Junkyard Find: 1996 Honda Passport

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1996 honda passport

Some examples of badge engineering are ridiculous yet wonderful, others made a lot of sense for both companies… and some just make you clutch your head in dismay. The Honda Passport is the clutch-your-head type.

Honda could do no wrong in North America from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s, but then came the big missteps. There was the Accord wagon (which flopped), and then the CRX became the Del Sol (which drove away the young male buyers who loved the CRX), and then there were all those slow-selling Acuras. Then Detroit started getting rich from minivans and SUVs, and Honda didn’t have either type (the Wagovan and the original Odyssey were too small for Americans to take seriously and thus don’t count). What to do?

What Honda did was make a deal with Isuzu to slap Honda badges on the Isuzu Rodeo. For the first time, Honda buyers would be purchasing a General Motors product.

The Passport wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t likely to run for as many trouble-free miles as an Accord. Fortunately for Honda, the company will always have a good source of revenue in Asia. I had forgotten about the Passport until I saw this one in a Denver self-service yard.

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2 of 53 comments
  • MaintenanceCosts Where's a gas inline six, for that torque and nice sound without all the diesel stink? Oh, that's right; GM being GM, they prematurely canceled it.
  • FreedMike I nominate the 1980 Thunderbird as the worst malaise car ever. My brother got one used and promptly totaled it out. In retrospect, that was a mercy killing.
  • Vulpine Regretfully, rather boring. Nothing truly unique, though the M715 is a real eye-grabber.
  • Parkave231 This counts for the Rare Rides installment on the Fox Cougar and Fox Thunderbird too, right? Don't want to ever have to revisit those......(They should have just called them Monarch/Marquis and Granada/LTD II and everything would have been fine.)
  • DM335 The 1983 Thunderbird and Cougar were introduced later than the rest of the 1983 models. If I recall correctly, the first models arrived in January or February 1983. I'm not sure when they were unveiled, but that would explain why the full-line brochures for Ford and Mercury were missing the Thunderbird and Cougar--at least the first version printed.The 1980 Cougar XR-7 had the same 108.4 inch wheelbase as the 1980 Thunderbird. The Cougar coupe, sedan and wagon had the shorter wheelbase, as did the Ford Granada.