I'd really like to shoot more Malaise Era Civics, but it seems most of them have been crushed by now, victims of their own reliability. The problem is that these cars just did their jobs without showing a huge amount of lovable personality, and thus it wasn't much like shooting Old Yeller when an owner's coldhearted fix-it-or-scrap-it calculus came into play on a broken 20-year-old Civic. Well, that's my theory, anyway. So, here's a '79 that's beaten all the odds and kept on doing its job; I photographed this car just across the street from the '77 Volvo 244DL, making this block a little museum for Malaise Era imports.

I've driven many of these Civics, and they're actually pretty fun to drive. Noisy and bouncy, sure, and other vehicles tower over you, but the late-70s Civic didn't feel stricken by the same level of Malaise that was hammering American and European cars of the time.

The CVCC engine meant Honda didn't have to put catalytic converters on this car until later than most manufacturers, which meant you could run leaded gas in your new Civic. Of course, by the mid-80s the smog-control system for the Civic had become somewhat complicated.

The late-70s Civic hatchback could fit four full grocery bags in the back, in addition to four passengers, weighed only 1,700 pounds (250 pounds less than the late-70s VW Beetle), and cost $4,500. You could get a Chevette hatchback for $3,794 (or $3,299 for the barebones Chevette Scooter), so the Civic wasn't anywhere near the cheapest gas-sipper you could get in 1979.