Rare Rides: The 1984 Honda City, a Microscopic Cabriolet From Japan

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1984 honda city a microscopic cabriolet from japan

Our last Rare Ride was a little first-generation Honda Civic from 1977. Since everyone seemed to like that little red box, today we bring you a little blue box from Honda. It’s a bit newer, and also a bit worse.

It’s the Honda City, and other applicable adjectives include Cabriolet and Pininfarina.

The first Honda City appeared in Japan in 1981 and was unusual on the Kei market. Sporting boxy styling which Honda called “Tall Boy,” the City had a raised roofline allowing for a more upright seating position.

This meant the City had legroom that compared favorably with cars in a larger size class. An instant hit in the Japanese market, the City was exported around the world — often labeled as the Jazz.

In addition to the Cabriolet, there were two, four, and five-seater versions (both hatchback and van varieties), and even one which came with a folding Honda Motocompo scooter mounted in the back. The extra weight certainly didn’t help motivate the City. Under its hood was a 1,231 cc, 44-horsepower inline-four engine.

The first-gen City was on the market between 1981 and 1986, and the Cabriolet joined the lineup in 1984. Built on the wide-body Turbo II version of the City, the Cabriolet was never available with a turbocharged engine.

Possibly one of the worst hinged trunks ever designed, the trunklid does not assist with the loading and unloading of cargo.

The awkward Pininfarina styling came with many standard features, and even a glass rear window. There were also 12 color choices that were off-limits to hatchback buyers. It looks like this one has air conditioning, which would’ve been installed by the Honda Clio dealership where it was first sold.

Japan was the only market to receive the Cabriolet, and only from 1984 to 1986. Future generations of the City did not have a convertible version.

This one is available in the pious and fireproof city of Los Angeles, and is a bit worse for wear. The seller is asking $3,2oo, which doesn’t seem that bad considering the trouble and expense one would have to go to in order to import an example from Japan.

And you can tell people you own a car designed by Pininfarina.

[Images via seller, Wikipedia]

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3 of 16 comments
  • SoCalMikester SoCalMikester on Dec 07, 2017

    basically a carbon copy of a 1979-1985 vw rabbit convertible which pininfarina also designed. same plaid fabric inserts, same top hinged useless trunk, same glass window and high rear boot stack, same "basket handle" rollover protection.

  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Dec 07, 2017

    I remember clearly all the hateful comments that owners of the first Honda cars had to endure! Wonder how many of the big mouth end up in later life owning a Honda car?

  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
  • Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.
  • Jbltg Rear bench seat does not match the front buckets. What's up?
  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )