Never Seen One: 1979 Honda Civic Spex Elf


I am officially stumped: never have I seen a Honda Civic equipped with a body kit that transforms it from a plain-jane economy car to something known as a Spex Elf. Here on eBay is a 1979 Civic with 5,000 original miles and is said to be one of only 20 ever produced. It’s also been outfitted with a Prelude engine and can convert between a targa, convertible and fully-enclosed configurations. It’s never left Canada, so you’ll likely be the only one on the road if you decide it’s worth bringing stateside. 


If your eyes aren’t still burning from that interior, here’s some more information sourced from the 1st Gen Civic website: “In 1985 a couple of Canadian designers Paul Deutchman & Kell Warshaw manufactured  in Montreal a kit car based on the first generation Honda Civic (1973-1979). The Spex Elf was a two seat fiberglass convertible with a sub frame for added structural integrity.” Well, that explains the highly custom nature of the finished product. It’s a bit jarring to see the original Civic steering wheel in what is certainly not an original interior.


The seller is quite excited about the fact that his has an engine from a Prelude, and perhaps rightfully so: the experts at the 1st Gen Civic website suspect only one was ever made in that configuration. Other parts-bin fixtures include tail lights from a Mercury Capri and headlights from the Accord sedan and hatchback of the same era.


Truth be told, I dig this completely random anecdote of kit-car history. However, the seller doesn’t think it’s a kit car by definition since it still is a Civic underneath; in my opinion, regardless of how easy it is to source parts for the mechanical bits, any damage that necessitates replacing body panels will make custom fabrication a requirement. For the Honda collector, though, the rarity of this Spex Elf may make the risks worth it.


  1. Bill

    Love the wheels!

  2. Birdman

    If anyone is seriously interested in this car, I live about 3 hours south of it… If someone will pay my gas and maybe a meal, I am off work this coming Monday… but I would need to know ASAP to make the plans….

    I also know several people who live in the area, although not car people, could likely go take pictures for you…

  3. Dolphin Member

    Well it’s rare, has low miles, seems to be in good condition, and agree with Bill that the wheels look good. There, I’ve said some nice things. But….

    I think it would take an unusual person to actually want to be seen driving it. This must be the world’s stubbiest, most ungainly car design ever. I’m trying to pick up a good line on the body, but no luck so far. And that giant flat slab of a way-laid-back windshield screams “KIT CAR”. Sorry to say, it doesn’t appeal, even with the Prelude engine.

  4. Jim L

    The tires scare the heck out of me. They have to be at LEAST forty years old!

  5. Hoos

    I love the uniqueness of it. If I had some spare cash, I’d be heading north to have a look and bring it home.

  6. Midwest Jeff

    I really like it, since I am a sucker for small convertibles with a stick, but the seller says the car has “no side windows.” Which means that the car only qualifies to be driven on sunny days with no chance of rain. Or sunny days with no chance of dust. Pretty much explains the low milage.


    I think it’s cool however it’s in Canada. Good luck getting it here and titleing it

    • jim s

      and pass a smog test if you registar it someplace that tests back that far.

      • The Walrus

        What states other than CA do that to a 35 y/o car? It’s probably registered as a ’79. Catalytic Converters weren’t even mandatory on trucks until ’80! And I thought VT was full of environmental wackos!

      • jim s

        there is a website you can go to that has information on what each state tests and how far back they go. thanks.

      • jim s

        ebay show new replacement catatytic converters for ford trucks back to year 1975. thanks.

    • The Walrus

      Scare monger much? Assuming you live in one of the few (less than 10) states that title vehicles this old, it would be no different than bringing it to your state from another state… Canada titles cars too and there is generally reciprocity with Canada. No issue getting anything over 25 years old over the border through import channels. Just as easy to just drive it over and ship it from somewhere in the states though. The duty would be nominal and could easily be dealt with through the mail.

      • Dolphin Member

        I can give an example of what’s in your comment, Walrus. I know a guy who bought a M.Y. 1970 car from Canada that had been originally sold (legally) in Canada with Euro emissions equipment, which was less than what was required on the same make/model car if originally sold in the US. The buyer had no trouble importing the car into the US and titling it in Oregon, which I believe isn’t one of the most lenient states on titling cars.

