I drove out to Los Angeles in a 1968 Dodge Charger in 1970 to study car design at Art Center College of Design. The used Charger was super fast…when it ran. So when I read about and saw this tiny car being made by Honda Motorcycles that looked like a Mini Cooper, I had to try it out. It was the first car Honda ever made and was only imported to California when it was introduced. Honda had never made cars before, but they made good, dependable motorcycles. I fell in love with the tiny car immediately and bought it. My first new car, and my first Honda, the 1970 Honda 600, one of the first 100 sold in the US. The car cost $1503, including tax and I traded even for the Charger, a 140 mph car for a 75 mph car that was absolutely more fun to drive. The engine wasn’t much bigger than a lawn mower, but the car only weighed 1400 lbs, and was 10 feet long, so it felt fast enough, except on hills.
At Art Center, my fellow design students were mostly of the sports car aficionado and/or gearhead type, so my new car did not originally get their adrenalin pumping. But it grew on them, especially after their first ride. It got 51 mpg on the highway with it’s little motorcycle engine screaming loudly. With a 6 gallon tank, it only cost $1.50 to fill it up in 1970. And it drew crowds at every gas station, since no one had ever seen one before. I had no idea at the time that over the next 50 years it would become a favored household brand in the US, and I would go on to buy a Civic, two Preludes, an Accord and a CRV, so the 600 launched a very successful car family.
Fifty years later, sheltered in place, I needed a new creative outlet, so to honor the 50th Anniversary of Honda’s US introduction, I decided to build my first complete 3D car model in years. I bought scale blueprints (side, front and back views) of the car. The blueprints are not highly detailed, so Google searches for the car got me lots of pictures to use as reference materials, and slowly the model began taking shape as the little car that changed my life. It’s so satisfying to make a virtual model, and rotate it around from all angles, and feel the rush of memories from the 100,000+ miles of fun I had with it, including 2 round trips from LA to Chicago (gas cost: $26 each RT).
The finished renders illustrate the levels of finish that are possible with virtual models. Add an asphalt parking lot ground and a background field of greenery, a beach scene, or city street, and the realism begins to pull you in. Still, once you dive in, even deeper levels are possible that physical models can never match. The interior is almost complete now, and opening the driver’s door is obviously coming. At some point, I might just have to start making my complete car collection of all the Hondas of my lifetime!!
And none of the X-Acto knives, spray paint cans or model airplane glue hazards of my original modeling years. Virtual fun is real fun!Share this:
I really had no idea those first hondas were so Mini Cooper-esque, this thing is adorable. With these renders i feel like i’m looking at the real thing, so educational 🙂
You know, it was actually YOUR first car, technically. But that’s another story, isn’t it? The Civic is almost finished — your other first car. You will be getting a set of renders of the two of them, for your file.
I love it!
It’s funny how memory can spark a whole new series of work. Keep it up!
As the owner of a 2005 CRV, I can concur with the love of Honda. I can fit three full-size painted art-doors and several paintings (stacked and protected of course). No need to borrow or rent a truck to deliver my art. I hope I get another fifteen years of fun.
Looking forward to our next in-person gathering.
So happy you were here for the pre-Corona bash. Can’t wait for another one! Honda Rules!!
OMG I love this!! I remember riding in that sweet little thing. Also remember you making a U-turn in our parent’s garage, yes? What a cute little thing. And what a fun project. Very cool, Bill!
Sandia Peak. Chooch?!
Awesome level of detail. I would have assumed that I was looking at a photograph.
Just what I wanted to hear, Michael. I hope you are all doing well.
What a fun memory, Bill! Look forward to seeing your model….one of these days.
…one of these days is right.
My first new car was the Honda Accord LXi coupe. Loved it. Great article, Bill!
My Accord is now 24yrs. old. Still love it.