Junkyard Find: 2003 Honda Civic GX, CNG-fueled

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2003 honda civic gx cng fueled
The compressed natural gas-burning Honda Civic GX first appeared in the United States in 1998, for sale to fleet buyers, but individuals in California were able to buy Civic GXs soon after that. In spite of its extremely clean tailpipe emissions, few Californians opted to endure the hassle of trying to refuel the GX, and so these cars are very rare sights in the Golden State.Here’s a crashed example I spotted a few weeks ago in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard.
The GX cost more and had less power than an ordinary gasoline-burning Civic, so there were two big reasons for Californians to buy one: to pollute less, and (probably more important to most) to be allowed to drive solo in the carpool lane (a huge inducement in a state that has the worst freeway congestion in the country).These days, you’ll see these decals all over the Bay Area, mostly on hybrid-electric and full-electric vehicles, but in 2003 there weren’t many Toyota Priuses and Honda Insights on the road and daily-driven EVs were nearly unheard of.
The D17A7 engine in the GX ran at higher compression than its gasoline-fed counterparts, thanks to the anti-detonation properties of CNG. In 2003, it generated 100 horsepower and drove the front wheels via a CVT. Not exciting to drive, but clean.
CNG is pretty cheap if you can find a filling station, so the per-mile cost to drive this car was a little bit cheaper than a gasoline Civic. CNG-powered vehicle drivers can install a home-refueling station that compresses household natural gas and puts it in the car’s tanks, so maybe that’s how the owner of this car rolled before the crash.
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  • Kefkafloyd Kefkafloyd on Aug 22, 2017

    CNG makes a lot of sense for a variety of things but it does have downsides versus regular petroleum cars. For trucks and buses, though, it's a complete win. The hybrid CNG-electric buses have cut emissions considerably in the state of Massachusetts and they're cheaper to run to boot.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Aug 22, 2017

    That's gotta be the most optimistic speedometer I've ever seen. 150mph?