I loved Honda. Astute readers will immediately recognize the past tense unfortunately. The year was 1999, I had just graduated college (yes I’m older than you, average reader) and was moving to the big city (Well, the Virginia suburbs of DC). That meant that I needed a solid daily driver. That sadly also meant that my 1996 Chevrolet Camaro was going to have to go. I know, I know, it was a sad moment for me as well but my first job paid just above minimum sustainability levels and I needed a lower payment and better MPG. And money for beer. Enter Honda. Their dealership, at the time, was full of fun. You couldn’t walk very far without tripping over (the newly released) S2000, or a Prelude, or some sort of manual transmission VTEC screamer. If you’ve visited my WheelWell garage, you know what came next. Also, did you know you could type “garage” with just your left hand? Sorry, where was I? Oh right, I left with a brand new 1999 Civic EX, 5 speed manual with the upgraded 15″ Honda wheels and a spoiler so large that it caused some next-day “what have I done”s. It sort of looked like this, only with better alloy wheels.
It was a gateway drug. Fast forward to the new
Willmillenium and I was back at the Honda dealer again. I had a taste of VTEC but I wanted more. More power, more styling, more, more, more! I exited the dealership in Alexandria, VA with an electron blue Honda Prelude. A “Fifth Gen” as we called them on the forums. It came complete with a 5 speed manual, 200hp H22A engine, a moonroof and a much too large car payment. It was like genesis. In the Biblical sense, not the South Korean or Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel sense. I disappeared into an automotive hole of web forums, car clubs, and eventually race tracks. The Honda took me on a ride that I’ll never forget and I credit this blue coupe with starting me down the path to petroheadedness. It looked a little something like this.
I don’t need to give you, fellow enthusiast, a history lesson what came next at Honda. Prelude production ended in April of 2001, mine being the last of its kind. The S2000 soldiered on another eight years to 2009 before ending its
fun run. I actually mistyped that, decided to leave it since it’s poignant. That was that. Aside from the Civic Si, which admittedly has had its ups and downs over the years, there was nothing terribly “fun” at Honda. It’s time for that to change. It’s time to bring back the fun. It’s time Honda built a sports car. Again. Well, it turns out they have actually already done it, we just don’t get it. Meet the S660.
It’s legitimately a sports car too. RWD, transverse mid-engine layout, two seats, manual transmission. Check, check, check and check. Since going on sale this past April, it’s sold out in Japan for the 2015 model year. They sold 8,600 cars since April. Mazda hasn’t sold that many MX-5s in the US since the year the S2000 died. Naturally we hope that changes with the fantastic new MX-5 coming out as we speak. Back in Japan, four out of five buyers were over age 40, take that for what you will. You recall when I graduated college, be careful at what you label “old”! Apparently this little kei-car, which sells there for around $16,000, was popular, and I think it could be here as well. It’s too small you say? It’s not really, the measurements of the Japanese spec version are as follows.
2015 JDM Honda S660
- Wheelbase: 2,285 mm (90.0 in)
- Length: 3,395 mm (133.7 in)
- Width: 1,475 mm (58.1 in)
- Height: 1,180 mm (46 in)
- Curb weight: 830–850 kg (1,830–1,870 lb)
If that means as little to you as it it did to me, don’t fret. Let’s compare it to something legitimately small.
2015 Smart fortwo Hatchback
- Wheelbase: 6 ft. 1.5 in. (73.5 in.)
- Length: 8 ft. 10.1 in. (106.1 in.)
- Width: 5 ft. 1.4 in. (61.4 in.)
- Height: 5 ft. 0.7 in. (60.7 in.)
- Curb weight: 1808 lbs.
So as you can see, it’s not any smaller overall than a Smart car, and people buy those. For some reason. Like over 10,000 people last year in the US. So small doesn’t necessarily scare people off in the domestic market anymore. The JDM version uses a 660 cc (40 cu in) engined dubbed “S07A” also known as “Earth Dreams”. Because Japan. But it’s also got a 6 speed manual (we’ll forget the CVT exists for now and will not welcome it on our shores) and at around 2000lbs or so (ours will be heavier, because America) it should be good fun.
Naturally, this being the US, we would want something with a bit more power. Well, the L15A1 VTEC 4 cylinder we have in the base Honda Fit would do. 130 horsepower and 114 ft. lbs of torque would do nicely, if it fits in the engine bay. Just don’t bring us a hybrid-only S660; learn from the CR-Z, don’t. It’s worth mentioning that the CR-Z also makes 130hp but weights 600 lbs. more. Sure, a higher output engine, even the 143hp mill from the current Civic, would do in case you want to go faster. And don’t get me started on what an S660 Type-R might be like.
So Honda, if you’re listening , we are ready. Your leadership in the US has already said they want to “add some spice in the lineup.” Naturally, we are quite excited that the Civic Type-R is coming, and its fast. But we want this. We deserve this. Make it happen. I’ll take one in white. Will these two bring Honda and Acura back to fun?