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[ The Honda “N” Series ]

The 1969 Honda 1969 Honda N360 01.jpg N360 Sedan

The Honda “N” Series began in 1967 with the introduction of the Honda N360.  The small front-engine, front-wheel drive, 2-passenger 2-box automobile was manufactured and marketed by Honda until 1970 in compliance with Japan’s kei car regulations.  

1970-71 Honda  NIII360 facelift

After a January 1970 facelift, the N360 became the ‘NIII360′ and continued in production until June 1972.  A larger-engined variant, the ‘N600′, was marketed through 1973.  All models complied with Japanese kei car dimensional regulations, though vehicles with the 401 cc and 598 cc engines exceeded the kei engine displacement limits and were largely intended for international sales.

1960 N360  Air-cooled engine

The N360 featured front wheel drive and an air-cooled, 4-stroke, 354 cc, 31 PS (23 kW) 2-cylinder engine, derived from the Honda CB450 motorcycle engine and reduced to comply with current kei car regulations, which limited maximum engine displacement.  This same engine was also used in the Honda Vamos, with a beam axle/leaf spring rear suspension.  The designation “N” is from the Japanese word “norimono” meaning vehicle, in order to distinguish motorcar production from its motorcycle production.

[ The LN360 / LNlll 360 / N360 TS / N360 AT / N400 / N600 ]

Honda marketed the N360 as a 2-door sedan, and also as the LN360 three-door wagon, which was considered a commercial vehicle in Japan, and therefore termed a “Light van”, arriving in June of the first year.  The LN360 has a horizontally divided rear gate and boxier rear bodywork for maximum load capacity.  The LN360 had the same 31 PS engine as the sedan, and a top speed of 105 kph (65 mph).

Related image LN360 Light Van 

After a January 1970 facelift it became the LNIII 360, with a new non-reflective dash, bigger turn signals, and the same new front end as the sedan.  The LNIII 360 was built until late 1971, when the Life Van took over.  The N360 did not share its chassis with the Honda Sports roadster, or the Honda L700 commercial platform.  It  was a new market segment for Honda, providing an affordable, reliable, and easy to maintain vehicle with broad market appeal.  The N360 and the N600 had its gearbox mounted in the sump rather than bolted on as a separate unit, but were still air-cooled.

The N360 TS: Related image N400: Related image

An upgraded 36 PS (27 kW) engine was added in October 1968 for the N360 TS, which was sold as the N360 Touring following a minor update in January 1969. The updated version is referred to as the NII.  A 401.54 cc engine was used in the similar N400, a model sold in certain export markets beginning in late summer 1968.  This occupied the narrow slot between the 360 and the 600, in most markets it was only sold as the N400 L with better equipment.  The Hondamatic-equipped N360AT which appeared in August 1968 was the first kei car equipped with an automatic transmission.

1970 Honda N600  (US specification)

The N600 was introduced to the USA in 1969 as a 1970 model, and was the first Honda automobile to be officially imported to the United States. It was technologically advanced for its time, with an all alloy engine that could achieve 9,000 rpm.  Engine output was 36/45 hp (27/34 kW) and the N600 was capable of 81 mph (130 kph).  The lower-powered engine arrived in 1972, with milder cams and lowered compression it gave up some peak power and torque, while allowing for a less peaky delivery and higher drivability.  It delivered surprisingly peppy performance because of its light weight, around 550 kg/1100 lbs, due to compact dimensions and some plastic parts like the boot lid.  The brakes on early models were very weak, despite having front discs and servo assistance.  Rear suspension was a dead axle on leaf springs.  The N600 along with the TN360 kei truck, were the first Honda cars to be assembled outside Japan, with production in Taiwan by local joint venture Sanyang Industrial beginning in 1969.  The N600 was called the “Fu Gui” (富貴), meaning ‘Wealth’ in Chinese.

 n600hondamatic Honda-N360-2


The N600 GTL  (above left)is the most luxurious version of the N600.  It features additional equipment including a rev-counter, wooden dashboard, centre console with wooden gearshift knob, a sporty 3-spoke alloy-leather steering wheel, chrome decoration strips on the side, and different style sky seat trim.  It was available in three colours: Red (solid), yellow (solid) and grey (metallic).  It was named the ‘Scamp’ in Australia and new-Zealand.

[ Serial Number N600-1000001 ]

In September 1967, Honda decided to offer their first automobile for the North American market, and they were exported to Los Angeles, California. 50 pre-production left-hand-drive examples were sent as ‘winter test vehicles’ and were only intended to be driven 20,000 mls (32,186.9 km) for endurance testing, then collected and crushed at a local scrapyard across the street from the American Honda headquarters.  Four of the American pre-production vehicles are still in existence, and Serial Number N600-1000001, the first one manufactured, was discovered at a Japanese-specific car show in Long Beach, California in 2015.  At the request of American Honda, the car was extensively restored and unveiled at the same car show one year later, to be added to the American Honda Museum collection.

Honda N-Box (2012 to date)

The Honda N-Box is part of a renewed lineup of Kei class city cars from Honda.  The letter “N” in the name was previously used by Honda for the late 60’s and 70’s N360’s & 600’s.  Built at the Shizuka plant in Mie Prefecture, Japan, it is available in either front or four-wheel drive, the latter adding 60 kgs to the overall weight.

It is also avaiable as the N-Box+ which is built for additional practicality, and has features including a rear ramp, and also as the N-Box Custom, which allows buyers to customise their cars with various colours and trim on offer.

N-Box (FF): N BOX(FF) N-Box Custom (FF): N BOX カスタム(FF)

Honda N Box instrument clusterHonda N Box front seatsHonda N Box seatingHonda N Box dashboard

The N-Box Slash: Related image

Honda N-One (2012 to date)

HONDA None 1.JPG N360生誕50周年を記念した特別仕様車が登場。 HONDA N one Premium (blue).JPG

The Honda N-One (corporately styled “Honda N-ONE”) was previewed at the 2011 Tōkyō Motor Show and went on sale on the 1st November 2012 at the same time as the Honda N-Box.  It is available either normally aspirated or turbocharged and both models utilise Honda’s ‘continuously variable transmission’ (CVT).  The N-One’s styling is reminiscent of the Honda N360 of 1969-72, and incorporates Honda’s newest DOHC 3-cylinder engine.

N-One G (FF):G〈FF〉N-One Premium (FF):Premium Tourer〈FF〉

A new edition for 2016 is the Honda N WGN: Related image

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