By on January 20, 2012

To me, the resemblance between the ’83 Subaru Leone hatch and the ’83 Honda Accord hatch has always seemed pretty obvious, and I was reminded of this when I found one rusty silver example of each at a Denver self-service yard.
Granted, the snout of the Subaru doesn’t look very Honda-like, but it looks clear to me Subaru was trying to steal a few Accord sales with their GL/DL front-wheel-drive hatchback. When it came down to it, the only customer-stealing Subaru was doing at that time was from makers of four-wheel-drive Detroit (and Kenosha) vehicles; the 2WD Subies just didn’t sell.
Honda, however, sold all the Accords they could build. I’ve never been much of an Accord fan (I think the Civic was the perfect expression of what Soichiro Honda had in mind when he started building cars, and the Accord has never been anywhere near as fun to drive as its smaller cousin), but I must admit that this is the car that made Honda into a major player in the North American marketplace. Having owned, I don’t know, a dozen Civics and only one Accord, however, I’m biased.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these cars that didn’t show red in all the service-interval indicators. The low odometer figure and sun-bleached interior suggests that this car sat for a long, long time before heading to The Crusher’s waiting room.
By present-day standards (we’re spoiled), the second-gen Accord wasn’t particularly reliable; back in the Late Malaise Era, however, a car that could go several years between problems was nearly unheard of. These cars tended to blow head gaskets if you overheated them in the slightest, the interference design meant that you had to stay on top of timing-belt changes, and people from rusty parts of the country tell me they turned into red stains on the pavement in a hurry (as a Californian-turned-Coloradan, I do not know from rust). Remember that the second-gen Accord was competing with the likes of the Chevy Citation and Ford Tempo, however, and the Accord-worship of the mid-80s makes a lot of sense.
You don’t see many of these cars these days, though the third-gen Accords are still quite commonplace. I hope a few low-mile examples are still hiding in garages around the country.

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94 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1983 Honda Accord LX Hatchback...”


  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    There was so many things to like about this car right from Day One. Honda established it’s creds with the Civic, so taking one a turning it to a slightly larger vehicle was the kind of model expansion not seen from Detroit. It made a lot of sense to millions of people.

    The competition did the opposite. Detroit made big cars and tried to strip them down and shrink them into smaller cars. This worked with the Falcon, Valiant and the Chevy II twenty five years earlier, but by 1983 Detroit was demonstrating that it just couldn’t make a small car. The Corvair, the Pinto, the Citation, the Vega, the Pacer – the list seems to never end of bad Detroit small cars after 1967.

    Honda showed America something it hadn’t seen before. A good small car design. While the engines were hit-or-miss, these cars were amazing when they worked. After a decade of showing Americans that they knew how to make a small car, and after hearing for a decade from Americans that “if only the Civic was just a little bigger” – Honda pulled the trigger and made auto history.

    It was easy to love an Accord. While a million Civics were hustling from Seattle to Miami, an Accord was the Cutlass Supreme of Civics. Folks knew they no longer wanted a personal luxury car, but they still wanted something nicer than a bare subcompact. The Accord was just right.

    I never owned one, and never will, but I understand their popularity.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      My parents had two of these hatchbacks; a red 82 and a blue 83. They kept them for about nine years so I pretty much grew up in those cars, jammed in the back seat for frequent weekend road trips. The older I got the more cramped it became. When I bought my first car years later I got an 85 sedan as an act of rebellion, even though I didn’t need the rear doors.

      You could reset the service indicators by pushing the key into a slot under each marker. Most service places wouldn’t do this; you had to do it yourself after an oil change.

    • 0 avatar
      FordTempoEnthusiast

      Not entirely true. Detroit didn’t always do the opposite. For example, Ford in the 1980s. They took their successful and dependable European Escort, and made minor adjustments to better suit the American audience. After its initial success they took that same chassis (CE14), lengthened it, and added countless upgrades, luxuries, technologies, and new powertrain options wrapped in an entirely different body. This is essentially how the Ford Tempo came to be.

      It was after the development of Tempo, that the Taurus project was put into full swing. Perfect example of an automaker starting small (Escort), and gradually redefining the automobile until the pinnacle that was Taurus.

      It goes without saying that the Taurus was the car of the decade. But that’s not to say the Escort was a blatant message to Americans and Japanese imports that we could build a phenomenal, reliable small car. Indeed, even Tempo was a sales marvel throughout its 10 year production run.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        Uh – Tempo?
        Enthusiast?

        OK. Yes.
        The Tempo was based on a stretched Escort platform, using many of the Escort’s mechanics. So, I was not correct saying that Detroit’s cars in this market segment were based on big cars in this case. I stand corrected.

        As an enthusiast for the Tempo, I defer to your expertise here. There aren’t that many of you. Thank you for correcting me.

        If it wasn’t for massive fleet sales, Tempo sales would have been 70% less than shown. Rental car companies used Tempos and Topazes by the hundreds of thousands. So, as to marvel – well, no. Not really.

        Honda didn’t dump hundreds of thousands of these cars into rental fleet lots. Nearly all of them ended up in someone’s driveway.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        I spent time at the KC plant where those were “built.” Don’t even get me started on how they resolved end of line quality issues (I will say that many rather large hammers were involved). While I admire your steadfast admiration and loyalty to the car I’m not convinced all of the accolades you shower upon it are worthy. Of course…what do I know? I still love (and want) another Plymouth Arrow, having owned two (but never the 1979 Fire Arrow…).

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I’ve read that the use of large hammers to “straighten out” panel fits was quite common not just in the domestic plants, but the European ones, as well. I recall someone saying that Daimler-Benz plants used this process, too, into the 1990s.

        The Japanese were far ahead of everyone else – domestic AND European – during this time in production processes. Based on what I’ve read, what you saw at the Ford plant was standard industry practice, and not just in Detroit.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The Japanese were far ahead of everyone else – domestic AND European – during this time in production processes. Based on what I’ve read, what you saw at the Ford plant was standard industry practice, and not just in Detroit.

        That is correct. Those who claim that Toyota and Honda used the same methods as did everyone else don’t know what they’re talking about.

        Toyota introduced lean production to car production. Honda copied it. Others tried to emulate it, but have taken ages to catch up.

        Hyundai’s quality has improved markedly in large part because its American head is a devotee of lean production. (He worked on the MIT project that resulted in the study The Machine That Changed the World). Lean production generally produces better results, because it emphasizes quality and reduces the number of mistakes. It isn’t just a fluke or some sort of “bias.”

    • 0 avatar
      FordTempoEnthusiast

      Fine, fine, fine, I can’t deny the rental/fleet thing. I wouldn’t say 70%, because that’s pretty much unheard of. I will say this though… I think people who drove Tempos in the 1980s and early 1990s, couldn’t possibly appreciate them.

      Think of it this way.. Today, a 1983 Accord is not easy to live with. Reliably aside, its design is very, very dated. Its interior looks like a 1983 interior. Its a coarse, unrefined car. Tempo for all its faults is a 1980s car that you can live with. Drive. Even if its not as reliable as some of its contemporaries, its interior is well laid out and built with quality materials.

