By on August 25, 2010

In case you’ve ever wondered why CC got started in Eugene, this may help: a typical; street scene not far from where I live. And just for fun, let’s step across the street and turn the camera 180 degrees and see what that captures:

Here’s a zoom in to help you id those cars in the background (can you make out that blue one?) Two of the cars in these shots have been a CC or CCO.

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51 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: Suddenly It’s 1990...”

  • avatar

    My first brand-new car…a 1988 Civic DX sedan in medium blue. A GREAT car. Thanks for bringing back those memories.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    That is like a picture back in time. I was almost transported back to my chubby teen years, nearly ready to get my license and dreaming about what my first ride will be.

    • 0 avatar

      I was all of 2 years old in 1990 and driving was not even on the radar. As it is my first car was not what I would have ever expected to buy. I had a 1993 Aerostar for about 7 months before gas prices started reaching $2.50 in 2004 or thereabouts. At 10mpg during a good week that would not have been a good thing to keep. Luckily I only paid $750 for it (decent shape, just big).

      I almost bought my friend’s mom’s 1985 Crown Vic (I think it was an LTD – was that a trim level at the time and not a separate car?) with the police package, I believe. I instead got the Aerostar because that Crown Vic was abused and they wanted $700 for it.

    • 0 avatar

      “I was almost transported back to my chubby teen years… dreaming about what my first ride will be.”

      Dan, You were talking about cars weren’t you? ;O)

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Did I ever tell you why I love front bench seats? ;)

  • avatar

    The blue Volvo 240 2-door sedan in the first photo looks remarkably similar to my former 1980 model. The one pictured appears to be a 1984 model, the last year of the 2-door.

  • avatar

    Its amazing how different the ’90 Accord and Civic were. Look at that red one in the background compared to the little civic.

    The only things really off here, is the Intrepid and the Mazda 626.

  • avatar

    I purchased a 1988 Civic DX four door right out of grad school and it was one of Honda’s best cars ever. Although rated at 33/37 mpg, my MPG never dropped below 40 in normal use. I convinced three other people to purchase the exact same car. My father delivered my sister’s car to her during the break-in period and averaged 50 mpg at 50 mph for a 10 hour trip. I usually averaged 45 mpg highway. With 4 people and luggage for a one week trip, at speeds up to 100 mph across the desert, it still got 35 mpg. I drove once from Las Vegas to San Francisco on a single tank.

    Sold it, drove other cars, got into construction, purchased a used pickup truck. Dumped the truck, bought a 1990 Civic DX sedan, put on a trailer hitch, and used it for a two year homebuilding project. I hauled up to 1500 lbs with that car.

    Sold it three years later in 2006 for the amount I purchased it for during the period of $5 gas to someone with an explorer, who paid off the purchase price of the car in one year just in gas savings.

    Phenomenal car, they should still be making them. Double wishbone suspension up front, but terrible brakes.

    • 0 avatar

      One of the greatest small cars ever made. FYI – to address the weak brakes problem – swap in Integra front knuckle / hub / brake assembly and the entire rear trailing arms (rear disc brakes) w/ the e-brake cables from a 90+ Integra GS. You’ll have to move up at a 15″ wheel – so pick up a set of cheap used Integra rims. The 90-91 Civic EX sedan had rear discs too.

      I have this setup on my ’89 Civic hatch and it does very well hauling it down from high speeds (>110 mph – when I did the brakes the engine was right next to it so I swapped in a b16a2 dohc vtec motor).

    • 0 avatar

      I think the ’88 Civic Si hatchback is still the best-looking Civic ever made.

  • avatar

    Ah yes back when Honda’s were simple,durable and cheap to fix. To bad they didn’t stay the course.

  • avatar

    I also spot an ancient Suburban (?? not sure), an old Volvo, and a maybe a Vanagon. Wow. “1990” Eugene includes everything going back from then, too.

  • avatar

    I wish it truly was 1990 in Eugene… I’d move over there tomorrow!!!! (oh, to be a College senior!!!!!). Actually, every I haul out Mustang 5.0 LX convertible (w/ 250k on the clock) is 1990—

    so at least I have a touchstone. :)

  • avatar

    The second generation Cavaliers looked almost as good. That was the brief era of low beltlines – think Luminas and 1991 Accords, cars you could actually see out of. Much simpler, too.

    Just curious,Paul, are there any Volvo PV544’s in the area? You need to write about those. My friend has a 1961 and at one time 40 years ago owned a 1959. Really cool then and now.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem with that beltline is you usually got a low hip point along with it.

      I hate, hate, hate the seating position in cars made from ~1960 to ~2000: if you’re even slightly tall they’re a pain to get in and out of. It’s one of the reasons why SUVs became so popular.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      PV544s have become very scarce on the street; they’re now too special to not have a spot in a garage somewhere. I do have some shots of a 444, in front of a Volvo garage. I’d prefer to find a 544 before I do a CC.

    • 0 avatar

      Paul’s right-they (544s))are rare. I hope he tracks one down.

