sam1 Spotlight on…

[ The Honda ‘Z’ ]

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The Honda “Z” 1970-74 (昭和45-49年 本田Z)

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and 1998-2002 (平成10-14年 本田Z)


The Honda Z also called the Honda Z360, Z600, AZ600 & 600 Coupé is a 2-door hatchback coupé with either a 4 or 5-speed manual or 2- speed Hondamatic gearbox.  Exports were ended just after 1972, when the domestic market models received redesigned pillarless bodywork.

The export models used a 600cc engine but because of the extra power were not classed as kei cars.  Honda subsequently marketed a kei class SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) from 1998 to 2002, which bore no relation to the original “Z”, but  it carried forward the “Z” name.

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sp5 Late pillarless Z360 & interior   sp6

[1970 – 1974]

The 2-door Honda Z debuted in October 1970 and was marketed in most countries up to 1973.  The air-cooled 354cc 2-cylinder SOHC engine with 4 or 5-speed transmission driving the front wheels achieved 31PS (23kW, 31hp) @ 8,500 rpm for the Act and Pro versions and 36PS (26kW, 36hp) @ 9,000 rpm !! for the sportier TS and GS models.

In December 1971, the Z360 received a facelift and a water-cooled engine.  The Z featured coil sprung and independent front suspension and leaf springs on a live beam axle at the rear.  The interior had a very small rear seat and a rear glass hatch opening onto a shallow cargo area.  The spare wheel and tools were located via a lid under the number plate.  Another facelift in November 1972 saw the lid deleted, with the number plate being moved to where the lid used to be.  This version also received the new 356cc EA engine.  Production finally ceased in 1974 on the arrival of the new Civic.

In Germany the engine was downsleeved to 242cc in order to satisfy Class IV category driving licences, which did not require an exam, similar to the French “sans permis” system.  These models first appeared in 1969 after the last 250cc in regular production, the Gogomobile 250, was discontinued.  The top speed with this engine was 85kph (53mph).

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The Gogomobile 250 : sp10


” E V I L  ss79  T W E E T Y “

The Honda Z600 (Evil Tweety) set a new Land Speed Record on August 19th 1971 at the Bonneville Flats Speed Week.  The stock 600cc engine was bored to 700cc, so not strictly a kei car and achieved a speed of 103.978 MPH driven by Eric Burns.  The next day Chris Clay took “Evil Tweety” to a new record for altered petrol cars with 750cc engines to 106.531 MPH.  These records were broken 3 years later by a Saab 96 !!


The 1986 (Australian) cult film :  med28 med33  ” M A L C O L M ”  (90 minutes)

The film involves a pair of bank robbers whose getaway car is a specially converted Honda Z.  The car splits in two and both halves can be driven independently with disastrous results !!


Three or four cars were used in the film, the two halves being powered by motorbikes.


Image result for computer games clipart  The “Honda Z 600 Coupe” in Computer Games:

’72 Skichin (1994);  Clipping Point (2007): 


[1998 – 2002]

The 1998-2002 660cc Honda Z was a retro styled SUV that was only sold through Honda Primo sales channels.  It was a 2-door version of the Honda Life, with the engine mounted in the centre of the car.  It was manufactured by the Yachiyo Industry Co.  The basic structure and 4WD layout was shared with the Honda Acty.  The 656cc EO7Z 3-cylinder engine was available normally aspirated or turbocharged.

“Honda Primo sp13 Dealership”   sp14 Midship Layout

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The Z was only available with 4-speed automatic transmission and the centrally mounted engine was placed in an upright position underneath the rear seat in a “UM-4” layout (Under Midship 4WD).  Oil changes and minor maintenance work is done through an interior door.  As in the Lamborghini Diablo VT, a viscous centre differential was used !!  The engine had 4-valves per cylinder and Honda’s PGM-Fl injection system, and were classified as LEV’s (low emission vehicle).  The car was famously advertised by the ZZ Top rock band.

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