Sunday, April 20, 2014

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1979 Honda Accord CVCC

In all my time publishing this blog I didn't think I'd get excited over a Honda Accord. It's that well-built, milquetoast family sedan that everybody and their brother, aunt, next-door neighbor and best friend will own at least one of in their lifetime. The average Accord performs its function with little drama, little character and is just... there. And yet, here's an Accord that has to be the cleanest one of its age I've seen in years. Most Accords give their owners a decade or two of reliable service, and then they have problems. And the owners frequently aren't car people, so when something breaks that's too expensive to fix, or the car is too old to be fashionable anymore, it goes to the junkyard.

There is one ray of hope about old Japanese cars. They're generally lightweight, simple, nimble and have small, efficient four-cylinder engines and manual transmissions. As long as you don't hit anything, they're good little commuters that can also be fun to drive. The 1979 Accord sedan came with a 72-horsepower 1.8 liter four-cylinder and a 5-speed manual (or two-speed Hondamatic if you're lazy and patient).

This ridiculously clean St. Moritz Silver example with maroon interior is a pretty standard Accord and wouldn't look out of place on a street corner in 1983 in this condition. Fast-forward to 2013 when I found it, and the thing had fewer dents than my '07 Focus. I could only find two on the whole car. I didn't peek inside but I don't see a "5-Speed" badge on the rear of the car so it could well have the Hondamatic, which I figure probably drives like a 1960s GM Powerglide. This was the first year of the sedan in the US, first year of the 1.8 liter engine and the final year of the 2-speed auto before an all-new three-speed automatic was introduced.
I like seeing old economy cars kept in great condition like this. Most of these cars were long dead many years ago, but a few have enough pride of ownership to take care of them.


  1. A true Japanese gem, I hope you keep on rolling. I always loved these old Hondas, even the beat up ones, I feel sad to see them in the junkyard because I know they can be fixed and keep rolling and show the world what a Japanese car 30+ years old is. If only this gem could talk to hear how much appreciated she is. Love classy Honda Accords Civics Preludes. Keep rolling in the places where salt hasn't killed you and those in the snowy places, keep fighting and you will survive.

  2. My parents had one just like it. It had the two speed Hondamatic. To drive away you put the gear selector in the number one position. As you accelerated, you would manually upshift to 2nd by putting the selector in 2nd. It definitely did not help the gas mileage which was about 19 on the Highway if I remember correctly. Of course I love oddball cars so this was a pleasure to drive. If I had a choice between this or a Ferrari, hands down this Honda would be my choice. My 22 year old twins think I'm crazy, but what makes the car culture so fun is that these unusual cars to keep car shows interesting. Not everyone wants to look at tri five Chevys and Mustangs all day.

    1. Hi Rick! Thanks for the info on the Hondamatic. I never actually looked up how it operates before.