Vitamin C: 1974 Honda Civic

Did you have your orange juice this morning? If not, here’s another chance to get your daily dose of Vitamin C. This juicy 1974 Honda Civic is one sweet pick. It can be found on Craigslist with an asking price of $6,500, the price of approximately 6,000-10,000 oranges, or over 2.5 times what it originally cost. Did any of you think that these cars would be collectible a few decades ago? Coincidentally, this orange Civic is located in Orange County California – Aliso Viejo, to be exact.

Like the Subaru GL from a couple of days ago, is this the nicest all-original Civic on the planet? There are a couple of flaws with the interior, but body-wise, it looks fantastic. And, did I mention that it reportedly has a few ticks over 14,000 miles on it? In 1974, Honda added some bumper real estate to meet US regulations, so maybe a 1973 model would be the way to go, but that’s only if you can find one of those in similar condition, which may be tough to do. There are a couple of underside photos and they show a clean car underneath, too.

Yes, this sweet, bright, beautiful, factory-applied orange paint is 100% original! That alone is amazing, this car must have been stored for decades. You can see that there’s a badge missing on the rear, that’s fairly common, unfortunately. And, how sad of a world is it when it’s “fairly common” for people to steal badges off of other peoples’ vehicles?! I’ve seen anything from “Civic” to “5-Speed” (first available in 1974), to “Hondamatic” badges there, and I’ve also seen it where there are no badge mounting holes. What’s your guess as to what that badge would have said?

There are no overall interior photos, which is unusual with the wealth of other photos provided, but there are a lot of close-up, detail photos. You can see that other than the driver’s seat bottom, things look very, very tidy and clean. The tears on the driver’s seat are hopefully just on the surrounding black vinyl, not the pattern in-fill material. That would be a cheap, easy fix. The backseat looks new as does pretty much everything else. Although, new pedal rubber would be a nice touch. Could there be that much wear on the pedals after only 14,000 miles? This is a 4-speed car, not the optional 5-speed.

This is the lone photo of the 1,238 CC, 1.2L inline-four. This one should have around 53 hp. This is not the famous CVCC engine, but that was an option in 1974. 52-53 hp isn’t a lot but this car only weighs a little over 1,500 pounds! Have you seen a nicer original Civic? I’m not sure if I have.

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Comments

  1. macvaugh

    No way that’s a 14K mile car. Some of those wheels have had four weights on them in different locations, the gear shift lever shaft is well worn, at least to the tune of 114K, if not more.

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  2. BH

    A missing, or misaligned, badge is usually a clear sign that a car has been repainted — since the badges are taken off as part of that process.

    The first Hondas were not as popular as the later ones — in the early 80s. I wouldn’t say they would have been rare, but likely not as common in that era as a VW Beetle (or Chevy Impala, for that matter).

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    • Brad

      As noted in other comments this car has not had a badge removed. The 1974 1200 came with either a Hondamatic or a 4 speed. The 4 speed was the standard base model and came with only rubber plugs in the holes. In the US starting in 1975, Honda offered their CVCC/1500. It had an optional 5 speed (not offered in the station wagon) that also used these same holes for a 5 speed emblem. This car does appear to have 114000 miles but does appear to have original paint. A comment on the pedals. This car in 1974, did not come with a rubber or plastic gas pedal cover. It was just a painted black steel pedal. A plastic cover was standard in later years. These cars were very popular and due to gasoline shortages at the time these 1st Generation Civics really put Honda on the auto sales map in the US. Although they don’t bring huge money when sold now, they have a strong following in the classic car market and are still quite popular.

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  3. CaymanDave

    Had one of these in California a diesel , had 300K on it when it blew so much smoke I’d get calls from the state. Back then it was exemp, as a diesel, and I told those left wing nuts that tan kep driving it till it died. LOL I hope the do leave the union good luck with that.
    You’ll need a passport to go to New York. LOL

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    • Woodie Man

      LOL……..only fair then that the rightwing nuts need a passport to come out where the sun shines and the cars aren’t rusted, wouldn’t you say? There will be extreme vetting.