      I drove the wheels off a 62 544 from 72-75. By the time that one went to Volvo Heaven it was so dangerous my dad popped for a newer vehicle…and he wasn’t the kind of guy who bought cars for his kids.

      Here’s a guy who had one that sure took me back in time…

  • avatar

    Yes, I also beemed right onto the Suburban (what Civic). 1960-66 from what I can tell from the rear view. A windshield or door shot will tell if it is a 60-62, or 63-66. Hopefully it has a 235 w/4 on the floor w/granny.

  • avatar


    In the last pic, which blue one do you mean? (As I am a bit blue/green clolor blind, I hope they are both blue!)

    The one next to the house that looks like a Mazda 626 and to its left in the background is something like a Starion van, or the Toyota that was predecessor to the Previa…

    • 0 avatar

      That’s not a Toyota Van (yes, that’s what it was called; the “Van”) because the front bumper’s not nearly big enough. I don’t think it’s a Starion, either, but I can’t be sure because they didn’t sell any here.

      ETA: stupid me, was looking at the white thing in front of it. The blue one is definitely a Van.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      The original picture’s higher resolution tells me that its a Toyota van. Plus, Eugene is crawling with them: they’ve all come here to (never) die.

  • avatar

    My parents had that exact model of Corolla (an 86 or 87, I’d guess; front-drive) but in blue. Totally bog-standard, bottom-of-the-barrel. Didn’t even come with a radio or speakers, which we added two years later. Cost them CA$10,000, less the scrap value on the Dodge Aspen we traded in.

    The car lasted well north of a half a million kilometers under the most appaling abuse. When my parents split my mother didn’t change the oil for a couple of years. My sister ran it off the road twice. I finally killed it in 2001 when the cooling system sprung a leak in heavy traffic and the engine overheated pretty badly. I probably could have fixed it, but it couldn’t have been worth the money.

    That was what made Toyotas special. They weren’t usually luxurious, fast, fun, nicely trimmed or a good value, but damn, they were impossible to kill. Even stalwarts like the W123 or 240DL needed relatively costly regular maintenance whereas a Corolla could get it’s ass kicked for ten years and still cost very little to keep up.

  • avatar

    Send that Vanagon to Detroit for me. I need a good parts car :)

    I love how those things are all over the west coast, like a virus, but they are very rare here around Detroit and the surrounding midwest.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    That blue “thing” is absolutely a Toyota Van. It was officially a “VanWagon”, but VW rightfully felt that was way too close to Vanagon. Based on that shade of blue, my guess is it’s an 88 or 89.

  • avatar

    Paul, my buddy leaves his 1961 PV544 parked outside on his gravel driveway in (semi) rural St. Charles county, Mo. and drives it like there’s no tomorrow. My heart is in my mouth when I ride in it when we’re in town once a year – I’m thankful for the original 3-point seat/shoulder belt! That car is pretty well trashed – rusted, no grill, but the radiator shade is intact and works! Interior pretty much shot. A real tin (iron?) can, but I wish I had one! Another friend 40+ years ago had a nice P1800. Those were really cool.

  • avatar

    Just got a call from the Toyota dealer. My 2009 Corolla needs a new transmission. The part is back ordered. I have a feeling you wont be seeing it parked on the street in 20 years….

  • avatar

    Just a few thoughts off of the top of my head:

    That Civic is one of the mythical Unicorn cars that you just can’t get anymore. Superbe milage, sporty suspension, light-weight, and large greenhouse with a low beltline. Can they not make this car anymore?

    Anyone else stunned how much better looking the Civic is than the staid Corrola? It is much better proportioned.

    13 inch steel wheels! Do car makers offer those anymore? You can get 17″+ wheels on the current Civic and the thing still looks like the wheels don’t fill out the car. Look at how low the hood comes in proportion to the wheels.

    This was Honda’s high water mark.

  • avatar

    Time to rummage through the garage and find my Milli Vanilli cassette.

  • avatar

    I’m not a Honda guy, but I have heard many of my friends sing their praises. The best man at my wedding is driving a 1993 Honda Accord that was given to him for free, and that thing drives and handles like a 5 year old car.

    I just bought a Honda lawn mower. I was tempted to buy something cheaper, but a wise friend said “it’s always cheaper to buy something once”.

    The lawnmower is so well built, that for the first time in my car buying life, I’m actually interested in what their cars may be like.

    Howie Long should not be so quick to dismiss Honda’s lawnmowers. It might just get them car sales too.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      I would love to add to that Chevy commercial: “And the Honda Mower will even start!”
      What are you waiting for? Go buy a Honda! Even the Certified Used Hondas are great! I’m currently in a 2006 Certified Civic EX, and it still feels new to a very persnickety car nut at 65000 miles. Just do it.

    • 0 avatar

      Or how about a nice used Odyssey? Change the oil twice a year,and replace the tranny every 20K

    • 0 avatar

      Ah mikey, god bless you, you’re always good for a laugh. The sun will rise, the sun will set and anyone who hates Hondas will laser focus on their one major misstep and ignore decades of superlative cars.

