By on October 16, 2012

Honda stood in a seemingly unassailable position in the American marketplace, with customers willing to pay whatever it took to get a Civic or Accord… until the 1990s dawned. The asset-price bubble burst in 1991, founder Soichiro Honda died the same year, the competition had caught up to the Civic and Accord, the Legend and Integra weren’t smash hits, nobody could figure out the point of the Vigor, and Honda USA was getting sweated over decades of kickbacks and general dealership hanky-panky. Oh, and American Peugeot dealers were having an easier time moving the 404 (even as Peugeot was packing up to leave the continent) than Honda was in selling the fourth-gen Accord wagon. You never saw many of them on the street and just about all of them are gone by now, but I’ve managed to find this 344,000-mile example in a Denver self-service yard.
Imagine, a station wagon with a manual transmission! By 1991, the minivan and SUV were really hammering wagon sales, and the Taurus wagon was grabbing much of the business that remained.
The Accord wagon was a good car, but it had swollen and softened into a more Camry-like machine by this time.


The Accord name still meant a lot in 1991, after nearly 15 years of the Accord having little substantial competition, but the specialness was about to be over.

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60 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 Honda Accord Wagon...”


  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Except for the fact that the explorer wouldn’t be introduced until later in 1991, the only suvs you speak of were the suburban k5 blazer the bronco the ram charger or the grand Wagoneer, a far cry from the status symbol they would become. I doubt anyone cross shopped a ramcharger and an accord Wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      The Explorer came out in ’90 as a ’91 model (March, according to Wikipedia, but either way, I’ve got a price guide from early 1990 that has the Explorer in it). And of course, the 5-door S10 Blazer came out around the same time (and had been selling as a 3-door for years at that point, as had the Bronco II), the Cherokee sold respectably throughout its lifetime, and the Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner, and Isuzu Rodeo were all available in 5-door form (and selling respectably enough) at that point.

      The minivan might have been a bigger factor in the Accord Wagon’s failure, but in 1991, SUVs were absolutely an issue.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      My bad folks, I had yet to have my morning coffee.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t remember this generation of accord being particularly swollen or soft.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    My brother had one of these back in the early 90s. It was simply one of the nicest all-round cars I’ve ever driven. He traded it on a Suburban and regretted it every day ever since then.

    And to think that Honda eventually replaced this fine car with the Crosstour, whatever that abomination is supposed to be.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      see the TSX wagon – it is an Accord wagon (for the rest of the world) – only item missing is the manual tranny.

    • 0 avatar

      They replaced the wagon with the Odyssey. Which was compelling in its first generation (still small, interesting), but then got massive.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Bought the 1997 Odyssey mini-van used some time ago. It was just a touch larger than today’s Mazda5 and had 4 doors instead of sliding doors. The Odyssey had a 4 speed automatic, no V-TEC, and didn’t have a tachometer. But, impressively, it handled like the Accord sedan… just a little slower.

        We traded it in for the 2012 Acura TSX Wagon, which we really like. It’s not a performance wagon, but does have a sporty feel. And it handles just like the TSX sedan… just a little slower.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “Remember when the RAV-4 was a small SUV?”

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      This is still the best overall Accord generation to me in terms of solidity and all-around feel. A true Japanese Beemer.

      Subsequent Accords were cost-cut, and became bloated. I think the new 9th-Generation Accord may get back some of this–I’ll find out first-hand when mine arrives in a few weeks.

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    I was in high school when these came out, and I remember it as the last, best station wagon you could buy in the US. Minivans were still the hot family hauler in 1990, but as noted the five door SUV market had several nice offerings, and were gaining popularity rapidly to judge by the pickup line after band practice.

    • 0 avatar

      Dirk, my former ’92 VW Passat wagon (one of those nutty designs with no front grille) is what I would consider the best available foreign 5-speed wagon option in the US then. It had a nice 2-litre 16v motor and enough space to haul a standard size refrigerator! Stable on the highway, decent mileage (though that wasn’t such a concern then) and even good fun in the twisties. I’d love to have another. (I like a good wagon for hauling musical equipment and, luckily, I’ve never needed a minivan for my rigs!)
      Cheers!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I think Mercedes, BMW, and Audi would argue with your assessment. Maybe the nicest cheap wagon, certainly not the nicest wagon.

      I still see these around fairly frequently, which is amazing as this generation of Accord was not known for its rust resistance. Perhaps all the ones from dry climates have migrated to Maine? We DO love wagons here.

