If today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Honda were to break down, would that then make it a deadbeat? We may never know the answer as it’s said to run just fine. It’s price? Well, we’ll just see if that lives up to expectations.
As car enthusiasts, we all proclaim an affinity for cars with manual transmissions. Hell, some of us have even mastered the stick shift’s delicate dance. Of course the question still remains: will we ever learn how to love?
A lot of you found a lot to love about last Friday’s 1991 Mercedes Benz 300SL. Additionally, 80-percent of you felt sufficient amity toward its modest $4,900 asking to give the Benz a Nice Price win. A big part of that win came from the fact that the little (but ungodly stout) roadster rocked the rare combination of a modestly proportioned straight six and a five speed stick.
Now, Mercedes has over the years offered a number of models with manual transmissions. I believe that most of those are plied by taxi drivers. The stick in Friday’s 300SL comes with a reputation for for not being particularly joyful to use. The throws are long, the gate is only vaguely suggested, and the ratios seemed to have been chosen by Daimler’s dart team. Still, who wouldn’t want to pull into your next people-impressing event in a slick drop top Benz with a snick-snick shifter?
Of course you could easily have the same experience—with the added jaw-droppery of doing so in right-hand drive—in this 1991 Honda Beat.
This 120,000-kilometer Kei komes with a kool kadre of kit (argh! I have to stop that).
Let’s start that again. This Beat pushes a lot of the right buttons. These are cool mid-engine convertibles, just like the Porsche Boxster, MG TF (no, not that one), and the Toyota MR2 Spyder. The only thing is, these are like two-thirds scale.
Their size is one of the reasons Honda denied the U.S. all the little Kei car’s Beaty goodness. In fact, there hasn’t been a single Kei-sized car from any Japanese manufacturer that has made it over here.
Jump in one and you immediately see why. These things are tiny. Yes, there have been plenty of other two-seaters offered here in the States, but even the smallest of those—the NA Miata, Pontiac Fiero, and Chevy Chevette Scooter among them—all look like they’ve suffered gigantism next to the diminutive JDM Beat.
Having small dimensions and associated weight (about 1600 pounds) means that even though the Beat has an equally tiny motor, the 660-cc E07A triple can produce enough pelvic thrust for the Beat to… well, beat it.
That power is 63-horses, which works out to 96 horsepower per litre. To put that in perspective, Honda’s top pony packer of the era, the S2000 pumped out 118 per litre. That ain’t half bad! The little triple sits in back, and next to that resides a five-speed manual.
The spiritual successor of the Beat is the present day S660, but that Kei car is still JDM-only, and that means bringing it here would open up a world of hurt. The Beat however, well it’s now more than 25 years old. As we all know, that’s the age at which our Federal government stops giving a shit about things like safety and emissions.
This silver over zebra (yes, zebra) Beat is claimed to have been imported through the right channels and presently carries a clean Arizona title. It would have to sport an out of sate registration as though it’s offered in L.A., California still prohibits non-BAR compliant cars newer than ’76 to claim registration.
This one comes with steelies and a top that’s said to be leak-free The paint appears to have held up pretty well, however it does exhibit some minor dings here and there. Also, there’s a Union 76 sticker on the boot lid that’s a bit glaring if you’re not a big fan of the gas brand.
Under that lid is a microscopic luggage compartment. That’s encroached upon by the battery, and barely offers sufficient space for the soft tonneau. The engine compartment in front of that is viewable only through a slit-like opening. Do not expect to be doing much in the way of maintenance up here.
The interior looks a little beat up, with scratching on the hard plastic of the center console, some tears in the driver’s seat, and what looks to be fogging in the motorcycle still gauge pod. Other than that what really stands out is how small it is.
In fact the whole thing is small. This is the kind of car that tween girls would wear dangling off a charm bracelet. It’s so diminutive that Lover’s Lane imbroglios would be limited to friend zone shoulder rubbing. You could even easily imagine slotting one in one of those generally impossible parking spaces at the mall that has COMPACT stenciled at its entrance.
Still, good things come in small packages. Isn’t that what they say? I don’t know who “they” are, but I’ve had good things that have ecome in small packages so I guess they’re right, whomever they are.
For this good thing, you’ll need to come up with $6,000. Isn’t it interesting that this Beat is the same year as last Friday’s Mercedes Benz, which was also a two seat manual transmission convertible of some renown, and yet the Honda asks $1,100 more?
You know need to weigh in on just how interesting that is. Do you think this JDM import Beat is worth that $6,000? Or, is that a price that you think… could be beat? (drops sunglasses and signals Who song)
H/T to Planktron for the hookup!
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