For today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe, we’re going to Japan! That’s right, sushi bars, tiny cars, and this super rare Honda 1300 GTL that you’ll need to decide the Yen-worthiness of.
Hey, do you know how to say Frank Sinatra in Japanese? Yep, that’s right, Frank Sinatra. I don’t know if The Chairman of the Board was ever big in Japan, but he did have a special edition of a big car named after him back here in America.
We had one of those yesterday and that 1982 Chrysler Imperial Frank Sinatra edition was deemed Crackalicious by 57% of you at its four-grand asking. Maybe it was that missing cassette tape that did it?
Now, if you’re in the US right now, or even Canada or Mexico I want you to stand up. Go on, give that butt a rest for a minute and get up. Now face to the West. Okay, stand on your tippy-toes and look real hard. Can you see Japan? Really, no? Come on, it’s that island just off of Korea. Y’all in Hawaii must be able to see it, Mt. Fuji at least, because it’s pretty tall.
Okay, well if you can’t see it - and thanks for trying, you’re all troopers - let me give you an idea of what this place is like. First of all, it’s full of Japanese people. I know, weird right? Those Japanese people happen to drive on the left, just as do the British, the Australians, and a lot of postal workers in the US.
That’s pretty much all you need to know about Japan to be able to appreciate this 1972 Honda 1300 GTL Coupe. For those of us outside Japan, this a rare opportunity to do so as these cars were never officially exported in any kind of number, and even back home they’re all kinds of crazy rare these days.
The 1300 first debuted in 1968. It was the largest car Honda had offered to date and took the competition - meaning Toyota - by surprise. The car’s combination of FWD and a raucous 100-bhp four (in hot trim) made the 90-horse 1.6 in the Corona seem like an insult.
The 1300 was the last car that Soichiro Honda took direct oversight in creating, and it features an air-cooled engine because the company founder allegedly felt that a water-cooled engine eventually has to give up its heat to the air so why not just cut out the middle man. Or something like that.
This almost all-original blue over black 1300 is one of less than 8,000 Coupe 9s built out of the 45,000 total coupes sold from ’69 though ’73. These hotter cars make their 100-ponies by way of four Keihin carbs and tuning that brings peak power at a heady 7,200 rpm. A dry sump oiling system rounds out the engine’s racing heritage bonafides.
A four-speed stick provides gear-change duties here, and that was standard fare. The rearend is held up by a funky swing axle design of S. Honda’s own creation. Speaking of design, the car - which appears to be in excellent shape inside and out - looks very much like a mid-seventies Subaru. The most striking feature however is the bullet nose which seems somehow out of character for Honda’s brand.
This being a ‘70s Japanese ride, it of course has the requisite fender-mounted mirrors. It also has some cool period-appropriate additions like amber heard driving lights and minlite-esque alloy wheels. The engine compartment is remarkably tidy and has a battery that looks like it couldn’t crank a Gold Wing, but of course likely does just fine. The ad (translated) says that it runs and stops as it should.
The interior is probably the most familiar aspect of this car for anyone versed in the marque’s early Civic. Here there’s hound’s tooth upholstery and a driver-oriented dash. The leather-wrapped wheel, and what appears to be A/C (!) are luxurious appointments in an otherwise all-business space.
I’m always alarmed when I see anything priced in Yen as it usually takes hundreds of them to buy something as simple as a Happy Meal. In the case of this uber-rare Honda, that extends to the millions as the buy-it-now price on its auction is a heady 3,000,000¥.
That works out to $24,000 American, or about 22,000 Euros, and I’d like your opinion as to whether that seems like a deal or not for this classic hot Honda. What do you say, does that price make you have a yen to drive this 1300? Or, is that just too much for an old Honda?
H/T to Kat Callahan for the hookup!
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