By on October 29, 2018

1993 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

As the owner of a very battered fifth-generation Honda Civic, I’m always aware of examples of Honda’s 1992-1995 subcompact when I spot them during my junkyard travels. I see plenty of these cars with odometers showing better than 300,000 miles, but it has taken a frighteningly wretched-looking one to get me to whip out my camera while on a junkyard-photographing mission.

On a recent trip to grab a heater-temperature control knob for my car (lost in my garage clutter when I removed the dash during an ill-advised engine-swap-related rewiring job), I found this used-up ’93 sedan and decided that this high-mile veteran ought to be documented before it heads to The Crusher.

1993 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, odometer - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsApart from the fragile head gasket (never overheat a Honda D or B engine) and a tendency to dissolve in rust-prone regions, the fifth-generation Civic was one of the most reliable motor vehicles ever sold. Nearly all the examples I see in junkyards have more than 200,000 miles on the clock. I’m sure most junkyard 1970s and 1980s diesel Mercedes-Benzes racked up even more miles, but most of the ones I find have five-digit odometers or missing instrument clusters.

1993 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, D15B7 engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe sturdy D15B7 engine, rated at 103 horsepower. You have to spin the hell out of the this non-VTEC engine to get moving, and even then you won’t go very quickly. My trouble-free 200k-plus-mile D15B7 now sits on the garage floor, awaiting donation to a 24 Hours of Lemons Civic team that will kill it within hours.

1993 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, spray foam repair - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsTurn-signal light getting a little rattly? Spray foam to the rescue!

1993 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, rust - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThere’s some rust here, nothing too terrible but enough to knock the few remaining dollars out of this car’s potential resale value.

1993 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, RH rear view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsMembers of the fast-n-furious Civic-modder crowd prefer the hatchbacks for some reason, so there wasn’t much chance that one of the vape-and-big-eBay-turbo group would rescue this sedan.

1993 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, interior - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis is the exact same industrial-gray interior found in my car. Actually, it’s nicer than the interior in my car.

1993 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, HVAC controls - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI pulled the knob off the temperature slider, shot my last photograph of this car, and abandoned it to its fate.

In Japan, Jodie Foster helped move these cars off the showroom floor.

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31 Comments on “Junkyard Find: A 1993 Honda Civic DX Sedan With 323,486 miles...”

  • avatar

    I owned one new, in this very color, with a 5 speed. Great economy, great build quality and the worst understeer in the history of my world.

    This was the car that put me off front wheel drive for 15 years. After a year of that I sold the car and bought its antithesis, a 72 Sedan DeVille, as a replacement. I was not known for my great automotive judgment.

    • 0 avatar

      “I was not known for my great automotive judgment.” :-)

      Re: Murliee’s comment on rust, Japanese cars of this era were hugely improved over their predecessors of, say, 15 years earlier. Certainly certain models have had specific issues since then, but the industry (worldwide) already had turned the corner by ’93. In the ’70s, it seemed like everything without a Mercedes or Volvo badge was rust-prone, with Japanese cars being even worse than Detroit’s.

  • avatar

    When I was in college in 2007 I bought a ’95 VX with about 160k miles on it. I flew from BWI, through JFK, into Columbus Ohio to pick the car up for 3000 bucks and drove it back to the College Park, MD area in 1 very long day. Great car though! The ultra fuel-efficient VX model was only available in a hatch, only with a 5-speed manual, had extremely light-weight 13″ aluminum wheels with wheel barrow tires on it…it was the perfect, cheap and reliable vehicle for a college kid. I sold it about 5 years later with 225k miles on it. I got 2500 bucks for it the same weekend I listed it, even with a decent amount of rust now around the rear wheels.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a friend with the ace-of-base CX hatch. Unlike your cool VX which achieved astounding economy with the then-new VTEC-E 16 valve engine that kept one of the two intake valves closed at low engine speeds and lightweight alloy wgheels, the CX achieved it with absolutely minimal interior options, steelies, an 8 valve version of the D15, and long gears. I think he got 50mpg on longer trips.

    • 0 avatar

      The VX was really cool for what it was back then…having a 5-wire air/fuel ratio sensor instead of the typical up-stream oxygen sensor, lean-burn mode around 22:1, unique wheels and that VTEC-E engine, but like the CX it was also completely devoid of options. When the HX replaced it in the next generation, Honda positioned it near the top of the range with power everything and it still got very good fuel economy. I complain about fancy things as much as the next “enthusiast”, but I’ll take power windows over ye old window crank any day.

