The Honda 600 has long been the alternative to the wildly popular Mini, together with cars like the Hillman/Sunbeam Imp and Fiat 500. It’s also fairly significant for Honda – while the first generation Civic and Accord were probably their equivalent of BMW’s 2002 break-out hit, this was their first serious foray for a mainstream audience, much like the Neue Klasse sedans were for BMW. Really though, the Honda AZ600, as the sporting, cut-down version of the standard AN600, was probably closer to, say, a Mini Marcos. Either way, it was probably the lowest-priced car in America to have a tachometer, much less one that went up to a 6000rpm redline. Check out this 1972 Honda AZ600 for sale for $2900 in Sparks, NV.
As a bonus, Sparks is the location of the National Automobile Museum (formerly Harrah’s), so your trip out there can have a dual purpose. The dry Sierra climate seems to have preserved the car very well, so while there is definitely some sun damage to various surfaces, the body looks pretty solid, and the paint appears original. It’s said to only have 51,000 miles from new, and to run perfectly.
This is why you never design a car after a scuba-diving vacation. The rear perspective is definitely funky, with the odd plastic-framed hatch, high-water bumper, spare tire hatch, and exposed rear leaf springs. The rear California plate dates to the late 1980s or early 1990s, and does not have any registration stickers – best to assume the car is not registered in either state. Sparks is very close to the California border, so the plate-versus-location situation is not surprising.
The interior is complete and fairly clean, but the economy car materials are certainly showing their age. Part of the headliner and some weatherstripping has gone missing, likely reducing the car’s 1312-lb. weight to 1306 – not much for a 36hp engine to move around. The aft end of the driver’s door is showing some kind of odd damage, either to the metal or the paint, so you’ll want to clarify with the seller. The funky dash mounted shifter – the only one outside of a French car – is a neat feature.
The 600cc twin is often suspected of being a motorcycle engine, but enthusiasts will tell you otherwise. Nonetheless, it’s still a neat little piece that’s quite willing to rev, and reflects its Honda heritage clearly. The well-written listing includes plenty of quality photos and a walkaround video. You’ll never find a running, driving structurally solid Mini for this kind of money, nevermind one with a sportier bodystyle, so how about this alternative?