When we think of a 1980s or 1990s Honda, three things probably come to mind – the engine, wishbone front suspension and an identifiable engineering purity. Think NSX for the absolute example of what I mean.
So, a Honda Concerto TD would seem to be the exception that proves the rule(s).
In 1981, Honda and what I shall refer to as Rover, for convenience and brevity, entered a joint venture under which Rover would produce a version of the 1981 Ballade (or Civic) saloon as a Triumph, marketed in Europe only under the Triumph Acclaim (above) name. The car was almost totally Honda, – engine, interior, suspension, body, even most of the trim was interchangeable with the Honda.
It was succeeded in 1984 by a version of the 1984 Civic, sold as the Rover 213 with 1.3 litre Honda engine and the 216 with a 1.6 litre Rover engine. Rover had more input into the interior but was still recognisably a Honda. Maybe surprisingly, or maybe because of the Honda link, this car did well enough for the next product under the agreement to become Rover’s key product in the mid-market, in 1989.
This car, badged as the Rover 214 and 216 hatch, and 414 and 416 saloons (also known as 200 and 400 series and known as the R8 internally) were again collaborations with Honda, but with all Rover engines and much more Rover engineering, including the front suspension. The Japanese built Hondas had wishbone front suspension, the UK built Rovers had MacPherson struts. Rover also built the Honda, known as the Concerto, for the European market.
Honda did not have a diesel engine suitable for the car; neither did Rover, even in Europe, where diesel was (and still is) much stronger than in the US or Japan. Rover turned to Peugeot-Citroen for access to the XUD series of diesel engines, and the Honda followed, for Europe only.
So, the Honda Concerto TD did without a Honda engine, Honda’s preferred suspension configuration, was not even built by Honda but by Rover, and to cap it all, didn’t even come with (European market) Honda Concerto specific headlamp, taillights or bumpers, wearing the same as the Rover’s. It was literally a Rover 218SD with a Honda badge. This example, seen in June 2013 in Penne d’Agenais in South West France even appears to have a Rover style wood trimmed interior.
So, wrong engine, wrong suspension, wrong visual details and not much Honda engineering purity either.