Don’t let this Beat drop!
The Honda Beat is a cool little early to mid-nineties kei car. Designed by Pininfarina, the Beat is widely credited as the last car Soichiro Honda personally approved prior to his death. Its mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout originally featured a 660cc three-cylinder engine that was cool, but seemed ripe for tweaking. Hayabusa time? Hayabusa time!
AWR Racing has, in fact, got the Beat. Or it did have the Beat, and did the work necessary to swap in a 194 horsepower ‘Busa engine, custom subframe, a limited-slip differential, and some other bits that builder Tony Woodford told Road & Track about. All in all, as you can clearly see and hear in this (way too short) video, this Beat is blazin.
The Beat was only built from 1991 to 1996, and this is a first-gen model from 1991. This adorable little convertible did well in Japan upon its introduction, but unfortunately, the timing ended up not working out. The country soon entered a major recession, and not enough of them sold to keep the model sustainable. Honda later sold the design to MG, which then went on to use it to produce the not-quite-as-charming MG F, and discontinued the Beat after 1996.
While they were never sold in the U.S. when new, they’re old enough now that you can find them for sale occasionally. First-gen ones like this are surprisingly reasonably priced for a quirky little kei car like this and seem to run around $5,000 or less. Not exactly pocket change, but you could spend a lot more money on a car that will entertain you a lot less. Then you can take that extra money and stuff a cool bike engine inside it, and get the best of both worlds.
There’s literally nothing not to love about this entire proposition, and it’s a much-appreciated ray of sunshine in an awfully dreary time. Just listen to that video and watch it go!