    • 0 avatar

      @ partsUknown… Confeesion time.. If GM was gone, and I had to buy a car. Fisrt choice,a Ford followed by Chrysler,if they were all dead?….wait for it a Honda!

      They make a great car, and I like the way they are put together.Untill somebody tries to tell me a Honda is perfect then I might have to point out some flaws.

    • 0 avatar

      mikey, now say ten Hail Marys.

      We all have our dark secrets. I was always an import guy, but bought my first domestic car last year – Ford Taurus X – and it’s a great car that has been flawless in its first year as our family truckster. It has opened my eyes to consider a domestic brand car next time around.

    • 0 avatar

      @ PartsUknown Good for you. Ford has got some great products. I took a 2008 Mustang out with a convertible top, and 50,000 klms. Not a rattle or cowl shake no matter what surface I drove on.

      The dealer knows its good,and wants a fortune for it.

  • avatar

    The blue van in the background…
    How about Chevy Lumina/Olds Silhouette?

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    There’s something brutally honest about black rubber bumpers and protective strip down the side. Saturn, Ford and Chevy all followed Japan’s lead on that design quirk which always made you get either a darker car or upgrade to the ‘LX’ model.

  • avatar

    It’s not here, but the car I was driving in the UK in 1990 was a Vauxhall Cavalier Sri 2.0. If anyone thinks GM cars suck, consider this. I took one of these to 250,000 miles on the same clutch and the same engine. Two others in my firm did over 140,000, again on the same clutch and engine, before being sold. None ever saw the inside of a dealership except for occasional servicing. They ran fully loaded, over 100MPH in Europe, month after month after month. Nothing but rock-solid bullet proof reliability. They’d seat 4 adults in comfort and haul a big load of computer/service gear in the boot (trunk). If there has been a better car made from the point of view of practicality, reliability or performance, I’ve never heard of it. Truly the best all round cars ever built, in my opinion.

    Then they replaced it with the Vectra. ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar

    OK here is what I got:

    85-87 white Corolla

    1990 Honda Civic

    Mazda 626

    VW Vanagon

    Toyota Van

    white Honda Civic maybe 1993

    Dodge Intrepid.
    Why does every Intrepid I see seem to be this sort of brownish champagne color?

    I really like the cars from around 90 especially the Civic sedans, these were better than the Civics that came later.
    Only thing I hate about these cars is that a lot of them had those *&^%^[email protected]*? passive restraint belts. God I hated those, the manufacturers got rid of them very quickly.

  • avatar

    It’s hard to believe that in 1990 Honda only sold four (4) models in North America (Civic, Accord, Prelude and CRX). At that time, though, you could walk in to a Honda dealership and buy ANYTHING they were selling knowing you were NOT making a mistake.

    It’s rare for a car manufacturer’s full range to be uniformly excellent … but that’s exactly where Honda was at from the mid-1980’s through to the early 1990’s.

    • 0 avatar

      ” At that time, though, you could walk in to a Honda dealership and buy ANYTHING they were selling knowing you were NOT making a mistake.”

      +1. Honda started down the slippery path to mediocrity when they began selling rebadged Isuzus as Passports.

  • avatar

    —something along the same thoughts: I once read that the Mark 4 Accords (’90-’93) were the highest quality mass-production cars ever built. How much truth is there in this statement?

  • avatar
    Jim K

    I was a big Honda fan during this era. My first new car out of college was a 1989 Acura Integra LS(?). Great little car.

    Got bit by the new car bug 2 short years later (and 50k on the Integra) and bought a 1991 Prelude Si. Loved….that… Should of kept it forever.

    I wish Honda made something similar to those two cars today. I’d buy one in a hearbeat (although the current Civic Si is tempting).

    Paul……every consider a CC on the original Integra or my beloved ‘lude?

    thanks for the series……they are great.

  • avatar

    We have had a ’90 Civic since new. Gods gift to the motoring public. GM should have bought the plans and dies for this car when the model went out of production.
    Based on how well the ’90 Civic was, we bought a ’95 Civic as a second car. A piece of junk. Got rid of it within a year.
    It was hard to believe how poorly made the ’95 was, vs the ’90. It seems to me the design was cheapened way down in the ’95.

  • avatar

    Salt. Someone really needs to do an environment study to show the damage done. I can’t tell you how many cars, including both a 1952 Chevy wagon, and a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder, that I really wanted to keep, but lost due to excessive rust. Here in the northeast owning a “classic” older japanese car is just a dream.

    • 0 avatar

      You can keep a car in the salt belt, but you need to be fastidious about rustproofing.

      I know a few people with interesting older vehicles in southern Ontario and they’re able to keep them going, but it’s not as carefree as it would be in the southern or coastal US.

      Honestly, salt is a necessity: without it, you’d see black ice galore as roads thawed and refroze into skating rinks: the coast and south don’t get cold enough to freeze, and the prairies and Canadian north don’t get warm enough to thaw. If you stopped salting, those cars might not rust, but they’d probably crash into things.

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