  • avatar

    I had not one but two ill-conceived and ill-fated attempts at ratty 5th gen Civic sedan ownership in highschool: both plans reloved around rusty and beat up stick shift 5th gen Civic sedans for sale for $200 in need of repairs. Both plans fell apart in the “driving a beat to crap car without plates or insurance” stage.

    Really nice cars, I would take a clean 5th gen over a current generation Civic any day of the week. The old car had a better put together, higher quality interior, much less garish design inside and out, and I’d take a weak-kneed but classic Honda revvy NA D15 with 103hp and a stick over the 1.5t+CVT in the new one, which has great numbers but is just an unpleasant bore to drive.

    • 0 avatar

      The older models arent fat either, Ive had to drive a few -07 to 10 Hondas and im always suprised at how clumsy they feel to park, especially the later Accords.

      As for the interior, Im confident the entire dashs of them are made from melted down lunch boxes. Nothing but super hard plastic.

  • avatar

    My mother bought one of these in the late 90s after her (justifiably) favorite 91 Accord got totalled. The Civic was so slow, uncomfortable, and bleak, nothing as pleasant or enjoyable to drive as the Accord. She could only stand it a few months before going to a used Rav4, then another, then another…

  • avatar

    If these cars and their successors were only getting 103 horsepower, then why in the hell did so many of my generation covet these cars like a young guy would have coveted a V8 muscle car in the ’70s?

    Of course I know the Honda enthusiasts increased the horsepower by modding these engines within an inch of its life, but the gain in HP had to have been, what, 20 extra HP? Maybe 50-60 extra HP if you weren’t afraid of the longevity of the engine?

    And they were so noisy. Sooooo noisy! That was the breaking point as to why I hated these cars so much, even though they did NOT come from the factory that way.

    I’m pretty sure that these blasted things will be the classics brought to car shows when my generation starts to get silver hair. Same with other Civics newer than these, in addition to Integras, RSXes, Imprezas, WRXes, 350z, whatever Infiniti coupe based off of the 350z is called, and so on.

    • 0 avatar

      B16 swap yo! /Welcome to the 90s

    • 0 avatar

      The young guys in your generation were not coveting the DX trim… (nor the CX, LX, EX, or VX trims)

    • 0 avatar

      It’s what was cheap and on the ground at the time, when they’re not being modified with whatever wings and mufflers, aside from the obnoxious noise they’re still reliable commuter cars that can get 30+ mpg. The Hondas in particular were kind of disproportionately fun to drive and fast “feeling” behind the wheel, even when something like a 3800 powered Lesabre would embarrass even a slightly worked over Civic still running the stock D-series engine. Once the shipping/import channels were established and guys started to get comfortable with drop-in engine swaps (B16/B18, H22) the cars started to get quicker and a few years later custom turbo setups started to show up and the cars got REALLY fast (and a propensity to blow up). A B16-swapped Civic with even a fairly rudimentary turbo setup pushing 220-250hp in something the weighs 2200lb is a $5000 total investment that goes like stink. Of course Neon SRT-4 and VW 1.8T and DSM guys are similar except they just need to tweak the boost and hope it doesn’t blow up, but the Hondas were there early on, and were cheap to buy, and developed the biggest aftermarket early on.

      Most of the guys that started out with Civics moved up to G35s, Corvettes, BMWs, etc once they started making more money, some are now the same guys snapping up pricey 1990s import-crowd legends like MKIV Supras and such. Much like a guy driving a primered 6cyl valiant with a jacked up rear end and white letter tires that made it big can now go back and pay crazy money for a pricey optioned up Hemi Mopar.

    • 0 avatar

      I always thought the same thing about the engine swaps. If I’m replacing an entire engine I want gains much higher than 30hp.

      Being an early 20’s and into cars at the turn of the century I was very aware of the import tuning crowd. I was wrenching at a Nissan/Acura dealer at the time and was surrounded by them. I remember one guy I worked with unloaded his Honda Civic for a then-new Sentra Spec-V and was excited that his hp and torque ratings matched (a whopping 170ish of both). I was driving a ’98 Camaro Z28 at the time and with ~300hp and 330 ftlbs of torque it felt like these people were in an entirely different reality. One guy at work completely stripped the interior of his modified ’98 Civic hatch and made it to the low 14’s. I was beating that from the factory with a quiet, full leather interior. I let a guy with a pretty worked-over ’01 MR2 take my Camaro around the block once and it was like a Baptist finding out God is a hoax…I don’t think he ever truly appreciated his car again.

