Brendan’s recent post prompted me to get writing again, about a car that doesn’t get seen too often. CC’s archives contain only a few second generation Accord features, and even fewer about the hatch. While the hatch seems to have been fairly popular in the USA as a quasi-coupe, I don’t think there would have been as many sold in Australia, where the sedan would have been preferred. Hatches in the next size down routinely offered 5 doors rather than
This car was shot at the Winton Historic races, where there is always a large display of classic cars driven by spectators; this year it was more impressive than normal, so I will have more articles to come! As beautifully restored as the EH Holden ute next door is, I doubt that I will feature that because I didn’t take any photos of it specifically. Time was not sufficient to do that for everything, and watch some racing, and tour through the pits, and talk to all sorts of different people – the day was fairly stretched!
Here is the other end of the car. From what I can tell, the second generation Accord debuted in Australia with a 1.6L engine before increasing to 1.8L with the 1984 facelift. This car looks to be in remarkably well-preserved original condition, with the most notable point being that it has been put back on the road relatively recently. The new registration number has been issued at a guess about 18 months ago.
The first Accord won the Wheels magazine Car of the Year award in 1977, thanks to the Honda factors of excellent quality and driving dynamics, and very efficient CVCC engines that have had their praises sung many times.
In later years, the Accord Coupe did not make the trip to Australia but the Aerodeck wagon did from 1992-95. From 2003 Honda Australia sold the Acura TSX aka Accord-in-Europe as the Accord Euro; I wonder how they came up with that name?!? Only the high-revving 2.4L 4-cyl was sold here, not the V6. Motoring journalists would often refer to the ‘normal’ Accord (which was sold with both the 4 and the V6) as the “Accord Seppo” – based on rhyming slang of Septic Tank = Yank.
Here is the interior – with the manual transmission that must be a lot better than an automatic of this era. It looks un-touched in there, and the seat and steering wheel covers show there is a good level of care happening.
I did not see an owner present, so I can only speculate whether it was still a one-owner car, or had found a caring custodian more recently; either way it should be around for a long time yet!
Paul’s 2011/2016 Curbside Classic: 1983 Honda Accord – Honda Revolutionizes The US Industry, Again
RLPLAUT’s 2016 COAL: 1982 Honda Accord Hatchback – A Simple Car For A Simpler Life
Jim Grey’s 2014 Curbside Classic: 1984 Honda Accord – The Canary in the Coal Mine for the Traditional American Sedan
Yes, once the sedans hit, the hatch seemed to start losing steam here in the US.
My theory is that we have always accepted hatchbacks in basic low-bucks cars but never in anything more expensive. The Accord was high enough up the prestige ladder that the hatch lacked appeal.
A beautiful example – I have not seen one of that second generation in forever.
Its hatchback doesn’t seem to have hurt the Tesla Model S any.
But the Tesla Model 3 does have a trunk, forum people say it’s got a structural member across there. I’d be interested in a base Model 3 in a year or two when my 500e lease runs out, but it must be a hatchback to replace my Prius. I’m spoiled by the utility of a hatch. I’ve had five in forty years, not even counting Lily’s cars.
I had an ’83 hatch for a little over a year, and it was a fine automobile. I would have kept it had I not been detailed overseas for two years. My next Honda was an ’87 LXi hatch. Which was an order of magnitude better, and better than any (at the time) 7-year old car on the market – better than most new ’94s.
In the mid-’90s my Dad had an ’84 Accord 4dr with the 4spd auto. It was just fine. I don’t understand the hatred for automatic transmissions on this site. It’s the same over at TTAC.
It doesn’t surprise me – driving enthusiasts tend to prefer manuals, don’t they?
What surprises me about this site is how many commenters don’t seem too interested in driving dynamics and seem more interested in cupholders and trinkets and cars as appliances
or status symbols or fuel for nostalgia rather than having a value in their own right. (I’m not saying preferring automatics puts you in that category)
This is *Curbside Classic* – “fuel for nostalgia” is it’s bread-and-butter.
The thing is – Hondas had engines that revved smoothly up to the redline as well as manual transmissions with great shift action. While an automatic Honda would be perfectly serviceable, you’d be missing out on a lot of driving pleasure.
I tried learning to drive a “stick” back in the ’90s at the urging of a co-worker who had a Honda 5sp. What a pain in the ass! After several attempts with several different vehicles I gave up. I don’t feel I am missing out on any driving “pleasure” at all!
