3 February 2012

Kei Nation - Honda Acty Crawler

Japan as an automotive nation is unique. Their car companies routinely makes stuff that is too segmented, even odd and arguably with a wilful desire to be different. Don't get me wrong, Japanese car commpanies can make conventionally-engineered, conventionally-designed cars that sell by the bucketload, but they also have a flip side to their nature that makes them say 'to hell with it' and take a chance on a car that may start a whole new niche, or fall flat on its face.

Take Honda. The 1984 City cabriolet with it's Pininfarina-designed drop-top conversion was the first car of its kind built in Japan. It was also a loss-maker from day one,yet Honda built it . The Beat, a sporty kei-sized mid-engined roadster was a huge risk as no-one had done one before at that point,  yet Honda built it. Even so, a caterpiller-tracked, six wheeled Acty?
Yet Honda built it...

The Honda Acty Crawler. Not a hoax, not a dream, not an April Fool joke or goofing around by Honda's design studio on a Friday afternoon, this Honda Acty really does have 6 wheels and tank tracks. Based on a 2nd generation model, the Crawler was a built-to-order option straight from the factory from 1994-1999. The rest of the running gear is near identical to lesser four-wheeled Actys; with the exception of 50% more wheels. That means the injected E07A, sohc 660cc 3-pot engine as used in other Honda Kei of the time, but with a special gearbox: a 4-speed manual with extra low range 1st gear and extra low 2nd reverse gear. Make no mistake, it might be Kei-sized, but Honda built this as a serious tool for rough terrain work. It's 'only' 4wd alas; only the front axle and the first rear axle are driven.

Much as I'd love a Crawler, I'm tempted to take a dump. There, I said it.
The rearmost axle is just along for the ride as a way to use the tracks; 6WD and a mid-mounted engine would probably have proved too much of an engineering headache for such a small production run. As an aside, it was part of an elite group of mid-engined, 4WD cars at the time, rubbing shoulders with the Lamborghini Diablo and Bugatti EB110...
the idea wasn't a completely new one for Honda though; the TN360 pf 1969 had an option for rear tracks and front wheel-mouted skis, but the track mechanism was actually part of the truck, so motorway driving is a bit of a no-no.

Not that the tracks would be the only problem on either model; the '95 version took 20 seconds to 60mph, top speed is a leisurely 27mph -  it is called Crawler after all. But thats missing the whole raison d'etre of the Acty Crawler; the type of people that bought it were more interested in taking it over hilly terrain, fording a river, or if they're like us, just generally lording over over motorists trying to get their car up a 1 in 4 snow covered road. Just like it's TN360 predecessor there was also an extra cost 'snow' option complete with the skis on the front wheels.  Kei Car for Antarctica? Could be.

Just like a standard Acty - until you notice 2 reverse gears...

A few Crawlers have been imported into the US; this one was on eBay a while ago.

Extremely rare Japanese Mini truck - Limited Production 1994 Honda Acty Crawler - tandem rear axles, 4WD via factory "tank treads" Truck is factory equipped with a 660cc 3 cyl motor - 4 speed manual with extra low range 1st and extra low 2nd reverse gear. This is the ULTIMATE off road mini truck Right hand drive, imported by us from Japan recently. Unit will be sold with a clear and full Nova Scotia Canada motor vehicle title Extremely clean for age of vehicle, however like most 17 year old cars has minor chips and scratches and painted pannels. Unit runs and drives excellent We are a car dealer in business for 24 years specializing in import and export of new and used cars We can offer shipping anywhere in Canada or the US on this truck - US buyers please note you will have to seek advice and assistance from a US registered vehicle importer Buyer responsible for shipping costs - typical rates we can offer - Halifax to Toronto $575 - Halifax to Quebec - $500 - Halifax to St John's Newfoundland $700 - Halifax to Calais Maine $500 - Halifax to Detroit Michigan $1250 - Halifax to Florida $1400 More photos available on request Unit has been professionally detailed and is mechanically sound Payment by bank wire transfer or certified funds only Any questions please message or call us 902-468-7804

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