I Never Appreciated the 1981 Honda Accord's Stodgy Elegance Until Today

Photo: Honda

The stuffy office aesthetic of the 1981 Honda Accord—specifically its interior—is really working for me, now that I’ve had a chance to appreciate it. Take a look inside one of these; what was once mundane seems beautiful today.

Screenshot: 2stroketurbo (YouTube)
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I’m not sure how I ended up watching this video of a mechanic giving a tour of his customer’s car, this impeccably tidy silver-with-burgundy Accord here, but the story he was telling about the owner’s grandson screwing up the engine trying to “hot rod” it was relatable enough to keep me hooked until about halfway through, when the video moves to the car’s interior.

The “power steering” emblem in the steering wheel is great, reminding us that one of the most basic features we take for granted now was novel decades ago, but what I like the most is the gauge pod. The clock and coin pocket are cute, too.

Screenshot: 2stroketurbo (YouTube)

I love the green-dot gear position indicator inside a clean tachometer, and Honda managed to fit quite a bit of information into the speedometer long before computer-screen gauges could have even been conceived. Check out the shift points labeled at various speeds, and there’s even a tire rotation light!

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The clock looks like something a Wes Anderson movie would open on to me, but I’m pretty sure my dad woke up next to something similar every day years before I was born.

Screenshot: 2stroketurbo (YouTube)
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1981 was the last year of the first generation Honda Accord, which launched in 1976, so the aesthetic you’re looking at here is really more representative of the 1970s than the ’80s. In fact, I imagine this car in particular was looking a little old by the time its owners bought it.

That said, the second gen hatchback that came out in 1982 didn’t look all that different. It pretty much just got square headlights and fatter rubber bumpers all around. But the interior got more digitized, and lost some of the lithe charm that I really like to see on the early car.

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Screenshot: 2stroketurbo (YouTube)

Even in old-car obsessed Los Angeles, I can’t remember the last time I saw a first generation Honda Accord in person. And I’ve never really taken the time to appreciate the interior of one until today, but I’m really glad I did.

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Just look at all the neat stuff in there!

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About the author

Andrew P. Collins

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik | 1975 International Scout, 1984 Nissan 300ZX, 1991 Suzuki GSXR, 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, 2005 Acura TL