that Honda had already created a topless roadster, some 35 years earlier.
In the late '50s, it was the Japanese government that dictated which companies would be allowed to produce cars, as well as what types of cars they'd be able to build. Rather than compete with current automakers' model types, Soichiro Honda set out to create a car that would inspire a new demand for something different. His theory would prove invaluable, as it caused quite a stir when the S360 was finally introduced to Japanese dealers. Usually reserved for emergency vehicles, the new offering was unveiled in a bright red hue that demanded attention. Though the S360 was never put into production, its predecessor, the S500, was available for purchase in Japan. In 1964, the S600 Roadster went into full production, and was made available in Europe, Australia, and Canada. As with many great Hondas, the U.S. market would never see the S600.
The striking white on red color combo is a Honda staple.
Unlike many classic restorations, both cars see their share of street driving
The S600 Roadster
Scott King of Palm Springs, CA, has always been a Honda fan. In fact, his first car, a '72 N600, was one of the first Hondas ever available in the U.S. "When I was just a kid, my older brother's friend Greg spent a dollar on a raffle ticket and was the lucky winner of a brand new yellow N600. I was always fascinated by that car and continue to be to this day," he recalls. In May of 1995, King received word from a friend that a 1965 S600, in dire need of a full restoration, was calling his name from Pennsylvania. Most likely a Canadian model due to the left hand drive configuration, the car was quickly purchased, and it, along with all of its miscellaneous pieces strewn about in various sized boxes, was shipped to a friend's shop in New York. After some slight adjustments, the car fired up on the first try, even after being stored for over fourteen years. The car was shipped home to California where it would spend the next four years being painstakingly brought back to showroom condition. Parts had to be sourced through Honda gurus and newfound "S" friends that might offer a piece here, or a part there. In order to get into every nook and cranny, the chassis was separated from the body for the rebuild. Koni adjustable shocks replaced the outdated stockers, and while the body received a fresh white coat, the entire frame was expertly powdercoated.
With the exterior up to par, attention was turned to the daunting task of completing the interior. A previous owner had re-covered most of the cabin, and King felt that a red interior was the only option for this classic Honda. Right hand drive S600 dashes are scarce, and left hand drive S600 dashes are essentially non-existent. A specialist was hired to recreate the original dash and preserve the car's authentic feel. In late 2002, after years of searching, waiting, and countless hours of wrenching, King's '65 S600 was finally complete, and ready for the road. He adds "It's really hard to believe that this was once just a rusty heap. I had a lot of fun and frustration restoring the car, made a lot of new friends and learned many new things. But to be honest, I wouldn't say I was itching to start a similar project any time soon." Famous last words.