      • 0 avatar

        +1 on the other Germans. And Volvo made a nice wagon then. Not sure how many were available in the us with manual transmissions–the Benz is doubtful.

        Also, my Passat was probably nowhere near the prettiest of the lot, though it was certainly better looking (grille or not) than this:

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/1992-1996_Toyota_Camry_LE_station_wagon_01.jpg

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    The last good-looking generation of Accords, in my humble opinion. Anything since then just hasn’t looked right…

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    For a generation of people, when you say Honda Accord this is the body style that comes to mind. And when people pine for the good old days of the Accord, this is the car they are talking about. It was a good size before the real bloat hit and got great mileage. The automatic transmission was their achille’s heel though.
    I never saw the wagon of this style as all that uncommon. I knew a few people with them.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      Exactly this. The impending early-mid 90s Camry is widely touted as the zenith of Japanese automotive excellence but I maintain that it was this Accord. Better exterior and interior styling, handling, etc. with equal reliability. It was the first “good” car I ever drove (my family was still driving Malaise-era American iron well into the 90s) and it will always have a special place in my automotive heart.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I agree that this era of Accord was built with supreme excellence and quality materials, but it played the role of poor man’s (and front wheel drive) BMW, with its tight steering (and the meaty steering wheel and most excellent gauges and instruments were things of beauty) and taut suspension, to that era Camry’s role of poor man’s Mercedes, with its silky smooth ride and eerily quiet interior.

      • 0 avatar
        hgrunt

        I agree. Hondas from this era aged better than most other cars from the same period, in terms of reliability, appearance, and quality. I see these accord wagon regularly in southern california.

        I’m surprised to see one ended up in the junk yard at all! At least in California, people would try to keep these on the road, even if it meant replacing the engine with a salvaged one.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      +1!! See my post further up!

    • 0 avatar
      dvdlgh

      Agree. I had a ’90 Accord LX w/AT, also a couple of the prev gen. The dash layout blew Camry away. Beautiful blue lighting. Reliability was outstanding. Sold it with 127k. Stupid, stupid, stupid me!

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    I beg to differ. these were probably the ultimate expression of the Accord – they still had the innovative double-wishbone suspension in a markedly more upscale package than the previous generation. I had one of these 10 years ago, a 91 Seattle Silver EX sedan and I might still be driving it today if it hadn’t been wrecked. It had that ubiquitous Honda “feel” to it. Everything was of a piece.

    IIRC, this was the year (or maybe the year before) that Honda took the sales crown from the Taurus. And deserved to, even with “only” a 4-cylinder car.

    These wagons were probably the best-looking wagons of the time. The next generation just looked terrible, and then disappeared.

    I have an ’06 Pilot, and it doesn’t fell, drive, or even smell like a Honda anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      The Taurus actually reached it’s sales peak at this time, outselling both the Accord and the Camry. It was dethroned in 1997 by the Camry. (This was confirmed by a look on Wikipedia.)

      I still see one of these Accord wagons on the road; 344,000 is a very impressive run. A Taurus wagon would have needed at least one transmission rebuild and/or engine work to reach that point; but they are obviously still my favorite.

  • avatar
    Remi

    It was the Peugeot 405 (which soldiered on till 95 in the rest of the world), not the 404 (which was discontinued in 1975) – the link is correct so it’s just a typo.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    Imho, Integra and Legend did very well in the early 90s. They were more expensive cars in their respective segments and therefore they weren’t intended to sell in same numbers as a regular Civic or Accord. But Honda still sold a ton of them and back in late 90s and early 00s they were very desirable as used cars. Their resale prices were through the roof too.

    I had a ’93 Accord LX sedan with 5MT in early 00s. It was great car, took me through college, newspaper delivery (500-600lbs easy) and when I sold it with 160K it was still on original clutch and shocks! After that I bought one of the last gen Integras, a ’00 GSR sedan. That one still had the Honda magic in it being designed in ’94. That was the last Honda I’ll be driving for a while. I got to sit and drive a few newer ones and none of them were fun or special anymore save for S2K which would make a lousy dd in New England.

    A friend of mine has a TSX wagon. I was always a staunch opposite of Honda’s replacement for Integra sedan and this one was no different. I sat in that car for exactly 30 seconds, just enough to realize that I would never even consider buying it. It was horrible.

