Rare Rides: A 1987 Honda Civic Wagovan 4WD, the Everybody Wagon

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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rare rides a 1987 honda civic wagovan 4wd the everybody wagon

This isn’t the first time we’ve presented a utility-minded multipurpose hatchback in the Rare Rides series. Rather, it’s very nearly the culmination of the major players in the segment. In addition to today’s ride, we’ve had the Colt Vista, and Nissan’s Prairie (now owned by an enthusiast collector), as well as a pristine and pricey Tercel 4WD Wagon.

After today, we’re missing just two: an Eagle Summit/Mitsubishi Expo, and the last-of-breed Nissan Axxess. Onward, to Wagovan.

The third-generation Honda Civic was wrapping up its tenure in 1987, as the Civic became larger and more American-friendly in 1988. The third generation presented Civic buyers with more body style options than in modern times. There was a three-door hatch, four-door sedan, and a five-door hatchback or “Wagovan,” in addition to the two-seat CRX “coupe.”

Though introduced for the 1984 model year, the Civic’s four-wheel drive system was modernized in 1987. Originally, the system was push-button in nature, requiring manual input from the driver to switch modes. 1987’s development made the switching automatic: power was sent to the rear wheels automatically when the front lost grip.

Proud of its achievement, Honda printed the automatic nature of the 4WD right on the steering wheel. This automatic all-wheel drive system also saw the implementation of “Realtime” terminology, which is still in use today on the CR-V (technically this model’s successor). Ground clearance of four-wheel drive models was a half inch greater than front-drive Wagovan versions.

Paired to the four-wheel drive system was a mandatory six-speed manual transmission. The box was comprised of five forward speeds, and one SL (Super-low) crawler gear. To the best of my knowledge, this Wagovan would have a 1.3-liter ZA1 series inline-four under the hood. Given the variance in Civic engines during the period, I’m prepared to be wrong here.

The Wagovan would live on through the fourth-generation Civic as well, bowing out after the 1991 model year. This later version attempted to broaden customer appeal by offering a four-speed automatic on all-wheel drive versions, in addition to the manual.

Today’s tan beauty is a high-mileage example out in Oregon, America, which is somewhat south of Vancouver, Canada. It has some excellent lace alloys and looks to be rust-free. The owner seems to know Wagovan well, and is asking $2,000.

[Images seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Writing things for TTAC since late 2016 from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find me on Twitter @CoreyLewis86, and I also contribute at Forbes Wheels.

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  • Lorenzo A union in itself doesn't mean failure, collective bargaining would mean failure.
  • Ajla Why did pedestrian fatalities hit their nadir in 2009 and overall road fatalities hit their lowest since 1949 in 2011? Sedans were more popular back then but a lot of 300hp trucks and SUVs were on the road starting around 2000. And the sedans weren't getting smaller and slower either. The correlation between the the size and power of the fleet with more road deaths seems to be a more recent occurrence.
  • Jeff_M It's either a three on the tree OR it's an automatic. It ain't both.
  • Lorenzo I'm all in favor of using software and automation to BUILD cars, but keep that junk off my instrument panel, especially the software enabled interactive junk. Just give me the knobs and switches so I can control the vehicle, with no interconnectivity of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts Modern cars detach people from their speed too much. The combination of tall ride height, super-effective sound insulation, massive power, and electronic aids makes people quite unaware of just how much kinetic energy is nominally under their control while they watch a movie on their phone with one hand and eat a Quarter Pounder with the other. I think that is the primary reason we are seeing an uptick in speed-related fatalities, especially among people NOT in cars.With that said, I don't think Americans have proven responsible enough to have unlimited speed in cars. Although I'd hate it, I still would support limiters that kick in at 10 over in the city and 20 over on the freeway, because I think they would save more than enough lives to be worth the pain.