5th-Gen Civic: Cargo-Haulin' Workhorse!

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
5th gen civic cargo haulin workhorse

Some folks will tell you that you need a big ol’ truck to haul a grimy cast-iron V8, but those folks are wrong! My beater ’92 Civic, which stood up well when compared to the Audi R8, not only sports a trailer hitch (no doubt suitable for hauling popcorn carts weighing up to several hundred pounds) but the cargo-area capacity to take a disassembled Chrysler LA engine.

When I pulled the rod-knockitty 318 out of my ’66 Dodge A100 Hell Project, I thought that I might rebuild it for later use in the ’49 Plymouth sedan project I keep threatening to do… but once I opened it up, I changed my mind. Crank bad. Block bad. Smog heads. Plan B: give the engine to my friend who makes regular scrap-metal-for-cash runs, so he can turn it into a few bucks for his ill-advised car projects.

The key to making large objects fit in your pre-Model-Bloat Civic (the current Civic has packed on the bulk like Ozzy Osbourne after his infamous motel-room whiskey-and-donut binge) is the tailgate. Even though the car is a total cheapo beater, I laid down an old sheet in the cargo area to keep the worst of the grunge off the interior. Block, heads, intake, exhaust manifolds, accessory brackets, everything. It all fits just fine, even with the back seats up!

The rear doesn’t sag too badly with all that extra weight, although the handling did get a little funky. As for the engine for the ’49 Plymouth project (which will use this car as a role model), I’m thinking supercharged Slant Six.

Join the conversation
2 of 35 comments
  • Itsgotvtakyo Itsgotvtakyo on Dec 21, 2010

    My 93 vx picked up it's current motor, trans and turbo kit up in one shot. Fantastic, versatile, fun to drive cars even in stock trim. High 40's without fail and nothing ever broke for the year the stock 250k+ drivetrain was in the car.

  • WRC555 WRC555 on Dec 21, 2010

    @Evan Reif You have a wagon, not a hatch, and that's a plus IMHO. The pre-MY2006 Impreza wagons have a much larger cargo capacity than the current hot hatch Impreza.

  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down. https://academic.oup.com/dh/article-abstract/42/4/548/5063004
  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro processors...in today's vehicles?
  • Ravenuer The Long Island Expressway.
  • Kwik_Shift A nice stretch of fairly remote road that would be great for test driving a car's potential, rally style, is Flinton Road off of Highway 41 in Ontario. Twists/turns/dips/rises. Just hope a deer doesn't jump out at you. Also Highway 60 through Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Great scenery with lots of hills.