White Sands Commuter: 1979 Honda Civic

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This perfectly sun-bleached 1979 Honda Civic has led a gentle life, being owned by a professor in White Sands, New Mexico, for the bulk of its life. The fantastic shade of 70s green paint has slowly been worn away by sun and desert winds over time, giving it an authentic coating of patina that’s hard to repeat. Though it’s an automatic, this is still an excellent candidate for preservation or restoration, and it can be found in southern New Mexico.

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The seller claims he purchased the Civic from the estate of the original owner. The professor died in 1993, the car parked and sitting ever since. It’s clear that this early Civic fulfilled its duties as a commuter and has been left to the elements ever since; thankfully, being in sunny and dry New Mexico means even long-term exposure hasn’t done much more than strip off the top coat of paint. There are some mechanical issues preventing the Civic from running reliably, most likely hung up on a carb- or fuel pump-related malfunction.

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One of the downsides to cars stored in sunny, dry locations tends to be dry and cracked interiors. Not here: the dash isn’t cracked and the seats and door panels remain in presentable condition. The steering wheel even appears to still have decent luster on the vinyl wrap. I might sacrifice some originality and swap in a manual transmission, but otherwise, I’d drive this one as-is. The top and lower portions of the door panels that match the exterior paint code is a level of detail you don’t see anymore.

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Here you can see just how perfectly the sun has burned off the top layer of paint, leaving a primer-like finish behind with the original green finish visible below the belt line. You can check out the rest of the photos here on eBay where the seller has set a very reasonable reserve of $1,900. Bidding is active and  currently just over $600, and I expect it will have no issue clearing reserve. When you eliminate the potential for rust, these original Civics become quite desirable, and I totally dig the little details like the Missile Range parking stickers and original books and manuals. This one’s a keeper for the next owner, or a prime candidate for a flip once it’s running and driving.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. wynkin

    I regularly see a perfect one of these locally.

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  2. Dairymen

    That’s not patina, that’s a crappie clearcoat job ! Hasn’t ran all this time, not a desirable car to begin with so $600 is about right.

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    • Paul

      Not a desirable car?! What are you smoking? Lol! $600 is CHEAP CHEAP for this car rust free! Also ,In 1979 there was no clear coating on Honda’s unless it was repainted……This is the problem we run into most of the time with Car Guys, either they love Asian cars, German cars, old muscle cars, Nobody loves them all so we get critics that love American cars that tell us the Japanese cars are junk when in fact a car guy is a car guy and I wish everybody just loved cars and stopped being so cynical of other makes.

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      • JeffAuthor

        Agreed. Frankly, there’s a great story unfolding of a Honda enthusiast who recently found the FIRST N600 ever to roll off the line and he is presently restoring it. It will be worth a BUNDLE when it is done.

        It’s amazing how many cars appear like cheap throwaways to the untrained eye but are treasured by their fans. To put it bluntly, there is an a$$ for every seat and sometimes those seats are worth a fair amount!

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  3. Bill

    Actually, these are becoming VERY sought after. Even with the auto (which can be surprisingly fun to drive) these are great cars, and fetching a very good price in the right market. there is one recently where the owner has turned down offers of well over $3k. With the solid body and completeness this should sell well. the distance factor is the only thing keeping me from buying.

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  4. Schwag

    I’m a huge fan of Japanese vehicles, especially older models such as this. They didn’t survive up here in MN, so I hardly ever see them out and about. NM is too far away, but if it was closer, it’d be in my garage.

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  5. brakeservo

    I just don’t understand the “White Sands Professor” business – White Sands could be the national monument or the missile range – I don’t think either keep professors around!

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    • Allan

      The eBay ad says Las Cruces. NMSU would be my guess. The ad doesn’t say anything about White Sands, so not sure where that reference came from.

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  6. Jubjub

    I had the exact same car, color, transmission and paint failure. But with some rust around the bottom.

    Used to regularly stoplight race a guy in Metro Convertible thru some curvy stretches on my way to community college. He usually won because he’d weave and dodge through traffic like an a-hole.

    These actually had base coat/clear coat on the metallics. Just not very much of it. Funny, the 80-81 models had good clear coat but the metallic color faded unevenly below. Usually the red or royal blue ones.

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  7. John

    I had an ’82, bought brand new and put 213k miles. It replaced my ’69 396 Impala and got 40-42 mpg. Outside of normal maintenance, I put a radiator, starter and a vacuum hose on it. It would probably still be going if the Michigan road salt hadn’t rusted the frame in half. I loved that car.

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