How long was the Accord’s golden age? There’s obviously a lot of room for debate. Personally, I think it lasted about fifteen years, from model years 1989-2004. With some exceptions, all Accords during that period boasted good looks, sporty driving dynamics, no-nonsense interiors, and good reliability. No wonder they were (and are) so popular. And in some respects there really never was a “bad” Accord, but the mid-size did lose some appeal between 2005-2012. The newer models, particularly the current generation, regained a bit of that classic Accord mojo. And our featured Accord definitely qualifies as a classic.
Perhaps you were perplexed by the title of this piece. Here is why I wrote it up as a Civic. As someone who recently allowed his car to smack into his garage door, I am in no position to judge the seller. Brain farts happen. And to be fair, Civics and Accords of this era tended to look alike. In any event, the Honda looks pretty good and boasts below average miles for a car that’s almost thirty years old.
In Japanese, Camry essentially means crown. By 1989, Toyota hadn’t become king of the mid-size sedan segment. That honor belonged to the Accord. Honda sold the most popular car in America from 1989-1991. The Taurus usurped it in 1992 with a reign that lasted until 1997, when the redesigned (and Taurus-inspired) Camry took first place. Honda did nab the top spot in 2001, but Toyota took back its throne the following year. Sales numbers don’t automatically determine whether a car is good or not. But it is a useful barometer. And customers certainly loved the Accord.
Honda sold about 394,000 Accords in 1992. New owners were treated to a slightly restyled sedan that ditched the motorized seat belts for a conventional setup. It also gained a standard’s driver side airbag. The seller’s Accord looks okay, although the floor could use a good vacuuming. Every car in the Northeast suffers the same fate during the winter.
Under the hood lived Honda’s 2.2 liter four, making 125 horsepower and 137 Ib-ft of torque. More expensive trims had the same engine but with a slightly higher output. That’s right in line with rivals. While buyers could choose between a five speed manual and four speed automatic, the vast majority likely preferred the latter. Either way, this Accord earned praise for handling prowess.
For the most part, this Accord seems to have aged pretty well. But there are some cosmetic issues that prevent it from being a collectible. Fortunately, it’s nothing serious. First up are these gouges in the rear bumper. It looks like they’ve gone straight through the paint.
The damage also extends to the drivers side portion of the bumper. Looks like some scratches and some paint transfer.
Finally, it looks like the passenger side of the rear bumper received its fair share of damage too. It probably wouldn’t be too hard to repaint the bumper.
If I were in the market for something like this Accord, I probably wouldn’t want to pay $1200. I think $800 is a more palatable price. Then again, these are pretty rare nowadays, and the asking price doesn’t strike me as absurd. I would not fault anyone for paying that amount if they were serious about preserving it.
This exact car is my daily driver. A great car for around town and on the freeway. IMHO, one of the best Hondas ever. Mine is teal, but otherwise in much better condition. Definitely worth more than $1200. My parents bought it new in 1992 and kept it in a garage for most of its life. Dad passed away last year and left it to me. With under 135K on the clock, I intend to just keep driving it. Thanks Dad!
There’s a ’93 SE in my driveway right now that my oldest son had owned since 2011 before getting into a 2010 Chevy Malibu a month ago. The Accord’s more than paid for itself and is now off to a tinkerer who absolutely “loves” it and will get it reliable again in his spare time.
If those miles are legit and there’s no rust that’s a bargain. The bumper is an easy fix.
If that is actual miles and the rust hasn’t gotten out of hand, that car ought to have an easy 100k left in it. A timing belt/water pump service for $600 and you should be good to go. My concern is from your close up, the car looks to have had paint work done – no Honda ever left the plant with that kind of orange peel in the finish.
I heard apocryphal stories that these were 3-400k mile cars when maintained well. The difference between these and an old Taurus or Lumina is that while you may have an occasional wheel bearing or something, you will not be dealing with a constant stream of a/c components, window lifts, power lock actuators, and multiple other non-essential parts.
Seems a decent car for another few more years. If you want a bland, nondescript, boring looking car.
But why would you? For the same money you can find a good Subaru Legacy. Much more interesting, 2.2 litre boxer engine, frameless windows (debatable if this is a good thing, but they look cool and work pretty well). Agreed it is not much more a looker but it just has that little bit more what makes it more stand out.
