The age old recipe of fun custom cars. Little car + big engine = lots of fun. In this particular case, it’s more like a really little car plus a small yet mighty engine, and the end result is massive fun.
The car is Honda’s short-lived N600, which was the very first Honda automobile ever imported into the states. It was considered small back in the early 70’s, let alone compared to our new cars. The original N600 was powered by a 598cc parallel twin that made an astonishing 45hp in its day. The car was actually a relative success. It was a peppy small package that delivered well considering what it is. So successful in fact, that it prompted Honda to ship over the Civic, one of the best selling cars to date.
The only problem was, Dean Williams wasn’t sold on only 45hp. So over a 5 year period Dean decided he was going to build the ultimate N600. One that would slay canyons and autocross events like it was a slasher movie. So Dean did what any sane person would, and elected to use a motorcycle engine to power the angry little N600.
For the new heart of the little beast, Dean landed on the engine for a 1998 Honda VFR. The V-4 produces a beautiful torque curve and a crisp 115 peak horsepower. Residing in the engine bay is the new V4 as well as the VRF transmission and stock gas tank. This allowed for an easier install, although it does look a little hoaky at first.
While the body is original, the suspension is anything but. Dean utilized NA Miata bits, eliminating the dead axle rear in favor of four-wheel independent suspension. The N600 now has Koni Yellows on all four corners, as well full disc brakes. The driveline is custom fabricated as well. Instead of utilizing the stock chain drive, Dean built a drive shaft system that converts the N600 from front wheel drive to rear wheel drive. This takes the N600 from fun to chaos in one tire shredding step.
Running the engine up to its 12,000rpm redline you are greeted with a curious sound that defy’s logic. The unique V-4 configuration sounds more like a stock car than that of a motorcycle. When you pair this demon howl with a 45-year-old body that many no longer recognize, you get a lot of looks of confusion as the N600 goes scampering by.
A couple of quirky character flaws worth pointing outcome from it being a crossover between bike and car. The first one may be obvious, and it’s a bit painful. But motorcycles don’t have reverse gears, and that means neither does this N600. So parking becomes a much more calculated risk. Granted the 1400lb chassis is light enough that even my mom could push it if she has too, but that definitely doesn’t lend well to your image. And the second quirk is the built in paddle shifters. Typically paddle shifting comes without a clutch pedal because it is an automated manual transmission. But in this build that isn’t the case. The clutch is very much there, and you still need to use it, which gives the little N600 a fair learning curve.
Check out Matt Farah of the Smoking Tire driving this little gremlin and try not to giggle a little bit yourself.
And here it is again murdering an Auto Cross event.