Lori and Bill Manly saw their first Honda car at the factory in Suzuka, Japan, in 1967. They’d won a trip to Japan from American Honda, a commendation for the sales volume at their eight-year-old motorcycle dealership, Honda of Santa Rosa, an hour north of San Francisco. “We sold a lot of motorcycles,” says Lori Manly, now 88.
The car, the Honda N360, was unlike anything on American roads. It weighed just over 1000 pounds. It had a transversely mounted, air-cooled, two-cylinder alloy engine under its tiny hood, driving the front wheels through a four-speed manual transmission. It had wheelbarrow-sized 10-inch wheels. It took nearly 20 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph. With just 118 inches of vehicle between its chromed bumpers, it was three-and-a-half feet shorter than a VW Beetle. In fact, it was a foot shorter than the wheelbase of a contemporary Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
Continue Reading on Road and Track