  • avatar

    I don’t know about the US but they still sold a huge number of these in Canada. Pretty easy to find one still in use.

  • avatar
    carsRneat

    These were nice vehicles – but the Subaru Legacy wagon killed the Accord in the marketplace. The AWD was a key feature that differentiated the two vehicles when I cross shopped the two – - way back in 1991. The Legacy had just come out in 1990 – and the wagon was heavily marketed by Subaru. Honda dealers treated the wagon as an afterthought compared to the sedan (which makes sense considering their different sales rates). Step forward 21 years and I wonder if Honda wishes they had stuck with a wagon in the US. Perhaps now is the time as people jump off the SUV bandwagon.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      I agree that Honda didn’t really seem to care about marketing the wagon. Camry had a wagon in the 1987-91 generation too, and outside of the mouse-motor passive belts it was a good car that gave off a lot of Volvo 240 vibes.

      Also, my memory is that this was not a pleasant time to shop at many Honda dealers. They tended to have the attitude that they were doing you a favor, and if you weren’t willing to pay sticker plus A.D.P., they didn’t care if you walked.

  • avatar

    My family rocked one of these for 14 years and 425,000 kms. Fantastic family car, but you guys don’t need to be told that. It really was great though, my mom and dad are still loyal to Honda, and this car is one of the reasons. Ours was an auto (sadly) EX, in white (to my mother’s chagrin).

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    I purchased a navy blue ’92 Accord EX wagon with a 5 speed new. It replaced my red ’90 Civic Si. I had just turned 27 and it was time to drive a grown up car. The Accord wagon was comfortable, beautiful to look at, beautifully detailed, classy and was special unlike Honda’s of today. I took many road trips in this and have great memories. I remember the Accord wagons were fitted with Eagle GA tires and they unfortunately had a tendency to hydroplane. I remember replacing the tires with Michelins early on. This was the very first car I owned with ABS and a driver’s side air bag. The remote entry was built into the driver’s key which recharged in the ignition. Only the wagons had this feature I believe. Headlights pushed in an inch to compensate for a light impact. This car also came with a full size tire and matching rim. Man, what happened to Honda? I wouldn’t drive one today if it was given to me! (and one was, I inherited a 2007 Accord SE V6 back in 2010 – I used it to finance my 2010 VW CC VR6.)

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    Did they make a 3rd generation Accord Wagon? I don’t recall ever seeing one. I always like the Pop-Up headlight Accords, must be my 80s upbringing.

  • avatar
    jco

    there was a wagon version of the Accord in the generation after this one, too. although the boxy lines made a better wagon than the later curved body style. man, Honda in 1992 really wasn’t the same as Honda in 1991, was it? I mean yeah, the EG Civic is still everywhere, including Murilee’s garage.. but the EF was far more fun to drive. smaller, lighter, etc

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Had a ’92 LX wagon for 185,000 miles in 13 years. Other than the usual stuff, rock solid and worry free. Actually, a superb handling car and could cruise at 80 all day long. Raised two kids and a dog in it and with a roof top carrier could do long trips easily. Great car, but the fact is, after two subsequent Honda’s, will not go back to their cars (still like their motorcycles, but jeez, when are they going to update the Pan 1300?). Never did understand the whole SUV/minivan stuff, and happy I got to avoid it.

  • avatar
    afflo

    My first car was a 92 Accord sedan.

    Fantastic car. A few weak spots though:
    - Terrible rear leg room
    - Interior bits tended to break: interior door release and HVAC knobs in particular, and the slide-out cupholder was prone to getting gummed up.*
    - Wallowy ride, thanks to softish suspension, small wheels, and lack of sway-bars except for EX and higher models.

    THat said, that car was SOLID. The clutch was made of unobtanium, and it endured quite a bit of stupid teenage driving with hardly a complaint. At 170,000 miles, it was still on the original clutch.

    I was in one again recently… they are a tad frightening with the obscenely low dash. You feel like heavy breaking could send you over the dashboard in an instant, seatbelts or not! I’m glad that most carmakers have begun building the dash and windowsills higher. SUV and bubba-truck bumpers always felt like they were at the perfect height to go right through those windows.

    * These issues didn’t shwo up for me until past 80K miles, but I had to replace the HVAC knobs several times. My uncle had the same car, and had begun coating the plastic shaft on the knobs with superglue and wrapping them with thin thread and tissue-paper to strengthen them.

