47K Mile Time Capsule: 1983 Honda Civic

Talk about a time capsule, this 1983 Honda Civic brings me back to 1983, whether I want to go back there or not. Ok, I do want to go back to 1983 now that I think about it, if only to buy Microsoft stock. This almost perfect Civic can be found listed here on eBay in Chester, New York, and the current bid price is $4,100, but the reserve isn’t met yet.

The Honda Civic has to rank up there with the Ford Model T and Volkswagen Beetle as one of the most popular and groundbreaking cars of all time. Since 1973, Honda has been cranking out Civics like crazy. This is a second-generation car and they were noticeably upgraded from the “smaller” (well, they’re all small) first-generation cars. I know that Honda offered a four-door sedan version but I haven’t seen one in decades. That has nothing to do with this car, it’s just a random thought. Next slide.

This car looks amazing. I like all vehicles anyway but when one rolls through the door here at One Barn Finds Tower and I’m not in the breakroom watching a Route 66 marathon and loading up on Milk Duds, I can’t help but wonder how a car like this has lasted for 37 years in this incredible condition. The second-gen cars were made for the 1980 to 1983 model years and they’re my personal favorites. Slightly squared-off or not, this was the last of the old-school “quaint” Honda Civics, there’s no question about it.

In a parallel universe unlike what most of us have ever experienced, the interior may somehow be in even nicer condition than the perfect exterior is. I expect to see Rod Serling’s head pop through the open door any minute. The back seat looks pretty much like new as does the cargo area. The underside looks great with just some surface rust. This Civic couldn’t have been used as a winter car too often and it has just 47,059 miles on it, that’s amazing. This one has a 4-speed manual transmission.

The engine is Honda’s 1.3L inline-four with 55 horsepower and it’s the only part of this car that looks used to me, but it’s still cleaner than most. Speaking of clean, this seller has really outdone the vast majority of online sellers with great photos and plenty of them. Have any of you owned a second-generation Civic?


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  1. Howard A Member

    Most impressive. This car changed everything for Honda. Personally, I’m not into Asian vehicles, for good reasons we won’t go into here, but you have to admit, seeing one like this is truly unusual. Of the , what, 84 million( est) that were sold, virtually none exist today. They were “throw-away” cars, and that’s exactly what people did. They were commuter cars that went unloved, unwashed, and most importantly, unmaintained, yet got people to where they wanted to go for peanuts until the struts caved in. I can’t think of a more important car in our history, than the Honda Civic. Unbelievable find.

    Like 14
    • Steve R

      Older Civics are still plentiful outside of the rust belt, maybe not this old, but old nonetheless, not many cars from this era regardless of brand have survived. Like it or not, almost every make and model is a “throw away” car at some point, only a small percentage make reach a point where enthusiasts take an interest and actively pursue and save them.

      Steve R

      Like 13
      • CJinSD

        The other thing revisionists conveniently forget is that the Japanese weren’t dominating the sales charts in the ’70s and early ’80s. They were the cars that people who cared about cars wanted, but all 1980 model year Hondas combined weren’t sold in numbers that would have kept a GM subcompact in production. Before Ohio went online for 1982, Honda actually had to cut Civic production for a while to make room for unexpected Accord demand. Why aren’t there 1981 Civics on every corner? Why aren’t there 1981 Oldsmobiles on every corner, considering Olds sold about half a dozen cars for every one Honda could bring to market.

        Like 4
    • JCA Member

      I think the 1983 Prelude was the car changed things for Honda. This Civic was a cheap, base model econobox. The new Prelude showed that Honda could compete with an affordable sports car. It was very different than any other Honda or even the 1st gen Lude. The doors of the new Prelude were 3 times thicker than on this civic and you didn’t see any metal on the interior. New engine design with duel carbs, 3 valve cylinder heads and the CVCC technology. Fuel injection in the Si version soon after. And those flip up headlights…

      Like 4
  2. AwHeck Member

    I had the ’79 model in white. Loved that car. But I moved from Indiana to Florida in ’81 and the car did not have A/C. I suffered without for a few months then I had to trade her.

    Like 4
    • William

      There you go, Florida. That was your problem. I will only travel there between Jan and March, and even then I am in fear for my life because I just know a local alligator wants me for supper. I would have left FLA and kept the Honda.

      Like 7
    • CJinSD

      Dealer installed air would have been an option.

  3. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    FYI, gators are the least of your worries down here in the sunshine state, sometimes also referred to as Floriduh.

    Oh yeah, the Civic looks great, hope it stays under 5K.

    Like 7
    • Steve R

      Not likely, even then, the seller (dealer) seems to set high reserves on the other cars he has listed.

      Steve R

      Like 4
      • RFD960

        Nothing like pricing young people out of the car hobby through means of rampant elitism and gatekeeping known as the guise of calling them “investments”

        Like 2
      • RFD960

        Nothing like some thinly veiled gatekeeping and elitism by pricing vehicles insanely high and calling them “investments” to keep young people out of the car hobby

        Like 1
      • Steve R

        RFD960, what does “rampant elitism” and “gatekeeping” have to do with a dealer placing a high reserve on a car?

        Enthusiasts, dealers and flippers keep finding the cars somewhere. That’s because they put in the time and effort most people won’t.

        Steve R

        Like 3
    • William

      You hint at a generalized dullness of mentation there, think it is the school system? Maybe they need an income tax. Could it be the number of ancients like myself on the roads? I have witnessed some pretty bad driving down there. I know, not ALL of them are pickled. Must be dementia. I will never forget being in Palm Beach when I got cut off by a blue hair, she proceeded to drive away, wrong way, down a one way street. Thank goodness it wasn’t someone with orange hair, I hear they are truly the worst.

