I absolutely love hearing a good story from someone much older and experienced than I am, especially if it's about driving or building a car from a period before I was around to know it. This little Honda somehow survived a death at the hands of neglect and now it's alive as proof that some patience, ingenuity and passion can go a long way. Along with some help from friends who are mechanical engineers.
Meet Charles, I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Classic Car Show in July, he really loves his S800. He had a long history of the car to share from when he found it to when it was finished, and the process he had to go through to get everything working at tip top shape. Rumour has it there's another Honda S800 Coupe buried somewhere on the island now because of this build, it sacrificed itself so that the other one could be finished.
Charles came across an advertisement in the local newspaper back in 1990. The previous owner owned both an S800 Coupe, and the Cabriolet, but the Coupe was too badly rusted to be salvaged. This Cabriolet on the other hand was plagued with some engine trouble. It sat for a long time, and eventually the owner sold it. When Charles got the car, he was able to use the coupe for spare parts and build on the cabriolet. Albert, a friend of Charles who is a mechanical engineer, took up the work on the engine of the car getting it running again.
With engine work out of the way, it was time to order the parts that the car needed, and he found a dealer in Sherwood Forest, England to send him all the original parts for car. The entire restoration of the car took around 2 to 3 years to finish.
What makes the S800 so special though? At the time Honda produced these cars their speciality was motorbikes. This led to the cars being an interesting mix of motorbike and car. The engine used is a 791 cc, twin overhead light alloy engine. It makes 70hp to the rear wheels, and in a car that only weighs about 771 kg.
This car's weight and power and size matched up directly with some other European sports cars of the time, cars like the Triumph Spitfire and the Austin-Healey Sprite. It has one thing they can't compete with though and that's the sound of the engine. Hearing those cams rev up to 10,000 rpm is ethereal.
The car currently has its own garage at home, where it spends a fair amount of its time. Charles isn't the type to allow his car to sit in its garage and gather dust though, he built it because he loves it and he believes it deserves to be driven. He takes it for a spin at least once a week, on a Sunday, making sure he can have clear road where he can hear this engine sing.
I wholeheartedly believe in this as well. In modern times, we have come to know Honda for producing cars that are pretty well rounded, even their sport cars hardly skip out on creature comforts which make for a comfortable driving experience. Owning a piece of automotive history like this, reminds us where things come from. Honda's ability to break into new markets really has been amazing over the years, taking their mechanical know how, from motorbikes, into cars and improving on them, even having a few super cars under their belt.
Check out the video down below.
Charles doesn't just own a cool Honda, motorsport has been in his blood for a very long time, he started navigating in rally at an early age of 16. It's really always a pleasure a meet someone that has a love of cars that has stayed strong over the years, and I hope he is able to continue to cherish his machine for many more years to come !
Alex - Until next time, happy motoring!