The S800 is a sports car from Honda. Introduced at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, the S800 would replace the successful Honda S600 as the company’s image car and would compete with the Austin-Healey Sprite, MG Midget, Triumph Spitfire and Fiat 850 Spider.
Like the S600, it was available as either a coupe or roadster and continued the advanced technology of its predecessors. The 791 cc straight-4 engine produced 70 hp (52 kW) at 8000 rpm, thus making this Honda’s first 100 mph (160 km/h) automobile, but still allowing for 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km). In April 1967 the car was described as the fastest production 1-litre car in the world thanks to its high revving engine (up to 10,000 rpm) and the manufacturer’s history of manufacturing powerful relatively low capacity motor-cycle engines.
Early examples continued to use the chain drive and independent suspension in the rear. 752 roadsters and 242 coupés were then produced. After that Honda switched to a conventional drive-shaft, live axle rear end with four radius rods and a Panhard rod. 604 roadsters and 69 coupes were built with this setup before disc brakes replaced the front drums.
In 1967, the S800 became available in Britain. By this time the model had the more conventional drive layout as stated above, with predictable handling and a firm ride. It was also cheaper than the Mini Cooper and Triumph Spitfire, in Britain.
In February 1968, the S800M (aka S800MK2) was introduced with flush mounted interior door handles, side marker lights outside, dual-circuit brakes, lean burn carburetion under the bonnet and safety glass. These changes were made for the American market, but the car was never imported there officially. Production ended in May 1970 with 11,536 S800s produced.