QotW: What’s your Honda Civic story?

Fifty years ago today, on July 11, 1972, the Honda Civic went on sale. The tiny but mighty compact became synonymous with value, dependability, and the tuner culture of the 90s. It’s a household name to even the least car-aware people, and with 27 million sold it’s one of the best-selling nameplates in the world. Nearly everyone has either owned one or knows someone who has.

What’s your Honda Civic story?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What type of car has the best community of owners?“.

As a fellow AE86 owner, I definitely agree with Art and Jacob Durbin. The Hachiroku has an incredible and supportive community. Yes, it might be filled with snark about how high prices have gotten, but they will always help an 86er out. I have never personally owned an MR2, but based on the tightness and willingness to travel long distances from MR2 owners we’ve met at shows like Toyotafest and JCCS, we can also safely say Ian G. is right about Toyota’s Midship Runabout 2-seater.

Michael DeLashmutt is of course correct about the Z, which is the only Japanese car to have a club system both regional and nationwide (in the US) that rivals those of Porsches or Corvettes. Lupus votes Subaru, but that must only be a European thing. Just kidding; There’s a lot of flat-brim hatted stance bros out there, but NASIOC and USMB are an amazing forums where users are very helpful and knowledgeable. We will take Mark‘s word about the Miata scene and Long Beach Mike about the S2000’s, while Fred Langille does his part to spread the Nissan Pike Car gospel.

The winner this week goes to Alan, who perfectly described the ethos of Japanese cars and the reason we love them so much. It’s a sentiment we live by, and stated with beautiful eloquence.

Japanese cars do.

Their roots are in working class transportation, and their badges are steeped in blue collar ideals; they’re reliable, hard working, and unpretentious, but not necessarily unsophisticated or unambitious.

Broadly speaking, Japanese cars are attainable, quality goods, with a cultural vernacular fed by earnest aspiration; the desire to improve for the benefit of oneself and family, rather than the shallow, passing approval of flim-flam clout chasers.

They often under-promise and over-deliver, supplying raw performance and nuance of handling in quantity and quality equal to snooty European brands, but with the humility and quiet confidence of an overachieving individual from modest stock; not the brash, insecure arrogance of one born to entitlement.

Japanese cars, again broadly speaking, are sincere, forthright, practical, and effective.

Japanese cars appeal to people of similar disposition, and that’s why they have the best community of owners.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

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9 Responses to QotW: What’s your Honda Civic story?

  1. Fred Langille says:

    This is more of what Honda’s last model before the Civic ,,, the Z600 Coupe along with it;s sedan counterpart. I had been out processing from the Army at Fort Jackson, NC and eagerly awaiting my car to arrive from German, a used Dodge Dolt I mean Colt.

    Once it arrived, I had to get all the stuff done one needs to do after shipping a car from Germany along with the rest of the boring paperwork that included receiving a ton of money for my last pay, advance travel, per diem and, severance. Once that was done, I drove the Colt around and, in doing so past a used car lot that had a tiny orange coupe on it … no, not a Honda Civic but a 1972 Honda Z600 Sports Coupe. Although much smaller than the Dolt I mean COLT, with less than half the displacement and aircooled, I was enthralled. A deal was made … my car plus $1,500 cash.

    The orangeness spread to the inside in a shade normally seen at the breakfast table. The color was enhanced by a maroon stripe and the word “SPORT”.

    It was a good thing I made the trade as, in going back to the dealer in my new car for paperwork, they informed me my old car died. Not being friendly at that point, I concluded business and got out wihout the Dodge!

    That little Honda … which was probably one of the last Z600s from 1972 … which is why I posted it here … managed to get me home (HAH!) to Phoenix where, unbeknownst to me at the time, a divorce was awaiting. MY faithful little Honda was cared for like a jewel. It brought me to many Army Reserve tours of duty and, because of its economic impact, I usually made money on my travel pay until the car gave up the ghost with 105,000 miles (not km’s). SYNARA … now also the S-Cargo’s plate in memorium … was the last of his kind when the first ’72 Civics arrived.

    Not so much a Civic story but, as the immediate and close ancestor, I felt it was good enough for government work.

  2. Long Beach Mike says:

    First Civic? 1999 Si. I was 49 when the EM1 Si first hit the streets and a glowing review in Car and Driver convinced me I had to have one. I found ou1t the local Honda dealer had one coming in so I met the truck when it rolled onto the lot one rainy Saturday morning. The Si was Milano Red and I was hooked. I made the deal and got the car out of there before it could be pinstriped, undercoated, or otherwise assaulted with dealer “upgrades”.

    That car was the first I had ever modified. It started with a subtle aftermarket front lip and ended with some Recaro seats, a JR supercharger, header, suspension, carbon fiber hood and a bunch of Mugen stuff. A few years later when I took it back to stock in preparation for selling it I rediscovered just what a fun car it was in factory spec.

  3. Azfer says:

    Oh boyy…I have a few but the best one that I remember vividly is from Dec 2001 where I got to live out my Fast and Furious/Grand Turismo fantasy in a 5 spd 92 Civic LX with 140k on it. I drove from Philly to Chicago in 9 hours (normally it’s a 12 hour drive) in my friend’s car with him enjoying the action from the passenger seat; what his reaction was when he woke up and witnessed what was going on is a story in and of itself (keep on reading).

