Jewel Box Potential? 1973 Honda Civic

Like most of you, I knew someone who had a first-generation Civic but I never had one myself, and I’ve always wanted one. This 1973 Honda Civic is a strong contender for anyone who may be looking for a mostly-solid car that still needs some work to bring it back to life. I’d want a little car like this to be a jewel box, but I’m weird that way. this potential jewel box can be found on Craigslist in Stillwater, Minnesota for a price of $1,600. The seller is super cool, they’re a custom shop that does very high-end work.

I actually looked at this car a couple of weeks ago, thinking that it may be “the one” to get, but it ended up being too much of a project for me to justify with so many other irons in the fire. It looks fantastic from the first two photos, and when you first see it. It mostly is a good looking car, even in person. But, there are a few issues with it being the jewel box that I’d want it to be for a fairly reasonable price. From the photos, I assumed that it would just need to be cleaned up and maybe have some interior work, a couple of mechanical things: and badda-bing, bodda-boom – a jewel box. For a Honda fanatic, it very well could be “the one”. It’s hard to beat that price!

The interior needs a bit (lot) of work for anyone wishing to turn it into a jewel box. There didn’t appear to be much rust as the seller mentions in the ad; that’s nice. It’s mostly cosmetic work, but lots of it.

The mechanical bits will also need to have some work done to them to bring it up to speed, but that’s usually the case, isn’t it? This car apparently spent most of its life at an Air Base which explains the relatively rust-free state of affairs. But, the usual suspects will have to be gone through: the entire fuel system, brakes, transmission, belts, hoses, plugs, wires, tune-up in general, etc. For anyone who is a superfan of these cars and wanted a solid example to tinker with, this is a strong contender.

Fast Finds


  1. Adrian C

    Sweet little car. I like the small Hondas like the N600 & the Z this one is cool too.

  2. Brian Joseph

    This car has gone thru 2 or 3 owners in the last 2 years. It has been repainted the wrong color in its past,and needs alot of work. That said,73 civics are very rare and might be a good starting point for a restoration

  3. sparkster

    HONDA CVCC 1975 – $7800 (San Luis Obispo) I just saw this car an hour or so ago on Craigslist. Price is a little high but boy does it look sweet. And it’s a five speed with 58,000 miles. No smog in California. Had a buddy buy a new silver one in college in 1976

  4. Andy

    Seems like a miracle to see one of these in any condition these days. I’m sure it’s mostly rust, but Hondas seem to me to be cars that are dead reliable, within a certain life span; and then they’re done. I liked the 1st gen Civic when it was new and I wish there were more of them left.

  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    It’s amazing to see one this age still on the road. I always have visions of Bubba Smith (Police Academy) ripping the driver’s seat out so he could drive from the back. I know some people who had these and they didn’t have much to complain about other than they could get rustier than the bed-wetter’s mattress springs…

  6. DG

    Put a VTEC in it, if it’ll fit. LOL!

    • Scott Rhea

      Oh…. It’ll fit!!! Check out my 1972 N600 with a 355 blown chevy engine.

      Like 2
  7. Beemoe

    How many files can you say ‘Jewel Box’ in one post? ;-)

  8. Woodie Man

    Well I had one in ’78 and ’79 , bought it from a speed shop in San Diego. Orange and I believe it had a 5 speed..I think it was a ’75 or ’76 CVCC…..ran like a scalded so and so. The speed shop had jacked up the hp but I dont recall how Enjoyed the heck out of it. I’d buy one again if it was a CVCC

  9. John

    Early Civics did not rust. They dissolved. They were just short of an Alkaline-Seltzer tablet around water. The motors and gearboxes deserved better, and after some lawsuits, they got it. But the early ones were not good at all.

  10. CJay

    My cousin had two CVCC’s one she drove, one for parts.
    While driving it she said ” the engine made a funny noise, it shook and I lost some power.”
    I went to repair the car for her. No compression one cylinder. I pulled the head off. Looked down and saw 3 pistons and a wrist pin. The one piston had scattered and was in the oil pan. She had been able to drive it 18 miles home on 3 cylinders. She gave me both of them.

  11. Nova Scotian

    Had a buddy (Chris) who owned one back in the day. He was a big muscular dude. Wonder how he fit in it. But he would drop by after work and we would cruise the beach looking for some cool chicks. (Yea it’s a thing)…The car was no looker, so we’d ditch the car once we arrived, all buzzed up. Buzzed up you ask? Yea, the car was so tiny, on the way to the beach (or anywhere) we’d buy a case of cold beer and plop it in the trunk with a bag of ice. While driving, if one was thirsty, you just have your passenger reach back, lift out the back speaker, and pull out a cold refreshing beer! Yup, that’s how my buddy Chris rolled in his Civic back in the day…empty beer bottles rattling at your feet half drunk parading down the beach lane. True story. We all survived, no one got hurt( thank God), and we had a hellofa good time! Thanks for the memories!

  12. Mark S

    I had three of these civics a 75, 76, 77 that first two were rust buckets but they were as reliable as hell. My point of tolerance was how rusty the strut towers were when they were gone it was time to turn it into a parts car and I’d go find another one. The last one had a rust free body but a shattered engine, I picked it up for $50.00. I at that point had a shed full of spare parts including engines. I took one of my spares honed the cylinders threw in a set of cast rings and drove it for four years. When I sold it, it was still going strong, I got $300.00 for it and that was me being done with civics as it was getting hard to find rust free ones. My final word awesome little cars I put close to ten years behind the wheel of one of the three that I owned and they all held up well and I was on the freeway every day going to work.

  13. Lance

    My first new car was a 1973 civic in the appropriate rust brown

  14. Peter Atherton

    I bought one of these ,used,back in the fuel crisis days;extremely rusty,so much so that my wife plastered the whole car with every conceivable bumper sticker she could find.She named It Pigpen.It was an automatic,luckily,because the timing belt broke at highway speed,and nothing happened to the engine.I sold it to someone who had been looking for one for a long time,and I got five times what I’d paid for it….

  15. Brian Joseph

    My 1974 civic 1200..rust free!

  16. Brian Joseph

    Trying again

  17. Car Nut Tacoma

    It looks perfect as it is. Why mess with it? If it works, keep it as it is. I hope someone buys it who will keep it running as it is, not make any severe modifications that will take away from its original cuteness and charm. I’d buy one if I knew someone near where I live who had one. I’ve always liked this gen Honda Civic. :)

  18. CvCCjunkie

    This was my first car 78 Hondamatic . Loved the car, however it did not like winter too much and those dreaded vapor lock was another big issue. Overall fun times. I now drive a 9th gen and continue to having good reliable fun

  19. raggus66

    I bought one at a rummage sale one time for $65 (down from $75) and drove it for 2 years, mostly back and forth to work. Sold it for $100 when the fuel pump went out. Since then I had a 1/2 dozen more Civics and Accords all late 70’s, early 80’s.
    I love em.

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