Junkyard Find: 1974 Honda Civic Hatchback

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1974 honda civic hatchback

The first-generation Honda Civic sold very well in the United States, but it’s just about impossible to find early examples in junkyards these days; I’ve managed to photograph a few ’78s for this series and that’s it. Why? The cars in rust-prone areas dissolved quickly and those in low-corrosion regions got driven to death well before the beginning of our current century. Here’s the oldest discarded 1973-1979 Civic I’ve managed to find since at least the late 2000s.

It got picked over thoroughly by the local Honda fanatics before I got to it, so nearly all of the interior had been ripped out.

While Honda USA offered a “Vinyl Roof Decor” option in 1974, this car appears to have some sort of aftermarket top. Perhaps a dealer installed it, or maybe the car’s original owner brought it to one of the many shops that installed custom vinyl roofs during the middle 1970s.

In any case, the top encouraged some scary body rust over the decades.

The CVCC engine wasn’t available on US-market Civics until 1975, so this is the ordinary 1.2-liter straight-four, rated at 52 horsepower. This car weighed only 1,536 pounds, so 52 horses made it reasonably fun to drive.

The hatchback version cost $2,250, which was a full hundred bucks more than the goofy Civic sedan with its weird little “trunk” opening in back. That comes to $12,700 and $12,135, respectively, in 2021 dollars, making the 1974 Civic one of the best new-car deals of its era and maybe of all time.

Of course, the Civic was a somewhat unknown quantity from a company best-known for motorcycles in the early 1970s; it wasn’t until a few years later that American car shoppers realized that Honda cars were good drivers that held together amazingly well (if you could keep them away from road salt).

The Hubert’s Lemonade bottle as a temporary fuel tank indicates that this car sat for many years before someone made an attempt to get it to move under its own power again. Most likely, that final drive was just down the driveway to a waiting tow truck from U-Pull-&-Pay.

The CVCC stratified-charge system made the Civic even better, though the system got frighteningly complicated by a decade later.

Back in the Civic’s homeland in 1974, the CVCC was the future.

For links to more than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, be sure to visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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2 of 23 comments
  • APaGttH APaGttH on Mar 17, 2021

    Learned to drive in one of these with an auto.

  • Safeblonde Safeblonde on Mar 17, 2021

    Had a light blue '75. Ran it dry of oil and Motorwerks (reluctantly) rebuild the engine. Ran it some more. Rear-ended a cherry '70 GTO, twisting the frontend. Ran it some more after headlights replaced running with that twisted frontend. Painted roof in my college colors (no vinyl on mine). Got sick of it and sold it to junkyard. Junkyard covered my roof with a rack and resold it. It was still running into the mid-80s.

  • Legacygt Great review. I've only driven one Wilderness model (an Outback provided as a dealer loaner) and I found the handling a little sloppy on-pavement. It's good to hear they managed to give the Crosstrek the Wilderness treatment without hurting the on-pavement experience.And this is the first time I've read a review that dared to criticize Star Tex seats. I find the material interesting and low maintenance and fairly comfortable but I totally agree that it rates very poorly for breathability. It's so bad that I think Subaru should offer it with some sort of ventilated option. 5 minutes on a hot day and you're sitting in a pool of sweat.
  • Analoggrotto Too bad they don't sell Kia Telluride, the greatest selling vehicle in it's class over the pond in the UK who burned Washington DC down but that's ok.
  • Analoggrotto Kia Telluride never faced such problems and now offers a superior offroad trim for those times where soccerdad needs to go get the white claws from costco.
  • Zerofoo There's a joke here somewhere about Tim's used car recommendations, Tassos, and death traps.
  • Tassos Subaru really knows how to take fugly to ever higher levels, and sell every one of the (of course very few) it makes. As if the number of sales negates the fugliness.Don't hold your breath. I bet this will NOT be the vehicle James Bond arrives at the Casino in Monte Carlo with in his next flick. (if any)