Junkyard Find: 1980 Honda Civic 1500 GL

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1980 honda civic 1500 gl

Back in the Malaise Era, why did anyone buy a Corolla (or an Omni or GLC or any other miserable underpowered econobox) instead of a Civic? Somehow, Soichiro‘s little car managed to be economical, reliable, and fun to drive. Most of the second-gen (1980-83) Civics have long since been crushed, not being as solid as their successors and also not attracting a following of collectors willing to do any sort of restoration, so you don’t see many of them in the junkyards these days. Here’s one that managed to hang on for more than 30 years before taking that final tow-truck ride.

I’ve owned a couple of examples of this generation of Civic, and it’s startling how Honda made 67 horsepower (the base 1300 made just 55) feel like (nearly) enough. Even the Chevette had more power than this thing!

Thing is, if anything went wrong with the nightmarishly complex emission-control system on the carbureted CVCC Hondas, you were screwed. This diagram is dirt simple next to the CVCCs of the mid-1980s.

This one is pretty well beat, but should have had a few years left in it. Blown head gasket? Bad suspension?

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  • Aloha-Rick Aloha-Rick on Sep 24, 2012

    I am the original owner of a 1981 Honda Civic 1500 GL Hatchback, great condition, Blue, roof rack factor stylish addition, new tires and radiator with 149,000 miles and gentle use, for sale in Hawaii

  • CAMeyer CAMeyer on Jul 30, 2013

    The comment thread here is old, but I can't help but chime in, as I had an identical 1980 model in the mid 80s, except with Hondamatic and the pink plush seats(it also had the standard instrument cluster, without the tach). I'd previously had a '74 civic (orange), and the second generation model was quite a bit more substantial, although of course not as idiosyncratic or interesting. Even with the modest hp and the Hondamatic, it didn't feel underpowered (but then, I was coming from the '74). Although it did have some of that bubble up under the paint rust seen the junkyard car, it was quite sturdy, withstanding duty on 1980s NYC lunar landscape roads and even being rearended by Plymouth Fury taxicab without significant damage. I did have to sink $$ in the car right away for transmission work, and a little bit more at some point for a waterpump (the wheels on these broke on all 3 civics I had), contrary to some comments here, it was quite reliable and didn't need much attention. Note to today's car designers. Observe the relatively plain styling of this vehicle and relatively box-shaped passenger and cargo area. This maximized passenger room and enabled the driver to see other cars and pedestrians on either side of the car and on the rear, without use of external cameras or other aids.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