Clean 1986 Honda Civic Wagon AWD 5-Speed
There was once a time when automakers thought nothing of offering all-wheel drive on even their compact vehicles. Today, if you want AWD they make it a big costly deal. It's only available on heavy mid-size and up cars, loaded with options. These cars are expensive, complicated, and gas guzzling. After all, someone that wants something as simple and safe as extra traction in inclement weather must also have a bunch of extra cash for all the bells and whistles, right? I'm being sarcastic of course. One of the few automakers that still "gets" this is Subaru, whose Impreza is still a relatively small and affordable entry-level car with AWD. But in the late 80s and early 90s, other automakers like Toyota and Honda were doing this too.
Honda decided to offer AWD on their compact third generation 1984-1987 Civic Wagon. These puppies are just too good to be true. Notice how Honda - or any other automaker for that matter - no longer offers this versatile body, with minimal sheet metal to keep costs down for the manufacturer and consumer, large and high greenhouse region for maximum interior comfort and visibility in and out.
The AWD system was introduced on the Civic in 1985 and was part-time, any-speed and activated by pushing a button on the dashboard. Giving the driver discretion was extremely practical, as bad weather is not a constant variable. It also allowed for better fuel economy because when the system was off the engine only had to work the front wheels.
Japanese designers are used to crafting cars for small spaces in Tokyo, and their gift for compact dimensions glows in this Civic. Every angle is hard, with no organic shapes. It's the textbook definition of form over function. Note the unpainted plastic bumpers that give it an ultra-utilitarian look that is also quite practical as it deflects chips, dirt, scrapes and grime in spots that encounter it most. This one looks especially crisp and attractive in light blue. I also love the mudflaps.
Under the hood is a four cylinder engine. This one is mated to a rare 5-speed manual transmission for a more involved driving experience.
Inside the skeletel interior is even more functional.
This example is claimed as being in California since new, proudly wearing its blue plates. The seller says it has been well maintained and mostly garaged, with original paint, no accidents, no major dings and a clear title. They do say it has some small surface rust spots however.
Mechanically, it has a new clutch, tires, brakes, belt and water pump. The seller says it's running well, although there is some axle noise.
These were often bought in regions with bad climates so most have all bust rusted into the ground. It's refreshing to find a clean and mostly spotless survivor of this great little vehicle. There really isn't anything like it being offered today.
Available here on ebay in Fremont, California with 14 bids at $1,225.