      My own ’89 for example has power windows and locks, and all of them work flawlessly. All of its speakers work well, and work well with modern head units to provide quality sound. The fully independent suspension is something most of Tempo’s contemporaries did not have, and that’s something that goes a lot to improving ride comfort and control. Its still a 1980s car, its still pretty slow, and the brakes are what they are… But its a 1980s car that can exist in 2012 and not punish the driver. It’ll do 80MPH without breaking a sweat. No shakes, shudders, or rattles there. Its the Tempo’s design that ultimately provides the stark contrast with its rudimentary and coarse Asian counterparts.

      • 0 avatar
        Pinzgauer

        My first car, in 1998, was a 1989 Mercury Topaz LTS. I guess the LTS was the top of the line car for that year. It had power everything, two tone paint, and aluminum wheels. The vavle cover said “Ford Performance”. I put in a system, fog lights, blackout light covers and waxed it nearly every week.

        It really wasnt a bad car for a high school kid but the steering rack did need to be replaced (never did it) and the a/c didnt work. Oh, I think I put in a new fuel pump too. Still, I could always beat the crappy Sundances and old Civics my classmates were driving with ease in stoplight drags. It also used a giant oil filter, the PH8A I recall, which impressed me vs my mom’s Honda CR-V. I neuteral dropped the transmission a few too many times which eventually killed it though. I think I took it offroading a few times as well.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        A Honda Accord coarse and unrefined compared to a Tempo? I think you have your cars mixed up. I owned a CRX in the mid-’80s and had tons of seat time in Dad’s ’84 Topaz LS coupe. The difference was night and day:

        1. The 2.3 Ford engine was a coarse lump compared to the CRX, which had a smooth and silky engine that loved to rev. The Accord engine was just as smooth as the CRX/Civic. The Topaz engine became rough as a cob when revved and made unpleasant and buzzy sounds.

        2. The Honda stickshift was precise, slop-free, and required no effort – in fact, Honda had the reputation of having possibly the best stickshifts in the business. The Topaz shiftshift was clumsy and notchy.

        3. The Honda interior, while not luxurious, was beautifully put together and had terrific ergonomics. Not a single squeak or rattle developed in ten years. The Topaz was finished like a taxicab by comparison and the materials were poor.

        4. The CRX felt tight and solid for a car that weighed 1800 lbs. The Topaz didn’t feel nearly as solid.

        5. In terms of handling and performance, the CRX completely blew away the Topaz, despite the latter having the TRX handling package. The Honda was endless fun, the Topaz was uninspiring and not much fun at all.

        6. Nothing broke or fell off the CRX in ten years and 100,000+ miles of hard driving, including autocrossing and back-road blasting. There was not a single unexpected stop due to breakdown or mechanical trouble. The Topaz was already starting to show its age after 18 months. By that time, Dad was so disgusted with the Topaz that he traded it on a new Sable wagon – a much better car. I let him drive the CRX a few times, and while he was no fan of Japanese cars, he sighed and admitted that it was a much better car than the Topaz despite being smaller and less expensive.

        “Its the Tempo’s design that ultimately provides the stark contrast with its rudimentary and coarse Asian counterparts.” – Have you given thought to working for the North Korea Ministry of Propaganda? Your attempt at historical revisionism shows you have a great future.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        @ tonyola:

        Brilliant post. It popped up as I logged in to say exactly what you said. Especially the revisionism part!

        An ’83 Accord engine was smoooooth, better than my Audi Coupe 5 cylinder for sure. My Mom’s friends Topaz engine was a coarse throbbing buzzer, made worse by a 3 speed auto. Take a 1960 Falcon engine, lop off two cylinders and hope for the best. That was the Tempo/Topaz lump. GM’s small car was the Cavalier with an 88hp pushrod delight. Chrysler had that version of the VW Golf engine, not bad. The Accord was smoother and quieter and nicer than all of them. All 1.6 liters of it.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I agree that Honda’s engines were miles ahead of the fours from Ford (and GM and Chrysler) of that time in terms of refinement.

        But criticizing the Topaz for not being as fun to drive as the CRX makes as much sense as blasting the CRX because it didn’t have the cargo or towing capacity of an F-150.

        The Topaz and CRX were built for entirely different purposes in that regard. Topaz drivers didn’t WANT a car that handled and rode like a CRX.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        But most of what I said about the CRX also applies to the regular Civic, especially in hatchback Si trim (I’ve driven both). The CRX and Civic shared the same basic platform and almost all mechanicals. The Civic Si would still be miles ahead of the Topaz coupe, which was marketed as a “sporty” car with the TRX package.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Topaz buyers didn’t want a car that rode and handled like a Civic Si or even a regular Civic, either. The Civic Si and Topaz coupe and sedan were aimed at completely different markets.

        You could take what I said about comparing the CRX to the F-150 for cargo and towing capacity and apply it to the Civic Si or even the regular Civic. It would still be valid.

        I had a 1982 Civic LX hatchback. Great car for a single person, and very reliable, but it did not have a smooth ride, especially for someone used to larger cars. People buying Tempos and Topazes were not after razor-sharp handling, nor did they want a “firm” ride.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        The ’82 Civic, good car as it was, still largely kept to the original 1973 concepts, even though it had undergone a thorough updating for 1980. The ’84-generation Civic was a complete break from previous Civics in design, concept, and marketing. Putting the ’84 Civic sedan against a Tempo is not a big stretch at all, especially considering that they were not all that far apart in price. The Civic sedan was still dynamically far superior to the Tempo but it was not marketed as being particularly sporty.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I agree the 1984 Civic sedan was a great car, but the original comparison was to the CRX and then the Civic Si, which, while great cars in their own way, were aimed at an entirely different market than a Topaz sedan or coupe. No one was cross-shopping a CRX or Civic Si with a Topaz coupe in those days, even if the Topaz had the TRX suspension option.

        Even if we compare the Civic sedan to the Topaz, lots of people expected a domestic sedan to have a softer ride than an import. When the Topaz was developed, Ford was after people downsizing from a larger, rear-wheel-drive domestic car in the wake of the second oil crunch. Those people were not necessarily seeking either a firm ride or razor-sharp handling.

        The buyers who did eventually seek better handling went for the Civic, if not in 1984, then later. But lots more people had different priorities, and ended up buying neither a Tempo NOR a Civic. They bought Grand Cherokees, Durangos, Explorers, Trailblazers, Silverados, Surburbans, Yukons, Dodge Rams, F-150s and Expeditions, which, in many ways, are the modern-day descendants of Caprice Classics and LTD Broughams.

        They certainly weren’t buying those beasts for sharp handling…at least, I hope not.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        So this argument of yours excuses the Tempo/Topaz for failing to be a genuinely good car? No wonder Detroit ended up in trouble…

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        tonyola,

        A different approach to the ride-and-handling compromise does not, in and of itself, fail to make the Topaz a good car. (Which is what we are focusing on here – remember, I agreed with you about the superiority of the Honda engine over the Ford four-cylinder engine.)