There’s a learning curve but it’s satisfying once you figure it out… IF it’s a good stickshift. Not all are created equal. My BA Falcon and Astra had great ones, but the Lancer I learned to drive in and the VY Commodore I test drove once had lousy ones. I’m also done with having a manual as a daily driver… They’re strictly weekend cars for me now. My left knee had its fill of driving in traffic with a manual.
I’d have no problems driving a modern compact with an automatic as they’ve come leaps and bounds but when you look back at the 1970s or 1980s, the performance and economy divide was very much present. Hence why many of us would prefer a manual ’85 Accord to an auto.
I see your argument and I largely agree with you…. IF we’re talking about more modern cars. But that could be my biases in effect.
OK Frank. When you say you gave up, do you mean you gave up trying to like manuals, or you gave up trying to master it?
Because if it’s the latter, your comment seems akin to a one star review for a beautiful hotel you never stayed at, but were annoyed it was fully booked.
I’m not a manual shift fundamentalist BTW, I’ve owned an auto, currently drive one and will probably buy one soon. I’ve even worked with people who refused to drive autos at work but it never bothered me. I can totally understand why someone wouldn’t bother to learn in a country where the norm is to take your test in an auto. I don’t think I would have but in Britain basically you drive a manual if you have more than one leg, so I was pretty much forced, and I’m glad now, though it drove me crazy then.
It probably goes back to when I was 7 and my Dad bought his first car, a ’67 Fairlane with a three on the tree. I found his constant shifting annoying and was so glad when he traded it for a ’69 Galaxie with auto, now THAT was a car! Fast forward to the ’90s when my co-worker friend urged me to learn a stick, because “they’re so much fun!” No, they’re not. Not if you don’t have the knack for driving the damn things. I tried to keep an open mind and learn, but I just wasn’t motivated enough, didn’t see the appeal and didn’t have the skillset.
It’s funny how that pre-driving experience influences you. My dad didn’t learn to drive at all until he married my mum in his late twenties – she had learned at 17 in her dad’s company car.
My paternal grandparents had no car, so my grandpa tried to teach dad in great-grandpa’s Ford Popular with a non-synchro gearbox, which meant double-clutching and rev matching by ear in a car with no rev counter. Cue grinding of gears, gnashing of teeth and a blazing argument. Dad walked away and hopped on the bus.
My dad has never driven an auto and my parents and sister are afraid to try, if you can believe that! I think my mum drove her uncle’s Daimler down the drive once and found the creeping creepy.
Well, Frank, one does have to practice. The Sax is a great looking instrument but is much harder to play than the trumpet and there is your manual vs. automatic analogy. I was determined to learn how to drive a stick in 1973 even though my car was an auto. My elderly father who grew up with manuals has even complimented me on how seamlessly I drive a manual and do it better than he ever did.
One more analogy. A manual is a lot like a foreign language. You can take classes, you can memorize words, but unless you live in the country for a few years you will likely never learn and certainly never be fluent. With a manual you can’t learn on a freind’s car a couple of times. You need to buy a manual and it is your only daily driver for a year.
I can understand your lack of understanding of the lack of love for the automatic, even though both my cars are manuals. I kind of feel the same way about the “over-love” of manuals. In the end, it is all about personal preference. To most here, the manual is preferable. It usually means that the car was built for performance. To me, it means that a car thus equipped was built to the lowest MSRP. To me, manuals belong in a smaller car, with a smaller engine, as they usually allow better performance. However, in a midsize or larger, it seems daft to me to have a manual. The idea of wanting a full size sedan with a manual seems crazy to me. In my mind, a large car with adequate power seems best mated to an automatic. It doesn’t make it correct, it just is my personal opinion, worth no more and no less than someone else’s opinion.
In defense of choosing an automatic, it is often preferable when commuting in traffic. I know that my stick shift does not preclude my daily commute on a packed interstate, but there are times when it would be nice not to have to do the three-pedal shuffle all the time. The automatic was originally a luxury item, but usually sapped any driving dynamics and performance away. In these times when most drivers really don’t want to actually drive, they have kept a lot of people still in the driver’s seat, for better or for worse.
At our house automatics are obsolete.
My Miata has a 5-speed stick, naturally. Lily’s Mini Cooper S has a 6-speed manual. She’s always insisted on manual transmission in her cars, she likes the additional control. These are both small sports cars, which are not much fun on a packed interstate.
Our Prius hybrid and my Fiat 500e EV drive as if they have automatics but in both cases there is no shifting. The full hybrid Prius has constant-mesh planetary gears with a variable ratio controlled by the relative speeds of two motor/generators and the engine. The Fiat just has the electric motor of course. Its instant torque at all speeds is a blast.
