Generally speaking, the more powerful a sports car’s engine is… the more “fun” it is to drive. Here’s looking at you… Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911, Nissan GT-R, Jaguar F-Type. On and on and on. However, that’s not to say there aren’t outliers, this being one of them—the plucky Honda Beat.
Introduced in 1991, the Honda Beat was built to fit Japan’s kei car regulations for small, urban commuter vehicles, and well… it was not powerful in the least. It featured a teensy 656 cc three-cylinder engine, produced just 63 horsepower, and would run out of oomph by the time it hit 86 mph.
It was however a recipe for success. Weighing just 1,675 pounds, the Honda Beat earned a reputation for being quick on its feet and nimble in the turns, with Honda going on to sell over 33,000 of the little roadsters in Japan.
Expectedly, that’s where most of these kei cars will remain, yet this one recently took the swim to North America where it has turned up for sale on eBay.
If it looks small, well… it is. The Honda Beat measures in at around a foot slimmer and just over two feet shorter than the famed first-generation Mazda Miata, which is quite the teeny car to begin with. But not only was that diminutive size critical to meet kei car regulations, it also helped keep these roadsters sporty.
Lift up the Beat’s rear trunk (it has two) and you’ll find that minuscule three-cylinder engine pushing power to the car’s rear wheels, via a five-speed manual gearbox. What you won’t find is a turbocharger, though. In creating its kei roadster, Honda equipped the three-cylinder engine with its trick “MTREC” system, which apportioned a throttle body for each cylinder. High rpm get-up-and-go followed. By comparison, the Honda Beat’s kei roadster contemporaries—the Autozam AZ-1 and Suzuki Cappuccino—featured turbochargers.
All in all, this Honda Beat would appear to be a rather original car with a claimed 76,200 kilometers (47,348 miles) to its name. There are a few blemishes here and there, including some holes in the dash for a now-gone GPS, some wear on edges of the Zebra seats (oh how ‘90s!), and some wear and tear to the car’s soft top. That said, you aren’t apt to find too many of these on US shore to begin with.