        The sales racked by light trucks over the years – the F-150 alone sells in far higher numbers than any other vehicle – shows that many people have a different view of the importance or razor-sharp handling as compared to CRX, Civic Si or Civic buyers.

        It doesn’t make those buyers “wrong” anymore than it makes an F-150 or Topaz a “bad” vehicle.

        Incidentally, today’s Accord and Civic probably fall closer to the Topaz end of the ride-and-handling spectrum than to the CRX end. And their sales are much higher than they were in 1984. So, what people apparently really want is something like a Topaz with a Honda drivetrain, not to metion Honda’s ergonomics (although the Tempo and Topaz were good for their time in this regard), build quality and reliability. They do not want a 2012 CRX or Civic Si (note that the former was discontinued two decades ago).

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I think the best that can be said about the Tempo – and I had LOTS of friends with them in college (late 80s, early 90s), is that for a domestic car at the time, it was basically pretty reliable, and relatively rust-resistant. Escorts were pretty much the same, just smaller and rustier.

        But if you think they are somehow great to drive, then you have obviously never driven a car that actually IS good to drive. Compared to my ’84 VW Jetta GLI that I had through most of college and law school, my best friend in colleges ’86(?) Tempo Sport was an absolute steaming pile of poo in every way, and the Jetta had DOUBLE the miles on it at the time. But the Tempo did get him from point A to point B. The Jetta made you want to go from point A to point B just for the Heck of it, and then to point C, and D, and E, and F….

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        Sales numbers are meaningless. Over 800,000 people bought Chevy Citations in the long 1980 model year. That doesn’t make the car any better, does it? Also, a large percentage of the Tempo/Topaz cars were sold to corporate, government, and rental fleets. How many fleets bought Hondas? What buyers supposedly want doesn’t justify making bad cars, and buying a crapmobile is still the wrong choice no matter how you try to rationalize it.

        As for the handling of the Tempo, that was actually one of the better features of the car, even though the Honda was dynamically superior. Where the Tempo really fell down was in refinement, performance, fit and finish, solidity, and quality of materials. Cheaper Hondas (also Toyotas and Nissans) disgraced the Fords in these areas.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        tonyola: Sales numbers are meaningless. Over 800,000 people bought Chevy Citations in the long 1980 model year. That doesn’t make the car any better, does it?

        That actually proves my point. The Chevrolet Citation went from 800,000 sales to about 50,000 sales from 1980 through 1984 (while the economy and car sales IMPROVED dramatically during that same time period). That alone suggests that there was something wrong with the car.

        So, thank you.

        One year of sales is meaningless – that is true. But Hondas have been selling well for many years. The higher sales of larger, more “domesticated” Hondas have been happening for well over a decade now. We can safely use those sales to judge what type of vehicles Americans want. Hint – it isn’t a modern-day CRX.

        tonyola: Also, a large percentage of the Tempo/Topaz cars were sold to corporate, government, and rental fleets. How many fleets bought Hondas?

        You appear to be confused. I never argued that sales of the Tempo or Topaz proved that they were better cars.

        I said that, as Hondas have leaned more toward the Topaz end of the ride-and-handling spectrum, their sales have increased. This is indisputable. If you doubt me, look up the sales figures for Honda Accords over the past few years. Then take one for a test drive.

        They handle well, but not like a CRX. As I said, they are more like a well-made, well-engineered Topaz than a CRX.

        tonyola: Where the Tempo really fell down was in refinement, performance, fit and finish, solidity, and quality of materials. Cheaper Hondas (also Toyotas and Nissans) disgraced the Fords in these areas.

        Which is why I said that the success of today’s Honda is based on delivering HONDA-LEVEL standards of ergonomics, build quality, reliability, drivetrain performance and refinement in a package that is sized like a Topaz, and offers a softer ride like a Topaz did.

        So, in the end, we really aren’t disagreeing with each other. You just seem determined to create a disagreement where there really isn’t one, or you just don’t understand the point I’m making (or you don’t appear to have driven a new Honda recently).

        Take a step back, relax and re-read my posts…then post. Okay?

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        One thing I remember about every 4cyl Tempo/Topaz I ever worked on was the unfixable oil leaks. The front and rear main seals on these things were prone to failure, and a replacement would simply start leaking shortly after being repaired. The upside was that the constant oil soaking probably helped cut down on rust.

        The few of these I drove at the time were slow, numb feeling and most of the secondary controls felt cheap. Ergonomics were odd, and quickly became dated looking to my eyes.

        The positives – they are like the cockroach of the Ford family – they just seem to keep going, like some GM models. The 3-speed auto, while crude, was much more relaible than the overdrive unit used in the Taurus, and the engines would go a long ways – I do remember a lot of them with high idle problems, but I don’t recall the fix.

        As far as a liveable 1980′s car (from Ford, ironically), I’ll take my ’88 Merkur Scorpio any day. Great chassis dynamics, nice interior that still looks much more contemporary than the majority of ’80s cars (only giveaway is the windshield rake/shallow dash and the use of blanking plugs in place of optional equipment, typical of the era). While the car is underpowered on paper (144 HP) the short rear axle ratio helps it launch off the line with reasonable authority and build speed surprisingly fast. It’s just modern enough and laiden with enough features that are expected today to not feel like you’re making a compromise driving it. Only glaring omission is airbags, which were of course uncommon at the time – but it does have ABS (and it still works!)

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        This is easily the most emotion that has ever aroused by a Ford Tempo.

        Sounds like a good candidate for the next Junkyard feature!

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      Vanilladude, the chrysler A body used a scaled down version of the chassis from the big chryslers, and it was a damn good setup. However, the falcon was not based off the fullsized ford in any way or form. The big fords were built on a separate frame and didn’t use the shock tower design like the falcon/mustang. The nova was not based off the the fullsized chevy, it was also a unibody car, and the 62-67 version was atrocious, even worse than the falcon design with it’s bolted on front section and shock tower setup. The entire front unibody section was held on with 4 bolts going into the firewall.
      I noticed that a few people criticized the tempo 4 cylinder for not being as smooth or quiet as the honda engine. That is because it was basically a 200-6 with 2 cylinders lopped off. For that reason alone it was more durable than the honda engine, it even used a cast iron head like the old 200, so blown head gaskets were never a problem, nor broken timing belts because it used a chain.
      So even though the tempo was far from perfect one thing that was decent on the car was the 4 cylinder, as far as durability goes. They were also fairly resistant to rust here in salt country, they were on the road for many years after the accords rusted and crumbled away.
      I always thought the tempo/topaz was butt ugly, especially in white, they looked like an upside down bathtub. But then we all have different tastes.

  • avatar
    jaydez

    A friend of mine had one of these in college. His was an 83 2-door hatch manaual like this one. His was poop brown. It had a busted radio, no brakes, clutch was shot and it had 2 engine fires in 1 year. It fired right up every time. He still drove it every day, even after the engine fires. The thing just wouldn’t die. When he sold it he got $50 from some kid who just bought it to trash in the woods.

