1981 Honda Accord LX With Less Than 5k Miles!

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If there’s one thing Hondas are known for, it’s their longevity and hard-wearing mechanical systems – often making its models ideal choices for people who don’t care too much for vehicle maintenance. Well, this 1981 Honda Accord hatchback here on eBay has less than 5,000 miles from new and with bidding already over $15,000, more than a few enthusiasts want a chance to own a vintage Honda still in its break-in period. 

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The engine bay shows as-new, with hoses and all plastics retaining good color. Stickers and emissions labels appear completely undamaged by heat or moisture. All of those age-related items that can make an engine look old beyond its years just aren’t a factor here. What’s amazing is that from 1981 to 2007, the car racked up just over 1,000 original miles.

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One of my pet peeves of every project car I’ve owned is that the factory radio is long-gone. It’s great to see the original unit here, even with an information/instruction card still hanging onto the knob. The interior is in gorgeous condition, sporting a terrific shade of 80s fern-green across all surfaces. Dare I say the interior almost looks sporting?

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Having a 5-speed was a big deal back in the day. And with Honda’s panache for making an incredibly smooth-shifting manual transmission a feature not limited to sports and exotics, I’m sure more than a few buyers found the original Accord packaging to be a revelation when introduced. The Buy-it-Now is $23,000 and with the active bidding we’re seeing, there’s potential this could be a huge sale for a relatively new Japanese classic. What do you think it’s worth?

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Comments

  1. Larry

    While I have great memories of zipping around in a similar vintage Accord, the bidding has far surpassed my nostalgic enthusiasm.

  2. Gary I

    More than I would have expected to pay for a survivor Honda, but a very nice example for the person who has been looking for an 81 Accord. Here you go, don’t hurt yourself in that bad boy.

  3. Scotty G

    “Junk then, junk now”.. (kidding, of course, I just wanted to get the first one of those in)

    What a great little time capsule, but as Gary I mentions, I’m also surprised at the high price on a post-1980 example. These cars, as anyone who has been paying attention the last few years knows, are on the rise. Get ’em now while they’re still lukewarm, they’ll be smokin’ hot before too long and this will seem like a bargain. Of course, that’s only if you have any interest in Japanese cars, which many folks do not. There will always be a market for perfect, low-mile vehicles of any era or any genre.

    Like 1
  4. Mike H. Mike H.

    I’d be a contender for ownership at around $10k, which is around twice its original purchase price. Yes, vintage J-tin is bringing good cash, and near delivery mileage is cool, but I’d be the owner who wants to drive the thing to shows and enjoy it through the summer months, racking up miles as I go.

    Pity.

    • Scotty G

      I also would have guessed around $10,000, at the most, Mike H. $20,000 surprises the heck out of me, especially for such a “new” car. Most vehicles newer than 1980 seem like they’re lagging behind, value-wise, but apparently not one with such low mileage. Although, things still do wear out and go bad, maybe even more so from not being used regularly. I’d also want to drive it in the summers, or I could just move to Phoenix or Los Angeles and drive it year’round, I guess.. with “the club” on the steering wheel at all times when I’m not in it..

  5. Glen

    I’ve asked this before; Who buys a car and doesn’t drive it? Was it in a museum or dealership on display?

  6. Blindmarc

    Had the exact same car. Ran like a top, and never any problems. But the cost now blows me away…..

  7. CJay

    The Buy It Now is $875 less than the cost of a 2016 Accord coupe. But what a time capsule! It looks like you could take it to a show right now. A great car then But what do you do with now? Drive it or Show it?

  8. fred

    I’d drive it sparingly and keep it in a climate controlled garage. As ordinary of a car as it is, a lot of people have fond memories of driving one into the ground. The value will go nowhere but up.

