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Tough Competition: 1984 Honda Accord Coupe

If you were an American automobile executive in 1984, you were getting pretty used to competing against automakers from the Land of the Rising Sun.  The Japanese were taking more and more market share every year, due in no small part to the quality and fuel economy of their products.  But there was something more going on.  One of the smaller Japanese companies, Honda, was producing cars that were more than the sum of their parts.  They drove well, handled perfectly, were peppy, and their cars had a seamless quality that was hard to define but was obvious when you drove one.  It was this “Honda Quality” that slowly but surely built the marque into a force to be reckoned with in the American marketplace.  An amazingly well kept example of Honda’s bread and butter line for 1984, this Honda Accord coupe, is for sale on craigslist. Located in Charlestown, Indiana, this Regency Red cruiser is offered at $2850.

In 1984, Honda’s Accord found itself on Car and Driver’s Ten Best List.  It had been on that list in 1983, and has been on that list numerous times since then.  The difference was that in 1983, these cars were made in Japan, but the next year found them being built in Marysville, Ohio as a domestic car.  While it is hard to think of Honda as a domestic manufacturer, it must have been a bitter pill for the Big Three to swallow when the much predicted slip in quality didn’t happen.  American workers could still put out a great product, especially when the product was better designed and engineered.  If these words make you mad, then did you ever own a 1984 domestic car?  Was it well built?  It pains me to write these words, because I love domestic cars. However, market share was lost for a reason. We are lucky to live in a time where every automaker puts out cars that are, for the most part, stellar in terms of quality and engineering, and it took the pains of the eighties to get us there.

At any rate, taking a look at this Honda is like a trip back in time.  While the car has 132,000 miles on the odometer, the condition points to owners that were meticulous in its care.  The seller states that the car has had only two owners, and I’d venture to guess that both owners garaged this car nearly all the time.  Red velour is notorious for fading, but little of that is visible here.  Of course, the car has little in the way of luxury features, but the interior does look to be a very comfortable place to tick off the miles.  The only discomfort you will feel in these bucket seats will be the pain of a slightly fatter wallet digging into your rear end due to the money you will save on gas.  According to the Car and Driver snippet, the EPA rating for the city was 29-32 mpg.  Of course, that means around 25 mpg city and probably 30-31 highway.

Inside and out, this car is in great condition, and the only problem noted by the seller is a faulty cassette player.  Not that our cassette collections are even around anymore.  Given the overall reliability of the 1.8 liter Honda four and the four speed automatic transmission this car is equipped with, I’d imagine at least another 70,000 miles are available to the future buyer.  However, what would you buy it for?  While Japanese car collectability is a thing now, there doesn’t seem to be much movement in price on these rather utilitarian Hondas.

In my eyes, that is a good thing.  Here is a 33 year old car that is cheap to drive, comfortable, and eligible for nearly every antique car show in North America.  I’d buy it and drive it on AACA tours that cars of this age are eligible for, such as Founder’s Tours and Divisional Tours.  These are multi day trips through some of the most beautiful parts of our country, and it would be nice to have a car to drive on these tours that didn’t break the bank.  As far as car shows go, this car has been AACA eligible for 8 years.  People like cars that they or family members had, and these neat little Hondas are no exception.  This one would likely draw a crowd at any show you took it to.  $2,850 is a small price to pay for both a fun classic and Honda quality.


  1. Fred w.

    Money in the bank if you can keep it in this condition. Good for at least another 100K miles.

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  2. grant

    Careful Jeff the more rural of the readership will tell you how you’ve never been in a real car; pushrods points glasspacks Nascar Yada yada…

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  3. Gug Gug Ly

    Amazing car. Manual would double the value at least. Half the fun of these was working the precise stick shift.

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  4. m vickery

    Worst car I ever owned was a 1978 Accord three door. The car had a dead short that nobody could ever find, so I had to take to parking on a hill so I could coast down the hill to start it. The short killed two batteries and an alternator. Then the head gasket blew at 40k miles, and I was done. It was already starting to rust around the rear window. At least with the insanity around hondas at the time I got most of my money back. Never have revisited the brand.

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  5. glen

    Hard to consider this an antique!, more like a nice used car at a reasonable price.

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  6. The_Driver

    Ha! A similar LX 5 speed one, was my HS car!!! I wanted an RX-7, or a 280ZX, but my parents wisely bought me this. I which it was a 5 speed, as those 2Speed autos were strong, but choked the engines little power.

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    • Steve

      I graduated from high school in 89 and had fellow female classmates (coincidentally?) that had these cars. I don’t recall any of the auto equipped ones to be only a 2 speed…???

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      • Steve R

        My mom had an almost identical 84 Accord which she sold last year, it had a 3 speed automatic.

        Steve R

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  7. jw454

    I had one identical to this one. I got it from a friend in 1990 when he was moving to Texas from Ohio and didn’t want to take it along. It was a good little car for the short time I drove it. I paid $500 (his asking price) and sold it a few weeks later for 3k. Even at that, I wish I would have kept it.

    This is a nice one.

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  8. Maestro1

    I agree with Jeff; a realistic buy for a good one. I have a 289,000 mile one that still runs fine, it does have a new timing belt, otherwise reliable, somebody buy it.

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  9. John B

    How dare the seller offer a car with a non-working cassette player! I guess no one will ever want my ’89 Lx-i with 225K…same problem. But seriously, if this were an Escort or Cavalier, it would be long dead.

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  10. Gus

    Love these Accord from the seventies and eighties. Had a new 77 that I put 25,000 miles in one year then sold it fo $50 more then I paid for it.($4875). Bought one at a rummage sale for $35 and drove for 2 years. Never had an automatic though.

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  11. rob

    Only new car I have ever had a 1984 Accord 4 door with a 5 speed. Fantastic car and very good on gas. Drove it 2 years and did not lose much in depreciation.

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  12. Royal

    You were wrong in your article here as I owned a gray 83 Accord Sedan that was built in Marysville which was the first year for Honda Accord Domestic Production. It even had a badge under the hood stating this. My friend’s father’s 82 was built in Japan.

    It was a great mostly trouble free car. Got it in Spring of 89 used with 88K and ran it into the ground over a four year period before one dark and rainy night I slid on a curve in a road and hit a guy head on in a full sized olds. He had been drinking but I got the ticket for crossing the line and a bald tire, both of which were thrown out when I went to court. I think it had 170+K on the clock and needed all the front end stuff. The only real major expense was the clutch I had to put in through the dealer. Rest of the stuff was routine items like brakes and a fuel filter that broke spraying gas all over the motor several months before I had the accident. Amazed I did not burn the McDonalds down where that happened. Of course by the time I was done with the car, the head gasket was shot which would require me at times to crank the motor for over twenty minutes in cold weather to get it to start.

    My second Honda which was a used 88 that I bought 11 years later proved to be nothing fraught with problems due to a tired engine that the dealer rolled back the odometer on. Otherwise that one was a clean car until it too started to rust out. Used to have to pop start it after three years of running with a rebuilt head job. Took me filing a complaint with the DMV here in NY to get action against him. Thrilled when that SOB went out of business.

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  13. Rube Goldberg Member

    I believe this was the best selling car in history. Total production figures are hard to find, but I read Honda made 9 million Accords in 2012 alone. The older ones like this were terrible rusters.
    I remember Accords with no front fenders and gaping holes, and the shock towers collapsed and that was it, still running great. Not many like this around.

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