  • avatar
    slance66

    This saddens me. I had an ’83 Accord hatchback, 5 sp, light blue, in LX trim. What a great car for a kid in and just out of college. We fit four college kids inside and lots of beer in the hatch. I don’t recall a single mechanical problem before I replaced it with an ’86 Prelude that had been my dad’s. Loved that car too.

    • 0 avatar
      gessvt

      Same car, same memories! I was in the habit of buying/selling a cheap car every year. I went from an ’83 Escort GT, to the Accord, to an ’87 EXP Sport. The Accord was virtually trouble free, IIRC. Not the case with the Fords.

  • avatar
    itanibro

    WOW! This is an exact (and I mean exact) copy of my very first car!

    I was 16 in 1993 and my uncle gave me his old 1983 2-door Honda Accord. It came from South Carolina (I live in NY) and was in pristine shape. It ran smoothly even after my uncle put 100K on it. The body ended up rusting out (hello NY winters), but it ran great until I graduated college in 2000. I reluctantly gave it up but still have fond memories of that great car.

    Thanks for allowing me to reminisce.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    Nope, sorry. Not seeing the resemblance to the Subie.

  • avatar
    JCraig

    If anyone wonders why there is so much blind devotion to Honda they only need look to the 80′s. Stepping out of a mid 80′s Chevy and into a Honda must have given one the feeling of time travel. Even as a very little kid I thought my Granny’s new Accord (next gen pop up light model) was a futuristic spaceship compared to her Citation, and she never looked back. The Japanese may be entering some rough times but their reputation is well earned.

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      Loved my 87 (pop up headlight model). Best car I ever owned. Got 236K out of it before I got hit head-on my a off duty cop. He went to the hospital with a banged up arm because his air bag nailed it. I ended up with a nice bruise mark that matched exactly where the 3 point lap/shoulder belt was on my body.

      Had me father pick me up and we drove to where they dragged my car. I took the snow tires, spare, floor mats and anything else not nailed down because he had an 86 Accord and my sister a 89 Accord.

      The day before I spent around $600 on the brakes. The fronts and backs were pretty well shot. I’m pretty sure I could have gotten 300K out of it. I got one day out of the brake job. That bothers me to this day.

      A co-worker ran his 89 until 2008 or 09. Lived in CT. It was pretty rough at the end. The plastics holding some of the electrical components were starting to fail by that point.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      After my ’83 Accord hatchback, and ’86 Prelude, I had an ’88 Legend. When I ran out of cash, I downgraded to an ’87 Accord Sedan (LX). My roommate had what I think was a’92 or ’93 Cutlass Supreme Convertible (this is 1996). The inside of that Accord put the newer, more expensive Cutlass to shame. Every switch worked perfectly, and none of them wiggled. It was like new. The Cutlass seemed like a cheaply constructed piece of junk by comparison.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, it’s sad how Honda has managed to fritter away the once-fanatical devotion of its American car buyers. It took a long time, but it has happened.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        They lost my devotion really quickly. My new 82 Accord had a horrendous gear whine in 5th gear which they never accepted as a warrantable fault. Since I did a LOT of highway miles, one year and it was gone. Did have robust resale though, I traded it in because I didn’t want to stick a private buyer with the fault.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        I think it was around the time Soichiro Honda died in 1991. My parents had been planning to replace their Accords around 1988 and had dragged their feet knowing Honda would have an all new Accord (thanks to the 2/4 year refresh schedule) for 1990. They decided it was just too big and balky. Mom bought a slightly used Integra and Dad bought one of the first SE-Rs.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Ford did the same using the model T as its starting point.

  • avatar
    MZ3AUTOXR

    This is the car that arguably launched Honda. While the third gen gets props for being popular and generating the sales that prompted the kickback scandal, this generation’s reputation for reliability (compared to its contemporaries) generated the buzz that drove the third gen sales.

    Of course, the third gen was also a revelation to those that had grown up with American iron. My mom owned owned one (an LX-i), the first foreign car we owned and it was a joy to drive.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    At the time, colleagues in Detroit used to speak of the Japanese “stealing” our market share.

    I would stop them every time and ask them to rethink their statement, because as I saw it, Japan was earning our market share, one good car at a time. And to not recognize this was to both deny the obvious and participate in one’s own destruction through denial and bluster, as well as laying blame in the wrong quarters (I.e. on the union and the Japanese.)

    It was this car and the corolla which brought this to be.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I disagree about the 2wd Subarus not selling. They were EVERYWHERE in Maine in the early ’80s, they sold like hotcakes. In my extended family we had 11 of them at one point, all but one 2wd. My first car was a hand-me-down 4dr GL, 2wd. At that time 4wd was only available on the wagons and the hatch, the 4wd sedan came out a little later. The 4wd was a lot more expensive, and most people didn’t see the point. It wasn’t until Subaru reduced the price differential and made it full-time that it really caught on.

    I still think they are stupid for not offering 2wd now on the Impreza and Legacy – what is the point of AWD in FL or Southern California on a small car? All it does is hurt gas mileage and cost them sales.

  • avatar
    carnick

    In 1983, my girlfriend (who became and still is my wife) was given a 1983 Accord as a graduation present from college. She brought it to grad school, where we met and I frequently drove it (probably much more than she did) because the string of cars I had at the time were horrendously unreliable (including a couple of Renaults that rarely ran, a Jensen-Healy, a MGB, and other bits of rust). I completely agree with the other comments – in the context of early 1980′s America and the malaise-era disappointments from Detroit that were blighting the streets at the time, this car was truly a biblical revelation.

    It really was absolutely rock-solid reliable. Simply nothing went wrong with it over the two years we informally ‘shared’ the car. No rattles, no electrical gremlins, nothing (I helped by insisting on regular oil changes, which were a mystery to her family – around the same time, her mother bought a new Chrysler LeBaron, and was outraged when the engine grenaded at 24k miles; I asked how often she changed the oil, and her response was, “Why does the oil have to be changed?”. It was a testimony to Chrysler that it lasted 24k miles on its original factory oil, what was left of it…).

    The Accord just fit perfectly. It was big enough to stretch out in(sufficiently bigger than the Civic to be comfortable on long drives), but small enough for easy manuverability, parking, and good gas mileage. By the standards of its time, it was enough of a step up from econoboxes to feel “plush” (loved that velour upholstery!), but not faux over-the-top like her mother’s LeBaron. Compared to the Detroit hippos lurching on foot corns, the Accord actually handled, and was fun to drive (again, in the context of the time).

    It was even a revelation to her parents, who were the classic if-it’s-not-American-it-can’t-be-any-good school of thought. Her parents willingly paid way over MSRP to get the car (another hallmark of those times, to get a Honda you often had to bid for it). Her father was a Korean war vet, who had some strong views on anything “Asian” (including my wife’s previous boyfriend…), and even he embraced the Accord so fully that his next car was a Toyota Cressida (and lately he has owned a series of Hyundai’s, amazing considering where his head was at back then).

