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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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]

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  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?
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