Sunday, 30 December 2012

Honda N360 rusty relic

Long before Xbox 360 there was the Honda N360. Powered by a 360cc air cooled engine, hence the cars name (no surprises there!), this diminutive mini car was also kmown as the Scamp.
So why the interest in this almost beyond salavation Japanese creation?
I owned one! The example I had was in far better condition, though. Bought for $500, it was very tidy to look at. The only faults were a small dent, rust around the front indicators and faded mats. Oh, and the small problem with the motor. It had been reconditioned, even though the car had only 36,000 miles on the clock, put back in, then started. However, as far as I can ascertain, the earth strap was not connected. The result was to fry the electrics.

It ran, but not well. It may have needed timing. Being essentially a motorbike motor married to a car front wheel drive gearbox, it had CDI ignition (capacitor discharge ignition) - simply not my bag!
I did quite like this car. They are quirky and have some unusual features; Starting with the power plant, it is a 2 cylinder aircooled four stroke on a four speed gearbox. The alternator converts to a starter to get fired up. One turns the key and waits for something to happen. It's all very quiet. Often the only indication that the battery is not completely dead is a slight rocking of the car as the two cylinders move up and down. With a full pee shooter car exhaust along it's length, the note out the back is very subdued, yet unmistakably a 2 cylinder. The gear lever cranks out from under the dash and does take some getting adjusted to if one wants to change up before all forward momentum is lost...after all, theres not a lot of spare power there! The car above is Hondamatic. I guess that would be quite rare.

So to the body quirks - Not what one would term pretty, more functional. Surprisingly roomy inside though. I am just shy of six foot and had no problems with ingress/egress, tough you would have to be more Japanese sized to feel comfortable in the back seat (unless you're a sumo wrestler). I liked the lockable fuel cap - lock the passenger door and the fuel release pin could not be accessed! Similarly, the plastic boot lid was an innovation at the cutting edge for the mid sixties, with more room inside the boot, as the spare wheel was under the bonnet.

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