      To commute, I’ll take the Civic. For fun, 130hp and 100 ftlbs isn’t gonna do it.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      PentastarPride, the Honda Civic DX was simply the lightest weight Honda car that would accept more powerful Honda/Acura engine that would bolt right in. It’s like coveting a Chevy II/Nova for the small block Chevy engine you built.

  • avatar

    These cars started out as nondescript, inexpensive commuters or simple transportation for students, new grads, teachers, bank tellers, secretaries and grandmas, though. That’s what I never could understand.

    • 0 avatar

      Same as Novas and Dusters before that, or Model T’s going back even further. Doesn’t matter what it is, someone’s going to want to make it go faster.

    • 0 avatar

      First new car out of college was a 1994 Civic EX slushbox Sedan in Torino Red with gray interior. Drove like my Mom’s prior-generation Civic EX Sedan (which was literally a CR-X Si engine and chassis with a sedan body), except with a more mature feel! Interior was well-appointed, with floor mats that actually had some thickness to them! A/C and 3-channel all-disc ABS brakes were standard, along with intake VTEC. (This was the mid-cycle update year, for which Honda added dual airbags across the range, and body-colored mirrors on the EXs and Si models. They also added ABS to the LX Sedan as an option—might have been just that model year.)

    • 0 avatar

      > these cars started out as nondescript, inexpensive commuters

      These were not inexpensive, at least not in Canada. The alternative was the Neon, Cavalier or Escort. This was king-of-the-hill pricing at the time, the height of 90’s Japanese pay more and get minimal pricing. I had one for 20 years; mechanically a damn fine car. When these were new so were so smooth and quiet… at city driving anyway. As they age and the exhaust system goes through various stages of rust and repair, they do get louder and more boom-y.

    • 0 avatar

      Didn’t the first Mustang (1964.5) start out as a car for secretaries? Today, it has secured its place in history. Civics and their cousins may not rank as high, but because so many were sold, there’s a lot of love to spread around.

  • avatar

    This was a good generation of Civic for sure. In the mid-90’s I knew a girl in college that had a VX coupe with the 5 speed. She lived a couple states away and had the ignominious honor of receiving 3 speeding tickets in three states in a single day while going home for Christmas break. Lost her license for something like a year as I recall. I was one of the few people she knew who could drive a stick, so I got to drive her car a few times shuttling her around. This included one memorable road trip to the next college town over (about 90 miles away) loaded up with 5 people. I remember having to wait for huge gaps in traffic in order to execute left turns, but boy did that little beast get great fuel economy. Nobody had to pitch in more than $2 for gas on that trip.

    No idea what happened to her or the car, but I like to think it had a nice long life.

  • avatar

    The most amazing fact about this was not stolen during its 325K mile long life!!! Was this NorCal or Colorado?

    (Mine lasted a cool 1 year before getting stripped to the metal and stolen for parts)

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve never lived in a high car theft area, nor driven a car that was high on the list of “most stolen” vehicles, but there’s a good chance that my parents, early next year, are going to sell me an extremely clean 2001 Accord (dealer maintained, always garaged, had it since new, 111,000 miles). For about the first time ever, theft has crossed my mind as I’m guessing there’s a very good market for ’01 Honda parts.

  • avatar

    I grew up in that era. When in high school every one wanted one and mod it with aftermarket parts, and girls like that kind of cars.

    Yup, a Buick or Chevy would be faster but the cool factor (mainly whether it will get the attention of girls) are just not there for the domestic muscle, girls would think that you took your dad’s old beater out for a ride.

  • avatar

    My wife had a red metallic 93 EX that had the bigger 125 HP engine, sunroof, 5 speed. It was the quietest car we have ever owned and the most reliable. I can’t remember anything at all going wrong it… nothing! I put wider wheels and low profile tires on it to improve the handling but even “as is” it was a great little car. This was back when Honda’s dash layout was still logical and user friendly.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the Jodi Foster videos. At 3:04, it could have easily been a Mentos commercial.

  • avatar
    Lamp Wick

    I just purchased a running rolling,unmolested 93 DX w/ 299 on the clock. Drove it home,and have been driving it for the last three days. …o,and I paid 3 bills for it

    • 0 avatar

      > I just purchased a running rolling,unmolested 93 DX w/ 299 on the clock.

      I have a ’92 Accord, in brilliant shape inside and out, bone stock, runs great after some minor maintenance, 148K when bought, 165k now.

      I have now doubt that the reason it was unmolested and well cared for by mature adults is because it’s an automatic.

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