So we still like manuals for old times’ sake, but automatic transmissions are obsoleted by hybrid-electric and full-electric powertrains.
At our house automatics are the ticket.
I actually prefer stick shift but these days my clutch leg gives out too easily. Being 100% unwilling to buy a hybrid or electric car, automatic transmission is my best option and it works well.
You would think so concerning sticks in full size big engine cars. Yet just watch certain brand enthusiasts go crazy over such a car with a 4 spd manual behind that 390, 428, 383 or 440 and those fans don’t have young legs.
Frank, I don’t hate autos but the simple fact is that in the early 80s they were still the stereotypical ‘slush’ box that absorbed a decent amount of power, at least in lower gears in Honda’s case. A good auto was definitely ‘fine’, no question, but nowhere near the modern type.
I agree. Small-engined autos then were universally gutless and out-of-scale thirsty. Not for some time now, though.
I actually took you to mean, John, that the auto Accord of this era was the 3-speed semi-auto Hondamatic, which most owners simply drove like an auto, leaving it in the “star” position where it was terribly inefficient. I don’t reckon Aus got the four speed till the next gen.
Four speeds generally were the beginning of autos teaming well with little engines.
My problem with automatics from the era of this Accord is that they matched up poorly with small, high revving engines. Automatics developed in an environment of lazy, slow revving engines that were really happy at 2k rpm. Engines like in these Hondas love higher revs but the automatics kept you way under the torque curve much of the time.
Modern automatics have more ratios and better gearing (along with more sophisticated internal controls). My 2007 Honda Fit is really pleasant as an automatic. The 98 Civic of my daughter’s that I am driving this summer is much less so,
Keep in mind when this generation of Accord launched, the alternative to a slick 5 speed manual was a 3 speed automatic. And even that was a recent development; just three years earlier that would have been a *2* speed automatic you were displacing that slick 5 speed for. Honda automatics didn’t become decent until the ’83 Accord’s 4 speed unit.
Anyway, the second-generation Accord hatchback was quite popular in the States; it wasn’t until the third generation that the sedan really started to take over. Tellingly, Honda offered two trim levels in the hatchback coupe but just one for the sedan throughout most of the second-gen’s run. Make mine a first-year ’82 coupe with an all-red (or second choice all-blue) interior with that nice LX-grade one-year-only upholstery and a 5 speed. This is the car that got me to really start liking Japanese cars.
I worked with that generation of Accord Euro in Australia. Being British, to me that was the “normal” Accord.
The other (“seppo”) Accord I referred to as the fat Accord (it not only looked fatter but was a flabbier drive) or more usually the Thai Accord, as that’s where they were built.
NZ got em both Euro and Seppo and every other breed of Honda has turned up as well including rebadge models never aimed at western markets.
Honda Australia appears to be still selling previous (9th) gen. Accord sedans with 8th gen. powertrain (with no manual transmission)
Yeah the new generation has been delayed. And Thai production of our Hondas means we often miss out on updates made to American-market Hondas, e.g. the previous generation of Civic never had the rushed facelift introduced here as it was in North America.
Here the Accord is such a niche player that if it wasn’t introduced, not many would notice. The mid-size and full-size sedan segments have been moribund for years.
I think they have said that the new Accord will be coming, but it is not on RHD production anywhere yet. Who knows, the large sedan market is shrinking here like everywhere else.
Perhaps they will bring in an SUV instead? They sold the first gen MDX here with Honda badges, but are there even RHD versions of the current SUVs that are larger than the CRV? Honda Australia has been on a roll since the current Civic has been released but I fear that most other RHD markets won’t want large SUVs.
There’s not. We are at the mercy of Japanese and UK tastes, really, as well as American production capacity.
No clue why they did one RHD generation of MDX and then never any others. Baffling.
True. Even Japan is stuck with the 9th gen, in hybrid guise only.
I’ve had 4 small Honda cars, well, 1 was an Acura. And only 1 was a hatchback, that strangish (sp?) split tailgate model….the 5th generation? In my opinion, that car was little better than the 6th generation 2 door coupe that would eventually replace it, at least for my uses. I got a 15ft collapsible ladder into the 2 door that might not have fit into the slightly shorter hatchback.
Nowadays, if a sedan has a folding rear seat I’m good. Unfortunately, my current car, a P71 does not (obviously) have a folding rear seat. And to make matters worse, there are several stickers in various parts of the car warning drivers about loading the trunk with objects pointing towards the front of the car.
I think the Holden is an EJ model by those tail lights.
Nope, EH for sure Holden always kept the preceding model rear sheetmetal on facelifted commercials and the scuttle vent grille and bonnet are definitely EH,
Rare cars those early Honda here rust got most of them years ago nice parking lot you might like to check the staff car park too if my mate’s cousin still works there Australias only 67 Chev 4 door pillarless sedan could be in attendance.
The ute didn’t get the new tail lights
The green pickup is a Holden?
I’m not uninterested in the Honda, but that pickup is FAR more interesting to me!
Fair comment Dan, but they are so much more common than an old Honda!
A couple of years ago I took my mother to a car show because she was visiting, and she said about a ute like this “what is that doing here?”, because in her eyes it was just an old ute.
I’ll have some more interesting stuff to come, don’t worry.
To this day, I loathe Cockney rhyming slang and “seppo” is one of the most irritating examples. Never understood why anyone found this slang charming and the Aussie magazines insisted on using “seppo” for the Thai Accord for years.
Even more irritatingly, Wheels used to always say about the Holden Jackaroo Monterey that its name “sounds like ‘mount her, Ray’. Highly inappropriate”. If it was a joke it wasn’t very funny and they printed it in the buyer’s guide section of Wheels for years. I have a personal rule in life: don’t repeat jokes. They don’t age like a fine wine.
Two elderly women that used to live across the street from me – and whom I spent plenty of time with as a kid – had an Accord hatch just like this but in white. It never visibly aged and it was already a decade old by the time I first saw it. I wonder if it’s still running today — actually I wonder how its owners are doing nowadays too!
Perhaps Honda would have done better here in the 1980s and 1990s if they’d done what literally every other Japanese brand did and actually release a five-door hatch. There was no five-door Civic until, what, 2002? The Accord hatch never came with five doors either. A puzzling oversight, especially with the Civic. Although fortunately, they developed one for Honda Europe… a market even more in love with hatchbacks than Australia.
The first two generations had a 5 door hatch as well as a 5 door wagon (though they were never common) but then with the third generation it morphed into the Civic Shuttle wagon and was never seen again – until the ’01-’05 models.
Don’t forget that the Australian accent and quite a bit of the vernacular has it’s roots deep in East London. And rhyming slang IS both funny and charming when used by those progenitors to this day, used where it isn’t an invention or affectation but an unthnking cultural artefact. However, used in modern times in this country, where it is no longer part of the wordscape in any way, I agree that it grinds. “Seppo” is just awful. It was a WW2 term crassly invented as an insult to the US servicemen then seen to be “invading” here on leave, etc. For the motoring press here to adopt it in the 2000’s annoyed the daylights out of me, but in relation to the Thai Accord, sheeplike, they all did.
So I don’t agree with you, William, but I sure agree with you!
Yes, definitely a humour-fail, I should have made that clearer.
My family had a US spec 1984 Accord hatchback that replaced a 1977 Accord, both with the 5 speed. While the 84 was roomier, quieter, and had AC and a cassette player it was also heavier, softer, and very high geared so the 77 felt much more eager and was more fun to drive. It also had that oh so 80s orange instrument lighting that was only cool for about 5 minutes and then turned annoying.
My first car was a 1982 Honda Accord LX sedan in US spec. Bought it with 336,000 miles on the clock and plenty of rust, despite being a west coast car from new. I still have it, but it’s in a bad state of disrepair, mostly due to the shenanigans I pulled in it (towing a 1995 F350 is one of them). I also don’t understand the typical hatred of any sort of vehicle that’s not RWD and has a manual transmission. My general rule (to myself) since I usually own cheap vehicles is to have at least two that can do different things. My MX-3 is fun and sporty(ish) and has a manual transmission (also a tow-bar), while my 940 Wagon has an automatic and much more space for people and items. Both are equally fun and the Volvo, despite being an automatic, is the quickest since it’s a turbo. This is why I like this site so much. It’s much more mature than sites ran by people closer to my age that seem to only care about the newest and shiniest German sedans or anything a 2J-ZE fits into.
I prefer the sealed beam head light USA version over the euro style lights that every other country got. It probably has to do with the fact that these were everywhere(the coupe and sedan) around my way and I long got used to the lights
Did this owner remove the transmission badging or was that just a USA thing. I remember these having ether 5-Speed or Hondamatic badging under the right taillight
I remember Honda proudly having 5-Speed on both this generation Accord and the previous one to boast that this car had a 5 Speed manual trans instead of the common(in those days) 4 speed manual.
