By on October 24, 2012

We saw a historically interesting but marketplace-irrelevant 1991 Honda Accord wagon Junkyard Find last week, which means that it’s now time to look at the car that made Honda in North America: the first-gen Accord. Here’s a well-worn but still fairly solid ’80 that I spotted in a Denver yard not long ago.
This car seems laughably no-frills by 2012 standards, but this was pretty plush for the Accord’s price. Look, automatic transmission! Bucket seats!
The folks at Honda were very proud of their newfangled power steering system.
I’m sure Honda USA old-timers reminisce fondly about the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Accord buyers stood ten deep to buy Accords and no other manufacturer had anything that even approached the value-per-buck level of this car. Not like now.


Toyota ads of this era were a little more entertaining, but then they had to be.

Japanese-market ads were fun, though. CVCC!

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42 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1980 Honda Accord Sedan...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Good friends of mine had one exactly like this one while we were in Germany…solid, reliable and somehow seemed to be very well thought out (especially the interior). Compared to the American iron running around then, this was a revelation. Of course, I still lusted after the BMW 3-series back then (yeah, even the 320i)…but maybe that had more to do with one of our young Assistant Scoutmaster’s wives who drove a silver 320i (man, to be 13 and ride shotgun while she drove on the Autobahn!)…um, what was I talking about again? Oh…yeah, the Accord. Great little car.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Almost a shame for this car to have ended up in a salvage yard…probably one of the best preserved first generation 4-door Accords out there.

    I never owned one, but compared to the dreck that was being sold back then, this was truly a special car. I had a couple of friends that owned this model, and just by riding with them I could tell that Honda had achieved something great. Granted, Honda could have done a better job with the rustproofing but other than that…

    • 0 avatar
      StaysCrunchy

      Best preserved? Sweet Jeebus, I’d hate to see the worst!

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        I see what you mean, but bear in mind that these first generation Accords rusted like nobody’s business. It’s been a looooong while since I’ve seen one on the road. This one may be weathered, true, but if it were in running condition, some bodywork on the rear fenders and a full repainting would not be out of the realm of reality. I mean, it’s not a total basket case. And the interior, apart from those Muppetskin front seat covers, seems to be in decent shape, albeit grimy.

    • 0 avatar

      You’ll be happy to know there is still a decent amount of loyal 1st gen owners out there. Luckily out here on the West coast we’ve managed to avoid the problems with rust that plagued the early Hondas and there is still quite a few clean examples running around worldwide, including mine: http://i.imgur.com/TViCo.jpg I help to run a site devoted to the early Hondas so if you ever feel like a trip down memory lane, please feel free come check it out on Facebook (Or our website) , listed under Honda Roots.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Things change in perception over time. My recently departed best friend growing up had a coupe version of this car that was an ’81 model but I think it is essentially the same car. He sought its then vaunted bullet-proof reliability after driving a ’77 VW Sirocco (kind of reliable and a good driver’s car) for four years which followed on the heels of a ’76 Triumph TR7 (absolutely no reliability and a strong driver’s car – road manners-wise).

    The Accord was praised for being well out in front of the competition in those days. Honda’s Accord is still, in my estimation, a fine car but they have little on their immediate competition these days.

  • avatar
    Easton

    I thought I was mistaken, but the photos refer to the 1980 Honda Accord “Brougham”. Is this some sort of Freudian slip, a joke, or is this yet another example of the egregious use of the utterly meaningless term “Brougham”?! Man, they slapped that word on literally everything in that era.

    Interestingly, from http://www.dictionary.com:
    brough·am   /ˈbruəm, brum, ˈbroʊəm/ Show Spelled[broo-uhm, broom, broh-uhm] Show IPA
    noun
    1. a four-wheeled, boxlike, closed carriage for two or four persons, having the driver’s perch outside.
    2. Automotive .
    a. (formerly) a limousine having an open driver’s compartment.
    b. an early type of automobile resembling a coupé, often powered by an electric motor.

