In today’s edition of Not Sold Here, we are featuring the Honda Beat. The Beat is a special class of super small vehicles for which there is no equivalent in the United States. Smaller than a subcompact, these cars are often called “kei cars” in Japan. I featured another Japanese vehicle, the Subaru Microvan, a few years ago. The difference is that the Subaru was actually imported to the U.S. while the Honda Beat was not.
I ran across this Honda Beat at the monthly Cars and Coffee gathering in Scottsdale. It is unbelievably small in person. Although it’s hard to visualize, the Honda Beat is nearly 10 inches narrower and 400 lbs lighter than the original Mazda Miata. It really is like a street legal go-kart. The philosophy behind these kei cars is to have small, efficient transportation for the narrow streets and crowded cities of Japan. As such, they were not designed to be particularly sporty. The inline 3-cylinder engine displaces 656 cc (40.0 cubic inches) and puts out a whopping 63 horsepower. The Honda Beat was only available with a 5-speed manual transmission.
There is a law in the United States that allows vehicles 25 years or older to be imported and driven on the roads, even though the vehicles do not meet US Federal crash test standards. This “show and display” law is the reason why you might be seeing more R32 Skylines and other right-hand drive Japanese vehicles at your favorite car shows. It is very likely that this Honda was imported under that same law.
About 34,000 of these cars were built during the production run from 1991 to 1996. It is unknown how many of them have made it to the U.S., but I’m certain the number is quite small. The car drew a huge number of curious onlookers at the show – much more than some of the brand new exotics and supercars that cost many times what this vehicle is worth.
This is a very unique car and I’m glad to have run across it at the Saturday Motorsports Gathering put on by Scuderia Southwest.
Back in the 1980’s Honda determined that if they were going to have a luxury division (Acura) they would need a ‘full size’ car to compete. With the midsized Accord as their only option for badge engineering they looked elsewhere. They ended up collaborating with the British company Rover. This resulted in two cars that were very similar, one for each company. Continue reading →
I love wagons so much, so it pains me to see this very attractive Accord wagon with these Jet-Set-Radio looking stickers on the back, rocking some wheels that were probably brand new when the car was. Don’t you wonder what connects our generation’s enthusiast to the utilitarian wagon?
One of my favorite cars I owned was a 1994 Mercury Sable wagon with a 3.8L V6. I got rid of it after it blew a head gasket (don’t act surprised) but man did I love mobbing that thing around town with it’s torque-steer inducing big six (compared to the 3.0L Vulcan) and the back seats folded flat. I would love to have another, it’s just too bad that the front transaxle would probably spew its guts if I did anything to hop up the Essex underneath.
After posting this article on facebook it’s gotten a lot attention. Mostly negative towards me and my dislike for all things big-wheeled and ground-dragging. To each their own, I suppose. However, the owner Brian Salamunec has a pretty good sense of humor and enjoyed seeing the article. For those interested in this kind of car, I’m providing some links to the above 1996 Accord Wagon, and an even further modified 1997 wagon that was completed approximately a decade ago according to the owner.
While looking for yard sales on a quiet Saturday, I came across this vehicle. I was laughing at the combination of 4 Dodge Ram tail lights and the CHMSL above them. We love featuring Recreational Vehicles that have head lights and tail lights from production vehicles. I guess with the Cummins power plant, the four Ram lights are necessary, if it was only two lights we would know it was powered by a “Hammy”. Totally joking here. Anywho, as I waited the 45 seconds it took me to pass the body of this mile-long behemoth I was still chuckling pretty good about the silly back end. When I saw the front though, I realized this was no laughing matter.
There is a basic principle of engineering that affects all cars: in order to make an engine produce more power, you need to add more fuel and more air. Adding more fuel is the easy part, but adding more air can be challenging. That’s why automakers use turbochargers to boost the incoming air, which in turn boosts the power output of an engine. This is particularly effective on smaller engines.
Turbochargers have been standard fare on Saabs, Volvos, and high-end Nissans for decades. One car manufacturer that has kept their distance from forced induction is Honda. However, they did experiment with it during the “turbo craze” of the 1980s.
Welcome back to the Rice Report: your up-to-the-minute guide to the exciting and confusing phenomenon of the ricer resurgence as of late!
Before I begin, I would like to apologize for the poor quality of the photos. I think my camera must have a special mode that I don’t know about. I was able to see this car perfectly fine in person, but for some reason whenever I tried to take a picture of it, it came out terrible and grainy. I really believe my camera was trying to protect me from ever having to see this car again. Anyways, on to the car.