Missing the Old Civic Motor Pool… But Not CVCC Smog-Check Hell

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
missing the old civic motor pool but not cvcc smog check hell

There was a time in the late 1990s and early 2000s when I had two 1985 Civic hatchbacks and an ’85 CRX, all at the same time. They were fun to drive, sipped gas, rarely malfunctioned, and Pick-Your-Part in Hayward always had at least a half-dozen compatible parts donors on the yard. Truly, it was Civic Utopia.

Well, no, it really wasn’t. Much as I loved my cars (two of which are shown here), the emission-control system needed to make the CVCC engine comply with ever-stricter California smog standards had become absurdly complex by the mid-1980s. CVCC was a very advanced and effective system in the 1970s, but the dual-circuit carburetor and dozens of solenoids, sensors, vacuum switches, and hundreds of yards of hose made it a nightmare to get a CVCC car through the California emissions test. If any one of those components leaked or malfunctioned, the car might still run fine… but it would fail the tailpipe test. Tracing the problem was enough to make you want to stuff the car into The Crusher’s jaws and push the START button yourself. The EFI-equipped Civic and CRX Si cars didn’t have that problem, but they were much more expensive at the time. Still, sometimes I miss those multi-Civic days.

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  • Crabspirits Crabspirits on Sep 15, 2011

    I was at a junkyard today across from the old Joliet prison and found a 4WD civic wagovan of this vintage. The last time I saw one, it was laying on it's side on a soccer field 18 years ago. Wondered why no love from the Honda fans for this thing for a second, then remembered the diagram above. Most kids these days would pass on something that complicated for sure and pick a 240sx. (MM-You should hit up this yard when you're in town for Lemons. Some of the cars are inside a REALLY old factory building. Pretty neat.)

  • Forty2 Forty2 on Sep 15, 2011

    I had the exact charcoal gray Civic S (84 or 85, I forget, but the last year before fuel injection) as in the photo up there. Bought new. In the first six months I had it, it was at the dealer for about three of them. Even after that it'd stall for no reason and would not restart until it'd sat for a good 20 minutes. Honda finally gave up and replaced the entire fuel system -- tank, pump, lines, 842 vacuum lines, and that fiendish carburetor, and it ran fine after that. That was my last Honda. I sold it to some other kid after a few years.

  • Wjtinfwb Instead of raising fines, why don't the authorities enforce the laws and write tickets, and have judges enforce the penalty or sentence of a crime. I live across the street from an Elementary School on a 4-lane divided state highway. every morning the cop sits in his car and when someone sails through the School Zone well above the 10 mph limit, he merely hits his siren to get their attention but that's it. I've never, in 5 years, seen them get out of the car and actually stop and driver and confront them about speeding. As a result, no one pays attention and when the School Zone light is not lit, traffic flies by at 50-60 mph in the 45 zone. Almost no enforcement occurs until the inevitable crash, last year some zoned out girl rolled her beater Elantra 3 times. On a dry, straight, 4 lane road with a 45 mph limit. I'm no Angel and have a heavy foot myself. I've received my share of speeding tickets, lots of them when younger. Traffic enforcement in most locales has become a joke these days, jacking prices because someone has a higher income in as asinine as our stupid tax policy and non-existent immigration enforcement.
  • Jeff S If AM went away I would listen to FM but since it is insignificant in the cost to the car and in an emergency broadcast it is good to have. I agree with some of the others its another way to collect money with a subscription. AM is most likely to go away in the future but I will use AM as long as its around.
  • BEPLA I think it's cool the way it is.If I had the money, time and space - I'd buy it, clean it up, and just do enough to get it running properly.Then take it to Cars and Coffee and park it next to all the newer Mustangs.
  • Dave M. I suppose Jethro’s farm report comes via AM, but there’s a ton of alternative ways to get that info. Move forward people. Progress is never easy.
  • BEPLA For anything but the base model, I'd rather have a pre-owned Polestar 2.