    It was a great car, one that would still be pleasant to drive even today. Unfortunately, that particular car had its life cut short when her younger sister wrapped it around a bridge abutment, and bent every panel including the roof. Even then, in its death throes, the Accord showed its design superiority over the contemporary Detroit iron. Despite being spun into a concrete and steel piling at probably 50 mph (this was in the pre-airbag era), both her stoned sister and even more stoned friend stumbled out of the wreck completely unscathed, without a single scratch between the two of them. I would bet the outcome wouldn’t have been the same with a Vega/Citation/Monza/etc.

    She misses that car, and nearly 30 years later, still thinks fondly of it. For years, we’ve looked for cars that captured the same essence as that Accord, a bit of a ‘premium’ step up from econoboxes with fun to drive personality, and a hatchback 2-door coupe. It’s funny, but every time we go shopping for a new car for her, to this day she still brings up the Accord, and wishes she could get another one “just like that” (it pains me that there are many premium/hot hatches in Europe, but so few here). It’s still a standard of comparison. The closest we came to it were the Saab’s we owned in the 1990′s, but now they’re gone too. Last year we bought her a new Accord coupe, in the same red exterior and tan interior color combo, but it’s far from the spirit of the original Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      You bought Renaults, a Jensen-Healy, and an MGB.

      And she still married you? Dude…you are an automotive masochist and SHE is a SAINT for putting up with what surely was an expensive peccadillo for you….

      I hope you are very good to her every year on your anniversary….

      • 0 avatar
        carnick

        Actually, I’ve owned 102 cars over 38 years of driving. She’s put up with about 70 of those cars over the 29 years we’ve been together. Some of the insanities she’s put up with include the aforementioned Renaults (R5, R16, and R17), a couple of MGB’s, a Triumph TR4, a Sunbeam Apline (yes, I know…), a couple of AMC Pacers (yes, I know, one wasn’t enough…), an old rusty Mk IX Jaguar, various malaise-era Japanese cars (including a Subie and miscellaneous Datsuns and Toyotas), some Swedish curiosities thrown in (old 144 and 164 Volvos, several Saabs of various vintages from the 70′s through 90′s), and the usual suspects of old American iron, Mustangs and Camaros from the 60′s and 70′s (plus motorcycles).

        She is far more than a Saint. She not only puts up with my automotive mental disorder, she actually sometimes encourages it. Right now, she is actually encouraging me to buy a new Boss 302 Mustang, when I’m the one who is reluctant to put that kind of financial dent in our savings. Believe me, I know how special she is, which is why we’re still together after 29 years. Every man should have a wife this understanding and supportive.

      • 0 avatar
        Patrickj

        In 30 years of car ownership, I’ve owned eight cars. Only four different daily drivers in that time, though I’m using a fifth for a few months until my daughter gets her license.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      carnick: Even then, in its death throes, the Accord showed its design superiority over the contemporary Detroit iron. Despite being spun into a concrete and steel piling at probably 50 mph (this was in the pre-airbag era), both her stoned sister and even more stoned friend stumbled out of the wreck completely unscathed, without a single scratch between the two of them. I would bet the outcome wouldn’t have been the same with a Vega/Citation/Monza/etc.

      Not true. First, the Vega and Monza were off the market by the time this generation of Accord was introduced. They were old designs that had their roots in the late 1960s. The point of comparison to those cars would have been the Honda 600, and no one believed that it was safer than a Vega or a Monza.

      The GM competitors to this Accord were the J-cars, introduced in the spring of 1981.

      Second, third-party crash tests conducted at that time clearly showed that the Detroit vehicles fared much better than their Japanese counterparts (this included the J-cars and Escort and Tempo/Topaz).

      Along with rust resistance, crash safety was a weak point of Japanese cars in the 1980s.

      And I say this as someone who drove a 1977 Civic CVCC hatchback at that time, and loved it. I really wanted one of these Accords when they debuted, but, as a poor college student, couldn’t afford one. Preferably in light blue. But I wasn’t blind to its faults, nor did I ignore the strengths of domestic vehicles at that time.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    My parents had the brown 85 Accord 4 door sedan, it was the SE-i, the luxury version with leather, fuel injection, alloys, moonroof and power everything else (had the 5spd though).

    We bought it used in 1987 and kept it until we replaced it in 1991 with a brand new, white EX Accord 4 door.

    The only problem we had was the timing belt snapped, fortunately, it did it on the down stroke so no damage resulted.

    I test drove several of the 3 door hatchbacks in 1992 and ended up with a 1983 Civic 1500DX hatchback that I drove all over for 6 years and put some 70K on it. It was super reliable and very fun to drive the 88 Accord I had after it wasn’t quite as fun to drive due to being larger and heavier and it was the LX-i with FI and all power everything else.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Timing belts were one of the few Honda weak spots, especially due to the interference engine design. Conventional wisdom was that you had to replace the timing belt every 60,000 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        I had an ’84 Accord and it did not have an interference engine. Found out the hard way, when the timing belt let go. Found a mechanic who fixed it right in the parking lot where it died, and one belt and water pump later it was running fine. I think it had about 80K on the clock, was my first car with a belt and I had no idea they needed changing.

        Right after I bought it I drove it from LA to Park City, Utah, doing 80-85 the whole way. The car handled it well, which I found pretty impressive for a little 4-banger. Definitely not my dad’s Pinto.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        Actually, you probably did have an interference engine in your Accord, but you were lucky that the belt broke at the right part of the cycle.
        http://www.aa1car.com/library/timing_belts_interference_engines.htm

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Well thats right. This is the car that started everything. It started me to doubting Honda reliability despite having owned several rock solid Honda bikes.

    It’s the first Honda car I ever owned. An 83 Hatchback. I have to admit that it was obviously neglected before I had it. On a trip just after I got it the transmission started popping out of gear and whining. I rigged a funnel at a gas station and filled it with oil. Then it just whined.

    I spent a lot of time just loving it and also a lot of time being furious because it let me down. The alternator kept burning out and it took several warranty jobs before the mechanic actually got to work and found the burned wiring.

    You could make the point that most of the problems were caused by pre-me abuse. I would agree with you but it still rates as one of the three least reliable cars I owned. With at 100 mile + round trip I just couldn’t afford to gamble. I went with an 85 lincoln town car that carted me around for quite some time.

  • avatar
    FordTempoEnthusiast

    But could you have 1983 Accord with a diesel engine? No. Could you have an AWD* Accord? No. That is why in the 1980s, there really was no reason ask. The answer was as simple then as it is now: Ford Tempo or Mercury Topaz. Today, Accord has grown fat and old, and boring. Tempo had the dignity to die off before car bloat, hybrids, and anti-driver technologies such as traction control took over. It goes without saying that Tempo brings excitement to one’s life. To be an Accord enthusiast is nothing out of the ordinary. To be a Tempo enthusiast, you are a part of an elite few. An extraordinary world. The chosen few.

