GRAND TOURING: Late night blast in the S800


While in Tokyo for the big Motor Show, we took Skorj’s Honda S800 coupe out for a mini-grand tour around the city. At night, of course. 


The esuhachi is a small car, one in which you have to look up at the driver of the new VW Beetle beside you. It is, nonetheless, perfect for blasting through the narrow lanes of Japan’s capital.

Skorj is about 6 feet tall; I’m 5-foot-10. Hurtling between Hinos and Hiaces would have been terrifying if we’d stopped to think about being in a J-tin can just millimeters wider than two men sitting shoulder to shoulder, but when Soichiro Honda’s own spirit radiates forth from 791ccs of fury the last thing on your mind is becoming a one-box bento.


There’s nothing like prowling the streets of Tokyo in a proper 1960s sports car. The motor’s raw growl, headlights casting yellow, neon dancing off the cowl. Ignore the modern cars lining the avenues and it’s a scene straight out of Hairpin Circus.


Plus, you won’t get lost in the crowd at Shibuya Crossing and its fleet of Crown Comfort taxis. One has no choice but to sit extremely low to the ground. However, the dash-mounted rear-view mirror and the fact that you can simply reach out and touch any pane of glass in the cabin makes threading traffic a breeze in front of the newly rebuilt Ginza Kabukiza theater.


The esuhachi has that once-great Honda quality of being able to see all the way down to the hood’s front edge. Headlight nacelles tell you exactly how close you can get to the rear bumper of a Fuso before changing lanes, and the S800’s distinctive bonnet bulge is a never-tiring reminder that you’re piloting the “big block’ version.


The legendary 10,000 rpm engine of the S800 means that merging onto the Shuto isn’t as harrowing as you might think for a 791cc car. Keeping up with the flow of traffic has your rpms hovering around 4500 rpm, but the engine’s such a work of art that it feels like what 2000 would be in a less refined car.


After a couple hours with a true Soichiro-approved Honda and jetlag kicking in, we had to call it quits. The esuhachi, on the other hand could’ve gone all night.

This post is filed under: Grand Touring, honda and
tagged: , , , , .

15 Responses to GRAND TOURING: Late night blast in the S800

  1. Censport says:

    Nice! All I got to drive on this trip was my buddy’s tired old Kangoo. 😀

  2. Nigel says:

    Honda S800 + night time drive (in Tokyo) + trip to Japan = A level coolness unequaled…
    (Here in North America).
    Great story guys.

  3. NSXType-R says:

    Wow, that’s pretty awesome!

    Any chance of getting high res photos?

  4. Bart says:

    I miss Japan so much. Can’t wait to go back!!!

  5. Toyotageek says:

    Great fun! Reminds me of the time my friend took me for a spin in his 2000GT through Tokyo at midnight.

  6. Dave says:

    Fun. Btw what happened to Friday Video?

  7. Brad D. says:

    Well this settles it. THIS is the one thing every JNC fan must do while in Japan!

  8. Ken says:

    Awesome!!! Would love to see some in dash footage though 😀

  9. Randy says:

    Did not realize those Hondas were that small… Next to the Beetle for reference, WOW… Makes a Miata look big.

  10. Censport says:

    Update: A buddy here loaned me his Evo VIII to drive to Tsukuba Circuit today. Woot!

  11. James Boice says:

    I owned a S-800 Coupe in Okinawa in 1970-71. first thing I did was cut the rear exiting Pipes off at the rear of the door and ran twin straights out the side. Only problem was my GF’s Dad could hear me coming for a mile as I worked gears down the hill to her place. I don’t think I ever had the pass seat empty in the over one year there. That little car was a real trip. I could hit just over a 100MPH on the straights going up north. It seemed like 2nd would never end working up past 11,000+RPM. OH, and It was US Specs RHD. At that time Okinawa was still a US controlled Territory.

    • James Boice says:

      Correction! The S-800 was a US Spec LHD and it really was a blast to drive especially along the road north past Moon and Monza Beach to Nago. Then it was a 2 lane twisting joy to drive. Also did some Kadena Sports car races on the old Yomitan runways.

  12. James boice says:

    During the early to mid-sixty’s These little hot shots were SCCA raced in H production. Plus there were some fantastic rebuild kits that nearly doubled the stock HP. Even now they would be great mini-racers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *