Curbside Classic: 1985 Honda Accord – The Canary in the Coal Mine for the Traditional American Sedan

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It was with the second generation that Honda’s Accord began to take a toehold in the Midwest. At the time, there was a lot more “Buy ‘Murican” sentiment out here than was enjoyed on the coasts, and so we kept buying traditional RWD sedans a while longer.

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First-generation Accords were never family transportation, as they were simply too tiny–and you could get a lot more Ford for the same money. People who drove first-generation Accords were generally young, childless professionals, just the kind of people who dreamed of getting the heck out of the Midwest. Did their owners secretly aspire to live where their car would fit in?

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But come 1982 and Honda’s somewhat-larger-than-before new Accord, moms who had previously been driving Ford Fairmonts (and Malibus and Volares, but mostly king Fairmonts, or so it seemed to me at least) at the time were suddenly switching over. The Accord still wasn’t large enough to be the family car, but it was big enough for running around town with a couple of the kids in tow. And it was just so cute compared to the Big Three’s mid-sizers. And of course, it got far better gas mileage.

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While an Accord sedan had been available since 1977, it wasn’t until the second generation that these sold in any numbers to conservative Midwestern buyers. The hatchback was still extremely popular, but now you were just as likely to see a sedan on the road. I didn’t understand the significance of it then, but it was a subtle shift toward acceptance of a Japanese sedan.

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And then came this Accord, the third generation. If the second generation was gentle waves lapping at the shore, the third generation was a tidal wave. The Japanese sedan as primary family transportation had truly arrived. People who still drove Fords bought them because they couldn’t believe the great deal they got, not because it was the car they really wanted. This Accord was just so tight, so right. And, of course, it was bigger than before. Honda sings this refrain with each verse of this song.

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As hardy as these cars were, almost none are left here in Rustopia. I’m sure as many succumbed to poor maintenance as to body rot in their cheap-wheels days.

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Yet this one endures. I see it all the time, actually, in a big-box store parking lot. Someone who works there must drive it. I wonder about its provenance – how did this one survive? Did it lurk in someone’s garage for years, undriven? Has it simply received good mechanical care?

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Cosmetically, this Accord was certainly not  pampered, given its scuffs, worn-off paint, little rust spots and this broken tail light.

We’ve considered this generation Accord before, here and here.