I've been to the Honda Museum in Japan, the one deep inside the sprawling (and very pretty) Twin Ring Motegi complex. Within, there were NSX race cars, every cool two-wheeled machine the company has ever built, rare Honda models—like an unmodified Prelude—and every generation of Asimo, but the one vehicle I hoped to see there was the Vamos.
As I say above, I'm not sure what the Vamos is for, but that it's for me. It speaks to me in a seriously serious way, like that if one was in my possession, I think it'd be neat to form a Japanese rock garden around its outdoor parking spot. You know, the usual things enthusiasts think of. (I'd also love the Wangan run monster Porsche 930 Turbo named "Blackbird", for which I'd install a projector bathing the car in nighttime highway footage…)
Anyway, I'm a big Vamos fan, and the museum had one on display. Olive drab, with a cute spare on its cab-forward front, and an upper body made mostly of scaffolding, it looks like a slightly scaled-up army-themed Power Wheels. It's not rare to find ex-military and utility vehicles endearing, just ask any Volkswagen Thing or Citroën Méhari owner what they like most about their civilian-ized light-duty trucks.
And it's a suitably crazy truck.
Mid-engined and rear-drive, it was powered by a massive 354-cc 2-cylinder air-cooled engine, didn't have a roof, and at just 520 kg (1,146 lbs), it still would have been a slow bit of machinery. What's interesting is that Honda legitimately engineered it to be a sort of four-wheeled recreation machine, neatly predicting the coming side-by-side craze—its electrics and gauges are even water and dust-proof.
Payload? 200 kg (440 lbs), which could carry anything found in our apartment…
What I think is funny is that the other day I read that Morgan makes "only" 700 cars per year—considering that Honda sold little more than 2,500 Vamos over three, what's a more rare proposition?
Besides, Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky once called it the "weirdest Honda ever made", and how could I argue anything but?