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    • Mike

      Kind of like all those people who threatened secession after Obama won in 2012?

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  4. Mark S

    When my wife and first started out after we got married we were pretty poor. We went through three of these cars. They were great little cars that were easy to fix and cheep to run. Each one of the cars that we had in successions was a parts car for the next. What end their lives was rust, so I was always on the hunt for replacements with less rust then our then current car. The last one I had I bought had a blown motor with two con rod laying in the oil pan, but I had two spare motors in my shed. ( point of interest with the help of a hoist I was able to change the motor over and running in 90 minutes). I payed $50.00 For the last car drove it four years and sold it for $300.00. I can’t say enough good things about these cars.

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  5. Car Guy

    I drove a yellow one of these brand new. They weren’t fast, but had decent interior room for their size. The vinyl trim was very thin and cheap looking but car was inexpensive to start with. These were the standard bumpers on the US cars. A smaller bumper was not offered.

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  6. Rodney

    Nothing like buying your youth back. Drove one like this across the the country in the 1970’s. Fun but a bit crazy. Missing rear badge most likely said CVCC referring to the engine. That said, proceed with caution. Pedal wear and shift wear do not say 14,000 miles. A stunning looking example of a car you never see anymore. A very careful PPI is a must for this vehicle at this price. Parts are getting harder to locate.

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  7. Bear

    VERY NICE looking car. Obviously well cared for.
    BUT (as others have noted) it probably has 114K miles on it (not 14K, as stated). (…that misleading statement of “fact” is usually enough to make me RUN AWAY from any potential car deal!)
    But IF you are an early Honda fan, & IF you can have the car inspected mechanically prior to purchase, PERHAPS a potential buyer could talk some sense into the seller & get the price down to a level that is more in line with a very nice 114K mile example.
    (I’d give the seller the opportunity to state that he is only guessing on actual mileage, and let the mechanic provide an accurate estimate of true mileage. Again, I’m betting 114K miles!) 🙂

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  8. Jubjub

    Still a cool little car regardless of miles. There is no missing badge on the rear. My ’79 4 speed had those little tits, but my Hondamatic had its badge right there.

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  9. Puhnto

    My father-in-law had one just like this. Same color and everything. He let us use it while our old Saab 95 (wagon) was off the road. Great little car. Took four adults and a kid up over the Wasatch in the dead of winter. Had that thing for years.

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  10. Ken Nelson

    I bought one of these, same yr, in Salt Lake City and hauled it back to Michigan. The car ran all over the road until I realized it had bias ply tires on it, and I’d always driven Citroens or Borgwards with radials & had never experienced bias tires. I thought the front suspension was shot! I put on some cheap radials and all of a sudden it was a decent driver. But after hunting spare parts in Detroit area junkyards and seeing that the yard cars were crumbling from rust, with the shock towers gone – one guy welded bed frame angle iron to tower tops to keep them from wandering. Then I heard from a knowledgeable source that they rusted so badly Honda was buying them back to crush them! They wanted to save their reputation & melted all they could find, then worked on their next model and rustproofing. When I saw those yard cars, I immediately listed it for sale & got rid of it to some guy who hadn’t done his homework – had a sweet engine but not enough structural life for me & family!

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  11. RoughDiamond

    I remember a friend of a neighborhood kid had an orange one that had a rear badge that read “CVCC 5-Speed”.

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  12. milotus

    I remember seeing these in San Francisco,when new.
    I believe they were around $2500.I thought about buying one then.

