It ceased being fun working at American Honda around the summer of 1993. Most of our senior managers in the sales division had recently been fired. In May, the New York Times published the first story about our executives soliciting bribes from dealers. The Justice Department was snooping around our US headquarters in Torrance, CA. The year before, our geniuses in Japan had dropped the ground-breaking CRX two-seater and stuck us with the dull del Sol. Over at Acura, our Honda Division castoffs were busy trying to figure out why the tepid 5-cylinder Vigor was not selling.
We were still stuck in the Civic-Accord-Prelude-del Sol mode. “We will never build trucks,” our execs had often proudly proclaimed. Now we found ourselves caught flat-footed as we followed the success of the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner SUVs. We needed a sport-ute yesterday, and it would take us a minimum of four years to develop one. We did what any self-respecting, high quality, loved-by-its-customers car company would do in this situation.
We called Isuzu.
As the owner of a much-loved 1992 Honda Civic (unfortunately, I’m not the only one who loves fifth-gen Civic hatchbacks), I know how hard it is to find parts for my V8-hauling hooptie at my local self-serve wrecking yard. The 1992-95 Civic has become to the 2010s what the ’57 Chevy was in the 1970s: the affordable car with great performance potential that all the 24-year-olds want. That means that these cars get picked clean within minutes of showing up at a low-price/high-inventory-turnover wrecking yard. The two-seat Del Sol version of the Civic is even harder to find in such yards; in fact, this is perhaps the third Del Sol I’ve seen in my last five years of junkyard crawling.