MOTORSPORTS: The famous 1968 Honda S800 RSC

In a quiet corner of the Honda Collection Hall at Twin Ring Motegi circuit sits what is arguably the most famous Honda S-car of all time, the 1968 Honda S800 RSC. As any collector of Japanese diecast or player of Gran Turismo knows, the famous yellow-and-red race car has been immortalized in countless forms.

In the early Sixties the Honda S-series were awe-inspiring to the average citizen when kei cars ruled the roads. The “RSC” which stood for Honda Racing Service Center, was even more so, bumping displacement to 873cc for a claimed 100-plus ps at 10,500 rpm (for comparison, a stock S800 made 70ps at 8,000 rpm). Listen to that motor spit hot fiyah!

This particular S800 RSC is famous for winning the GT-1 class at the 1968 12 Hours of Suzuka, beating out a field of fellow S800s and an army of Toyota Sports 800s. Even more impressively, drivers Kuniomi Nagamatsu and Yoshifumi Kikura won third overall, ahead of much more powerful cars like the Nissan Fairlady Roadster, RT55 Toyota 1600GT, Isuzu Bellett 1600GT, and Prince Skyline 2000GT (A pair of Toyota 7 race cars won first and second).

But even as the battle for 800cc supremacy between it and Toyota were reaching crescendo, both cars’ days were numbered. Japan’s auto industry was developing rapidly and far grander sports coupes (2000GT, Cosmo Sport) were emerging. Still, the S800 had become a legend during a brief window of Japanese motoring history, and earned itself a place as the oldest Honda production-based racer in the automaker’s museum.

Photos by Dan Hsu.

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8 Responses to MOTORSPORTS: The famous 1968 Honda S800 RSC

  1. Tyler said:

    Hey mister, umm, I think somebody put a lawn mower in your car!

  2. Brownie said:

    Kuniomi Nagamatsu….the same guy who drove Mitsubishi’s last F-2 machine, the Colt F2000 😀

  3. E-AT_me said:

    honda, please go back to the way you were. thank you.. 😀

  4. Nigel said:

    A true lightweight sportscar !!

  5. Marlow said:

    Me want……

  6. Kevin Truong said:

    Beautiful!

  7. Robert Wilson said:

    I owned an S600 as a daily driver, for 18 years in Vancouver. I just LOVED this little car. After a couple of rebuilds of the jewel-like engine, 2 rebuilds of the differential (pinion gear tooth fracture), and new gearbox synchros, it had almost 100,000 miles on the odometer by the time I retired it.

    To add a comment of two, the S360 version was never sold. It was increased in displacement to 500 CC (and called the S500) and a few were sold., before it became the 606cc S600. The S600 was the version that sold the greatest numbers (but still only a little more than 13,000 units). Then came another displacement increase to 800cc and thus S800 was born. The S800 replaced the dual chain drive rear end (that all previous versions of the “S” car used, with a properly-designed live axle (coil springs, twin trailing arms and transverse Panhard link). This cured the very quirky (some said dangerous!) rear end behavior when taking a sharp low-speed corner.

    Not far from where I live in the interior of British Columbia (Canada), I have a friend who owns a near-perfect S600 convertible. Sure wish it was mine!

    Now, I own an S2000, but it just ain’t the same!

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