The powertrain was groundbreaking, with billionaire doors thrown in for good measure.

Honda Spocket Concept Honda Spocket Concept

This is Concept We Forgot, Motor1’s deep dive into weird and wonderful concept cars you might not remember.

Name: Honda Spocket
Debut: 1999 Tokyo Motor Show
Engine: Inline-Four Hybrid
Output: 150 Horsepower (est.)
Drive Type: All-Wheel Drive

Honda was one of the first mainstream automakers to experiment with hybrid engines. In 1999, the automaker was poised to introduce the Insight, its first gas-electric, to the buying public. But while that one was an efficiency-at-all-costs hybrid, Honda may have been considering something sportier and more versatile. Enter the Spocket concept.

Making its debut at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show – just a few weeks before the Insight went on sale worldwide – the Spocket is indeed a hybrid, with an electric motor on each rear wheel and an electrified four-cylinder engine sending power up front. Honda also gave the Spocket a five-speed automatic transmission with SportShift buttons on the steering wheel, although a manual gearbox would have been a more entertaining thought exercise.

Unfortunately, the concept wasn’t a runner, so any specifications are purely speculative, but Honda’s most powerful Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system at the time made 93 horsepower and 116 pound-feet. The Spocket, what with its pair of electric motors at the rear, would have surely made more than that, especially given its mission brief – sporty coupe, convertible, and pickup, all in one.

With the roof in place, the Spocket had a small, open-air bed behind its first row of seats, or a set of rear seats could fold up from the floor. However, the roof could also slide rearward over the box for open-air thrills. The tailgate also flips down and extends, forming a ramp to aid loading and unloading. Think of it as a sportier, less rugged Subaru BRAT and you’re not far off.

The proportions of the Spocket were just about perfect, with a long, 108.0-inch wheelbase that eclipsed the contemporary Accord. Despite the front-drive layout of the internal-combustion engine, front overhang is practically nil, with the Honda hunched far forward and looking ready to pounce.

Cylinder-shaped headlight elements bunched together in a single bezel, though commonplace today, were very forward-looking in 1999, and the butterfly-style doors would have ensured every entrance was a grand one. The red and silver color scheme also fit the exuberant attitude of Y2K, ready to tackle Santa Cruz on Sunday and Silicon Valley on Monday.

If you really squint, you can see shades of the Honda CR-Z in the Spocket’s upturned, triangular headlights and robot-grin front grille. But obviously, the half-pickup/half-convertible concept never landed in a Honda showroom, and the company’s hybrid products have generally followed an efficiency-first mindset – honorable mention given to the fleet-footed 2004 Honda Accord V6 Hybrid.

Where Is It Now?

Honda says the original Spocket concept is still kicking around – although, exactly where it is remains to be seen. It’s probably hidden deep in one of Honda’s collections somewhere. So maybe we’ll get a chance to see it in person sometime in the future. Otherwise, we can only dream of what might have been. As a fast, sporty convertible that could also tackle the occasional trip to Ikea, the Honda Spocket would be a lot of fun.



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