  • avatar
    2012JKU

    Honda really needs to step up their game. The overall styling and reliability of this 1991 model is superior to their current offerings. Really sad how far Honda has fallen.

  • avatar
    George B

    I see a Honda wagon like this occasionally on my daily commute. Appears to be a daily driver. I see a lot of 90s Hondas here in the Dallas area. My theory is that they outlast their peers because their owners like them and do the maintenance to keep them running. Old Hondas don’t seem to suffer as much neglect as the random beater.

    • 0 avatar
      kuman

      I agree, Honda requires lots of care if you want it to last. one wrong mechanic could spell disaster. original parts is imperative like no other. but if you fail to pay attention to its installation quirks, it would turn to rubbish in no time.
      A Honda is truer reflection of its owner personality than a mirror.

      • 0 avatar

        @kuman: What? Are you kidding me? Of all the brands, Honda’s are best capable of dealing with constant abuse and neglect and still operating fine. BMW, M-B, Audi, VW, all require preventative maintenance to stay decently reliable, especially in their old age.

        My mother once accidentally drove our 1993 Accord Wagon a distance of over 700kms without the oil cap on after she forget to put it back on. Car was fine, engine was fine (lots of oil on the underside of the hood though), we just bought another oil cap and went on our way. It had about 300,000kms on it at that point. Our friends did the same in a Corolla and the engine blew up 20 minutes down the road.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Kuman, the mainstream made in Ohio Civic and Accord models are high volume American cars, not fragile exotic machines. They’re super easy to keep on the road for their first decade of life and even survive a fair amount of Fast & Furious abuse. The point I’m making is their owners are willing to spend time replacing the parts that wear out in the 2nd decade of life. Somehow they get a DIY owner following usually reserved for RWD cars and trucks. Other reasonably reliable FWD cars don’t seem to attract as many owners willing to turn wrenches and post how-to pictures and videos. Low cost owner supplied labor and inexpensive parts delays the date with the crusher.

  • avatar
    EricD14

    I currently have a 1993 EX wagon with almost 207,000 on the clock and all original everything. Still runs fairly well, but it’s reaching the point of maintenance vs. replacement cost. I’m sure it’ll be a classic some day.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Those early 90′s Accords were jewels, I remember a friend in college had one that his parents had let him have, even with all the mileage, the car just felt like it was carved out of granite. I had only owned domestics. I just don’t feel like Honda builds cars like that anymore.

    What a contrast to compare a car of that era to whatever the domestic competition was at the time (Taurus, Lumina, etc) It’s no wonder an entire generation was lost from the Big 3.

  • avatar
    ern35

    I distinctly reading one time that the Accords of this vintage—i.e. ’90 to ’93 (Mark IV) were the highest quality mass-produced cars ever built. Now I can’t qualify that statement—other than some of the comments of their owners (above) seem to back that up.
    I can still ‘kick my butt’ for not having purchased one instead of the ’90 1/2 VW Jetta—-

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I”ve heard likewise. My wife, before I married her, had the 1991 Accord EX. We hung onto it until 2011 and then donated it. 20 years later and it was still running fine.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I loved the low dash and big greenhouse on this model Accold. Great visibility. One blogger said it made him feel unsafe. I had the opposite feeling.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      Agreed, I really miss the days of large glass areas, and low beltlines. I’m really tired of feeling like I’m descending into the Fuhrerbunker every time I get behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    Mikemannn

    I had a 91 EX-R wagon. Sunroof, manual transmission. It was actually FUN to drive. 280,000 Kms on it when I sold it. It then became a “4-for-fun” race car for two seasons at a local asphalt track. It was rolled twice before it finally gave up on life.

    Other than some typical rust, and some body damage, there was nothing very wrong with it. Oil, Gas, Tires… and I did have to change the cap, rotor, plugs and wires in 2005.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    I still have my cherry ’91 Accord. I also have a standing offer from a friend to buy it, but methinks he will be waiting a long time. I’m not much for joining the surprisingly large “Man, I never shoulda sold my ’91!” club.

