Digestible Collectible: 1991 Honda Civic Si

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

The “Si” badge has always denoted something special from Honda, from the ’85 Civic and CRX that flaunted the new-fangled fuel injection on the sport model to the not-quite-a-Type R that will hopefully be gracing our roads later this year. Honda fanatics will continue to debate the best, but my favorite Civic generation has to be its fourth, popularly known as the “EF” Civic.

Honda apparently didn’t like the U.S. at the time, as other markets were blessed with hotter engines, some with VTEC to boost high-end power. It took enterprising enthusiasts, some with more energy than money, to develop a trend to swap these powerplants into American-market Civics.

I recall test-driving one such swapped Civic, put together so poorly that the shift lever — not the knob, mind you, but the entire lever — came out in my hand on a 3-2 downshift.

No, I didn’t buy that car.

I briefly tested another that had such awful rust that the carpet provided the majority of any protection to my feet from the road surface. The stench of patchouli in the car, incidentally, was another turn-off, though I stopped for Doritos on the way home from that particular drive.

The twin terrors of rust and hack hotrodders have yielded a dwindling number of clean Civics for fans like me who can finally consider one as a toy. The seller of this 1991 Honda Civic Si in Omaha clearly sees the scarcity, but might be reaching in asking over its original MSRP for this example.

These Civics are such a joy to drive that I can see someone parting with the cash. The handling is such that this generation Civic has become the de facto “car to have” in a couple classes of national-level SCCA autocross, with dozens showing up and taking trophies every year.

No, I wouldn’t spend $11,000 for this car, especially when I could buy a competitive autocrosser for less than half. (I think I still have jorts that fit.) But, even in the oh-so-’90s turquoise, this looks magnificent.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Davew833 Davew833 on Jan 27, 2016

    This is one of those cars I always thought I'd own someday, and then poof- they were all gone. My girlfriend had a red one in about '94 and it was fun to drive. I still tinker with old Hondas-- I've got three 3rd generation Accords- 2 '89s and an '87 LXi hatchback that I just picked up at an auction for $90. Yes, that's right, $90. It was a non- runner but after the sale it took me 10 minutes and a new main fuse to get it going. I'm guessing by the crocheted sunvisor covers it had that someone's grandma owned it originally. None of the three have any rust. I think when the apocalypse comes the only things left alive may well be old '80s - '90s Hondas and cockroaches.

  • Carauto Carauto on Jan 30, 2016

    Old Honda's and Toyota's are my favourite cars. This model of Civic is just beautiful. Shame about the colour of this one! There are still some really nice examples of this model cruising around in the UK, but I don't like it when people mod them so much that it looks too over the top. Kind of spoils the retro simplicity. Get the mix just right and they are something special to look at. It doesn't top the CRX though for me.

  • Arthur Dailey That is a cool car. Really hope that it somehow gets restored and back on the road in the future. As for single speaker on the dash radios. Those were still around in the early 1970's. We found a way as teenagers to live with them until we could afford to purchase a Sparkomatic or other after market radio and install it and some speakers.In the George Reeves' Adventures of Superman TV series they generally drove Nash vehicles and this car reminds me of the cars in that show.
  • Jeff This car is in remarkable condition especially the seats. Hudson Hornets were raced in the time of this car and won many car races despite having a flathead straight 6. This car looks very restorable but I guess the value makes it not worth it. Nice find.
  • Eliyahu Looks like the heater and the gauges were optional. Note the pull-out parking brake handle near them. The Hornet was also an AMC model later on. Kelvinator also made refrigerators at some point. They just don't make them like they used to-thank heavens!
  • SCE to AUX Now that's a bench seat!
  • 28-Cars-Later Seville - LS400Bhp 295 250Ft-tq 280 260Reliable No Yes