      Like 10
  4. Josh

    Anyone see the movie “Employee of the Month”. They had a silver one and a yellow one.

  5. Skorzeny

    My mom had one of these. It was very well made and fun to drive. I ended up rolling it on an unfamiliar road at night because the curve speed sign was covered by a tree limb. It really was a great little car.

  6. Bill D

    In the late ’80s my best friend had the wagon version of this car. We were both in our early 20s and I refuse to comment on the adventures that car saw on the grounds that the answer might tend to incriminate me.

    Like 2
    • JoeNYWF64

      NOW you can’t even get a 2 door Civic anymore!!, much less a wagon – disgraceful & insulting to young single people! Or a nice assortment of colors OUTSIDE (forget about inside). & the worse silly thing is that all the tiny 4 door cars are ugly & have back seat “legroom” that is a joke.

  7. Pat

    I had a 77 civic while stationed at ft Carson Colorado. Was a great little car for a soldier, drove it between Colorado and Michigan 3 or 4 times averaging 30+mpg. Left the car behind when I was assigned to Germany.

    Like 2
  8. MarveH

    There was a Civic S at a place around here that specialized in Saabs and Volvos. I drove by it for months toying with the idea of going in and making an offer on it but I got distracted like I….

    Like 2
  9. David Frank David Frank Member

    I’ve owned a couple of these second generation Civics, well, technically, sort of. I traded in my ’79 first generation Civic lemon and bought a 1980 that was sourced from another dealer. These Civics were very popular and hard to find. The dealer said it had been stolen so they let me purchase an Accord for “only” list price. (It was another lemon). The second one I paid $.25 for and it was a great car. It had been sitting after a minor front end crash and was suffering from peeling paint after a poorly performed repair from a previous accident. It was a great car after a new radiator and a trip to Pick and Pull for a few bits.

    Like 1
  10. G Lo

    I had one of these, though it was silver. It replaced the horrifying 1980 Chevette I had bought. It was a great car, and I could almost get comfortable but my legs never quite fit and my feet would get caught up sometimes between the brake and clutch pedals and the floor unless I was wearing Vans. Didn’t stop me from driving it all over the place and it was one of the easiest cars to parallel park. The headlights were absolutely terrible and were equivalent to about 5 candlepower. It was lightweight and handled pretty well for what it was.

    Like 2
  11. JCA Member

    Now compared to the brown Chevette, this actually gave you the 35mpg you were looking for when you bought an econobox

    Like 3
  12. Frank

    One of our first transportation moves we made after getting married in 1979, was to sell my wife’s Pontiac Ventura, and purchase a new 1980 Honda Civic 1500 DX from Hillside Honda in Jamaica, NY. It was a silver 2 door hatchback with a red interior, air conditioning, 2 speed Hondamatic semi automatic transmission (start in 1st and then move the lever to 2nd, or start in 2nd and loaf along), and a roof rack. I think it was just over $6,000 out the door of the dealer, and I got a 2 year loan at our credit union and paid $342 a month. A couple of weeks after we took delivery, we had a hole cut in the roof and had a sun roof installed.

    It was a great little car, and we loved it, but the steel they used in it wasn’t the best quality. I’m sure you don’t see them anymore because they all rusted away! The bottom of doors, the rear hatch, and even one of the flipper door handles rotted away while we owned it. After 9 plus years, our family outgrew it, and we sold it for $1500 to a family friend who used it for a 250 daily round trip to work. After he put 100,000 miles on it, he sold it for the same $1500 he paid us for it.

    Like 1
  13. Table Mesa Baker

    I had a 83’ in 1992, drove it into Golden,Colorado at 4am to bake for a hotel. Always started up on the most bitter, brutally cold mornings, I always thought that thin windshield would crack…
    I had awesome snow tires, almost off-road it seemed. What a blast!

  14. Bhowe Member

    I’m into these old Hondas and amongst my other vehicles have a 2nd gen civic wagon, albeit auto transmission.

    Fun to drive but underpowered. These cars were assembled impeccably but material quality of the seats, metal, and of course plastics was awful. They will run great for a long time but everything around you will disintegrate.

    Luckily mine is a rust free cal. Car. I restored the interior and new paint is on the to do list. Quaint is exactly the word for these. I was sour on import cars as a kid. But that didn’t stop me from marveling at how perfectly they were constructed. Big improvement over 1st gen.

  15. David Miraglia

    Always liked the first and second generation civic. short and simple, not like the present 21st century version which I find kind of ugly.

    Like 2
  16. SebastianX1/9

    These cars have a secret gear between 3rd and 4th. If you turn the fan on to Hi, the car slows down 5-7 mph.

    Like 1
  17. Miguel

    I just got finished watching the original Gone In 60 Seconds and his follow up movie The Junkman, where a lot of these cars lost their lives.

    All the way through I wans thinking , No, there aren’t any more of those around.

  18. Wilbur Member

    I inherited a 1977 Civic from an aunt. Like the one for sale here it was white with saddle interior. had only 43,000 miles and I truly don’t believe anyone sat in backseat. The car had a 3 speed was peppy and really fun to drive. Hondas build quality and engineering was superior to Detroit’s back then.Like most cars though the biggest drawback was rust. Back then for the money they were hard to beat.

    Like 1
    • Bhowe Member

      Assembly quality was better than Detroit, but quality of materials, steel, fabric, plastics etc was terrible compared to Detroit. I know I have quite a few classic hondas

  19. JoeNYWF64

    No door armrests!!?? Trying to compete with the Chevette Scooter? Should have left out the back seat too. lol
    I did not see any Chevettes that rusted as bad as these.

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