By on September 8, 2020

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOnce Honda started building second-generation Accords in Ohio, the limits of the Voluntary Export Restraint agreement between Japanese automakers and the United States government ceased to mean much for American Honda shoppers. The third-generation Accord debuted in the 1986 model year and sales of these Marysville-built cars boomed. Most were sensible, low-priced Accord DX hatchbacks and sedans, but some rakehell Accord shoppers went for the sporty fuel-injected coupes packed with snazzy options. Here’s one of those cars, a 1989 LX-i Coupe in a Denver-area yard.

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, decklid emblem - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe ’89 Accord coupe line started with the carbureted DX for $11,650, moved up to the plusher, fuel-injected LX-i at $14,690, and reached its zenith with the loaded $16,975 SE-i (those prices come to about $24,925, $31,430, and $36,320, respectively, in 2020 dollars). The DX 3-door hatchback cost a mere $11,230 (if you could find a rare American dealer who wasn’t charging way above MSRP in 1989, of course).

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsPop-up headlights were all the rage around this time (remember how common “one-eyed” cars with one light stuck shut or open were back then?), but the Accord lost them when the fourth-generation cars appeared for the 1990 model year.

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis 2.0-liter A20 engine made a strong (for 1989) 120 horsepower in a car weighing just over 2,600 pounds.

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, gearshift - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWith a 5-speed manual transmission, which this car has, the ’89 Accord LX-i was nearly as quick as its Prelude Si cousin.

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, cruise control - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car boasts cruise control, power windows, power remote side mirrors, air conditioning, and other goodies that were still considered high-end options in the small cars of the late 1980s.

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, gauges - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsMost of the Accords of the 1980s that I find in junkyards will show at least 200,000 miles on the odometer (and a few have better than 400,000 miles on the clock), but this car barely squeezed into six-figure territory during its 31 years on the planet.

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, service manual - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsPerhaps this car’s final owner just couldn’t figure out how to solve its mechanical problems, even with the excellent-quality factory service manual still in the car on its final journey.

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, aluminum wheel - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI haven’t been able to learn much about these factory aluminum wheels with the specs (including bead type) molded into the metal, but they don’t seem to be the wheels that were on this car when it left the showroom.

It seems that Honda pushed the sedan and wagon versions of the Accord much more heavily than the coupes, so we’ll watch a home-market sedan commercial featuring music by Gershwin.

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21 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe...”

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    I had an ’87 LXi hatch (couldn’t find a coupe in my price range at the time) in this color combo. Later a ’91 EX sedan in those same colors too, come to think of it. I think the paint was called “Seattle Silver.”

    130K miles? Had to be something fairly catastrophic and more expensive to fix than the car was worth. Otherwise this would be a nice low mileage car.

    Those look like Prelude wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Is it Seattle Silver or Laguna Gold?

      I swear, Honda must have accidentally left off a decimal on the order of whatever color this is because when I think of this and the next generation Accord, this is the color I think of.

      Agreed, I think those are Prelude wheels though they look appropriate to the car, perhaps it was a common upgrade at the time.

  • avatar

    I had a white ’86 LXi hatchback, bought used sometime in the mid-90s when I got out of college. The first and only time I’ve ever had a clutch cable snap was with this car; drove it a few blocks to the nearby mechanic all in first gear. Red light on the way and I had to detour round a grocery store parking lot since I couldn’t stop without stalling the car.

    Nonetheless it was a good car for the time; used to haul a pair of 12″ woofer PA speaker cabinets I used for local punk rock shows. Also was able to fit in the amplifiers, cables, microphones, etc. It was also my 90-minute a day commuter car and got fantastic gas mileage. When I later moved into the city, I would only put in a tank or so of gas a month.

    Traded in for a ’94 Nissan hardbody 2WD truck. Later purchased a ’87 DX to replace an oil burning ’94 Saturn SL that my wife had. The DX felt underpowered compared to the FI of the LXi.

    Oh and in Michigan both cars were rusting around the gas tank door. My poor man rustoleum / bondo job didn’t last very long.

  • avatar

    I learned to drive on a 5-speed 1988 Accord sedan (carburetted!). The interior on this ’89 coupe is identical to the ’88 sedan and brings me right back to my driving lessons.

    Some of the details are interesting:
    2. only 3 bolts hold the valve cover down
    3. the numerous vacuum lines coming from the intake manifold
    4. those cool turbine alloy wheels are ruined by the embossing of the wheel specs
    5. is there a filter attached to the back of the intake manifold?
    6. the red Tune Up Specifications sticker under the hood is great nostalgia.

    • 0 avatar

      I learned on my dad’s 87 hatch. Total base model, I believe the only option was a passenger side mirror and the cargo cover if that wasn’t standard. It was a light blue with a blue interior. He got great service from that car over 9+ years and 312,000 km. It was still running well but was hitting that point of rust (southern Ontario) and potential repairs, I think it was due for another timing belt and the clutch was original that made him replace it. I don’t remember any major repairs over the years that weren’t usual maintenance type things. I think it is still the favourite car he ever owned.

  • avatar

    I had an 88 DX sedan, my first new car. Owned it 14 years. 270,000 miles. Polar white with red/brown interior, dealer installed A/C, factory cruise (they all had cruise), and nothing else. 12,669.50 out the door, I just happen to remember. I drove it everywhere, including down 40 miles of dirt road to see Grosvenor arch in Utah on a road that made Jeeps turn around.

  • avatar

    Body looks so solid, only 129,000 miles.
    Premature death I’d say.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Had an ’86 sedan. bought new. The nomenclature in Canada for the sedans was slightly different as I remember there being an LX and an EX. Mine had a manual transmission and dealer installed air.

