In America, where eagles soar into the sky clutching dripping steaks, we normally think of Hondas as pretty safe, rational cars. Civics, Accords, CR-Vs, Odysseys... these are cars almost no one has ever described as “lurid.” And yet in Japan, Honda—sweet, rational Honda—once built a car for the primary, understood, from-the-factory purpose of getting laid in.
That car is the Honda S-MX, and while at first glance it just appears to be another late ‘90s/early 2000s Japanese space-maximizing city-cube-car, it actually seems to have been designed with a much more specific goal in mind: as a private space for young people to fuck. Oh, it could also, if needed, take you to work or the grocery store.
I should clarify that this wasn’t just a case of a surprisingly roomy car that people just sort of figured out was pretty good for on-getting (it); the actual design goal of the car from the beginning was to provide young people in very dense urban areas (like Tokyo) with some very precious private space for (among other things) sex.
I was told this by an anonymous Honda employee, who confirmed it with a colleague in Japan: the car was designed as a “mobile love hotel.” And while this wasn’t quite specifically stated in the marketing or advertising, Honda wasn’t above dropping plenty of clues.
The very name, for example. S-MX. Rotate that ‘M’ sideways and you get ‘S-ΣX’ which is likely a familiar-looking word. Some have also pointed out the ‘S-M”/”S&M” connections, but no matter how you look at it, those letters were chosen for a reason.
Honda’s own advertising campaigns played on suggestions of intimacy, as well. Ad copy used the word “love” a lot more than most car ads tended to — some brochures even used the heading “love specifications.”
Here, just look at some more copy bullet-points from the brochure (poorly machine-translated from Japanese, but you get the idea):
● friendship that cause if you fall, love that fall together. (Full flat sheet)
● one step of love would casually begun. (One-step floor)
● swell love protect Futari. (SRS airbag system)
● of love that two of the heart become one. (2.0ℓDOHC engine)
● Love pupil is always shining. (Large headlights) is called the love of the things which are not seen only
(Panorama side window) ● love wants to look at the shoulder shifting same future.
(Twin bench seat) ● Although the entrance is one of love, and there are two of marriage and heartbreak the outlet.
(ABS) ● Pull in love, and then press in love
(real-time 4WD) ● that shake the love like music chest
(delicatessen Sea suspension) ● love color is the color of the flame of fire.
(Lowdown specification) ● love begins familiar place. (Honda Clio store)
Lots and lots of love imagery there, even with the terrible translation. Oh, and I also know I’m going to demand my next car comes equipped with “delicatessen Sea suspension.”
Japanese automotive journalist Tokudaiji Aritsune just came right out and said it, too: “So to speak, is a design for the purpose of car sex.”
Still not convinced? Check out this commercial for the S-MX, with music by Elton John:
So, Honda knew what they were doing here. The S-MX was part of Honda’s ‘Creative Mover’ series, which Honda called ‘Lifestyle Enhancing Vehicles,’ meaning that the company was looking for novel ways for cars to enhance an owner’s life beyond basic transportation. And, if you lived with your family in a house with paper interior walls, a place to privately bone on the regular I’m sure would be considered a pretty substantial ‘lifestyle enhancement.’
The actual design of the S-MX is a clear development of the ‘convenient fucking locale’ mandate. Inside the highly space-efficient box-like interior, all the seats fold together to create a full-car interior bed, in size close to a double bed. There’s a built-in ‘nightstand’ with cupholders for your Red Bull and Gatorade, and even an integrated tissue box holder for, um, hygiene.
The S-MX was interestingly asymmetrical, as well—two doors on the passenger’s side, one on the driver’s side. There were bench seats front and rear, a shifter on the column (to be sure nothing would get in the way), and the rear windows were available with dark privacy tint. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out all the carpet was machine-washable and it had a floor drain.
Mechanically, the S-MX uses a 2-liter version of Honda’s B-series engine, making about 128 HP. The drivetrain is shared with the better-known-in-America CR-V, a popular car for parents. This suggests an interesting marketing strategy from Honda: sell a car to make the babies in, then sell another car to move the babies around. Genius!
Ever since the Rambler’s reclining seats, people have been alternately titillated or appalled at the possibilities of cars for mobile fuck-labs, but I’m pretty sure Honda is the only company (outside of small-scale van customization firms in 1970s America) to actually design and sell a car specifically for having sex in.
Honestly, considering how boring most of Honda and Acura’s current U.S.-market line-up is, maybe a modernized fuckwagon/S-MX based on the Odyssey or something wouldn’t be such a bad idea?
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