Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. We haven't seen many Hondas in this series, though I'm still hoping to find a very early Civic or- better still- a 600 on the island. The early-80s Civic wagon is a good example of the Japanese cars that shifted American car buyers' opinion from the "cheap, gets good gas mileage" view of the 70s towards the "these things never break" view widely held today. They were once everywhere, but nostalgia doesn't adhere too strongly to a reliable appliance... and so most were crushed as they hit 300,000 or so miles on the clock.

2,033 pounds. That's right, this car barely weighed one ton, and it would haul four passengers and plenty of cargo. With only 69 horsepower, lots of wind noise, and no cupholders, a car with the same specs as the '83 Civic wagon would be laughed out of the showrooms by car buyers today... but you'd get into the 40 MPG range on the highway with it. The price: $6,349 ($13,948 in 2008 dollars).

I don't understand why lovers of vintage Japanese cars seem lukewarm at best on the early Civics- why, I didn't see a single example at the Motoring J Style show. Is it the front-wheel-drive?

First 300 DOTS VehiclesDOTS FAQ