For me, Hondas have always been the cars I was told I should buy by someone who didn't know shit about cars, when I was stuck on the side of the road, in the rain, trying to keep an SU carb from dumping fuel on an exhaust manifold. So, while I like and respect many Hondas, part of me has always found them too "safe." But not this one.
No, this Honda is special. Honda has always produced some extremely well-engineered cars, but they're generally not considered "weird." Sure, their really early kei-class cars had some unique qualities, and they've often had novel engineering, but never really out-and-out weird. The Honda Vamos, though, is a delightfully weird, wonderful car.
Even describing it on paper gets the basic, delicious bonkersness across: it's a mid-engined convertible cab-over pickup truck with no doors. There's nothing about that description I don't like.
The Vamos roughly fits into that now-lost class of utility/fun cars I've longed for before, and in many ways, the Vamos is really a perfect representative of this category: its mechanicals are based on more mainstream offerings (Honda's 360 sedans and trucks), it's open, its design is purely from its function but somehow manages to be strangely cute, it's rugged, but not really an off-roader, and it can be used for rugged work or having fun with equal ease.
The design is like a sort of motorized wagon: a flat bottom with two or four seats, a simple angled panel for the front — mounting the lights on one side and the controls on the other, the engine in the middle, under the cargo floor, just ahead of the rear axle. There's no doors save for the ones on the side to access the under-bed locker, and there's several variations of folding canvas roof, allowing for a single- or double-cab pickup style, all the way to an entirely enclosed van-like shape.
The car's like a two-cylinder, 30 HP Swiss Army knife. It's a car that's pretty much impossible to imagine modern-day Honda even considering building, for many, many reasons, and while those are rational reasons, I think it's a shame.
So, when family or friends would berate me when one of my ridiculous, archaic cars broke down again and tell me that I should really grow up and buy a Honda, the Vamos was always the Honda pictured in my mind when I nodded and said "I'm seriously thinking about it."