Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Z600 was originally sold through Honda Motorcycle dealers as the company had yet to set up its auto dealer network. Let’s see if this tiny car comes with a price that might make it a pretty big deal.
Do you recall the haunting final scene in The Godfather? That’s where the door closes on Diane Keaton’s character Kay just as she comes to the stark awakening that her husband, Michael, has cemented his position as the Don of the family and that he has just lied to her about his involvement in the murder of his sister’s husband.
It’s that kind of realization that will likely dawn on the buyer of the 1995 Range Rover Classic County we looked at yesterday. Will it eat up far more than its $3,500 asking price in ongoing maintenance and repairs over the course of its remaining life? Probably. Will it still provide some modicum of pleasure and security in the moments in between? Most likely. In the end, the low asking price coupled with a reasonably decent appearance proved too big a draw, and the Range Rover ended our contest with an overwhelming 77 percent Nice Price win.
Let’s stick with the movie theme here for a moment. If you’ve ever seen John Frankenheimer’s saga-like 1966 film, Grand Prix then what you likely remember most is hunky James Garner surrounded by a slew of real racing drivers like Graham Hill, Jo Siffert, and Bruce McLaren. What you might not remember is Toshiro Mifune in the role of Izo Yamura, a character that was intended to be a fictionalized version of real-world motorcycle and automotive legend Soichiro Honda.
Mifune was one of the world’s greatest actors but was known for his stoic characterizations, not those demanding exceptional amounts of warmth and humor. As a result, his performance in Grand Prix is way more Toshiro Mifune than Soichiro Honda. The real man was far more gleeful in life than was the fictional character Mifune portrayed on the screen.
You can see some of that glee and the whimsy it brought in this 1971 Honda Z600 Coupe. This was not Honda’s first attempt at a four-wheeled conveyance, but it certainly was its cheekiest. Lore has it that Honda had planned on entering the U.S. automotive market in the mid-1960s with the S500 sports car. The company pulled that plan after engineers testing the model found that it was incapable of climbing the steep streets in San Francisco.
The Z600 and its Mini-like S600 sister apparently passed the onerous City by the Bay test and made their way to America in federalized form beginning with the 1970 model year. These cars were initially sold and serviced through Honda’s existing chain of motorcycle dealerships since the company had yet to invest in a separate network for its automotive division.
While obviously not motorcycles, there is a whole lot of motorcycle engineering going on here, most noticeably in the 598 cc SOHC air-cooled two-cylinder engine and smooth four-speed gearbox. And, yes, the latter does also offer reverse. The drivetrain is compact enough that the engine and transmission can sit in tandem just like in a motorcycle, although instead of out-putting through a chain to the rear, the Z sends its mighty 36 horses to the front wheels through equal-length half-shafts. The rear end is just along for the ride and to smooth things out it jounces on leaf springs that, to be long enough, extend out from under the bodywork.
That bodywork looks like a ski boot. Unlike the more staid-looking S600 which featured a trunk, the Z car features a small glass hatch with a heavy black rubber surround looking for all the world like where you might stick your foot. That surround serves as both a structural and a styling element. The interior features two buckets up in front and a small bench in the back. No, you do not want to drive this Honda four-up for any length of time, but in a pinch (literally) it will do.
According to the seller of this orange over black Z600, it still wears “40yr old dust” after having been in storage for that number of years. A good dusting off isn’t this car’s only un-tended-to need. The seller also notes some brake issues, claiming that while the master cylinder was replaced, the brakes have yet to be bled. Who does that? More importantly, who does that and then offers a car for sale? Whatever.
The bodywork on this car is lumpy, showing years’ worth of bumps and bruises, but nothing too egregious. There’s a bit of surface rust evident on the doors and sills, but again, nothing to get your panties in a knot over. It apparently runs and drives and while the interior does show wear on the seats and carpet, overall it seems to be in livable shape. And yes, the shifter does sprout from just under the dash, one of the little Honda’s more lovable features. There are just over 45,000 miles on the clock and while it has been off the road for seemingly forever, it still comes with a clean title.
The asking price is $6,200 and before you get to voting, consider this doppelgänger that presently asks an additional four-grand to buy. Hmmm, what to do now?
What do you think, is this fresh out of storage Z600 worth that $6,200 asking as it sits? Or, would you spend more to get the better one?
H/T to Glemon for the hookup!
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