This morning’s post about the R&T feature on the ’75 Honda Civic triggered a memory from an article I’d read long, long ago in a lifetime far away. I searched until I’d found it, much like Ahab and the whale, as I was determined to bring it to you deserving folks here at CC! So without further ado (I’m going to let Paul judge the slight non-PCness of the accompanying photos to the text, I edited out risque cartoons from the last two pics) I present the ultimate modded 1st gen Honda Civic!!
Brock Yates, famous for the Cannonball Run and a frequent Car & Driver contributor, penned the article. He starts by commenting on the state of the economy at the time, then segues to extolling the flingable virtues of the Civic. Some of the mods like the spoiler and fender flares do look attractive. I wonder if Soichiro Honda saw them.
Other additions included a leather steering wheel and racing style seats. I’m sure these helped keep you in control when ticking the Dragon’s Tail over Deal’s Gap.
The base Civic ($3,500!!) was sent to a specialty house where the mods were added to the car. They chose to keep things subdued and classy rather than turn the Honda into a caricature of itself.
They moved the turn signals (I’d always found those to be dorky and obtrusive myself) to under the bumper, removed and blacked out some chrome and improved the instrument panel to communicate conditions more clearly to the driver. The fender flares were functional, Yates chose to install 5 and 1/2 inch wide low profile tires to improve road grip.
It certainly sounds appealing, a Honda Civic CVCC GT for the times!
The double punch of Brock Yates and David E. Davis on the editorial staff of
Car & Driver” hooked me on that magazine for a 30 year ride.
A sweet little ride just begging for a turbo 🙂
Yeah but what about the car?
Rodney Dangerfield lives!
Wonder why these C/D project cars never seemed to hop up the engines. Maybe it was really about selling tires?
I believe that this was actually a Playboy project car, not one modified by Car and Driver staff.
The Car and Driver project cars I remember were the 1966 Plymouth Fury Suburban wagon and 1968 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser (the two “Boss Wagons”). If I recall correctly, the engines were performance versions ordered from the factory. The main switch was that these performance engines were installed in a station wagon instead of a coupe. The major non-factory modifications involved the suspension and brakes.
Also a W123 300D wagon and a Taurus wagon SHO
Also a Chevy Suburban project.
I remember the 300D Boss Wagon. It was damaged because David E drove into a Zenith 26 inch black and white television set that mischevous kids had left on a dark highway one night.
The contents page had a photo of Davis looking through the ruined tv, with the caption “Davis breaks into television.”
Don’t forget J. Edgar Opel, a Kadett with an aftermarket turbo that was one of the pioneers of aftermarket turbo kits in the early 70s
I think the trouble with the J. Edgar Opel’s turbo installation was the final nail for engine mods in the project cars. Remember when they stuck a Pontiac Sprint 6 in an XK-E? I don’t think they were particularly happy with what they created, and then the roof of the RedBall Garage collapsed on it.
You missed the one where they installed a second engine/drivetrain in the rear of a Civic. They enjoyed the double-takes at service stations when one engine started, then another. Today, most folks wouldn’t even notice that.
Long ago in another lifetime, I saw that very car at a used car dealer in San Rafael (CA). The salesman finally stopped trying to sell it to me when I told him he couldn’t get me financing on a bicycle.
“…a top speed approaching 90 miles per hour…”
We had a 1975 non-CVCC four-speed when I was a teenager in Montreal, and the previous owner had added a tachometer. I can therefore state that it did exactly 15 miles per 1000 rpm in fourth gear, so at the 6000 rpm redline you could just touch 90 mph.
I accept no responsibility for when it burned out the main bearings a couple of years later. My stepmother didn’t check the oil, so it was her fault. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
I remember the first time I drove one of these fun little cars .
Maybe not actually fast but fun by the bucketful .
I never liked Playboy. I was more of a Penthouse fan, or when I wanted Hard Core, Hustler. My aunt had a 76 Civic in the late 80’s. I remember one cold frosty night when she handed me a towell and said I got to be the defroster tonight! She wasn’t joking. I never paid any attention to DED Jr until he started Automobile Magazine in the 80’s. Then I became a rabid fan.
Yeah, but after you were done holding the magazine up with one hand, Playboy had generally well-written articles and car ads. In fact, the zenith may have been in 1968 with the GT-500KR convertible ads which seemed to be in every issue.
I had two of these ’75 Civics. The first was a beat up coupe with a CVCC four speed, not really a bad car. The second was an immaculate CVCC Hondamatic wagon. I ended up swapping in a replacement tranny and a brand new crate motor(from Honda). I really liked this wagon, it was useful but was it slow. There were many occasions when I had to come to a complete stop on a freeway on ramp. I just knew there was no way that I could accelerate up to speed, and had to wait for a bigger gap in traffic. Still, top end was 85 mph. and it would cruise at 70 mph. I kept it for a couple of years until I got a new ’90 Civic Si. Now that was a great car.
I thought the turn signals looked pretty cool…when I thought they were fog lights.
Come on down, buy a new Honda and really get hosed.
See Mom, I really did read Playboy for the articles!!
Long ago, in high school, I was given an beater of a ’76 Honda CVCC wagon. The common for the time Sunset Orange color was faded (this would have been 1981), it was a crapbox supreme. However, it did have virtues. Wonderful handling and responsive brakes and a engine that revved to the (auditory) redline – there was no tach. But…the heater wouldn’t shut off, the driver’s side window was broken and was held up with a coat hanger where the side panel and armrest used to be, the gas struts for the wagon hatch were totally gone. I used a board to keep it open when loading stuff, it slammed shut hard with a guillotineesqe finality if you knocked the board away – I know it would have broken bones if I’d have let it catch me unawares. The CV joints on both sides went shortly after I got it, of course that was my fault, as was the bondo patch on the muffler giving way to a full throated roar around that time. Mind you, this was at about 55,000 miles in 1981.
I wondered what drugs that people were taking when they said the Japanese were making great cars. Even the worn-out Torinos, Dusters and F-100s that abounded in my rural high school parking lot were in better shape.
Seems to me like things which could all be rectified in a day’s work and which would be acceptable in a neglected car with mileage…
Lack of maintenance, and failure to replace worn and broken stuff will do that. As a counterpoint my family’s 1977 Accord hatchback was solid runner with only minor rust issues when we sold it in 86 but that car was serviced by the book and any failed components were immediately repaired.
I was in high school at the time and was encouraged to study for grades rather than work part time after school, thus no funds (in my pocket) to fix up the beater Honda. It was my ride until the CV joints went and then it was sold rather than repaired. I never understood my family’s attitude about fixing cars.
I put one of those Racemark steering wheels in my Volvo 122S. Looked cool, but didn’t do much for low speed steering effort …