EVENTS: The California Accord Meet proves family sedans can be cool again

The Honda Accord: Once a practical family car, now a beloved classic that has spawned an entire show dedicated to a single model. The California Accord Meet in SoCal is the largest Honda Accord gathering in the US, and  draws enthusiasts from around the country. We followed two friends who made the pilgrimage from Minnesota in their own cars to attend the Accord mecca.

During the golden years of the Tuner Era, Honda dominated the scene. With the 90s cars entering JNC-dom there’s an interesting melding of two subcultures — the tuners and the chrome-bumpered old guard. We’ve been wanting to juxtapose these two styles for a while, so what better occasion than a show that blends both of them together? Our friends Wa Lee and Thai Xiong trekked down in their 90’s Accords to get a glimpse.

Cars like Chris Hoffman’s 1980 Longleet Gold Accord Accord hatchback sat across an aisle from engine-swapped and slammed tuners from the 90s and 2000s. It sometimes feels like the general population of fans don’t really care about the roots of their favorite vehicles. This isn’t the case at all with the Honda community though, it seems like everyone with an Accord has some sort of interest in the pre-Tuner Era cars. I’ve had more interactions with kids driving stanced Hondas showing interest in classic N600s and CVCCs than I’ve had with their counterpart fans of rival marques.

CAM was the place to be for people like that, while chrome bumpers could only be found on the original Accord, they were accepted with open arms, even if they didn’t have rare wheels or coilovers. Chris Green’s 1979 might be one of the best preserved CVCC sedans in the country. Everything down to the tires looks era-correct and it even has an original California blue plate.

The second-generation Honda Accord feels like the marque’s sophomore album. It was good, but it seems to have experienced the same curse that befell the Datsun 280ZX, stuck between the original that draws all the praise and its radical successor. Regardless, I love seeing the understated design of the second-generation Accord in the wild. This particular example has a blend of modern and classic touches, the blacked out corner lights being he most controversial but the rest of the car looking quite excellent.

The third-generation Accord is well-known as a favorite here at Japanese Nostalgic Car (full disclosure: I own two). It was the car that bridged the gap between classic and the tuner era Accords. Its chassis code, CA, is quite fitting, as California has one of the largest tuning communities in the world for these cars. Carlos Ochoa’s hatchback and Juan Valdivia’s coupe are two outstanding examples of CA Accords, further blurring the lines of traditional modification and modern tuner style.

Naturally period-correct, or at least era-inspired, mods tend to garner extensive attention. Modifications of the era tended to compliment the original styling of the car, and while sometimes reaching for a modern touch can help, the goal is to compliment, not make it something it isn’t. As we reach the 90s Accords, we begin see that modifications that have been popular in the Tuner Era follow the same trend.

Staples of the Tuner Era, like the CB and CD chassis, are migrating into classic status, and it’s creating a sea change in the community of owners of these cars. Once disposable daily drivers, today a CB Accord is just a collectible a JNC as a Toyota Corona or Datsun 610. This black kouki CB7 was a perfect example of a car that would have previously been driven into the ground. Today it is sorted out with an H22 swap, JDM one-piece headlights, and a very meaty wheel and tire setup. Notice the lack of tire damage from the overlap with the fender, hinting at a quality suspension setup.

Whether conscious or not, 90s cars are taking a page from traditionally kyusha modification styles. The camber and lipped wheels seen on cars like this CD Accord are culturally linked to the lowered and re-barrled rear-wheel-drive Toyota and Nissan hardtops of the carburation age. The spirit of weekend wrenchers that built Datsun 510 street racers can be found in these tuners.

While preservationists would lose their minds at the thought of aftermarket wheels or altered suspension, the Honda crowd embraces the wide selection of parts made available to these cars in period. Like a set of triple sidedrafts on an L28 or a set of Hayashis on a TE27, the Mugen body kit and M7 wheels on an Accord Wagon show an appreciation for the culture and legacy of these cars.

An Accord with retrofitted MDX Jewel Eye headlights and aggressive lip kit echoes the swapping of a Kenmeri’s quad round lights for dual Cedric sealed beams and a deppa chinspo.

This RA1 Odyssey, which is directly related to the CG Accord shown above, features a number of period correct modifications. Racing Hart Type C were the wheel to have at the turn of the century, and the reverse head H22A was inspired by the Accord touring cars of the late 90s. The latter is no small feat to achieve, and for a Hondahead, this is the equivalent of Takumi Fujiwara’s Formula Atlantic 4AG.

Like a ’49 Ford or ’57 Chevy, the Honda Accord was once ubiquitous family car that has gained a second life thanks to devoted enthusiasts and customizers. Its original popularity (twice ranking as the best-selling car in America in 1989 and 1991) ensured there would be plenty of parts support for years to come, and Honda’s baked-in performance-oriented engineering spawned a wide range of aftermarket support. The golden tuner years of Japanese cars in America are on the horizon of entering classic status, and as someone who grew up in the back seat of his mom’s Tiburon clutching a Super Street and idolizing the Bomex-kitted EG hatch down the street from his apartment, I know firsthand how exciting this is to see.

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9 Responses to EVENTS: The California Accord Meet proves family sedans can be cool again

  1. GeorgeL said:

    My second car was a 1979 Accord sedan in silver with a burgundy velour interior. I think there were only two colors offered for the sedan that year (it was the first year for the sedan), silver and dark red. I bought mine in 1984 with about 48,000 miles on it.

    The ’79 sedan had a lot of one-year only features such as unique grille and taillights, wheels, smaller bumper end caps, etc. The dash emblem on the passenger side said CVCC, while ’80 and ’81 said HONDA. I’m sure there’s other smaller details I’m forgetting, but I sure did love that car.

    That car sparked a very long love affair for me with Honda. Unfortunately, most of their current stuff isn’t very interesting to me, but I did enjoy Honda’s glory days.

  2. BW said:

    What cracks me up? You could STILL (nearly 25 years later) have a meet for JUST 4th Gen (94-97) Accords, and have hundreds of cars show up. It amazes me how many of those mid-90’s Accords are still on the road, and a lot of them aren’t even clapped-out.

    I used to joke that I could have started a local club consisting of nothing but 96-97 Bordeaux Red LX Accord sedans and have made a lot of friends. It was simply astonishing how many of them there were on the road even when the cars were 10yrs old.

  3. Bill Wilkman said:

    I wish I’d known about this event ahead of time. I have a 1983 base model Honda Accord that I’ve owned since I purchased it new in 1982. I’ve maintained it in original condition and today it looks showroom fresh from 10 feet away.

  4. pete240z said:

    I bought a Gen 8 LX sedan 5-speed and put 155,000 miles on it for my sales job – I was sold at the simplicity of the Honda product and my diehard Chevrolet wife (GM retiree Dad) after 40 years of driving only GM products bought a Honda Pilot last year.

    I have my eye on that new Sport 2.0 6-speed……

  5. Kevin said:

    Wow, wish I had known about this event! This is awesome to see all these Accords in one place. I own a ’91 Accord with 422K original miles and still going strong (well, with a lot of TLC as parts get older…lol!). Even if the engine finally gives out I want to drop another in it and just keep going.

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