Working On a Harlequin Interior For My Civic, One Junkyard Piece At a Time

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
working on a harlequin interior for my civic one junkyard piece at a time

There’s a liberating feeling when you have to fix some interior component on a beater transportation car (e.g., my destined-to-become-a-track-car 1992 Civic DX) and you don’t care about color matching. Item on the list of Parts Whose Failure Doesn’t Stop You From Driving, But Still Drives You Crazy: the glovebox door latch.

My Civic led a rough life before I bought it five years ago; its previous owner was a blues bass player who lived in Chicago and then San Francisco, parking the car on sketchy side streets near sleazeball blues clubs in both cities. Street-parked cars in San Francisco get broken into about once every two weeks on average, which meant that every lock on the car has been punched or pried out at least a dozen times, and every storage compartment in the interior has been pawed open by many desperate thieves in the throes of amphetamine psychosis and/or the DTs and/or the hippie hippie shakes (in Denver, they just try to cold steal the car itself). The glovebox in my car was always flaky, with a balky latch mechanism damaged by the scrabbling fingers of so many urban entrepreneurs, and last week it finally gave up completely.

Yes, the plastic handle finally snapped off when I opened the glovebox to grab my cassette of I, Fish Driver. I called my local Honda dealer and was quoted a price of just $17.95 for this piece, but it wasn’t in stock. I planned to do a junkyard run that day and shoot Junkyard Find photos, anyway, so I thought I’d do some glovebox-latch shopping at the same time. If I couldn’t find one, I’d just wait a few days for a new replacement part.

The first yard I visited didn’t have any fifth-gen Civics that hadn’t been completely gutted (I’m still waiting for 1992-95 Civics to show up in large quantities in self-service junkyards, but this hasn’t happened yet), so I looked at Integras, Accords, and Preludes from the same decade. Honda has been known to share components across different models, so maybe the Accord’s glovebox latch will fit the Civic.

This one has a lock, but the overall shape is identical to the 92-95 Civic unit. What the heck, it’s held in with just two screws and the junkyard wanted only $2.99 for the entire latch mechanism. As an added bonus, it’s even the correct gray color!

Unfortunately, the location of the striker is about 1/4″ different in the Accord latch, so it wouldn’t work without a bunch of pain-in-ass modifications. The good news was that I planned to do another photo expedition at a second junkyard that afternoon… where I found this fifth-gen Civic coupe.

The interior of this Civic was a very mid-90s beige, which was sort of horrible, but the latch was mechanically correct. This junkyard charged just $1.49 for it.

30 seconds of work and the swap is done.

In a non-beater, this would be a major fashion don’t, but I’m this car’s final owner!

Anyway, the latch goes well with the only-one-I-could-find replacement for the window crank I snapped off while loading 8-foot 2x6s in the car at the lumberyard. Now I’m tempted to get a green steering wheel.

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  • JH294 JH294 on May 30, 2012

    It's good to have company in the I-cannot-overlook-this-minor-component-which-is-no-longer-working-as-designed department. I'm fairly confident that someone reading this has suffered a cracked, marred or busticated dashboard of their own doing from chasing down something remarkably minor. I bought a 1995 2WD Chevy Cheyenne with 160,000 miles a few years back. One interior issue was the passenger side air vent with drooping horizontal fins. The doo-hickey that allowed you to swivel and point the vent had been pushed in and broken. A junk yard run netted me a new assembly from a nicer Silverado with the same dash layout. I was able to pilfer the little adjusting nub that sits in the center of the middle fin, though this one was blue to contrast with my gun-metal gray vent fins, dash, door panel, headliner and everything else in the world gray interior. No occupant other than myself would notice this harlequin touch any sooner than they'd notice the broken vent in the first place. But I'll be damned if I don't get a tremendous amount of satisfaction every time I survey my handy-work.

  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on May 31, 2012

    I can't stand broken stuff on a car either. Luckily, here in the land of road salt, there are MANY pristine interiored vehicles in the junkyard with gaping rust holes in them, just waiting to donate to the cause. Plenty of Hondas, the tinworm just LOVES Hondas!

  • 3SpeedAutomatic And this too shall pass.....Ford went thru this when the model T was introduced. It took the moving assembly line to make real money. As time progressed, it got refined, eventually moving to the Model A. Same kind of hiccups with fuel injection, 4 speed automatic, Firestone tires, dashboards with no radio knobs, etc, etc, etc. Same thing with EVs. Yep, a fire or two in the parking lot, espresso time at the charging stations, other issues yet to be encountered, just give it time. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Art Vandelay 2025 Camaro and Challenger
  • Mike Beranek Any car whose engine makes less than 300 ft-lbs of torque.
  • Malcolm Mini temporarily halted manual transmission production but brought it back as it was a surprisingly good seller. The downside is that they should have made awd standard with the manual instead of nixing it. Ford said recently that 4dr were 7% manual take rate and I think the two door was 15%.
  • Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.