    In the words of Jackie Stewart, “The Ford Tempo is a real driver’s car.”

    *AWD was available from 1987 to 1991, and not in 1983.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      I agree with you on Accord growing fat and just becoming background noise in a world of monotonous automobiles… but the Tempo? The *Ford* Tempo right, with 95bhp of high swirly goodness?

      • 0 avatar
        FordTempoEnthusiast

        You could also have a 100HP High Specific Output 2.3, or starting in 1992, a 130 (later 135HP) 3.0L Vulcan V6. But hey man, if its good enough for Jackie Stewart, its good enough for me.. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @FordTempoEnthusiast

        You realize Sir Jackie was PAID to say that, right??

        As to these old Hondas, in Maine they only lasted long enough to have a reputation as world-class rustbuckets. Nothing ever went wrong with them because they got junked before they got enough miles on them. I haven’t seen one of these on the road in 20 years up here.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      anti-driver technologies such as traction control

      Huh?

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      In the words of music lovers, the Ford Tempo was always andante, or adagio.

      Our second Accord was a 1982 4-door 5-speed. Great car, bought used with 20 or 30k miles, drove it to 200k with only routine maintenance, and enjoyed every mile.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      I once drove a mid 80′s Tempo years ago while shopping for a $500 car. While they looked good and were pretty plush for the time, the steering wheel was melting in my hand. Took many washes to get the black gunk off. The car overheated so I turned around a few minutes into the drive. I won’t blame Ford for the overheating, but the car did not age well. OTOH the 88 Accord I had in 1999 was still like new inside and out.

      • 0 avatar
        FordTempoEnthusiast

        There are a lot of variables that effect how a car ages, regardless of how well that car was made and with what quality of materials. I personally own two Ford Tempos. A 1989 AWD built in Kansas City, Missouri and a 1990 GL built in Canada. The ’89 is my daily driver that I’ve owned for coming up on 7 years. I just recently drove it from Alaska to Oregon, and frankly, there is no better built car. Dependable, solid, and above all high quality is what I’d use to describe the interior and the ride. Here are some pictures of my AWD’s interior. We’re talking 23 years old now, and I challenge you to find fault with it.

        http://tinyurl.com/6n2c6dm
        http://tinyurl.com/73r428y

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        Kudos to keeping it in such good condition. Any car can look bad over the years if not cared for. The style of that interior has aged really well, much better than most 80′s cars (although I favor the 626 of that year). I live in Florida and the blazing sun takes its toll on all but the most robust interiors. It was probably a good 98 degrees that day when I drove the Tempo. I’ve seen cracked and curled dashes from many makes and models over the years, but that was my first melted steering wheel.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        An ’89 Ford Tempo is a s(itbox – get over yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The problem with the Tempo was that Ford didn’t take the Honda/Toyota approach and regularly introduce new versions that corrected the flaws while building on the strengths. As introduced for the 1984 model year, it was a decent car, and was better than its domestic competition (Chrysler K-cars and GM X-cars). The interior, in particular, was much nicer in the Ford than its domestic competition.

        The problem was that Ford kept the same basic car in production, with a heavy facelift for 1988, through 1994. Meanwhile, Honda introduced new, better Accords for 1986, 1990 and 1994. Ford was basically standing still while Honda was racing ahead.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        I’ll find fault with it – it’s an ugly design rendered in cheap playschool grade materials. Playschool grade materials may not look great, but they will hold up – I’ll give you that. Just look at all the cheap plastic toys that sit outside for years and don’t disintegrate. Doesn’t mean I want to build a shrine to them just because they last.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        Shudder. Until your post I’d forgotten how… filthy… it felt to grasp the well-worn soft plastic rim of an 80s Ford steering wheel.

        They are, fortunately, a bit better today.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Shark. Jumped.

      I have driven many Tempos and Topazes. I have driven many versions of them. They were an excellent size and came from one of my favorite companies. My brother had one for a decade. The company I worked for at that time, bought them by the thousands throughout the 1980s right up to the very end. It was a rental car corporation. These cars were around me for almost a decade.

      I want to like them, but I cannot. They were horribly dull in every iteration we received. Every year, they got better – but they remained horribly dull. V6? Yeah – drove more than a few. AWD? Yeah – same thing. What was probably the most frustrating and remarkable was how similarly dull these cars were regardless of horsepower or drive.

      We were practically giving these cars away. I could get whatever form of Tempo or Topaz I wanted. Problem was, even when I got a brand spanking new one, the joy of driving it was gone before the first tank of gas had gone through it.

      The Tempo/Topaz died because it had outlived it’s purpose. The car that replaced it was a better car in every way, except for back seat leg room. The Contour handled, cornered, stopped and accelerated in ways the Tempo Twins never could. The Contour/Mystique spanked the Tempo Twins in every way.

      Even in the most boring of places, say Peoria Illinois, driving a Tempo was never anything more than just getting from Point A to Point B.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        The Tempo did everything then that a Camry does for people today (albeit less reliably). It was roomy, comfortable, drove predictably and had average power for the time (my 88 Accord was rockin’ 98 hp). They were plain, neither pretty or ugly. Vanilla, if you will. They weren’t bad cars for the time and looked a whole lot more modern than the Celebrity ever did.

      • 0 avatar
        FordTempoEnthusiast

        To each their own. I’ve driven some nice cars in my time, by anyone’s standards. But none of them have put a smile on my face except my Tempo. I’ve driven that thing all over the place, and in the 7-ish years I’ve had it that new car feeling hasn’t left. Hell, just yesterday I took a cruise, just for the sake of driving a great car.

        But I do understand it takes a certain kind of person to enjoy a Tempo. Not just anyone can appreciate what it has to offer. But regarding the Contour/Mystique… Here’s some information for you. The Tempo lasted ten years in production. In fact, in terms of years in production it was the most successful mid-size compact Ford ever built. That is until just recently when the Focus surpassed it.

        Now, Contours sold for what, six years? In that time, their BEST sales year did not match the Tempo’s worst. Tempo was supposed to be killed off in 1992, but Ford just couldn’t afford to lose a car that sold as well as it did, despite using the same basic power-train and chassis as it did when it launched. That kind of record can’t just be sustained by rental and fleet sales. Ford had to be doing something right with a car that sold that well, despite being that aged.

        For as improved as the Contour might have been, it undeniably helped Ford lose market share to Toyota and Honda during the 1990s. Sales dropped off the map, regardless of improved power or handling.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        When the Tempo was introduced, its styling was a pretty big deal for a low-bucks, domestic family sedan. Its “aero look” was far ahead of anything from GM or Chrysler at that time, and it was more advanced than a contemporary Accord and Camry.

        It is considered nondescript today because it was quickly overshadowed by the 1986 Taurus, and the entire industry, including Honda and Toyota, followed Ford in adopting more rounded, “aero” shapes for their mass-market cars. Proof of this can be found by looking at a 2012 Accord and Camry, both of which have an overall design language that more closely follows the form of the 1984 Tempo as opposed to that of the 1982 Accord. A 1984 Tempo wouldn’t quite look out-of-place on the road today, while a 1982 Accord looks more like an “old” car.

