Jay Leno's Honda SM600 on My Classic Car


If you’re a regular viewer of SPEED Channel on cable/satellite, well… you’re probably not reading this blog. They do seem to go overboard to cater to the NASCAR crowd these days. But one of their regular programs is called My Classic Car and on last week’s episode they stopped by Jay Leno’s shop and took a few test drives of some of the cars in his fleet. Fortunately for us, the star of the show was his blue Honda SM600 Roadster. He seems to be very proud of this particular car, and why wouldn’t you be?


“It has a twin-cam engine with roller bearing crank. If this said ‘Porsche’ on it it would cost a million dollars,” says Leno-san.

Unfortunately, this is a very true statement. While these Japanese cars were just as technologically advanced as some of their German counterparts, they are just now starting to get the same respect that their other “Axis of Evil” partners have enjoyed for decades.


“You know, it was a really fully equipped sports car for it’s time. It has a wooden steering wheel, tach, 4 speed gearbox, and the engine is so tiny and so light. You just turn the key and it goes.”


And go it does! With only 57hp, it still moves down the road quite well thanks it it feathery curb weight and insanely high-revving engine.

“It’s more fun to drive a slow car quickly. It makes the most terrific noises. 9000 rpms always sounds good.”

Indeed it is. There’s little challenge in driving a 450hp big-block Chevelle quickly. A car like the S600 requires you to be involved in the process and not just be a passenger. You must maintain momentum at all costs to drive a car like this quickly. Luckily the car handles well enough that except for the occasional stop light, there’s very little cause to slow down in it.

“There’s a whole big classic Japanese car movement starting now…”

We’re very glad a well-respected car collector like Jay is taking this Japanese nostalgic thing as seriously as we are. Whilst discussing his NSU Spyder (a German rotary-powered convertible) you can also get a good glimpse of his clean white Mazda Cosmo parked next to it. You can even see in the background a huge dealership poster for the Cosmo! We are glad serious collectors are finally embracing the Japanese classics, and we hope this bodes very well for the future of our hobby.

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10 Responses to Jay Leno's Honda SM600 on My Classic Car

  1. E-AT_me said:

    hey, i watch speed regularly! i don’t think this was a new episode. i believe it’s been out for a while though. still cool to see/hear one driven for me, as i’ve never seen one in person.

  2. bert said:

    I think it has been out for awhile, or the car was featured on another show? I remember watching a video of Jay winding that thing out on an open road, oh the sounds that came from that bueaty!

    Mustache here “aka Dennis Gage” is very biased towards classic american cars and hot rods. I am very surprised to see him in a Japanese classic, of course when your staring at Jay Leno and his collection all preferences kinda fly out the window!

  3. $EX¥ HAMMER said:

    I dunno… generally when something gets more exposure you get the “general population” jumping on the bandwagon. That’s when you start to realize that finding that one-owner first-gen Celica or Corona parked in some old guy’s garage for a couple hundred bucks is going to be impossible. Instead, you’ll find it after 2 or 3 “mechanics” have had their hands through it and the price will be jacked up 10x for what is now essentially a pile of disassembled parts mixed in with Autozone “performance aisle” crap.

  4. Hakosuka said:

    I agree with “E-At_Me”. It’s an older video however for everyone out there that hasn’t seen the video its a MUST watch vid.

  5. Alan said:

    There’s a really good video on Jay’s excellent garage site here:

    http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/at-the-garage/sports-cars/1964-honda-sm600/

    He documents the restoration, engine build-up and even goes on to say that next to his McLaren F1 and Carrera GT, the S600 is the best sounding car he owns.

    Conan may be more of a comedian and perhaps a nicer guy, but Jay is a personal gearhead hero.

  6. xs10shl said:

    Oops. I see a link was already provided.

    I’d agree that more people are looking into Japanese cars, but I personally don’t think we’ll ever see the kind of upsurge in prices some of the European marques have experienced. Yes they will become more expensive, but they will always be reasonably priced when compared to their European peers. (Excluded in my reasoning is the true #1 restoration example, or a true survivor, which will always go for big $$$).

  7. tony said:

    great episode. those engine sounds had me cracking up. referring to leno’s hair, my 2-yr old daughter asked, “what is he having on his head?”

  8. James B said:

    It is finally about time! I knew Jay would be cool like me one day and own his own SM600. It is good to see the Japanese cars getting their credit, if it takes someone like Jay to promote that, well kudos to him. Seriously though I knew he wanted to be like me :)

  9. Motrhead said:

    A neighbour had an S600 when I was growing up, and I regularly drooled over it. Talk about tiny…
    How could anyone think Conan was funnier than Jay? That show was doomed with Conan. Jay is a nice guy, and he is a real hands-on gearhead, as you can see on these My Classic Car videos, so I can relate to Jay.