In the early 1960s, Honda took what it knew about building motorcycles, and applied it to cars. The result – the T360 truck – was interesting, to say the least.
Soichiro Honda didn’t like two-stroke engines. He didn’t want them in his road or race bikes. So the company that bears his name got very good at developing tiny, four-stroke four-cylinders. When it came time to enter the automotive industry in the early 1960s, Honda’s engineers applied their very specific Motorcycle-building knowledge to making cars, and it lead to fascinating results.
Honda’s first car, the T360 truck, made its debut in 1963 with a 360cc, twin-cam, four-cylinder engine that made around 30 horsepower, and revved to nearly 9000 rpm. To better put that into context, Subaru’s contemporary equivalent 360cc motor, a twin-cylinder two-stroke, made around half that power.
This motor was actually developed for a sports car that never reached production, the S360 roadster. Honda didn’t think a two-seater with a tiny engine like this would be viable in the market place, so it instead launched a version with a gigantic 500cc engine, the S500.
Also, the T360 was mid-engined. Honda’s thinking was that mounting the motor under the driver’s seat would free up space in the passenger compartment and allow for more cargo capacity. Like everything Honda did in its early automotive days, it was an ingenious, if slightly bizarre solution.
I was reminded of the T360’s fascinating greatness when I stumbled upon this 1963 promo video on YouTube. Please watch it. You won’t be disappointed.
From: Road & Track