The first car Honda sold in the United States, the N600, was small and boxy. It had two doors, four seats -- and no heater.
But it was a start. The N600 demonstrated that the Japanese automaker, best known as a motorcycle maker, had automotive ambitions.
A decade later, in 1979, Honda sold 353,291 cars in the United States.
The N600 was a tiny car, even compared with the Big 3's compacts. In an era when bigger was perceived as better, most drivers viewed the N600 as a joke.
"It was small, really small," said Rick Case, dealer principal and CEO of Rick Case Automotive Group, which has stores in Florida, Georgia and Ohio. The N600 was just 18.9 inches longer than today's two-seat Smart car from Mercedes-Benz.
Case currently has Honda, Acura, Mercedes, Smart and other brands. He started as a Honda motorcycle dealer in 1965 and obtained a Honda auto franchise in 1972.
At the time, car magazines compared the N600 to Britain's Morris Mini Minor. Both cars had wheels pushed out to the corners of the body to expand interior space. And both had a transversely mounted engine with front-wheel drive.
The first N600s carried a $1,295 sticker price and tipped the scales at only about 1,100 pounds. The all-aluminum alloy engine was capable of 9,000 rpm. Forty mpg was promised.