CC Capsule: 1991 Honda Beat – And The Beat Goes On (In Canada)

(7/11/2011)   Here in Canada we are treated to some exotic treats with our import laws allowing pretty much anything over fifteen years or older. There is a trickle of interesting imports from Europe, but most of the action comes from Japan. Sports cars and SUVs are the most popular, with diesel 4×4 vans perhaps in third place. Amid the Skylines and diesel Pajeros the occasional Kei class car makes it over here. And that’s worth stopping for, especially when its a sports car kei, like this Honda Beat.

Kei cars are a result of the exploiting the Japanese tax regulations by having a small engine and exterior dimensions. When this Honda Beat was made, the regulations included a 660cc or smaller engine making no more than 63hp and a maximum width of 1.4m (4.6 ft). Honda fit the Beat with a 63hp E074 656cc three cylinder engine which was mated only with a five speed manual gearbox. Rumour has it this engine isn’t quite up to Honda’s usual bullet proof reputation.

Most of these came with steel rims with 13” on the front and 14” on the back. Our example seems to have had its wheels swapped out for some slightly larger Civic ones.

Beats where produced from 1991 to 1996 but oddly enough two thirds of the total production happened in the first year.

Performance tests of the day showed these Beats where outclassed by the similar sized Suzuki Cappuccino and Mazda’s Autozam AZ-1. The crucial difference was the Cappuccino and AZ-1 used a turbocharger to produce both horsepower and torque. The turbo engines were of course easily modified by the owner to unleash even more power. The Honda stuck with normal aspiration and high revs.

So why import a Beat? Well because it is certainly different and unique. Sure you could buy a very nice Mazda Miata of similar vintage for the same money that would out perform it, be easier to source parts for and offer some extra cabin room. But the world would be a slightly duller place if this Beat owner had done that.

What else but a Beat would be capable of making even my Mazda 808 look big. Wanna race?