Junkyard Find: 1974 Honda Civic Hatchback

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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  • 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.

  • 2ACL What tickles me is that the Bronco looks the business with virtually none of the black plastic cladding many less capable crossovers use.
  • IBx1 For all this time with the hellcat engine, everything they made was pathetic automatic scum save for the Challenger. A manual Durango, Grand Cherokee, Charger, 300C, et al would have been the real last gasp for driving enthusiasts. As it is, the party is long over.
  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.