The origin of Honda 4 wheels, to the final stage
Since Honda entered the four-wheeled vehicle market, the S800 was released in January 1966 as the final development of the “S” series, an open sports car that has been on both wheels along with the light truck T360.
As a normal evolution version of the S600, a coupe was also included in the lineup from the beginning, and in the races, it was a good match with the Yotahachi (Toyota Sports 800). It is also called “100 mile car”.
However, the light van L800 (former L700) and the pickup truck P800 (former P800), which were converted to 800cc in parallel with the sale of the S800, were too maniac for practical use and had a short life, and the two-door sedan N800 ended without being released. , the S800 finished its role without further development.
Like the Nissan Fairlady of the same period, the merely powerful ladder frame sports car came to an end in the 1960s.
This is the end of the exhaust volume increase!
In place of the phantom light sports S360, the S500, which was released with a larger size and an increased displacement in order to create a sales record for Honda’s compact cars, lacked power. Although it was used in races, it is not very popular with the general public.
If it’s an open sport, there are times when you want to not only run with your eyes in a triangle, but also relax and heal your mind with the wind, but the problem that the S600 is not suitable is later the first half of the S2000 (released in 1999). The 2-liter AP1 will rekindle, and the late-type 2.2-liter AP2 will be produced.
The S800, the final evolution of the Honda S series in the 1960s, which increased the displacement of the S600, certainly seems to have benefited from the increased displacement. The impression is that it is easy to handle from the range, and the torque rises when it blows up.
If this were the case, it would have been possible to drive briskly on the street, drive comfortably, and perform well in races, but it seems that Honda’s development team had a hard time.
In response to a request from Mr. Soichiro Honda, the charismatic founder of the “Oyaji-san,” the bore and stroke were expanded to the limit of 60mm x 70mm. I didn’t forget to tell you the limits of the AS engine.
Originally it was a 360cc in-line 4 engine for light cars, but I think it was well expanded to 791cc, but there is a limit to increasing the bore due to the bore pitch (the sense of the center point of each cylinder), and as long as the stroke is already sufficiently long, It can’t be helped that the stroke up is also the limit.
Mystery of the bonnet power bulge
The exterior of the S800 has few differences from the S600, and if you don’t remember the difference in the front grille, it’s difficult to tell from a distance.
This is because Honda’s official “Ask an OB engineer about the “S” mechanism” says, “My father (Soichiro Honda) asked me to turn on the mechanical injection system under development, so I inflated the hood.” SPORTS360/S500 /S600/S800 is also for injection.
However, Mr. Shinya Iwakura (now Professor Emeritus at Tama Art University), who actually designed the bulge, said in the column “Senjiyaku” Episode 6 “How to show 200cc”, the design department said, “Cost reduction I want to keep it down, so don’t touch the outer panel.”
However, as a designer, it’s a powerful engine, and when I was thinking about what to do not only for the grille but also for the body, Mr. Soichiro Honda appeared and said, “There’s something special about the bonnet.” However, it seems to be “a very meaningful protrusion right above the 4-cab”.
Thanks to this, the design team seems to have complained that the change was meaningless, and even though they are the same OB, it is quite different from what Mr. Engineer said, but what was the truth?
Unexpectedly, both of them were telling the truth, and the mechanical injection that I told the engineers to install had not been made public internally, so the designer added a power bulge because “the bonnet has some characteristics.” Mr. Soichiro Honda may have devised a plan to put it on.
The fact that the body design department, who had been the last to hear anything, screamed, is somehow calming.
In the end, mechanical injection did not make it in time for the Honda 1300 (released in 1969), let alone the S800.
At the time of the development of the S800, which was released in 1966, there was still no shadow or form, and it would not be surprising if Soichiro Honda was the only person who knew everything.
Finally break away from the chain drive that was not really necessary
By the way, the difference between S800 and S600 is not only the engine, power bulge and front grille, but also the change from chain drive since S500 to general shaft drive in May 1966, four months after its release. .
In the first place, the reason for adopting a chain drive was that “if you normally put a rear differential between the left and right rear wheels, there would be no space for a spare tire.”
An elaborate mechanism of independent suspension using the chain case as a trailing arm, connecting to the rear differential fixed to the vehicle body by driving the propeller shaft to near the center of the bottom of the vehicle body, and chain driving from the left and right drive shaft ends to the left and right rear wheels.
However, in fact, that episode was during the development of the S360, and at the time of the S500, which had an enlarged body, we were able to secure space for the spare tire even with the shaft drive, but the S500, which had to be released in a hurry, was left as it was. am.
This was followed by the S800, but an engineer who was a lecturer for dealers at Honda’s American corporation ordered the rear differential of the T360 and adopted a uniquely modified shaft drive specification.
In this way, the S800 Live Axle version, which Honda calls a “Live Axle”, was born, which was changed to an orthodox axle type suspension that hangs a rigid axle with 4 trailing links + panhard rods, replacing the chain drive.
The unique behavior of the rear jumping when the chain sticks, such as when taking off, was lost, but there is no doubt that it was the correct answer considering the steering stability.
However, the spare tire that was stored in the dent in the trunk was hung at the bottom of the trunk behind the rear differential (same method as light vans), so as far as storage of the spare tire is concerned, it is still a chain drive. I think you were smarter.
“The last S” is the domestic version S800M for export
The live axle was realized at the request of the export destination North America, but in addition, the North American specification has reflectors placed on the four corners of the vehicle body, a two-system brake system and a front disc for improved safety, and a 15% reduction. The steering ratio reduces the steering force and makes the maneuverability mild.
Although the specs have not changed, the engine has been improved a lot, and the standard equipment such as a radio and heater has been enhanced. From a spartan pure sports car to a mild open car, similar to the change from the AP1 type S2000 to the AP2 type S2000 later. There was a difference.
It was released in Japan as the “S800M” in May 1968, at which time the coupe was discontinued and only the open model returned to the starting point.
For 29 years until the FR open sports S2000 was released, Honda’s “S” went to sleep for a long time.
* The author information of the images used in this article is as of the publication date.