VIDEO: Why the first-gen Honda Civic makes a great race car

Honda CIvic Bathurst

One of our favorite series on the internet right now is by Shannons Insurance of Australia. In the latest episode, they explain why you should go out and buy a first-gen Civic immediately. 

Australia Honda Civic 1973

Sports Car World 1974-04 Honda CivicPerhaps surprisingly to US readers, much of it has to do with the advanced technology that made it a fierce contender as a race car:

The Civic’s all-aluminium 1169cc overhead-cam engine had a genuine hemispherical crossflow head with rocker arms to operate opposing-incline valves. Five main bearings added strength. Cylinders were siamesed in pairs to keep the block short and light. The four-branch exhaust manifold and a water jacket inlet manifold with its four-throat carburetor were on opposite sides of the engine, away from heat-soak issues.

The conclusion? In 1973, the year the Civic debuted in Australia, these specs, along with a four-wheel independent suspension with long-pivot control arms made it “one of the most factory-ready class contenders in Bathurst history.”

And in fact those crazy Aussies did race the Civics. Whereas we in the States primarily saw them as fuel sipping economy cars, Civics down under were revving to over 7,000 rpm all day in Group A Touring Car races at Bathurst and hitting 111 mph on the straights.

The entire video — which includes an owner profile of a ’74 that still has plastic on the door cards — is worth a watch. If it doesn’t want to make you run out and buy a Civic, you have no soul.

Images:, Shannons

This post is filed under: honda and
tagged: , , , , , .

6 Responses to VIDEO: Why the first-gen Honda Civic makes a great race car

  1. KiKiIchiBan says:

    Excellent stuff. Really enjoyed that video.

  2. Randy says:

    Restore? Yes, if possible, else “restomod” it, but to beat on one of what’s apparently pretty rare – even down there, where it seems things don’t rust away very quickly – seems kind of dumb… I wouldn’t beat on a pre-’95 Swift/Metro/Sprint, Justy, or Festiva either… There’s a point where you just try to preserve them. Use them, yes, but don’t go running them around a track, with the risks of killing it into a guardrail, or rolling it, or ???.

    Wanna flog a Civic? Pick up a newer one that somebody riced out, so there’s not such a hit to the survivors. Maybe round up all the CRXes or Del Sols for that sort of abuse; there HAVE TO be a few thousand left, right? Maybe an MR2 race series?

    There’s a place in history for even Chevettes, Aspires, and LeCars.

  3. AJS says:

    One for sale in the Netherlands. Also with the plastic covers on the doorcards. Only $ 4.600 🙂


  4. Len Kruwel says:

    CACI, a company in LA, made tuned Gen 1 Civics, in stages up to a turn-key race car. Also a plethora of tuner parts even before the Tuner/Slammer craze hit. I still miss my 1973 Honda-Matic hatchback ($2250 new) Lots of adventures in that little guy. I suppose I also miss the 1965 Mustang 2+2 it traded it in for, but I have never gone back. I have owned a Civic continuously since 1973……My Daily Driver 1985 Wagon since almost new….30 years!! Other cars have come and gone in the meantime, but this one is the keeper……as long as my trusted Mechanic can get parts.

  5. Serg says:

    Yeah I love these but they’re too rare to be battle effective nowadays – a few time attack days here and there for sure but I wouldn’t run one competitively.

    One of the rally guys down here has a heap of them and spares, to the point where he’s probably got three complete cars but he doesn’t run them anymore because finding donors or spares is a year + wait – he rallies an EK civic instead which goes really well and cost him under a grand to get up and running (not incl safety gear)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *