Honda S 800 Coupé: Rising delight

Honda S 800 Coupé restoration
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A compensation was needed. The daily office work caused a dissatisfaction for Marc Graf from Lucerne, for which he was looking for an antidote. What this should look like was basically clear: 'I wanted to do something with my hands again.' A short excursion into the world of model railway construction did not bring the desired success. Perhaps I enjoy handling larger objects more, thought the Swiss - and spontaneously switched to the classic car scene, more precisely: to the Honda S 800 Coupé.

A Porsche 356 seemed like a suitable car to him, but the high prices proved to be a buffer stop for this idea. Graf therefore decided to visit the Oldtimer & Parts Market Switzerland in Friborg to take a look at the clubs there. And the visit was worth it, because the stand of the Honda Club Switzerland was the end of his search. There the tiny Nippon runabout called Honda S excited 800 Coupé his interest. But that was not due to the consequences of his model building hobby, which was previously limited to the 1:87 scale, but to memories suddenly coming to life.

Curious: A model S 800 is created from the scattered spare parts carrier

During his training as a motor vehicle mechanic in the early seventies, he was particularly fascinated by a customer car: a Honda S 800. When the owner exchanged the car for an Alfa, Graf was even able to take over the Honda. But he only owned it for a short time: 'The spare parts alone were very expensive. At that time, for example, the starter cost three times as much as my monthly apprentice salary.'

And now, around 30 years later, he stood between the members of the Swiss Honda Club and asked straight away whether there was a Honda S 800 Coupé worthy of restoration for sale. 'One said he still had a chassis with the associated parts. And another said he could add a body from the Honda S 800,' recalls Graf. Funnily enough, it later turned out that the body and chassis belonged together. Obviously, the club had the Honda S 800 Coupé at some pointOnce selected as a spare parts carrier and dismantled. The individual parts then ended up in different garages and now found back together thanks to Marc Graf.

Graf only knows about his Honda S 800 Coupé himself that it is a model from 1968 and that one of the owners is an electrical engineer from the canton of Bern. But what was then in his garage was only vaguely reminiscent of a car, let alone a Honda S 800 Coupé. The chassis was largely dismantled, with various technical components and an incomplete, rusted body next to it. Some would have clapped their hands over their heads at this sight and would have run away.

Meticulous documentation helps with the restoration

But Graf has a healthy optimism: 'I didn't even think about it that it couldn't work. ' He remained calm and thought: In an emergency, you know someone who will help you with the Honda S 800 Coupé. From this perspective, joining the club proved very important. The members stopped by his garage on excursions and didn’t skimp on good advice on restoring the Honda S 800 Coupé. But first the assembly had to start at all.

Graf also began to dismantle everything that was still together from his Honda S 800 Coupé parts. He was very far-sighted. He lined up disassembled components like in an exploded view and photographed them. He labeled connections on loose cables and marked some parts that belonged together with the same number. 'That made the subsequent assembly of the Honda S 800 foolproof,' explains Graf.

First he concentrated on the chassis of his Honda S 800 Coupé, which he sandblasted on a bench after the check and then hot-dip galvanized let. Then piece by piece he built up the black lacquered frame. He sandblasted smaller parts of his Honda S 800 Coupé, such as the wishbones, himself. He found the opportunity to do so in the company where he worked.

He also painted the axle parts himself. He checked all the elements belonging to the chassis of the Honda S 800 Coupé, overhauled them or replaced them with new parts. And again he showed foresight. In order to avoid later complications with the approval of the small Honda S 800, he took a so-called vehicle inspection engineer on board from the start. He came to him in the garage, found out about the status of the work and took appropriate photos. This procedure was repeated as soon as another important chapter of the Honda S 800 Coupé restoration was completed.

Biggest problem: Obtaining spare parts

After the chassis came the body of the Honda S 800 Coupé the turn of the missing front fenders. Graf initially planned to build a once acquiredBut then he refrained from using a front section made of plastic because it did not meet his demands for perfection: 'When you look closely, the fenders looked a bit more bulky than the originals.' So he went looking for sheet metal fenders for his Honda S 800 Coupé.

In general, the procurement of the spare parts for the Honda S 800 took a long time. In addition to his club mates and some European suppliers, companies from overseas also contributed parts to the restoration. Of course, Graf used the Internet for this. With the help of a translation program, he got to the site of Japanese dealers for Honda S 800 parts after typing in the vehicle and part designation in English.

Contact with Asia became even easier than he had over several Ecken made the acquaintance of a German-speaking Japanese. So he gradually found the things he was looking for for his Honda S 800 Coupé, 'but the transport costs were often well above the value of the goods,' says Graf, naming the only shortcoming of these remote spare parts sources.

Back to the beginning: Originality is a must

But back to the body of the Honda S 800 Coupé. It first had to be adapted to the frame, which turned out to be problematic. Which of the various rubber mounts that Graf had when buying the chassis belonged was not easy to identify. Even a comparison with other Honda S 800 Coupés did not help him. He tried to and fro for a long time to find that the old bearings were no longer usable. Without further ado, he had the 30 differently shaped rubber parts that he needed re-manufactured for his Honda S 800.

When the body of the Honda S 800 Coupé finally fit perfectly, a plumber adjusted the new fenders and fixed them in place individual welding points. Now the shell went to the plumber's workshop, where he straightened it with great enthusiasm and sensitivity. Some accident damage also came to light, and it was clear that the Honda S 800 had been repainted several times. The original color turned out to be yellow, and this is the tone in which the small Honda S 800 Coupé should shine again.

There is always shrinkage, whether at the chrome-maker or a dedicated restorer

Since Glasurit did not have any documents about the composition of the original color of the Honda S 800 Coupé, it was mixed accordingly using a piece of sheet metal still painted in the original color. In order to minimize the cost of painting the Honda S 800, Graf took on the necessary grinding work himself, which he won't forget very quickly: 'I sanded 140 hours and got myself a spur.'

In the meantime he had also taken apart the engine of the Honda S 800. However, he left the overhaul and assembly to the club member and Honda S 800 specialist Röbi Meury.The restoration, which took almost four years, went like clockwork. Only minor problems such as the delivery of the wrong parts or a breakdown at the chrome plating caused a little annoyance.

The latter should, among other things, re-chrome the tailgate hinges. But in the electroplating bath, the aluminum cast parts of the Honda S 800 dissolved and were gone. When the perfectly restored trolley finally drove up to the vehicle inspection, Graf was able to relax. Thanks to regular contact with an inspector, the appointment with the Honda S 800 Coupé was a piece of cake. And now Graf is looking for a new balance.


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