    The word hardly seems to fit on a Pontiac Parisienne much less a 4 cylinder economy car of any era.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      They could have used Phaeton as well. Means the same thing. VW joined in the same silliness, using said term for a car that’s neither a phaeton nor a brougham for that matter…

    • 0 avatar

      I just added “Brougham” to the image titles as a joke.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        Jokes partially on you. Park this Accord next to a period Olds 98, and some newbie is bound to say, ‘now I know where Honda sourced their interiors’. As if. But during that time, nobody minded the ‘whorehouse’ velvet look to the interior. As you said, for many years, Honda had waiting lists, particularly for the early Accords.
        When they first came out, the 1976 Accord hatchback sticker was around $4,400. That would be roughly equivalent to what the sticker was on a mid-trim VW Rabbit then. Look, I think, in their own way, they were both terrific cars, but it’s fully understandable why Honda couldn’t make Accords fast enough in the late 1970′s: More room, more content, the CVCC motor burns the cheapest fuel you could buy then.

        I have a sob story. I was in the market for a small car in June 1976, didn’t know about the eminent Accord, my choice was going to be between the Civic CVCC 5-Speed( tach,sim wood steering wheel, black wheels and trim rings, radials, bright yellow) or a mid-trim Rabbit. No one at the Honda dealer let on that the Accord was coming, I found out that a family friend sold VW’s, so I bought a Rabbit off the lot. And, not two weeks later, Honda announced the Accord. I liked the Rabbit, but I was angry about the Accord for the rest of the summer.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Hey Murilee, out of curiosity, and looking at the pic showing the “Empire Olds” dealer name plaque. Since you travel the salvage yards so much, do you collect any of those old timey dealer plaques? Would be a neat thing to collect, especially since the steel ones are fast becoming extinct…

  • avatar
    linkpin

    Wow, I’d completely forgotten about the Burgess Meredith Honda commercial voiceover era.

  • avatar
    sexyhammer

    That’s CVCC pronounced, “She-Bee-She-She.” I love hearing acronyms for proprietary engine management and other technological features in Japanese commercials.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    My boss at the time was a loyal Ford customer. I guess he was fed up with the quality and gas mileage. He traded his wife’s 73 LTD and his 76 Cougar XR7 on two new 1980 Accords. The local dealer was also lucky at the time. He had been the Chrysler dealer and just had switched to Honda.

    Me, I bought a new 1980 Olds Omega :>(

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      I’m sorry for you, I also bought a 1980 Skylark.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Volt, I feel sorry for both you and Cobrajet as I know all about those X body cars, my parents had 2.

        One was the 83 Skylark they bought new, the other was the 83 Citation that my Dad got in ’87, both had the 2800 V6 in them, and automatics.

        The Skylark wasn’t too bad, but the Citation was just a POS and had the sorriest seats evah. The only redeeming factor was the AC was ice cold though.

    • 0 avatar
      dash riprock

      Had the 1980 hatchback accord. Great car compared to what else was available out there at that time. Escaped the 1980 GM/Ford bullet, but hit with the 1984 jetta gli clusterbomb. This accord and my 1993 civic always will leave me with a positive bias for Honda’s small cars

  • avatar
    nikita

    I think it was Honda that pioneered option “packaging” and limited choices. That so proudly labeled power steering was only available and mandatory with the automatic transmission.

    I do love the “bordello red” interiors back then. My current Honda came with one interior color choice, gray.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    This was back when Japanese cars smelled really funny inside – must have been the vinyl they used. The sun visors were squishy, too. Other than that, no experience with these.

    Still barreling around town in our 1976 Gremlin at that time!

  • avatar
    jhefner

    I don’t know about the Accord, but friends of mine had Preludes and Civics from the late seventies; and all of them ran flawlessly until about 70,000 miles; then literally fell apart. One of them replaced part after part trying to keep his Civic going until his father had him stop and buy something else. That colored my opinion of Honda for several decades. And yes, I remember the funny smell….

    The styling on this car reminds me of why I remember seeing the Audi 5000s for the first time so well just a few years later; it looked like a spaceship in comparison to this.

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    Had an 83 Hatchback Accord after having several Honda motorcycles. I suspect it was the only lemon Honda made that year. At least it was the only one I ever heard of. Turned out the problems were mechanic induced but I had enough already.

