In 1969, after a decade of growth that led to Honda becoming the top-selling motorcycle manufacturer in America and the world, Honda embarked on a new mission to sell cars in the United States.
Honda entered the U.S. market with the Honda N600, which was just 122 inches (3099 mm) in length and could actually fit between the wheels of some full size vehicles in America at that time.
The N600 had an all-alloy engine that could achieve 9000 rpm and reach speeds of 81 miles per hour (130 km/h). A simple yet skillfully designed vehicle, the N600 was nimble and fuel-efficient – characteristics it shares with Honda vehicles today – and helped paved the way for the quality and reliability hallmarks now synonymous with Honda vehicles.
The Serial One documentary series takes viewers on an in-depth journey of the restoration of the very first Honda automobile in America, a N600 with Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) 1000001, now affectionately known as “Serial One”.
The 12-part series pays homage to the company’s roots in America and reflects the challenging spirit of Honda by chronicling the step-by-step restoration of the N600 by Los Angeles-based mechanic Tim Mings.
“Finding ‘Serial One’, the very first Honda N600 test vehicle in America and documenting the meticulous process of bringing it back to life really embodies the Honda spirit,” said Alicia Jones, social media manager at American Honda Motor Company Inc.
“We’re so proud to bring the story of Honda’s roots in the U.S to life through the restoration of this vehicle.”
After collecting dust in a junk pile for almost 50 years, a twist of fate helps “Serial One” find its way to Honda and to Tim Mings, the right man to restore it to its former glory.
Tim is known for his incredible ability to bring the most destructed vehicles back to life, specifically for his experience with N600s, having owned and restored more than 300 of these vehicles. Throughout the series, Tim shares his experiences of the elaborate rebuild and the emotional connections he developed with the N600 and Honda.
The final episode can be viewed below, provides a look back in time from the start to the finish of the restoration process. Tim Mings and his team take “Serial One” through the final finishes, from installing the doors to tightening the last bolts and signing the roof of the vehicle before the roof liner is installed.
The finale culminates with the journey of “Serial One” to the Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California, where it was revealed to fans.
N600 – VIN 1000001 Meet “Serial One”, the first Honda automobile imported to the U.S. It was brought over from Japan in 1967, along with 49 others, to test if Honda’s dream of becoming a major automaker in America could become a reality.
Weighing a mere 1,312 pounds (595 kg), the N600 was less than half the weight of that year’s best-selling car. But that wasn’t all that made it stand out. The N600’s air-cooled, two-cylinder single overhead camshaft engine could achieve up to 40 mpg (approximately 5.8 L/100km) – unheard of in its time – and only set buyers back $1,395 (USD).
The N600 went to market in 1970 and ultimately proved that Honda’s dream of selling automobiles in America was possible after all.