Car Beat: First-generation Honda Civic

Whenever I see a cool car around the neighborhood, I take pictures and send them to my pal Eric up in Portland who runs Other People’s Things, my favorite car blog. He responds with some knowledge and we post the results here and it’s called “Car Beat.” Here’s what Eric has to say about this sporty little Honda:

Looks like you found a pretty sweet first generation Honda Civic.  This one looks like is a 78-79 and it seems to be in fairly good original condition.  The JDM (car nerd speak for Japanese Domestic Market) fender mirrors are certainly not original as this is a US spec car, but they add a little eccentricity to it.  I’ve always wanted to ride in car with the mirrors so far forward; apparently it eliminates the blind spot and you don’t have to take your eyes off the road as much, but it seems like it would be a little disorienting.  Looks cool though.

Anyways I digress.  This car, much like the similar BMW 2002 was really a case of having the right car at the right time for America.  Introduced during the Oil Crisis in 1973 this “larger” Honda was a good fit for most people, got great mileage, and could run on leaded or unleaded gas, sort of like having a car today that can run on E85 or standard fuel, but actually useful.

One last strange thing I noticed is the hatchback of this little Civic doesn’t open like you think it would.  Though they changed to the more traditional method we see on hatchbacks today, this one works similar to the the way the original Mini Cooper’s did, only more annoying because it doesn’t drop down like a truck tailgate, it opens up into your face so you can’t see what you’re doing.  Strange.

Thanks, Eric! Now let’s take a look at this strange hatchback:

21 Responses to “Car Beat: First-generation Honda Civic”

  1. Gaelan says:

    Allan! it’s mine you creep!! Thanks for the info Eric, it’s a 1978.

    • deven says:

      this car makes me smile every time i see it around. thanks for taking care of it and always making my trips to Rainbow a little bit brighter.

  2. mushmouth says:

    As a native Mainer I have to ask where did the old school WBLM (Rock and Blimp) bumper sticker come from? They haven’t been 107.5 since something like 1982, and there is no chance that car has seen a Maine winter.

  3. mushmouth says:

    OK it was 1989 that they switched to 102.9.

  4. Nice car Gaelan, did you add the mirrors on yourself?

    Also do you know when they switched the tailgate setup? It seems like some before and after have regular tailgates but this one does not…


  5. Rusyn Americans says:

    About $2,000 new.

  6. Ashleyanne says:

    That gives me an erection. So beautiful.

  7. I rode to the Phoenix Worldcon and halfway back in ’78 in one of those — I say “halfway back” because the driver rammed it into a parked car on the shoulder and totalled it. No one was hurt, so I gotta like it.

  8. Gaelan says:

    I got it from the original owner in 2005. It’s a 1978 and his name is Tiger (named by the original owner). The original owner bought it in 1978 in Maine and drove it across the country to San Francisco that year with all her worldly belongings and it has been here ever since.

    My dad installed the mirrors last year because it came standard-issue with only a driver’s side mirror and that was dangerous as hell. Only problem with the cool looking mirrors is that they are a pain in the ass to adjust, I have to either get out of the car or have a helper. People are forever fucking with them.

    I love the boot (trunk), sometimes I wish it was a real hatchback, but you would be amazed the amount of stuff I’ve managed to fit in there and the backseat of the car. I can transport a bike in the backseat if you take both the wheels off.

    Also!! the “CIVIC” logo went missing in January of this year and I was really pissed. Then it miraculously showed up again, re-glued on in September. Here’s the weird part: NO ONE I KNOW DID IT. They also did a terrible job gluing it on, there are drips and runs everywhere that won’t come off. Like reverse vigilantee vandalism.

  9. Gaelan says:

    I believe this was just an option, they had hatchbacks and they had trunks. The trunks didn’t last long though.

    It really is a tough little guy, I’ve put him through some tests and we’ve always survived.

    Only real problem as of late is he wouldn’t pass smog without installing a catalytic convertor. The test guy didn’t seem to notice the big NON-CATALYTIC ENGINE sign across the underside of the hood, so we passed!

  10. EverythingSucks says:

    Seriously bad ass car. Impressed you’ve kept it in such great condition. What sort of gas mileage are you getting?

    • Gaelan says:

      not the greatest, like I said, I’ve been having a few problems (catalytic converter, etc) so I’ve been averaging 22. But I do a LOT of in-town driving. I take the freeway when I can but it’s usually only for 1 or 2 exits.

      He had a paint job courtesy of the original owner 3 years before I got him, but he is a cherry for sure.

  11. Neighbor says:

    I had a green 79 cvcc (named “kwality loam”), loved that car. The stick shift was in the floor between the front seats, was about 2 feet long and drove like a bus. One winter we drove it Tahoe and put the chains on the wrong tires. Instead of taking the chains off and putting them back on, we just jacked up one whole side of the car and switched the wheels. I would buy another one TODAY if they still made them. Sigh.

  12. OPT says:

    Awesome stories, this is why I love old cars.

  13. Bleeze says:

    This car is rad. I love lots of the older Japanese cars, not sure what’s happened to their style over the years since.

  14. Ap79civic says:

    The trunk model was an option. They didn’t make nearly as many trunk models at they did the hatch but in my opinion the trunk looks much cooler with the chrome hinges. I have a 79 with a 1200 myself. Work in progress but no body rot. They are awesome little cars and a cool piece of history.

  15. Wendy says:

    Parted out a 1977 Honda Civic 2 door hatchback. kept the hood, both doors, both fenders, side rear wing windows, bunch of trim pieces, engine bracket, clutch parts, much misc. ALL GOES FOR $300 CASH,No Checks! MUST PICK UP, NO SHIPPING!!! Just off I-5 at Exit 216, HALSEY/BROWNSVILLE, Oregon PIC #1 was the car, Now just parts removed. Carcass went to scrapper. PIC #2 The Hood removed from the Carcass that went to the scrapper. PIC #3 Box of Misc parts, incl. one tail light, marker reflectors, chrome window trim off back wing windows, steering column cover, dash speedometer set, wipers, engine mount, misc. 541-868-4398, NO TEXTS! Don’t call unless you are ready to BUY it ALL and are willing to PICK IT UP at EXIT 216 off I-5 Halsey/Brownsville, OREGON Pick em up while visiting the WILLAMETTE Country Music Festival in Brownsville, OR Weekend of the August 16-18, 2013

  16. Brain says:

    When I initially left a comment I seem to
    have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from
    now on whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails with
    the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a way you are able to remove me from that
    service? Cheers!

  17. Homer says:

    Thanks for finally writing about > Car Beat:
    First-generation Honda Civic Mission Mission < Liked it!