    Wish I had the luck with Honda’s that everyone else had but that luck was reserved for Nissans.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    That could be our first Accord. Straight body, interior still nice, faded burgundy paint (especially noticeable in the rear shot without a license plate)…,oh wait, it can’t be. Ours was a 5-speed car. We sold it in 1984 with just over 100,000 miles on it.

  • avatar
    Grumpy

    A girlfriend in the day had one of these–a brand new 1980 red two door 5 speed. I was driving a 69 VW beetle at the time. The Accord did absolutely everything better than the beetle, except allow me to pretend I was a hippie.

  • avatar
    markholli

    Ah…the car of choice for discerning superintendents everywhere.

    “You know, I used to think a car was just a way of getting from point A to point B, and occasionally point C. But that was the old me. That man died the moment I laid eyes on a 1979 Honda Accord”

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    Fun to see this. Currently driving an ’82 Prelude which has the same maroon interior and gauges. Few of these cars are left and, now that I drive one of the few Honda survivors, I get lots of comments from folks who remember these cars (Accord, Civic and Prelude) from this era. These cars were sophisticated in their day, but have a refreshing simplicity compared to current models. These were the cars that made Honda. Wish someone had kept this model alive. Lots of interest in Japanese cars of this vintage at the car shows these days.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Steve, huge fan of the old Prelude…up until the last two generations, that is. Probably my favorite would be a 1986/87…the open air style of that generation just speaks to me more than later years did (and my sister owned a Gen 4, which was a letdown coming from her 1989 CRX Si. And to think…I went the route of an Audi 4000S over a Prelude Si…stupid…stupid…stupid (calling myself that!).

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I had a 3rd gen Prelude: ’89 Si, yellow, pop-up headlights, sunroof, 5 speed, deck spoiler… the works. The only thing it didn’t have was the rear wheel steering option. Yet it was still without a doubt the best handling car I ever owned. The 80s Hondas were the best, my brother had a CRX Si and before my Prelude I had a Civic S1500 hatchback. The interiors (only available in black) were perfect. They got great mileage but loved to be reved and driven hard. And your right – the 4th gen ‘Lude was a mess with that spaceship interior dash and bloated look. Things got better looking with the 5th gen, but the damage was already done, nobody wanted a Prelude anymore. By then I had moved onto an Eclipse GS-T.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Check out japanesenostalgiccar.com to find others into older Japanese cars. Also, the NY Times ran a story in their Sunday Automobiles ‘Collecting’ section, written by Richard S. Chang, called Revenge of the Econobox. The Sunday NY Times always has a good ‘auto’page, and Richard Chang articles appear about once a month. The old Japanese car article ran last Spring sometime. It’s always a godsend that the NY Times makes the space for this page still.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    The Accord was just astonishing when it came out. For one thing, the paint and finish was like nothing else. They seemed absolutely jewel-like. They were better in every way from any American car. At that time, Japanese cars were seen mostly as a necessary evil from the gas crunch. the 1970 Z was an exception, and in California, the Datsun 510 sedan had a following. Hondas up to that point were particularly suspect. The rumor was that their little cars had motorcycle engines in them. It was a dramatic break and the Japanese and their customers never looked back.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      you know, cars are only as good as their time, give a manufacturer a year or two, and something better will come along. There are some exceptions, and you named two of them. A 1970-73 Datsun 510 and the 1970-78 240-260-280Z come to mind as cars that would fare well by todays standards(just my opinion). The first Hondas(600 sedan and coupe) were horrible as new cars, but they encouraged Honda to stay in the mix, and even the first Civic 1200 seemed light years better, and I don’t have to tell you their success from then on. As used cars, I had a ’74 Civic 1200 Hondamatic that I drove from Boston(school)to Portland, OR (work), a ’77 Accord hatch five-speed, a new ’85 CRX Si
      and all three were jewels. I don’t know if I could use one as a daily driver, but I’d love to get a ’76-79 Civic 5-Speed hatch, but as someone else mentioned, early Civics are like hens teeth.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      If you were referring to the early Honda 600 car, it was no rumor, the motors looked just like any aircooled motorcycle motor, and even with automotive exhaust they sounded like a Honda bike. The ’73 Civic 1200 changed all that.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    All was not always well in the early years for U.S. versions of Honda cars. Back when the 1st generation Accord came out in 75 these did have some teething issues notably front fenders that rotted as quick as a Volare’s.or Vega’s. Apparently there was a recall which installed the faith of future Honda customers for many years to come.