    It was on Christmas Eve and there was literally no one on the road, except another random 97 Civic that we saw some time after we’d left. The Grand Turismo part of the fantasy was being able to experience drafting which was INSANE to the newly licensed me. The Fast and Furious fantasy was, well, Civic vs. Civic showdown on the interstate. To my friend and my surprise, our Civic was always able to pull away from the 97 Civic, even though both were stick shift and the other one was obviously newer. When the stranger and us had to part ways, we both smiled at each other, waved our hands, and wished each other safe travels.

    So my friend had fallen asleep fairly quickly when we set out. I saw the 97 Civic and can’t remember how it started but we both just sent it. When my friend woke up, he looked at the speedometer and rubbed his eyes a few times because he couldn’t see the needle, LOL. He then quickly put on his glasses and tried to look at it again and still couldn’t see it. He asked me what’s going on and I told him to look over to his right and there was the 97 Civic. When he realized what was going on, he peed his pants (hahaha, j/k!). He got an adrenaline rush and he just couldn’t believe what was going on and double checked his seat belt.

    When my friend bought the Civic, he had no idea about how cool they were. After this trip, he found a new love for it. I knew the Civic was special but having to experience it that way is a memory I’ll never forget.

  4. bv911 says:

    Teaching my sister how to drive her first new car, a 1988 DX four-door. She got major respect from me, committing to making years of payments on a three-pedal car before mastering how to use those pedals.

    The “best” (i.e. “worst”) memory is of the one stoplight where she got super-flustered, kept stalling it, for at least three cycles of the lights. I remember looking through the back window at the poor driver behind us, gesturing “Sorry!, she’s just learning!”

    I loved that car, revved and shifted so cleanly, and had that handy rev-limiter, which was an effective-enough substitute for a tachometer to this freshly-licensed driver. My best time driving it was when her friend needed a quick ride to the train station, my sister basically telling me to “send it” but without those words ’cause that wasn’t a thing back then. Yep, hit that rev-limiter a lot that trip, used each one of those 100 (?) ponies…

  5. Alan says:

    Domo arigato gozaimasu! I am honored that you agree.

    I have no Civic story, I’ve never owned a Honda, despite being a yuuge fan. I need to change that.

  6. EJ says:

    When I was 14 years old, I wanted an EG Civic hatch as my first car. Quite realistic, as there simply isn’t a lot of cheap “nice/fast” options in Indonesia. Not so realistic is that these EG hatchbacks are much more expensive than the sedans on the used market. If the sedans cost 3k USD, an equivalent hatch would be 15k USD. My mom and pop obviously said no. I was crushed.

    Fast forward a few years later, I took on the opportunity to do freelance art commissions online while also studying in Uni. I lived like a cheapskate. Saved as much money as I can. Earned as much as I can. I wanted to get myself a car, but I really did these commissions to save up money and be a bit more financially free after my college years.

    I graduated college in 2020, and after about 4 years of work, turns out I have about IDR 70,000,000 (5k USD in 2020) saved, and I had this GREAT idea of buying my own car. A car that I can call my own. The hunt was on.

    I first wanted an E33 Mitsubishi Eterna (Galant), as it came with the 150 HP 4G63 engine from factory. Jealous of my friends from the US with their large V8s and turbocharged K24s, 150 HP is really all I could do. Sadly, after 5 cars that I looked at, I never really felt comfortable in them. It wasn’t until one day at a “classic” used car dealer where I found an EG sedan on the lot beside the Eterna. I sat in it, and felt right at home. It made sense, my family has always purchased Hondas. We had the Stream, CRV, and the Freed at some point in our lives. I also justified the purchase remembering the time when the EG sedan raced as a JTCC car. Dori Dori even drove one with STP colors.

    I didn’t buy that particular car as it was an automatic, but I instantly felt connected with the Civic after a test drive. I remembered about my younger self, the upset face I made when I wouldn’t get an EG hatch. Of course, this was the sedan, but I hope my younger self would at least understand what compromise is. I knew that particular civic wouldn’t be the one, but the search was on for an EG Sedan.

    I went on an arduous search. I had 4 candidate cars, all costing around IDR 50,000,000 (about 3.5K USD in 2020) and after lots of consideration, I chose a 1995 car, colored in dark gray. All EG civics in Indonesia came with the D16A7 with 120 HP. I took the car home and I still couldn’t believe that I actually bought my own car. This isn’t exactly common in Indonesia, I think. I see many of my friends who bought their own 125cc motor scooters, but not cars.

    2 years later, and the car has been my heaven and hell. So many things went wrong with it, so right now its still stock. But I am planning to start modifying in 2023, if nothing goes wrong that is. But, after all this is said and done, I hope that I made my younger self proud. And I hope to inspire others, to get a car that they can call their own, and make something of one’s self!

    Enjoy happy car life!

  7. Art says:

    Even though I’m a Toyota enthusiast, I have been a Honda Civic owner since 2013. The reason wasn’t that I was looking for a Civic, but that Honda just had a much offering back then. (also that I actually fled the local Toyota dealership outraged)

    But my Honda Civic story isn’t about my own car. It isn’t about a real car at all! My story is about me reading a Belgian comic Gaston LaGaffe (Gomer Goof in some English speaking countries) when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Gaston LaGaffe is the typical anti-hero who works as a junior clerk at a publishing firm of Dupuis. He always sleeps, messes up and loves to tinker with toys/chemistry/whatever he can lay his hands upon. He also drives a pre-war Fiat 509 that heavily pollutes the city of Brussels and always breaks down. When he parks his car he always tries to find ways not to pay for parking and therefore has a lot of silly arguments with the local constable Longtarin (longnose). So in other words, he’s basically a ten year old kid in the the body of an adult.

    In one of the later comics Gaston dreams about a perfect world and this is the comic that always stuck in my mind. I tried to find this particular comic online, but so far I wasn’t able to. The policeman is playing flute on his baton stick and he’s hopping over the sidewalk. The policeman tells Gaston that in this (new) world there is no payed parking and neither are there traffic violations. A first generation Honda Civic drives by and the exhaust pipe is pooping flowers. The comic continues a few panels before Gaston is brutally awaken by his manager and Gaston bursts into tears. That image of the Honda Civic pooping flowers from its exhaust stuck with me. It basically told me the engine in first generation Honda Civic was so much cleaner compared to its competitors.

    This comic was drawn in the mid 1970s. Back in those days the cars in Europe were all on leaded gasoline, while the Japanese already had abandoned that. Also the Honda Civic featured the CVCC engine which didn’t need a catalytic converter to keep its emissions down. Naturally, for us Europeans, it felt like the Honda Civic was literally pooping flowers from its exhaust when compared to our lead-hungry counterparts. The Honda connection wasn’t entirely new to André Franquin: he drew Spirou et Fantasion driving a Honda S800 back in the late 1960s!

  8. Joe Musashi says:

    The one time that I got to drive one was about 10 years ago, it was a 7th gen Civic in silver. Super mundane car. Nothing worth noting about it, but I’ll never forget about it as long as I live as that car was the car that I took my license test on.

    Finished the road test and passed with flying colors, and then my friend who owned the car did her test that day as well, went in thinking she was hot stuff, got points taken off for a few things here and there. Still passed, but of course that bothered her because it was her car. lol I’m still laughing about it many years later.

  9. Bob says:

    For background, I completed my mechanical apprenticeship at a Canberra, Australia Honda car, motorcycle and power equipment dealer in the 90’s that had been operating since the early 70’s.

    My Civic story here was a little old white 74 2 door SB1 with the boot/trunk we had as a shop run-about. It had been acquired cheaply and the engine was rebuilt with used parts laying around still within spec except maybe a couple of bearings and new gaskets/seals I was told and had been running like that for years. When this came up for sale I bought it for $500 when I seized the engine in my Mazda RX2 Capella. It wasn’t long before I had 77 Accord 13″ steelies on it wrapped in 185/65-13 Hankook tyres, cut the springs in half with that classic bump-stop ride. The stock Showa shocks could be dismantled so I refilled those with engine oil to firm the damping, put my race seat from RX2, tape deck and power boost EQ and Pioneer speakers in the rear parcel shelf. The handling was like a go-kart, the little front disc’s had a blue tinge and regularly had a little smoke coming off them and it was so much fun but the engine didn’t last long before it got a little smokey with the flogging it was getting and of course I wanted more power.

    I was then able to get hold of a JDM RS engine with the Tri-Y exhaust, larger ports, valves and combustion chamber mated to domed pistons but unfortunately this one didn’t have the twin side draught carbs but instead a larger then Aus spec 2 barrel down draught carby. The twin headers were gas-cut off behind the sump at the rear of the engine in Japan on removal from original car so I had these extended to around the gearshift location and and joined with a Y section into a 1&7/8 inch single going through a hotdog or cherrybomb resonator mid way and straight through muffler at the tail which produced a nice note and not to raspy.

    This RS engine went so much better and was flogged daily like a race car with zero complaints or problems. It would pull 80km in second gear which I believe around 8000rpm and had a lot of fun drag racing V8’s from traffic lights although they would always get me on the top end but the look on their face was always priceless.

    I was racing motocross at the time so I also had a tow bar/hitch on it for towing my CR125 on 3 motorcycle trailer. I would often take a friend as he had a very modified Chrysler Charger and that little $1000 costing Civic pulled a trailer with 2 MX bikes and all our gear filling the back seats and 2 guys in the front on the freeway at 120kmph all the way to Sydney and back. The look on peoples faces as you overtake them at 120kmph on the freeway, fulled loaded in a beat old Honda Civic on the bump stops with now Ford engine blue painted Accord stocker wheels(stoned moment that actually looked pretty good) was again, priceless.

    Best of all, it was that much fun, was being able to swap it for the day with some friends with really nice cars so they could drive something like they stoll it while I cruised around in what I couldn’t afford to own myself.

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