I had a 1992 Legacy Wagon, which even had air suspension. Loved that car, reliable, quick, 4WD. Planned to keep that forever as when I got it from its first owner it had a low mileage. However it got totaled 4 years later by someone who loaned it from me, grrrrr. I searched high and low for a similar example but could not find one (I was only interested in the 1st gen Legacy Wagon). 8 years later and with an half eye I am still on the lookout for a very good low mileage one. Is not going to happen (I am in the Netherlands). Ah well.
after the crash
What is with the slightly raised roof on that Legacy? The North American Legacies I have seen have a flatter roof.
There were two kinds of roof. 4X4 Legacy wagons were sold with that raised roof, while the standard FWD had the flatter one (here in Uruguay). Probably that was just a matter of configuration, so I can’t really say if that was simply an option.
My 93 AWD Legacy NZ new had the raised roof not a bad car or a good one, it was savage on fuel but with marginal performance average comfort but reasonably reliable once I fixed a few things sold it with 350,000kms on it months later it ate its 2nd transmission the first was with the original owner at low miles, used Subaru transmissions are impossible to get here they are a weak point and new are worth several times the value of the cars.
NOBODY borrows my cars. EVER. Even family (the last time family borrowed one of my cars, it came back with a broken manual window regulator).
This isn’t the ubiquitous rosewood that almost all of them seem to have been during this generation. I see more of these than any of the successive generations for some reason, and more of these than the Camry of the same age.
These were enough larger than the previous generation that they qualified as a family sedan rather than a compact car and got all the buyers who otherwise might have considered a domestic sedan, particularly Oldsmobiles. These were very nicely finished inside and out.
I’ve experienced more recent Accords and they are still very nice cars. I don’t think Honda’s “Golden Age” has ended and they don’t seem to have made tragic missteps like fish-faced Tauruses or stubby Eldorados. However, it is amazing to me how much a fully loaded Accord costs; I read one review where the tested Accord was well into the mid 30’s. I cannot imagine paying that much for an Accord, no matter how good it may be.
This LX automatic accord had an original MSRP of ~$17,000 in 1991, which is $32,000 in 2019. A loaded 1992 EX would be getting close to 40 grand. These cars were expensive.
“they don’t seem to have made tragic missteps like fish-faced Tauruses or stubby Eldorados”
They did, theirs was more hidden and deadly. The 98-07 Honda Accord(and other Honda) transmission that locked up at highway speed. I had that happen in my 2001 accord while on rte 95 doing the speed limit. I was lucky it was late at night and the road less crowded as that could have resulted in a bad accident. To Honda’s credit they replaced the trans, tires and other damaged parts but as soon as I got it back, I traded it in
$1200? Its current home makes me worry about rust, but if that’s not an issue and it doesn’t need attention on anything mechanically important, the price is excellent. It is 29 years old and is barely priced into the 4-figures–scratches on the plastic bumper mean nothing in that context.
Agreed. I paid $10,995 for a 1990 EX with 60k on the clock in the Fall of 1994. I’m not great at extrapolating values over time, and obviously time itself is a factor in the overall value, but that was a screaming deal in 1994. For my money this car is as well. Fantastic cars, and definitely Peak Honda.
I think the author nailed it on the span of Peak Honda. The featured generation is my favorite within that span. I loved the subsequent one too, having owned a 2002 Accord. That was a great car, and I probably should have held onto it for longer. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it when we sold it at 177k miles.
As you guys know, a J-VIN 1990 Accord EX was my first car, and has been my only Japanese/Asian car thus far, out of nine or ten (although I’m on the cusp of buying my second).
You’re right that the 1992-1993 got the driver-side airbag, although the wagon debuted late in the 1991 model year with it standard. The ones that didn’t have the airbag, like mine, had the silly passive-safety belt that would slide in and out of the way upon ingress/egress.
You can also identify the earlier models because they had wider taillights that stretched all the way to the license plate recess. The 1992-1993 got taillights that weren’t quite as wide, with a filler panel between them and the license plate area. Again, the wagon differed here, retaining the wider taillights for the duration of its run. (Pictured below: a 1990 Sedan).
