Curbside Classic: 1990 Honda Civic – PGM-FI?

Normally I would have likely walked right by this Honda Civic but the badge on the rear intrigued me. Obviously the FI stood for fuel injection but advertising that your car had fuel injection had become rather passé by the 1990s. Obviously in the 70s and 80s it was something a bit more special to shout about. The EFI badges on GM and Toyota vehicles are quite memorable for me. But PGM-FI? I don’t recall ever seeing this badge before and by 1988 all Civics were injected. So what’s going on here?

Initially I wondered if it was running some sort of aftermarket ECU possibly with a turbo attached. But the rest of the car was very stock looking and an automatic gearbox put that theory in doubt. Once home a quick internet search came up with the meaning – Programmed Fuel Injection. Quite often the PGM-FI is printed on intake manifold but I failed to find another example with the same rear badge. I did come across some interesting diversions like which is a group of enthusiasts who are hoping to fully understand Honda fuel injection systems.

Another oddity is the Special Edition badge on the rear panel between the tail lights. Perhaps this is a Canadian thing as I can’t really find much trace of the package online. Likely the body colored bumpers and hubcaps were part of the package. It does look quite sharp and I’m not usually a fan of white colored cars.

Canadian trim lines were always a bit different than the US. For many years our Si was sort of a mix between a DX and Si but with the less powerful motor. You had to step up to the SiR to get the US Si motor. I suspect, but would love any corrections or confirmations, that this Special Edition package is a DX with some US Si features thrown in.

The interior has a fantastically function design that I’d argue hasn’t really ever been bettered. Everything laid out in a nice, easy to reach manner with none of the fluff and over the top styling of more recent Civic interiors.

This generation of Civic is/was immensely popular with the import tuner crowd. It is quite rare to see an unmolested example these days especially in hatchback form. With the Honda mechanical bits of this era being rather like Lego with easy interchangeability many have received more powerful Acura or Japanese market engines. Body kits, aftermarket rims and other bolt-ons are the rule rather than the exception. Took me a good five minutes to find the above engine photo and that was from a guy yanking the stock motor.

The chrome on the fenders seems to be the only deviation from stock here. Looks a bit silly to my eyes and I instantly wonder what rust they might be hiding underneath but this example looked rust free.

I’ve never owned or even driven fourth generation Civic but did own a slightly later fifth generation hatchback in DX trim. Mine had a five speed gearbox and was quite a joy to drive … when it worked. Despite only being a year old at the time it turned out to be one of the least reliable and robust vehicles I’ve ever owned. This one has obviously given better service and hopefully its Programmed Fuel Injection keeps on ticking for many more years to come.