If we haven’t killed off the “Millennials don’t like cars” myth yet, I’m hoping this story will be the one that finishes it off. The Honda S660, the mid-engined baby roadster we fall deeper and deeper in love with every day, was spearheaded by a 26-year-old who is the youngest lead engineer in Honda history.
Ryu Mukumoto is the subject of a recent Bloomberg piece highlighting his groundbreaking role in designing Honda’s newest sports car. Mukumoto was a 22-year-old R&D mockup designer with no prior engineering experience when he won an internal Honda competition to create a new car, beating out 400 other applicants. They gave him five years to develop a sports car.
Who says Honda doesn’t take risks? From the story:
Mukumoto’s vision — a low-slung roadster inspired by a speeding bullet — goes on sale next month in the most competitive segment in Japan’s shrinking car market.
“People of my generation think cars are simply a tool for transportation,” Mukumoto, now 26, said in an interview in Wako City, Japan. “I wanted them to say — hmm, this car is different,” he said. “We have made a car that will turn heads.”
Mukumoto is exactly the kind of person we want designing our sports cars. Hell, he sounds like one of us: a longtime Honda fan, he joined the company at age 19 and daily-drives an S2000 to work. He told Bloomberg he likes to blast around the twisting mountain roads where he feels he can “have conversations with the car.”
The S660 is a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive roadster powered by a minuscule 66 horsepower engine. While its kei car status means it’s highly unlikely to go on sale outside of Japan, it looks like ridiculous amounts of fun.
More than that, the S660 — as well as the Civic Type-R and the new NSX — represents a return to form for Honda, a company besieged by a sagging global economy, natural disasters and a recall crisis. They’re trying to get back to what made people love them in the first place.
If anyone at Honda is going to help them do it, it will be people like Mukumoto. I bet Soichiro Honda would have approved.