As far as the Accord as a whole, I would argue that the 2003-2007 lost a little bit of the magic, but remained fundamentally good and Honda-like. The 2006 facelift actually did clean up the design some, especially at the rear. And of course, this is the generation that spawned The World’s Favorite Modern Acura.
The 2008-2012 was where they really lost the plot. It was bloated, ungainly and cheap-feeling, and at a time when competitors (namely the Fusion and Malibu) suddenly got better than they’d ever been.
The 2013-2017 was a good apology, finessing the old model’s design into something lovely and just-right. The facelifted 2016-2017 was particularly good, if you could get over the directional wheels. And the hybrid was a high point.
And the 2018 is a breath of fresh air from a design, presentation and luxury standpoint…although we lost the coupe, the V6 and N/A engines in general. It just won’t be the same, and that sense of purity and simplicity is gone. The jury is still out on reliability for the Honda 1.5T and 2.0T engines, but I’ve heard there’s been some trouble with them.
Great price IMO, looks to be amazingly rust free for a NY car as well. I helped a friend buy a 120k mile ’92 Accord Coupe for $950 back in 2010ish as I recall, even then Accords in my area almost all had the typical rear quarter rot setting in. Rock solid cars, my friend drove his to NYC and back from Ithaca for 2-3 years, aside from putting some new front brakes on (silly hub over rotor design) and a power steering line right after purchase, the only other work it needed was a new thermostat. Helped him clean it up and list it, as I recall he sold it for $1950 in less than a week.
This one probably needs a timing belt job and a few other odds and ends, fluids, probably a transmission mount (they all do), but parts are still everywhere and cheap. They feel rather noisy and tinny to drive in the modern context (whereas a ’92-’96 Camry still feels quite modern in this regard), but no sedan made in the last two decades feels so open, airy, and connected to the road like this generation of Accord. if I was back in the market for a cheap commuter, I would absolutely snatch this one up.
My wife had a 1993 Accord, bought used at 2 or 3 years old, that looked a lot like the subject vehicle. She drove it until 2004, at which point it was stolen by a fellow Honda aficionado who apparently needed some parts but was disinclined to pay for them.
It was the most trouble-free car I have ever dealt with, needing only maintenance items during its service life in our fleet. It was quite an eye-opener for me compared to my car at the time, a VW Golf, and its predecessors, which always had something wrong and needed constant fiddling. Also, it got about 35 mpg.
The price is down to $900 in the ad now. And JPC above is correct, it has definitely had paintwork done, the rubstrips on the bumpers would have been black on a 1992 model, not body color.
You could do a lot worse than that Accord for a cheap car, and that (now $900) is super-cheap. I like the color, though I think it’s a repaint. For $900, who cares? I could make that bumper look pretty good for next to nothing.
Timing belt condition is priority one, though. May be all dried out from age regardless of miles. Probably worth buying the car even if it needed a new one. For a small reduction in price.
I’m finally getting used to today’s small windows, and this Honda’s windows are looking kind of enormous to me. But visibility must be awesome.
I would check out the rear suspension condition as well, because that double wishbone stuff is pricey, as I found out with my ’89 Accord coupe I had in the day. It had been beaten up pretty bad before I got it and I didn’t know until I saw weird tire wear.
That’s one area where a simpler (crappier) suspension design is better on an old car, like a GM or Ford has. Less parts, less precision, but tougher over time my opinion.
I wish I could’ve found one of those when I needed a beater, but they’re long gone from here. Plus, I only remember seeing them in that teal color that was everywhere for awhile, and I was never too keen on it.
“because that double wishbone stuff is pricey”
It really isn’t. This stuff is cheap as chips on rockauto for decent aftermarket stuff.
I always liked this generation of Accord, and there’s still some on the road here in Ontario. I have a friend who likes old Hondas, and his current rides consist of a 2004 Element and a 2001 Acura Integra. Both have given him good service but they’re showing their age. Still, he’d probably snap this up in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t turn it down if I were in the market for cheap wheels, though I’d prefer a 5-speed.
Just handed over U$3,500 for a 2009 Accord LX 2.4lt with 100,000 Km on the clock. It had $52 dollars of petrol left in the tank and 6 months road tax still valid; worth another $500 in value. Yup, I jumped right on that deal!