CC Global: Honda Ballade (Civic) – Soldiering On At The Seaside

At CC we might not like non-opening rear windows, but I’m really liking this non-opening rear door. The owner of this early 90’s Honda Ballade taped off the top of the rear window to prevent leaks, sealing the rear door shut in the process. This C pillar reshape gives the car a sharp contemporary silhouette.


That C pillar looks straight off this ’89 to ’94 Mazda Astina / 323F, a car whose styling I’ve always thought really advanced. I found this image on the Web.


Going round to the other side of our featured car we see a Hyundai Veloster three door coupe thing going on here as this rear door is in working order. The Honda Ballade [local moniker for the Civic] was assembled at the Mercedes Benz plant here in South Africa from 1980 to 2000. Initially they were sold through Mercedes dealerships, as a junior offering to the MB range. In the background surfers are changing into their wetsuits before launching into the Atlantic.


I have seen this car parked here regularly when I go cycling, and I have taken photos a few times, as I’m very drawn to it. One time the owner appeared and asked very pleasantly “Is there a problem?”. We chatted briefly and I carried on about the car having such character and he looked at me with increasing levels of confusion, as this was just his daily driver which he was just trying to keep going with minimal outlay, not an artistic discussion topic.

The Honda’s taped windscreen profile had me thinking I’d seen that elsewhere recently, but where? Ah yes, on the Indian sourced Renault Kiger, just introduced to South Africa. The Kiger does it with a baseball-cap-worn-backwards look. I sourced this pic from Business Day’s review of the Kiger. I’m already seeing plenty on the roads. The Kiger replaces the Renault Sandero and Sandero Stepway in our market.


Why am I so drawn to this particular Honda? I grew up 25 miles from here, right next to the sea, and our old ungaraged cars would rust prodigiously. If anyone had come over to Dad and I in 1970 to say that our patched up old Beetle was an artistic work in progress we would have thought they were sending us up. Dad would grandly say “A car should be bought at the bottom of it’s depreciation cycle” and Mum and I would remember getting out to push start under the gaze of the neighbors, cutting short visits to family to get home before sundown because the headlights weren’t working [and hadn’t for months] and similar episodes, which weren’t funny then but make for good memories now. I love this car because its like a slice of my childhood right here, a finger to bland aspirational conformity, and adopting a can-do attitude to overcome what ever life throws at us.


This is the last picture I have of the car taken about a month back. I could see it had had a difficult Winter, more tape had been applied to keep the rain out and a few other things had broken. About three weeks ago the car was no longer at it’s spot and I was pretty upset. I assumed the worst, that it had gone for good. This morning I cycled past and there it was again, now parked behind the hotel, out of the worst of the sea air. I was so relieved to see it. I’m guessing the owner has secured an underground parking spot inside the hotel seen in the sixth picture.


Let me leave you with another shot of the Renault Kiger, and this 2011 Renault Twingo RS Gordini. They share the same colour well. This Twingo has been teasing me in rush hour traffic for ages, so glad to get a picture of it. They were sold here briefly and this is the only one I ever see.