  9. Texas Tea

    I love this car and I’m sure I’ll get some blow back from the UAW fans with my two cents, but here it goes. I started out of high school working as a mechanic and was surrounded by older guys that helped me a great deal in my early days. I became a ASE certified master mechanic at a Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge dealership in the mid to late 70s and Mopar was really turning out some crap. As was the other two, Ford, and GM. After getting out of college I was hired as a shop foreman in a large Chevrolet dealership, and then went on to to do the same at a Pontiac, Toyota Dealership. I witnessed the same old problems year after year with the Big 3, while Toyota and Honda were turning out excellent trouble free vehicles. I purchased my first Toyota in 1985 and have never owned another UAW built vehicle since. However, I’m still a big fan of the early Big 3 cars and own a 1960 Impala two door hardtop, and a 1949 GMC pickup. I certainly believe the Big 3 are doing much better, but it took Honda and Toyota to get them there.

  10. AMC STEVE

    Hey you can’t with argue the bids on the car, however it’s nothing special and just a run of the mill daily driver that’s been well preserved.
    There’s a reason you don’t see many of these cars, even though they were mass produced in the millions, is because they are plastic era cars made for the purpose of built in obsolescence.
    They weren’t meant to last and rotted in place even if they still ran.

  11. Michael V.

    It seems like I had the only bad Honda experience ever. I had a ’78 Accord three door hatchback that looked just like this one except the color, and it had problems the entire time I owned it. It had an electrical draw that nobody could find that would drain the battery overnight. I had to take to parking on the hill pointing down so I could start the car by coasting. The alternator failed twice and blew up the battery once. Then it blew a head gasket. It was also beginning to rust around the rear window and it was only three years old. The only good thing about the car was because of the reputation of Hondas I was able to sell it for more than I paid for it after owning it for six months.

  12. John K

    Not even surface rust. I am stunned.

    I would have guessed in the $15K range, so I am surprised to see it there and “reserve not met”. I think more than $20K is going to hard to justify – – if this was a 5K mile ’84 GTI sure (similar condition/mileage ’84 GTI sold a few years ago for $20K), or maybe a 5K mile ’85 CRX Si (25 mile example sold for $13K about two years ago), but this is just an Accord. It’s a good car in great condition, not a great car in great condition.

    let’s see if the market gives me a slap upside my head.

  13. Nessy

    That green on green was a popular color on this Honda and it does look good. However, with a 15g current bid with a buy it now for 23g? I don’t care if it had 1 mile for 23g. No thank you. Sometimes, you have to wonder if some of these bids are even real bids or just to boost the price….

  14. tirefriar

    My father’s first non-Detroit iron since coming to the States was a 1978 Honda Accord LX hatchback with a 5 speed and A/C which he acquired used in 1980. Prior to that he was driving a 1970 Olds Cutlass 4 dr which replaced his beloved 1969 Buick Electra 225. That Olds was the last big 3 car he ever owned, thanks to the quality and ergonomics of that Accord, although my mom had to suffer in a Chevy Cavalier for quite a bit until she got herself an E36 sedan, but thats another story for another car…

    This Honda was a car that could. I remember trips to Ensenada and Tijuana with 3 people squeezed into the back seat. I also remember getting my father’s keys at 15 y.o. and driving it around Tijuana.

    My dad refused to give up the car even after an engine replacement and several carb rebuilds. He even reupholstered the seats and repainted the outside. He finally sold the car with 180k miles on it. This may not sound a great deal of miles for today’s Hondas but back in the day I recall that the values of the cars tended to taper off sharply as soon as the odometer rolled over.

    He moved onto a Nissan 200SX, another 5 speed. He felt that the Nissan was rough and of poorer quality, correct on both accounts. He soldiered on with the Nissan up until the time my mom and him did not need to own 2 cars. He sold the Nissan and they lived happily ever after with the E36 until… my brother and I got together and leased them a new Honda Accord.

  15. Luki

    Finally. An actual low mileage original car to gawk over.