        The Contour died early because Ford stupidly allowed itself to be blinded by the easy SUV profits it was generating in the late 1990s, not because it was an inferior car to the Tempo. The Contour could have been improved with a second-generation version, but Ford decided to take the easy route and focus on light trucks. That worked until gas prices started to rise and the Japanese invaded the light-truck segment with small SUVs and crossovers. This brilliant strategy left Ford virtually bankrupt by the mid-2000s.

        Interestingly, the 2013 Fusion is basically a domestic version of the European Mondeo, which, in turn, is the latest generation of the original Mondeo, upon which was based the first Contour. So Ford has come full circle.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        @Geeber — well said about the looks of the Tempo when it came out. The thing replaced the Fairmont, and competed against cars like the Cavalier. I would argue that the ’86/’87 sedan — with the refreshed headlights and taillights — was the best looking one, and is a fairly classic ’80s design. The non-aero headlamps on the ’84/’85 kind of ruin the lines, and the ’88 refresh sort of muddied the styling.

        We had a Tempo as our family car from ’86-’95, and aside from a lot of damage from Chicago roads (every suspension part and the engine mounts) it was a pretty reliable car — and it had barely any rust when we parted ways with it.

        That said, you’re wrong about what happened to the Contour. It was killed by its production cost relative to the Taurus, not anything to do with light trucks. Ford could build — and sell — a base trim Taurus for less than a Contour; given that, getting Contours off the lots was a nigh impossible task.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        I worked for Ford at the time Contour/Mystique launched and Tempo/Topaz buyers were turned off buy it because it was much more expensive than the Tempo/Topaz – and justifiably so. Where Tempo/Topaz were crude, Contour/Mystique were slick and sophisticated. It was also easily one of the best handling FWD cars of the time too – great chassis dynamics and road feel.

        Ford built the Contour/Mystique to appeal to import buyers and they suceeded in that regard. When the cars launched, they had a recall related to the fuel filler neck that prevented cars from being test driven or sold, dooming it from the start. In the aftermath of the failed launch, study results from R.L. Polk showed that a significant amount of Contour/Mystique “intenders” ended up buying Nissan Altimas and Toyota Corollas due to the recall making the Contour/Mystique unsellable until revised parts arrived. I always found it interesting that they did hit the mark and attracted the desired customer and have always wondered if the car would have had better sucess if they bit the bullet and spent the money to properly re-launch the car.

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        “To be a Tempo enthusiast, you are a part of an elite few. An extraordinary world. The chosen few.”

        This is trolling done right. I hope it doesn’t show up in *every* Junkyard post, but it’s great entertainment.

    • 0 avatar
      Pinzgauer

      You cant be serious TempoEnthusiast. You are the greatest internet troll of all time.

      • 0 avatar
        Patrickj

        My brother drove a Tempo to 160K miles in Metro NYC. Rare for a FWD, 4 cylinder car in that era.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        I’m pretty sure this is the legendary FordTempoFanatic from Jalopnik. I was kind of wondering what happened. I love this guy.

        However, if there’s actually guy out there with encyclopedic knowledge of Tempos, maybe the world really is going to end this year.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        No need to hate on him. Car enthusiasm takes all types. Rock on Tempo Enthusiast!!

      • 0 avatar
        FordTempoEnthusiast

        Because only some posts have a reply option, I’m just going to wrap it all up in this one..

        @Pinzgauer, I am serious. And don’t call me Surely.

        @FromaBuick6, I am the very same. I dropped ‘Fanatic’ in lieu of ‘Enthusiast’ to show that I have matured somewhat.

        @Wheeljack, they absolutely did not “succeed in that regard.” For all its improvements it was not not not a sales success. Certainly not compared to the Tempo and Topaz. Now you could make the case that the people who bought Contours were people who would have otherwise bought an Accord, but the point remains that it is the Ford Contour (not the Tempo) that ended Ford’s leadership in the small car segment. The Contour was an improvement, that is undeniable. But it was also about a decade newer, so it shouldn’t be given credit just for doing its job. Tempo on the other hand.. Well, unlike its Chevy rivals it sold well throughout its career. While the Citation started strong and ended incredibly weak (in sales), Tempo did not. It sold strong throughout its career, right up until the very end.

        @dtremit. The Contour and I are sworn enemies. I will never concede that they had anything going for them. They are, in a word, the antichrist to the Tempo’s… Christ? Yes. Granted I was biased before I even discovered Tempo. I enjoy the quirkiness of the 1980s. I’ve always felt cars from that era had more character, and the 90′s… Well, that was the decade that the Detroit 3 let Honda and Toyota take the reigns in car design and production.

        So I leave you with these words my friends. Contour is just a car. A decent car, but just a car nonetheless. If you were to go out and buy a clean, well cared for Tempo today you will be embarking on a journey. A journey where you will come to know yourself, and your car as well. I’ve had people come up to me and ask me if I would sell my Tempo. Now how often does that happen to a Contour driver? Probably not much.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        He’s right up there with jimmyy…but really, a Tempo?

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      What’s wrong with that interior? Where’s your rear view mirror!?

  • avatar
    MattPete

    I wrecked the sedan version of of these on the way to a Black Flag concert.

    Actually, it wasn’t quite that exciting. ‘Gone’ was playing at local record store in the afternoon before the concert. On the way home from seeing gone, I scraped my parents car along a wall in an alley. My parents were angry and I was not allowed to see Black Flag that night (I think I was a junior in highschool).

    On a side note, I think the interior of this1983 Accord is nicer and more tasteful than the interior of the Pontiac Bonneville SSEi GT Supercharged XL that was featured a few days ago.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    When you first started the “Junkyard Find” series, I really didn’t see the point of rehashing old Iron. Seeing cars that I used to own, even good ones, did nothing for me. After all, the past is the past. Seeing this car however, has changed my opinion. My mom bought one of these new in 83. It was a blue 83 EX if memory serves. I had a lot of great times in that car, and I still have the scrape on my garage door when she hit it while backing out. I miss her a lot, and this brought back some great memories. I finally get it. Thanks!

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    My first car was a grey ’82 Accord 4 door with an automatic. Not exactly a 17 year old’s dream car but loved it all the same. It was the perfect car for driving around town – maneuverable with an unbelievably tight turning radius and peppy enough to be mildly entertaining.

    I have very fond memories of working on this car with my dad – it was past its prime by the late 90′s but mostly reliable and simple enough for us to keep running without much effort. Pressing the service indicator reset button after successfully completing an oil change was satisfying and one of my favorite features of the car.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Quote: back in the Late Malaise Era, however, a car that could go several years between problems was nearly unheard of.

