Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bringatrailer and the Japanese Car Haters

Bringatrailer is one of my favorite automotive sites, and I've been following it for years.  They feature a great variety of interesting cars, and It's always fun to windowshop and have "what if?" conversations with similarly minded car nuts.  Generally speaking, regular BaT commentors are a cut above the semi-literate trolls that frequent other car sites.  I get the vibe that many regulars are older guys with money and time to indulge the world's greatest hobby.  They've been around the block in many types of cars from all over the world - they're knowledgeable, experienced, mechanically inclined, friendly and have superb taste... until a Japanese car shows up, then you can throw all that out the window.

I've seen it many times, and I'm always quick to jump to the defense of a worthy car who's only sin is a non-European origin.  A recent post of a 1966 Honda S600 attacted some comments that momentarily induced in me a blind state of rage - for several insane seconds I saw black and thought it'd be a good idea to beat my cat with the keyboard.  Fortunately, poor little Frank was nowhere to be found.

The S600 was Honda's first production car - before it came along the only four-wheeled vehicles they made were Formula 1 racers.  This is a car blessed with a roller-bearing crank, four carbs for four cylinders, twin cams, a 10,000 RPM redline and independent chain drive to the rear wheels - a real technical tour de force.  It was roughly Kei-car sized, though not of that class, and weighed in at about 1500 Lbs. - not much for the little 606CC, 57HP screamer to push around, so it was plenty quick.

"The best sounding car I own after my McLaren F1 and Carrera GT" - Jay Leno

In other words, it was a four-wheeled race bike.  Here's some of the comments it attracted:

"$40k, for a Honda?  Compare that to what that money buys from a REAL car maker, like Mercedes, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, Lamboghini, Ferrari etc."

"An MG / Healey copy?  A rare car, yes, but not for 40K, and not for a Honda… sorry."

"Technically interesting?  Yes.  Charming?  No."

To be fair, these knuckleheads only represent a small percentage of the commentariat, but they're also the only ones talking shit about anything - if a car is disliked, most have the decency to stay quiet and let others enjoy it.  Of course, we're all allowed our preferences, but negative, uninformed or prejudiced comments are best left unsaid.  This goes for anywhere, really, but especially on a forum that encourages an intelligent and constructive form of conversation.

I've touched on this before, in fact this very same issue provided the impetus to first start this blog, as can be seen here in my first-ever post.  This time though, I'm calling out the perpetrators by name - you're all a bunch of bellends.

Rant over, thanks for allowing me to vent!

chassis and chain drive details - perhaps not as elegant or refined as a ladder framed MGB


  1. There is still a lot of blind hatred towards vintage Japanese cars, but thankfully, it is getting better. This is partially thanks to the younger generations of car enthusiasts showing interest in these cars, and the increased number of import car shows. There was a time where classic cars where seen as only Ford Model As & Ts, and other cars from the early period of the automobile, but that has changed. The lack of acceptance of the Japanese vintage car will change, too.

    Some people just don't know about the cool stuff Japan has produced over the years, either from lack of exposure, or just not caring. Someone I know has a sizable collection of vintage Japanese cars now, but didn't discover them until he was looking for an original Mini. He has mostly Hondas, but also has a Subaru Sambar pick-up (this one, actually: He also has a right-hand drive S500, which is currently being restored.

    I do have one little correction:

    The S500 was the first production car for Honda.

    The S600 was the first mass marketed car for Honda, and was introduced a year later.

    1. Thanks for the reply.

      Your friend sounds like he knows what's up.

      The S500 was indeed Honda's first road car, but they were made in such small numbers I don't really consider it to be a "production" model. The fact that one exists outside of Japan, and is owned by someone you know is incredible! Pardon me being so forward, but would you be able to put me in contact with him for a possible interview?

    2. I'll be sure to get in touch with him about the opportunity. What would be the best way to get you his contact information if he is interested?

      *After further review of some pictures I have of what I thought was an S500, it appears to actually be an S600. It's right-hand drive, white in color, and pretty close to stock. Last I heard, the engine was out and getting rebuilt by a professional.*

    3. Hi Boxer, much appreciated. Please have him contact me at If he's curious, here's a link to all my previous interviews - they provide a glimpse of what I'm looking to accomplish:

      Again, many thanks.

  2. Well put, both of you. Though there is a long standing prejudice against nostalgic J-tin in the Western world, there are several of us who have nothing but admiration for such cars. Some of us may even have connections to BaT...don't worry, cars like the S600 and others will continue to be featured and have a place there!

    1. Wow, I'm honored to have you read my blog. Keep up the fantastic work!

    2. Hey, you too! I have enjoyed reading through these posts, you take a very holistic approach to the automotive world. There doesn't seem to be enough of that around, keep it up!