Then they started sticking the Hondamatic transmission in them and added that badging.
The thing I like about that era of Honda Accord(and Honda in general) was the clean dashboard. Everything in reach and easy to read quickly.
Also I think this had “power” rear door locks where the driver could lock/unlock the back doors by pulling up or down on a lever on the center console
I didn’t even realize those weren’t the quad sealed-beam headlights under one of those period-correct aftermarket covers to give them the aero-look.
And I have to agree with you on the dashboard. I may be a bit of a Luddite when it comes to automotive technology, but I vastly prefer the simple, clean layout in the subject car to what you’ll find in most cars today.
Since Honda started in the US with 3 door hatches (600, then Civic, then Accord) I was frankly surprised when they introduced sedans. In fact, I think there was a Civic wagon here before any 4 door sedan. I really wanted to buy one of these Accord coupes when the second gen came out, but pricing and dealer markups prevalent at the time exceeded my budget. I bought a Civic hatch instead. Regarding manual vs automatic … my recent trucks and SUV’s have been automatics, even if available with a manual, for various reasons. But other than our Prius (no choice) we’ve never had a passer car with an automatic. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I drove a 4 cylinder non-hybrid car with an auto … definitely would have been a rental … perhaps a PT Cruiser, which shows how long it’s been. I’m fine with a powerful Cruiser with an auto, don’t really care if it’s a 2 speed or 6 speed. But my small car experience with 60 hp engines and 3 or even 4 speeds in years past, has soured me on the feel forever. And the clutch and shifter action of our recent VW’s is so nice I can’t imagine giving that up. Yet.
I would love to find a 1st or 2nd Gen Accord hatchback with manual to add to make collection. Preferably both as I love hatchbacks. My 91 626 is a touring hatchback and since I am pretty much the only person in the car I only need to two front doors.
I came really close to buying one of these (and straying from the string of VWs which I continue to own to this day) in 1986, when I ended up with my 2nd VW, a 1986 GTi.
The Accord was of course a bit larger than the GTi, and I really wanted the car to have fuel injection (which I had on the Scirocco I owned at the time), but back then I think you had to go to the top level LXi trim on the Honda to get it, otherwise you would get the carburated engine in the lesser trim levels…I’m not sure what it was about the LXi that put me off, but something else that came in the package I didn’t want (maybe power windows?…my GTi didn’t have them) anyway I “lucked” into a deal on my GTi, a co-worker bought one that was only 9 months old and decided to move to Chicago, and didn’t want (or need?) a car, and sold me his used one…so maybe the decision was made for me. I’ve always liked the Accord hatchback, especially since it is a larger hatchback than normal (compact rather than sub-compact) and lamented that they were discontinued, I guess around 1989 or so, and I never got to buy one. My friend at the time had an ’82, which I liked; another co-worker thought it sounded from the back seat like some video game (in the later 80’s). I’m a hatchback guy, and have owned them since 1981 (currently drive a 2000 Golf).
I’m also one of those manual transmission people, but maybe can explain differently why I like them other than the “fun to drive” or “sporty” labels people attribute to them.
For me, I like the engine braking, that you can slow down without using the brake pedal…this sounds like a small thing, but it seems to me to be very natural and handy…of course with self shifting you can anticipate upcoming grades and shift yourself at whatever speed you deem appropriate, which is also nice. I haven’t owned an automatic car since 1981, but in my older years I may have to acquiesce due to infirmities (my knee has acted up making clutching no fun) and traffic (where I live is a boomtown, though I’ve been here 35 years, the traffic is no fun with a manual. Kind of like when I first moved here my Scirocco had no air conditioning (in the sunbelt) and I had it for 5 summers, but traffic was much less and you could do with windows down, but now in stop and go traffic, air conditioning is even more important to have in a car.
This is a rare car, and since it is an ’85, the headlight/grille assembly resembles that of the car which replaced it a year later – after the first generation Accord sedans came out, they immediately outsold the hatchbacks and that trend continued.
You are right Dave, I had to check to make sure which version I was dealing with! I could get the year from the registration authority. Mind you back then sometimes the importer or dealer would use the manufacture date (correct) or sometimes the compliance date (effectively when it arrived in the country) which would be a month or four later – obviously more ‘helpful’ later in the year.
Someone clue me in: what is this car’s appeal? All I see is a plain econobox that’s been unusually well-preserved… hardly a “classic” thought is it?