Motorcycle engine transplants aren’t new, but there aren’t many that are as well executed as Stephen Mines’ (no relation to the famous tuning brand) custom 1972 Honda N600 with a Honda VFR800 V4 engine.
Don’t take our word for it, the judges of the inaugural Honda Super Tuner Legend Series also concluded it worthy of the gong, with Honda USA set to showcase the little custom kei-car at their booth at SEMA 2019 in celebration of the 60th anniversary of their US operations.
To say that it is just a kei-car with its engine swapped out for a motorcycle engine is a huge disservice to the five years’ worth of re-engineering work done to it.
For starters, Mines’ N600 is rear-wheel drive, instead of front, with the 782cc V4 engine mounted longitudinally and power sent via a propshaft – instead of a motorcycle chain drive. Mines even incorporated the shell for the motorcycle tank as an engine cover.
While the N600’s original 34kW 598cc twin-potter maxes out at 9,000rpm, the motorcycle engine chucks out 86kW and spins up to a dizzying 12,000rpm with power sent through a VFR800 sequential six-speed gearbox.
With a free-revving engine exhaling through a Supertrapp exhaust and gear shifts executed via a set of paddle shifters, this N600 sounds closer to a Formula single-seater at full chat than your average kei-car. Just listen to how it screams through the canyons in Matt Farah’s One Take video series and tell us that it doesn’t send chills down your spine.
Although Mines’ N600 weighs in at 635kg, 15 percent heavier than the 550kg figure of an original N600, but who are we to complain when it has a 250 percent power bump?
Besides the drivetrain, the N600’s mechanicals has been thoroughly re-engineered with all-round double-wishbone assemblies and brakes lifted from a first-gen Mazda MX-5, with drive-sent via a Ford-sourced differential sitting between the rear axle on a narrowed MX-5 subframe.
If there is one drawback, is that the motorcycle gearbox still operates through a motorcycle clutch, which is better operated with fingers rather than feet, and that it doesn’t have a reverse gear.
The Honda Super Tuner Legend Series is held in conjunction with the second-annual Hot Wheels Legend Tour in The States where owners of custom cars present their creations in hopes that it will become a new addition to the Hot Wheels toy car line.