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  13. Woodie Man

    Had a ’78 CVCC 5 spd with a big fat black racing stripe on it in 1980. Ran like a bat outta hell. Got a ticket on the 405 trying to get to an LA hospital ….doing 95 …..back when you traffic actually moved on the 405

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  14. Tirefriar

    My father was a Honda fan, he put over 20k on a ’78 Accord. I had several of these. The most fun was the 5-speed. IIRC, it had a tach & speedo in the main cluster. fuel and water temp gauges were in a separate small gauge cluster on the dash. It got wrecked on a 5 freeway. I had a big Chrysler swing into my lane, hit my left fender and wheel, broke left outer tie rod. Sent me across the freeway into a center divider but I walked away. The other I had was a Hondamatic, my father’s attempt to cramp my driving style.

    These are surprisingly roomy upfront. With the passenger seat pushed all the way back and reclined, there was room for two, ahem… Great for drive-ins… Oh, just to be young again…

    The 4speeds did not have any additional badges other than what you see here. With 1.2 L not much you can do but drop a 1.5 with a 5 speed. Being a ’74 no need for smog, do header, turbo and whatever else your heart desires.

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  15. steve m

    I cant believe no one mentioned the blue one in Police Academy (the movie), where Hightower ( a tall character played by Bubba Smith) learned to drive in one, he was so tall he ripped out the front seat and drove from the back.

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  16. Derek Willburn

    I had 3 of these cars with the 1175cc all aluminium motors. I rebuilt 2 of the motors and drove them all into the ground practicing for Formula One LOL. I would take the air cleaner off to get the cool sound like a Weber. Leave the bonnet unlatched so it raised up at the rear going 80mph. Brings back memories

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  17. Bob S

    Seems Barn Finds like to show ads with suspicious claims about mileage and originality. Seat is sacked, underside coated in Black goo with rust peeking through, and the paint is shiny outside and dull and worn inside. Sure looks original to me.

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    • Howard A Member

      Bob, I don’t think BF’s has any connection to that claim. It’s merely a portal to see “what’s out there”. Never ceases to amaze me what sellers will do to sell their car, and the claims they make. Remember 50 years ago? “Driven by a little old lady to church on Sundays”. That motto sold a lot of cars, I bet.

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  18. Howard A Member

    This was the car that changed everything for Honda, I feel. The 600 was a novelty toy, but this was a real car. Mr. Honda had to be the sharpest ( marketing) person on the planet. He did exactly with cars, what he did with motorcycles a decade earlier. Give the public dependable, economical vehicles everybody could afford, kind of the modern day Henry Ford.( has that ever been said?) Unlike the Vega, you could literally “drive the doors” off these things, and many made it to the junkyard, running just fine. It took years, if ever, until US car makers caught up to Honda. While you’d rarely find one of these with 114g’s on it in the midwest, which I’m sure this has, it shouldn’t scare anybody away. Wonderful find of a very important car. I’d love to have an early Civic wagon, anybody got one???( crickets chirping)

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  19. KeithK

    Here I go again posting another “I worked on these when new ” stories. Well, I did and these were ok cars with the exception of the headgasket and oil pump drive gears. These cars had issues that the CVCC simply didn’t have. The stir stick is a bonus. A lot of these cars were sold with the hondamatic which was a two speed shift it yourself auto. Many just left in “2” and burnt up the second clutch.

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  20. Gary

    I know this comment is going to get millions of thumbs down from the “I drove my Japanese car 3 billion miles and only put gas in it once and changed the oil twice.

    I had one of these back when they were known as “50,000 mile disposable units”. I actually made it to 60,000 miles before I had to rebuild the engine. I don’t remember how many break downs I had in one of these or all the reasons for the breakdowns but there were plenty. Probably one a month when I was using it as a daily driver.

    If you are looking for an unreliable classic then I would recommend a British or Italian sports car from the same era. You’ll at least get more smiles per repair in one of those.

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  21. Andrew

    “unfortunately the owner passed away in the car was donated to a charity
    and that’s where I got it from”

    I hope he meant that the owner passed away, AND the car was donated, etc….