      • Keith

        Not necessarily. Here in the crap hole we call New Jersey, I bought a car a couple years back that was from Pennsylvania. When i went to title it here in NJ, the clerk looked at the VIN, looked at me, and simply said “this car has been titled in Canada at some point in the past, you can’t get a title for it.”
        After some phone calls to the DMV and going to a different DMV location, I was assured that as long as I filled out form blah blah blah and signed form blabbity blabbity that I could title the car, and I did eventually get the title. I don’t know if that was just a New Jersey thing, an ignorant clerk, or what. But wanted to throw my $0.02 in there.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      I’ve had several cars go both way across the border. It’s essentially a non issue, outside your 25 year rule. Can’t imagine where your concern stems from.

  8. jim s

    it is a no reserve auction, with a starting bid of $ 3000, on a claimed 1 of 1, based on a honda, 5k miles car with manual trans and a good title. but as of yet no bids. interesting find.

  9. JamestownMike

    Aren’t the miles 8,188?……..that’s what the odometer reads. Not sure where 5,000 miles came from??

    • Jeff Staff

      Since it’s in Canada, I suspect its KM versus miles.

    • Dolphin Member

      The speedometer is calibrated in both kms/hour and mph. The ODO is in kms. Multiply that number by 0.62 and you get miles.

      • JamestownMike

        Yep, the odometer is kms, so 8,188 kms is only 5,076 miles.

  10. jim s

    openning the trunk lid with the top off and someone sitting in the car could be a pain!

  11. Donnie

    rather have the civic that it once was this just looks silly I think

  12. Glen

    Since our Canadian dollar is so low vs the American dollar, It could be a low cost Summer toy for someone South of the border.

  13. Moparmann Member

    Looks like it would be difficult to get into/out of, let alone fit inside of it, especially if you’re tall like me! :-)

  14. JW454

    Originally, it had to have some sort of side windows. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have had the rubber seals on the top and windshield posts. I don’t know how they were held in place but it looks like they were there. I agree with Moparmann, I can’t see how one could get in and out of it. It would have to be someone of lean stature. I just don’t see my 6’1″ 245 lb. mass even fitting in it.

  15. Bobsmyuncle

    Some more discussion, a link to a review, and a link to the designer’s site.

  16. Bobsmyuncle

    Even more info including an article showing the build.

  17. Bobsmyuncle

    By the way it looks to have been for sale since at least August of last year. I’d say the seller is likely motivated.

  18. Derek F

    Where’s the wrap-around pillar behind the seats? It needs to show it!

    TERRIBLE photography- are they really trying to sell this or is this the husband pretending to sell something his wife told him to sell?

  19. C brand

    Small rides like these and i dont mix (as i am 6′ 9″) Can say ive never seen one is a unique car for sure

  20. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    I am a long time kit car fan, and I remember reading about these when they came out, have never seen one but I thought at the time they were pretty neat. It would be fun to have this one, if you don’t like people asking what the heck it is.

  21. Bud

    It does NOT have the Prelude 1751cc engine. Its the Accord 1600cc engine in there or the 1500cc. Unless in Canada their Preludes were equipped with the 1600cc engines. It has a cable operated clutch as well so its got to be a Civic engine and transmission. Accords as well use hydraulic clutches. Its very rusty in the engine bay i bet underneath its really bad. Neat car anyway. But that rust is a deal breaker for me.

  22. JamestownMike

    I verified with the seller that it’s a $3,000 no reserve auction. Seller said, “No reserve. If you want it make an offer.”

  23. Geoff (57 Olds) Scott

    The styling (including the slab windshield) makes me think of what a sports car made by Lada or Yugo would look like.

  24. jim s

    sold for $ 4550.

  25. Ed Johnson

    Do you still have the Spex Elf.. I was the one who built them in Vancouver and get them into Expo 86. I did not design the Kit.. I put them together from top to bottom. Send me and E mail if you still have it.
    Thank Ed

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