    It was a ‘very good’ car. Particularly in comparison to its ‘competition’. The transmission was a pleasure to shift. The interior was comfortable. Check out the velour upholstery. Wish that was available on more vehicles now. And per Richard Hammond, ‘pop up’ headlights always increase the ‘cool factor’.

    • 0 avatar

      The sedan and coupe were: LX carbureted, EX-i with fuel injection and all the power goodies and SE-i added leather, alloys and, I believe, a power moonroof (plus some exciting colour options).

      The hatchback was available only as the S model, which was carbureted but with a rear sway bar not available on the base sedan.

  • avatar

    I’ve owned a ’83 Honda hatch, an ’85 sedan, and an ’87 sedan. Those went from 75 HP to 86, to 98, but the cars kept getting heavier. The hatch was a 5-speed, but the sedans were automatics.

    I had trouble with all three transmissions, even the 5-speed that had a cracked case. That cost more than it was worth to fix, so I sold it to a guy for parts. The ’85 had to have the transmission rebuilt at 86k ($1180), and it was nickel and diming me for the next two years, so I so I sold it to a Honda mechanic.

    The ’87 also needed a new transmission, it also had a cracked case at 107k, and I traded it for a year old ’95 Altima that I owned for 19 years – and it’s still running for its third owner.

    This car probably had a transmission problem too expensive to fix, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t a cracked aluminum case. New and rebuilt Honda transmissions are very expensive, as I found out with the ’85.

  • avatar

    In 2001, I bought a heavily used 1989 Accord LX-i four door. It only had 156,000 miles and drove great. A few months later I found out that the previous owner towed heavy U-haul trailers with it and never did any transmission service on it. Once I was driving on the HWY and the car just ran out of power..engine on, revving but not going anywhere. I stopped, turned engine off and was looking for a tow truck. Fifteen minutes later I tried it again and the car drove without any issues. A transmission shop told me that the transmission was abused and there was a lot of shavings in there. In certain instances the transmission filter would get clogged with shavings and starve the other transmission chambers of fluid. A rebuild transmission was $1500 but I paid $500 for the car. In total I drive it for about 8 months until someone slammed on their brakes and I hit them slightly in the back. Needed radiator and other small things but I sold it for $200. Great car.

  • avatar

    ‘88 LX-i Sedan, Chateau Red Metallic/Beige interior which was exclusive to the LX-i as it was the top model for ‘88.
    High School Graduation present. My father still fumes to this day that it’s the only car he ever paid full sticker price. The dealer originally wanted $500 over, but few phone calls and “friend of a friend” made that disappear. Sold it 3 years later for $1000 less than original MSRP.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Honda stuck with carburetors longer than anyone else because they could, because their engines ran cleaner than most. Even my 85 H-body Lebaron GTS was FI, with only a few vacuum lines.

    It’s possible the owner(s) never serviced the transmission in this one, and the 31-year-old fluid gave up trying. But who knows, it might have needed new fuel/brake lines, electrical work, or a suspension overhaul. Too bad for such a clean car, but I’d be wary of driving that deathtrap today.

    • 0 avatar

      Then again, if the manual transmission in this car is like my ’15 Accord, then the filler plug might have been super duper torqued at the factory and nearly impossible to break loose with hand tools. (Maybe it’s only a few cars, buy apparently I’m not the only owner of a manual ’15 who’s had this issue.)

  • avatar

    I could never see the point of the Accord coupe when the had the Prelude. I really liked the hatchback in this generation, looked like a mini Supra. I had an 84 Accord hatch, good car for the most part, but when temps dropped to freezing it would run on 3 cylinders til it warmed up, one time it was on 2 cylinders. I had it in SoCal then Hawaii, so wasn’t a problem very often.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      That was too cold spark plugs. I had the same problem on my ’83 when I moved from San Diego to Seattle. One range higher had it running like a top. Common problem according to the shop I took it to, who knew the problem as soon as I told him.

  • avatar

    These Hondas were not maintenance free, but were better than what most American cars reliability was at the time. I had 1980 Accord automatic bought new. Over the next 7 years and 50,000 miles, it went through 3 water pumps and one transmission repair (having lost reverse). Fortunately I had bought an extended warranty from the dealer and they honored it. After 5-6 years it wouldn’t start and I had it towed to the dealer. They said the carburetor floats had cracked and sunk and the dealer repaired it under a Honda recall. They even paid for the tow!!!! Since 1980, I and my extended family have owned at least a dozen Hondas, mostly Accords, but now, with a few CR-Vs sneaking in. It wasn’t just the reliability, its that they were very pleasant to drive.

  • avatar

    A one pwner, 1989 LX-i was the first car that I ever bought that had over 100k miles on it! I jumped into Honda’s because of my sister’s experience w/ them. Mine is 5 spd, white w/ burgundy velour interior, and has over 215,000+ miles on it. The transmission lost 5th gear in 1999, and was replaced. Initially, I was looking at the hatchback, but I’m glad I settled on the coupe instead. The look of the Prelude just never attracted me.

  • avatar

    This makes me sad because these are wonderful cars and nearly impossible to kill. This generation of Accord, especially the FI LX-i are legitimately 250k-300k cars. I’ve had half a dozen of these. The unmodified condition and pristine interior make me think it was probably grandma or grandpa’s car and no one wanted to mess with it when they were gone… or perhaps it was passed on to a grandchild who drove it until the timing belt broke, the clutch went out or the tranny lost 5th gear. Engines on these are non-interference so even if the timing belt had broken it’s just a matter of putting a new one on. Sad that this one ended up being junked. That engine compartment is spotless!

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