Junkyard Find: 1984 Honda Civic Wagovan
The four-wheel-drive Honda Civic “Wagovan” was very popular in Colorado, and you still see them on the street around here. The front-wheel-drive version, however, is quite rare throughout North America. It was a very sensible family hauler, with its high-30s highway fuel economy and big-for-its-size cargo space, but it couldn’t compete with Chrysler’s minivans. Here’s a rare example that I spotted last week in a Denver self-service yard.
In fact, Honda didn’t come up with any sort of Suburbia Main Battle Tank until the Passport, a decade later, and that was really an Isuzu (the first-gen Odyssey was a genuine Honda and ideally suited for the growing family with a lot of accessories… in Japan).
So, what we have here is a tall Civic with a squared-off cargo area. You could fit four adults and the results of a serious big-box-retail shopping spree inside, and then you could drive it for 250,000 miles (provided you never overheated it and blew the head gasket).
Here’s why I will never own one of these cars. You couldn’t get the Wagovan with the Si fuel-injected engine, and there’s no way to make a 25-year-old nightmare tangle of vacuum lines, solenoids, sensors, and black boxes work correctly. Look, this one has multiple layers on the vacuum-hose diagram. It’s had versioning!
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We have a Mazda 5, which I think is close to what the Wagovan and it's Colt Vista competitor would be today. It's been a great car and quite fun to drive for a tall, boxy vehicle. The power is only adequate, which was also true for the Wagovan and it's competitors. Mileage is OK, we average 20 mpg with lots of hills, which considering the Wagovan probably did the same or better, isn't much improvement. The new Skyactiv engine will allow the 5 to do much better. I remember seeing these on the road as a kid too. Not much nostalgia for them, but as an adult with kids, I can see why they were so popular. Ultimately, not as popular as the Chrysler minis though.
My mom bought one of these new in 1984. I hated the thing, I called it the mouse because it looked and ran like one, all that was missing is the tail. There was nothing good about this car, It was flimsy by comparison to the Ford we had prior to it, small winds blew it all over the road. Sorry but Honda's of the 1980's didn't last 200k miles because they rusted to pieces after 5 years if in a climate that used road salt. Hers had the automatic that only ran about 70k miles before it was full of rust holes with the tranny going to hell and my mom got rid of it.