    I haven’t been in a 2013, but from the photos it looks like the newest Accord captures some of the sitting-in-a-bubble feeling of the 1991′s big greenhouse and excellent visibility. And the idiots who work at Honda nowadays finally got rid of the ugly mass of buttons on the dash.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Speaking of mid-size stick shift wagons of that era. Back in the late 80′s until 95 Ford did offer the MT5 version as a wagon along side the 4 door. The MT5 as the abbreviation suggests was the 2.5 4-banger with a 5-speed. It was priced a bit above the base L but sadly was no SHO.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Your history is mixed up a bit. You are correct that the MT-5 trimline was above the base L (the L was also available with the V6). With the MT-5, you got the 90 hp/130 ft-lb 2.5 4-cylinder. However, the MT-5 wagon was discontinued in 1988, and the MT-5 sedan was discontinued in 1989, so it never made it to 2nd gen.

      The 4-cylinder was available on the Taurus until 1991, but only with a 3-speed automatic after the MT-5 was discontinued. Incidentally, the Sable only got the 4-banger in 1986 models, and only with the 3-speed auto.

      The first gen SHO was manual only, I believe because Ford didn’t have an automatic that was appropriate for a Taurus with that much power. The SHO was a fast car back then with 220 hp/200 ft-lbs, with a 0-60 competitive with many contemporary sports cars.

      The SHO was faster to 60 than an ’88 BMW M3, only 0.3s behind an ’88 M5, and only 0.1s behind a ’90 Nissan 300ZX Turbo and an ’89 Porsche 911 Cabrio (MT, the auto 911 was SLOW). It pulled even with a ’91 Lotus Elan and an ’89 Supra Turbo.

      The SHO got an automatic in the 2nd generation with a slightly higher displacement engine (3.2 instead of 3.0) and had 220 hp/215 ft-lbs with the auto. We won’t talk about the 3rd gen SHO.

      The Sable was originally intended to get the SHO engine in its LTS trimline, but it never happened. However, Ford did make 40 aluminum intensive Sables in Canada with the SHO engine and 20 got released to the public. This was a pilot project, and the aluminum suspension and body panels made the car 400 lbs lighter. Ford also made one SHO wagon for Car & Driver.

      They don’t seem to make cars like the SHO or this Accord wagon for US consumption any more.

  • avatar
    hifi

    This generation of Accords was, to me, the best ever offered. The design was so incredibly purposeful and free of any ornamentation, that it just felt right. They were owned by yuppies everywhere in the 90s. I don’t know what happened to Honda. Through 2012, all of the Accords became increasingly goofy looking and more suitable for the Wal Mart demographic. For 2013, even though it’s painfully bland, I feel that they have built a purposeful, quality vehicle again.

  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    A good friend has owned three CB7s and one CB9, a ’91 like this one, but a slushbox EX, originally a faded gold over bordello cranberry. It ended up being dubbed ‘Skrillex’ on a road trip up to Vermont, after a dubstep/electro mix CD got stuck in the ten-year-old Alpine head unit. He rattle-canned it matte green and it served nobly, despite being stuck in 3500-RPM-maximum limp mode most of the time. Eventually, Skrillie vomited all of its fluids in his work parking lot, but it got him home afterward…

    Would’ve been a great car with a manual, but even without, it was a good one.

    http://i.imgur.com/S8Ula.jpg

  • avatar
    brettc

    There’s a 1994ish Accord wagon doing Taxi duty in Portland, ME. Just got behind it last week going up High street. Also saw this generation of Accord wagon in the last 2 weeks or so somewhere in Portland. So they are still randomly around even in high salt usage areas. Surprised they haven’t failed inspection due to rust. Maybe they’ve had them oil-sprayed or something. I love the design of the 1994 wagons, it’s timeless to me. Just like old Passat wagons.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      There are a bunch of them around Portland. This is pretty much station wagon central for all makes/models. Pretty unlikely that the Hondas have spent their whole lives here though, probably imports from “away”. There are several small dealers around town that make a living buying clean cars at auction down South and bringing them up here to sell.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        I was passing through Boston on my way up to Maine via Route 1, a pretty nice drive. In Brookline Boston I saw 3 wagons parked on the same street: a BMW, a Volvo, and an Accord Wagon! I thought I made a wrong turn and left the U.S.

  • avatar
    Leatherneck

    My wife and I have a 94 Accord Wagon EX 5 speed with 77,000 miles that is her daily driver. Must be a Miane thing. I’m from Brunswick but sadly stuck in the Midwest. There are several Accord wagons of both generations driving around Indianapolis. I am always surprised at the large number of relatively nice 94-97 Accords on the road. Our wagon is a great driver, gets 30+ MPG and needs just regular maintainence . Bought it about 2 years ago from the original owner for $4000. Sure beats car payments.


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