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Japanese legends on wheels: the Honda City

A car that still looks sensational and one of the greatest Easter eggs ever.

by Giacomo Donati

In 1980s, the Honda star shone brightly in the car's firmament. In addition to supplying engines to prestigious F1 teams such as Williams and McLaren, in those years Honda launched interesting cars one after another.

But already in the late 70s, precisely in 1978, Honda put in place what would become only three years after a small icon, with fans still scattered all over the world: the Honda City.

With the motto of "let's gamble!”, Honda decided to move from the now too familiar models such as the Accord and the Civic, and ask a group of young designers to do something new, outside the box, different from what Honda had done so far, an inexpensive car, but not cheap either.

The team leader, Hiroo Watanabe, going in a stubborn and contrary direction to the dictates of Detroit in vogue at the time - that wanted the sacrifice comfort in favor of aesthetics - defined a new concept of car, summarized in the nickname given to it, "Tall Boy".

Announced on October 29, 1981, for a cost of ¥ 760,000, Honda city (Honda Jazz in Europe, for copyright reasons) was the opposite of what was in vogue - long and low sedans - and embodied the prophecy of a type of cars that are still predominant in Japan today: tall and short. More precisely, six feet tall, 3.4 meters long: a small revolution.

A practical and easy-to-use car, with a great handling especially in urban areas and with an extremely functional design. The addition of an explosive TV commercial starring Madness, the worldwide popular British rock band, called "Honda, Honda", did the rest.

1.2-liter engine, maximum power of 67 HP, a silent car while driving and, perhaps, the only flaw, not too fun to drive - at least until the most powerful turbo-equipped variants (Turbo I and Turbo II) were introduced.

But the final gem still leaves you wide-eyed: its name is Motocompo, for only 80,000 yen one of the most beautiful scooters ever, an engineered dream, compact to the point of adapting to the small load compartment of the City: a combo that only a nation enamored - or possessed - by robots like Japan could conceive.