    Back in the late 70′s early 80′s when these were so popular dealers were charging quite a markup over list.Far better than a comparable Dasher or 510.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Loved these cars, still do even.

    A couple of years ago, spotted a nicely restored, blue on blue 80/81 Accord hatchback at Costco, even got a photo of it.

    My Dad had a blue on blue 76 Accord, again the hatchback, with the 5spd manual transmission. Never got to drive these, but have driven the 82-85 second gen models, and the 90-93 4th gens, as well as owned an ’88 LXI 4 door sedan.

    My first car with fuel injection (had that from 1998-2006). By 1986, the Accord had gotten big enough, and heavy enough that whatever sporting pretensions it may have had were disappearing as they lost some of their off the line punch, even with the manual. This was despite having a 2.0L 4 with about 120HP on tap.

    Speaking of Hondas, saw a first gen Civic, well weathered, but still being driven, parked on the side of the I-5 on my way to Tacoma, parking lights still on as the driver was on his phone so don’t know if it actually broke down or not. Anyway, don’t see those much anymore, and it looked to be no newer than a 77 MY Civic at that based on the rear taillights, thanks to the lack of rust within Puget Sound.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      As good as the carbureted Accords were, fuel injection really bumped them up a notch. I had a 85 CRX Si and a ’87 LXi hatch, and both ran very well. My problem with carbureted Honda’s was that you had to make sure the fuel was clean , and no rust or dirt entered the tank, because the carbs were so well metered that even one speck of junk would doom the carburetor(at $500 each in 1985 money).

  • avatar
    wavespy

    I drove one of these in college…until I totalled it. That center pad in the steering wheel popped out with one hand to reveal a handy place for hiding er…um…things.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    My sister had a 80 Civic 1500DX 5speed. Great car and got 200k out of it but what did it in was the carb. Toward the end of it’s life it sputtered or ably ran for a minute and shut down. Back in the early 90′s a new carb, there were no rebuilds available cost more than the car was worth. I had looked into a Weber or some aftermarket replacement but it seemed dicey especially with the vacuum maze.

  • avatar
    silverkris

    I love the red-mouse fur interior trimming of those days. Considerably brighter than the blah grey, taupe, or black uphostery colors of today.

    Yeah, the instrument panel has a really nice simplicity that is not there today (the 2012 Accord IP has got too many buttons in the center).

  • avatar
    aeberhar

    Just wanted to chime in on what has to be my favorite car post so far. Sad, maybe, but an ’82 Accord coupe was my first car and I still think about it from time to time. I still find it amusing that the ’82 speedometer went up to 85 but the ’83 speedometer went up to 130. Same car and engine as far as I’ve always known, just a little bit more enthusiasm at the factory.

    I can’t believe people were waiting in line to buy these. I had no idea they were so successful so early.

    The steal was cheap for sure, but the car was hardly new when I got it and it still ran and looked quite good. I can’t miss the opportunity to comment on the excessive trim on this car though. Even the trim had trim! My brother and I joke about the frivolous trim department at Honda back then.

    My next Accord was an ’86 sedan and while that generation remains my all time favorite for style and quality, there’s no doubt these cars had something special too them. I now own, as a hobby, an ’89 sedan with 90k miles. Spent most of its life in a garage in Colorado. I guess my generations midlife crisis cars will be early cheap imports and I think I’m ok with that. ;)

    What saddens me now is what Honda looks like today. A good quality car totally bereft of soul. Subaru still makes a mean version of the ’78 wagon and the BRZ is the XT of 2012. Where’s the quirk Honda?

  • avatar
    fttp

    We had that exact car, in a 2 door. 68 horse, 15 seconds to 60, tranny blew up, shocks were shot after 20k, totally rusted out in less than the 55K and 5 yrs we had it–we bought it new–until it blew up on the side of the road one day. At one point we needed a new gas tank! Our mechanic was always laughing at us calling it “a disposable car”. I think we sent him and his wife to Tahiti a couple times.


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