    That greatly depended on what car was purchased at the time. Dads 82 Cutlass Supreme went well over 100K with normal maintenance and service with the only real problem being the carburetor which needed rebuilding at 95K miles. A neighbor cop that lived two houses down from us and that was a family friend bought a 1983 Chevy Caprice Classic new with a 305 and 200 R4 over drive transmission that he drove in the ground with 220K on the original engine and trans and that car always ran good and was very reliable.
    Grandma and grandpa had a 1980 Fairmont wagon with the 200 L6 and automatic that went 180K miles before it rusted and he sold it. That car was as reliable as the sun with the finiky carburetor being the only issue at 80K miles. He replaced the fairmont with a 1985 Cutlass coupe with the 307 and loved that car. They had it until 1995 when they went in the nursing home and it had 87K miles and was handed down to me who drove it another 100K before the tranny couldn’t take my abuse and the salt ate the frame. All of these cars gave us years of trouble free service.

  • avatar
    ckgs

    My parents owned one of these when we moved from California to Pittsburgh. This was during the days of steel mill shutdowns and smashing Japanese cars on TV with sledgehammers. Actually made it pretty uncomfortable to ride around in the Honda. But it was a great car and I later learned to drive in it.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    How one perceives the early vehicles from Japan Inc depends on one’s ‘growing up,’ I suppose. I ‘grew up’ on a series of 1960s Chrysler 300s, Newports and the occasional Caprice (’67), Pontiac road yachts, etc. My mother even bought a (customized) 1980 Ford Econoline (yes, complete with shag carpet!) that set her back over twenty large ( a lot of money at the time) and got 8 mpg! My first car was a very well used ’67 Dodge Polara, which I bought for $100 in 1979. It was a former Florida vehicle; otherwise, it would never have survived 13 Ontario winters.
    I understand that those from the southern climes can ignore the fact that these early tin cans didn’t have rust issues down there but, sorry, for most of the north, north east and mid-western locales, these cars simply evaporated. Little did Honda know that it had invented self-recycling vehicles at a time when the word ‘green’ still meant a color, not a holier than thou attitude.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      IT took longer, but the early Japanese cars did eventually rust out here in Texas, about the early ’90s is when they started falling off my radar, what little we had here.

      Even my one owner 76 Chevelle (parents bought it new) was suspect on keeping anything in the trunk for fear of it falling through a hole at 24 years. Although you could unbolt any fastener on it without a fight.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Gee, I have twice as many miles as this car!

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    My family had an 84 Accord hatchback for a while in the late 80s but I never really took to it. While it did have a cassette player and an air conditioner that the 77 Accord it replaced lacked, the 84 was no fun to drive. The extra weight and taller gearing took away the engine’s eagerness and it didn’t handle as sharply, plus the LA Freeway map of vacuum lines under the hood was frightening compared to the fuel injected simplicity of my 78 Scirocco. I have fond memories of the first gen Accords, dealer gouging and rust notwithstanding but after that they became bland beige mobiles and I turned my allegiance to water cooled VWs.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    What kind of 80s Accord gives up at only 176000 miles?

    My ’83 did 300000 before I got rid of it. And it still ran fine when I traded it in.

    An ex of mine had an ’86 that was passed from family member to family member. It had 500000+ last I heard.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Hell yeah! I love how back then Honda advertised that it had a 5speed stick and power steering on the steering wheel ‘H’. Just to ‘remind’ the driver of it’s technological advancements. :)

    I’ll have to email you about a place about 150mi west of the Twin Cities…solid gold.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    There’s a 2nd generation Accord hatchback parked down the street from me. It looks more like a 5 year old car condition-wise. I’d look into buying it, except it is an automatic. The automatics in these weren’t great when they were new. I’m not sure why some of them survive. Incidentally, there is a 3rd generation Accord sedan parked around the corner. It is an automatic too. It is also rusty enough that I imagine it will be scrapped next time it fails a CARB smog check.

  • avatar
    Forty2

    I saw several beaten-up examples of this Accord generation, and one of the original ones, last week in Buenos Aires. Argentina is a great place to see old cars still running what with the mild climate in the populous north-east.

    In keeping with the Ford-bashing, the original 60s Falcon was built in Argentina up until 1991 (!) with mostly cosmetic changes like square head and tail lights that obvs looked out of place on that old scalloped Falcon body. Most of the ones I saw were beat to hell smoke-belchers and still had a column shift manual.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/Ford_Falcon_Gh%C3%ADa.jpg

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    I will throw in my Tempo/Topaaz 2 cents. We had an 86 Topaz and Tempo both with the Mazda 2.0 diesel. These were not sexy cars and they were slow but on the highway they were quiet, plush and pulled down mpgs in the 40s. They also never gave us any serious problems until they were very old and my brother-in-law used it to pull his boat out of the water up a steep ramp.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      OK, I’ll play. I had an 84 Accord and helped my mom by an 88 Tempo, so I’m somewhat qualified to compare the two. The 5-speed Accord was much more fun to drive, I’d give the Tempo the nod for comfort, the interior was pretty nice for an 80s compact, especially at its price point. My mom’s Tempo ate the tranny in 1993, we sold it to my brother’s in-laws, they had it a couple years before it spontaneously combusted while his mother-in-law was driving it. (She got out unharmed) I was driving my daughter’s Rio today and thinking how similar it was to mom’s Tempo. (It’s already eaten a tranny too, come to think of it). I think that says it all. I never drove the AWD or diesel models, maybe they were the bees knees.

      It warms my heart to know that there are people like FTE keeping the Tempo flame alive, but I don’t think I’ll be joining their ranks. I do like their looks after the re-skin; the original, not so much.

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    FWIW my Dad still owns his 1983 Accord hatchback automatic…it still runs quite well, and he recently had it repainted-it had some mild wheel lip rust but the body shop fixed that up toute’ suite. It IS getting hard to find parts for it these days but as it is his ‘pickup truck’ with the back seats removed it is not his primary vehicle. I drove it a few months ago and I forgot how great the visibility is out of car without airbags in every pillar and roof rail encroaching upon the driver’s ‘bubble’ and it was quite the fishbowl effect. Back in 1983 it was my Mom’s car, then became my Dad’s and has been his pickup truck for nearly 20 years and overall has been a pillar of reliability. All the more reasons why my family has owned a lot of Hondas. They may not always be the most exciting car in the segment, but their overall value is exactly what plays to my folk’s frugal nature. My folks have the original sticker in their file cabinet but I think it sold for <$9000 and has served them well for almost 30 years-that car owes them nothing and my Dad will keep driving it occasionally until the parts well runs dry.

  • avatar
    davew833

    I had a half a dozen ’82 and ’83 Accord hatchbacks and sedans- a couple of the light blue metallic, a couple gray ones, and a brown one- plus an ’84 accord sedan and an ’85 hatchback. I always liked the styling of the ’82s and ’83s and I think it’s aged well, though roadworthy examples are few and far between. The last one I bought around 10 years ago was a pretty clean ’83 Accord sedan I picked up from an auction “for parts” $125 because they didn’t have the key. I slipped the lock cylinder out of the trunk, took it to a locksmith, got a key made, and drove it home that day- it ran great! Gave it to my sister and she drove it for a couple of years after that.


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