It’s hard to imagine a world without Honda and Lamborghini, but they both first started making cars in the early 1960s.
Honda’s first-ever passenger car (its first “car” was actually the T360 “truck”) was first shown in 1962 as the Sports 360 and Sports 500 prototypes with 356- and 492-cc four-cylinders.
The S500 made it to production a year or so later with a slightly larger 531-cc four, which was eventually supplemented by the 606-cc S600 and the 791-cc S800.
The aluminum engine was the highlight of this tiny roadster (and coupe), with DOHC, hemispherical combustion chambers, and a roller-bearing crankshaft. Its design allowed it to rev to the moon — up to 9500 rpm in the case of the S600 — a redline that no other production passenger-car engine has beat even today.
The car itself was a marvel of simplicity and elegant engineering, with chain-drive independent suspension (later replaced by a conventional solid axle), a 4- or 5-speed synchronized transmission, rack-and-pinion steering, and (later) front-wheel disc brakes.
It was also available in red and white — two colors previously illegal in Japan, as they were reserved for police and emergency vehicles. Soichiro Honda fought the government on this — and won. This is one of many of his victories against the Man, and the Honda Sports series was one of his many victories against the challenges of engineering a car.