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Every Day I Wake Up And Cry That I Could Never Buy A 1998 Honda Z

Every so often American car enthusiasts mourn that we can’t buy some sort of high-priced European sports wagon or weird offroader. These are fair complaints. But they do not pain me deeply in my heart, not in the way that I yearn for the 1998-2002 Honda Z, the weirdest Honda you’ve never heard of, a midengine economy car for me.

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Well, not for me.

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Honda never sold us the millenial Z, as it was a kei car, designed to be ultra small and low-power to fit Japan’s lowest car tax class. Size is restricted as is horsepower, which should tell you as much as you need to know about why this car isn’t exactly designed for Texas superhighways or wherever.

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But! Texans have driven these little kei cars around, and they do work, lovable and wonderful.

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Few are more so than this Honda Z, which used the midengine platform of the Honda Acty work trucklet and built a three-door hatchback body around it. That there’s an engine under the back seats raises them up a fair bit, and the structural design of the vehicle makes it look more mini-mini-mini SUV than practical sports car.

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Prices of these cars used are unbelievably low, usually somewhere between one and three grand in Japan.

But I want it and need it and regret that there was never a ’90s with it here in America, free and buzzy and filled with joy.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

longitudinal MR AWD Turbo Honda hatchback with engine access below the rear seats and overhangs thinner than an iPad

This is my new favorite car, in spite of the fact it only came with an automatic. And the double-digit hp. And the fact that I’ll never see one.