    That would make all the difference. I remember this case of a 3 month old Bentley that had a body in it for 10 days, and no matter what they did to get rid of the smell, they never managed to 100% fumigating it, reflecting the price as a parts car only, even though it was like new yet.

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  22. Orange Julius

    I didn’t work on one of these when they were new, but I have a Buddy who knows a gal that dated a Honda salesman back then. He didn’t work on them either, but he had customer who knew a guy who had a Buddy that did. He wasn’t a mechanic, but used to work on them after a good night’s sleep at a Holliday Inn Express!

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  23. Tim

    My Mom had a nice Cherry Red one. Ex-demonstrator car that had a double gold pinstripe down the side. Looked lovely.

    I spent many hours in that being taken to and from school in that car. I remember burning the backs of my legs on lava-hot vinyl in the summer and waiting for half an hour in the winter to take my gloves off as it wouldn’t warm up quickly enough.

    The rust got to it in the end. My Mom went to get a radiator leak fixed and the shop had to stop her driving it home because the radiator practically fell out in their hands. Unfortunately the rest of the front end was no better. She was really upset as she loved that little car. Still one of the best styled Honda’s in my opinion.

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  24. Wayne

    I worked at a Pontiac dealer. (The dealership building in the movie Risky Business with Tom Cruise) That became a Honda Dealer in 1973. So I have a few comments and then a story. 1. Correct on the rubber nibs on the back of the car. Only a Hondamatic emblem went there or nothing that year. 2. The only difference in the bumpers/crash worthiness was that the ’74 had larger rubber “snubbers”/guards installed (this car is missing them. So that is the reason for the 2 holes in the face of the bumpers. The bumpers were actually about double the thickness of the ’73 cars. (1973 replacement bumpers came in boxes marked “fragile / glass”!!! ) We quickly found out that if you changed the curve in the distributor advance and kicked up the initial advance. The car just screemed! Add headers and exhaust and it would pull like crazy right to the point of valve float. (8,.075 rpm if I remember correctly) The dealer principal (Jim Buckland) a good friend of ours Kern Fischer and myself autocrossed the daylights out of these and Kern managed to take 2nd in the SCCA Solo II national runoffs. (To an illegal Superbeetle with a 914 2.0 engine. The owner told us after no protests were allowed) I bought a’78 brand new for $2,495 out the door on Friday afternoon. (I borrowed some 13″ Accord wheels from the dealer) Took it back to our tire shop and installed 4 Goodyear F32 tires. On Monday afternoon I took the borrowed wheels back to the dealer. The car now had 200 miles on the clock and 4 first place ice racing trophy’s laying on the back seat. (2 events I won my class and so did my wife both days)
    I drove that car for 5 years. Somewhere along the way it was recalled for rust problems. I took it to the dealer and the service manager asked what I had been doing. It was the only car that they had seen with no rust. (Northern Illinois) All I did was at the beginning and end of winter. I would put the car on the lift at work and flush every nook and cranny I could find. (This process took about 2 hours) I don’t remember the miles on the car. (The car never did any worse than 2nd place(wife) for autocross, rally or ice racing.) I sold it to a friend who put a 5 speed in it and drove it for another 5 years. I think it had almost 100k when the tin worm got it. (He did not do what I was doing on the flush jobs.)
    I loved those cars.

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  25. Wayne

    Oh, I almost forgot. On our ’74 autocross Civic. Above the door it said “We Beat The Nicest People with our Honda”
    I will send a picture when it loads.

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  26. Wayne

    Here is our Winner

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  27. RoughDiamond

    Wayne, that was an awesome story and thanks for sharing it and the picture. That had to have been a fun time in life.

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  28. Rex Rice

    I bought a silver 1500S, blew the engine & installed an Accord engine with a Weber carb. Great fun from the stoplight. Hit a dog one night, did a slow 2 1/2 roll into a creek, wrecker pulled it home, kicked the roof up. installed another windshield and continued to drive it until sold. Too bad that rust has taken most away.

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