Junkyard Find: 2003 Honda Civic GX, CNG-fueled

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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.
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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  • 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?

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  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.