  16. AMC STEVE

    It has to be that this guy is rigging this auction. Why would anyone pay 23 large for this
    http://www.nadaguides.com/Classic-Cars/1983/Honda/Accord/3-Door-Hatchback-LX/Values

  17. MountainMan

    Really nice example of an average car. I would like to have it but no way I would have thought it to get over $10,000 or anywhere near that…much less $20k.
    I dont know what the next owner will do with it ….drive it and enjoy it and watch value go down as miles go up? I think I would rather a 50,000 mile example that would cost a 1/4 of this and would be more enjoyable to own and drive

  18. jim s

    i too would want to daily drive this. great looking car and great find.

  19. Another Bob

    Seems one with 20K would drive better and probably be more reliable while costing way less. Not sure that is the original radio. The doors cards appear to have Gross aftermarket speakers. I was amazed how well put together our 82 Accord sedan was, especially the tolerances of the plastic parts.

    • JW454

      Yes Bob,

      Looks like this thing survived everything but the dreaded aftermarket radio install. Nice car but I wouldn’t be a buyer at anything above 2K.

  20. Roseland Pete

    What’s it worth? To me? Nothing. I never had much of an interest in Japanese cars.

  21. DonK

    I think this is as insane as the 29 K mile1983 Ford Escort also shown in this issue of Barn Finds. The 1981 Accord was a decent car for the time. Better quality than the American economy cars of the time. But collectible? I don’t think so. As far as a car, it was a mediocre car for the time, didn’t handle especially well, but was relatively economical. I just can’t see this being a future collectible car.

  22. Mike

    Nice car but the 81 was a camshaft destroying machine. My 81 Accord went through three cams in the first 100,000 km (62,137 mi for my American friends). All changed on warranty, but those days are long gone for this one.
    Also, I changed out my factory radio for a Panasonic deck that looked exactly like the one in the picture.

  23. Ron (Florida)

    Really nice car, but no way in hell would I pay that for that car.

  24. Mimo

    Nice to see one again, especially in such nice shape. I am not sure about the radio either, my Mom had either an 80 or 81 – first Honda I remember taking the radio out and sticking in some piece of junk no name deck with a cheap little 3 band eq..oddly that was stolen out of the car!! Also had my first front wheel drive winter driving experience with it, little slide onto the curb….understeer holy crap…

  25. Ian

    One of my first cars was a 78 Civic and certainly one of the 2 that I regret getting rid of. Love these old Hondas and cannot believe where their prices are going. Porsche here we come!

  26. Glen

    Great condition, but for what it is, you might as well buy new and get a warranty.

  27. AMCFAN

    The person who buys this car certainly won’t be anyone here. It will be a person who grew up in the Fast and Furious era. A young professional no doubt. There is a large following for Asian performance cars. It doesn’t have to be a performance car to gain respect.Within the tuner crowd there isn’t brand specific bashing like Ford VS Chevy. OK defiantly the STI/WRX Vs.EVO Guys. Those who are into them have a mutual respect for all brands. This Honda would be a hit at the Import Faceoff or any number of Tuner shows across the US. As far as price there is no amount that is too much if it is what you want. Those who bitch now are those same ones who thought the world was going to end when the first Hemi powered what ever sold for a million. This Accord is by no means a Hemi but that doesn’t mean it is any less desirable to those that appreciate them. Clean Hondas will always have a buyer. I say what ever it brings it is a great deal and sure to appreciate.

  28. Kenny

    No way. This car is during Honda Ingrid still relative infancy. Head gasket issues, over heating.. Whilst the build quality and driving dynamics were stead of Reid time fir the era… This car is faaaaaaar from collectible.

    I had a 79 in really clean shape during high school in 90-92. It had a wonderful dash. The motor was smooth. It also had the odd Hondamatic.

    In 30k it over heated twice requiring new head gaskets. The transmission needed to be rebuilt. Both master cylinders failed. I acquired the car with only 40k miles, so reliability wasn’t it’s strong point.

    The seats had poor quality fabric, the carpet as well.
    But that was common for Japanese cars at the time.

    The biggest issue here is that commonly low mileage survivors with under 60k in nice shape but maybe a ding or two sell for $1000-2500. All Day.

    $6000, for this car is just reasonable for what you get. 10k or more is insanity.

    Be sure it was a West Coast car, these are very prone to rust.

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