Junkyard Find: 1986 Honda Civic 1300 Hatchback

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
The third-generation Honda Civic, built from 1984 through the 1987 model year, was a tremendous sales success in the United States. In places where rust wasn’t a big problem, they lasted for decades, and they were fun to drive for such frugal machines.Well, some of them were fun to drive; the fourth-gen Civics and CRXs with the 1500cc engines accelerated respectably by mid-1980s standard, but base-model 1300cc versions were on the miserable side. For that reason, few bought these cars, so this ’86 in a Denver self-service yard is an interesting Junkyard Find.
I see many fourth-generation Civics in the Colorado and California self-service wrecking yards I frequent, but only the Wagovans and the occasional CRX really catch my interest.
By 1986, four-speed manuals were yesterday’s news, and nearly all the three-pedal Civics sold then had five-speeds. But if you were looking to get the cheapest possible new Honda (that wasn’t a motorcycle), you got the 1300 hatchback with four-on-the-floor.
Under the hood, a non- CVCC SOHC engine displacing 1,342cc and generating 60 horsepower. That’s a lot more than the 48-horse Rabbit Diesel of a few years earlier had under the hood, but these cars still required a great deal of patience when climbing steep grades or using short freeway on-ramps. Fuel economy was impressive, though: 34 city, 39 highway MPG.
The CVCC system delivered excellent performance and efficiency but had become map-of-the-universe complex by 1986, due to the need for the dual-circuit rich/lean carburetor system to deal with far more variables than was necessary a decade earlier.These cars became nearly impossible to get through California’s ultra-strict emissions-testing regimen, when the BAR tightened tailpipe-emissions standards in the late 1990s.
The presence of the key means this car likely got to the junkyard via an insurance total or a dealership trade-in. Nobody would bid more than scrap value on a rough 31-year-old non-Si Civic at an auction, and so this place was the logical next step.
A typically boring U.S.-market ad for this car.
The Japanese-market ads weren’t much more exciting, at least not by the standards we have come to expect.
What a wonderful world!
Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • NoGoYo NoGoYo on Aug 15, 2017

    60 horsepower? Jeez...at least my 1987 Nova was rated at 75. Though I've also heard of the Toyota 4AC being rated at 90hp as well so I don't even know how much power it was actually supposed to have, just that what it had during my time owning it wasn't enough. And it was an automatic too!

  • Spamvw Spamvw on Aug 30, 2017

    At this point (1986) the mighty VW was throwing down 54 Horsepower. I had the a '78 and even that 48 HP was fast enough and could pull a dead Mother Jugs and Speed Ambulance at 40 MPH back from Ft. Lauderdale to the Navy Training Center in Orlando. Good Times, Good Times.

  • VoGhost Love this collective clutching of pearls over a vehicle name not a single commenter will ever see, drive or buy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Here's why" edition_cnn_com/2018/06/13/health/falling-iq-scores-study-intl/index.html
  • 28-Cars-Later Seriously, $85. GM Delta I is burning hot garbage to the point where the 1990 Saturn Z-body is leagues better. My mother inherited an '07 Ion with 30Kish otc which was destroyed in 2014 by a tipsy driver with a suspended license (driver's license enforcement is a joke in Pennsyltucky). Insurance paid out $6,400 when it was only worth about $5,800 IIRC, but sure 10 year later the "hipo" Delta I can fetch how much?
  • Buickman styling does not overcome powertrain, follow the money. labor/materials.
  • VoGhost It's funny, until CDK raises their prices to cover the cost. And then the stealerships do even more stealing because they're certainly not taking the hit - why do you think they make all those political donations? So who pays in the end?