A cheap daily is usually a car that wears its battle scars with pride, like a soldier having fought several battles in an ongoing war. If you use that as a measuring stick, this Civic is the most decorated Honda in existence. If dents are a sign of character, consider this the automotive equivalent of Nelson Mandela. If imperfection is a sign of beauty, this car is Scarlett Johansson. If you're not catching what I'm throwing, this car is beat the hell up.
In preparation for some new Art Of The Flip articles, in which I chronicle the process in which I buy and sell cool cars, I figured I should post this one in its entirety in case some people were having trouble accessing the website, as I know some of you were. If you'd like to see more of these types of stories, check us out here.*
The story's original article can be found here
Part 1: The Short End of the Stick
This car was a complete and utter enigma. It had dents, scratches, and rust on every panel, but I had no idea why because I had very little history on this car. Was the small dent on the front from a sudden yet violent altercation with an off-duty Barista? Did the scratches on the back bumper arise from a PIT maneuver after a 2-hour long high speed chase? Why was there the passenger's window rollup missing? The carfax had two listed fender benders, but those only told a fraction of the story. Let's go back to the beginning: I got this car for FREE from a relative of a friend. Well, not really free, I had to take care of a few things on her car out of my pocket, so it was a trade of sorts. Here's what the car looked like when I got it:
I'd like to tell you that a lot of extensive body work was done and I made this car out to be a shining gem in the sea of Hondas for sale in my area, but all I did was steam clean with my Bissell Little Green Machine and take it to a $5 car wash to remove the more egregious bird turds. I knew that if I was to sell this car and have any sort of profit, I would have to make one hell of a description. Since I planned on selling through ebay, I would have to differentiate myself in some way. Hmm....
Part 2: Here goes nothing
This is exactly what was posted on my ebay auction:
So here we have it. A testament to humanity's ability to invent, persevere and above all, excite. It is my extreme privilege to present to you, the pinnacle of the modern motorcar - the 1995 Honda Civic DX. As an astute observer and a seasoned veteran of car culture, I'm sure you have a few questions, and I'm only too happy to provide the answers.
What am I looking at, and why is it so awesome?!
The photons being blasted into your retinas at 186,000 miles per second form an image of a car that has no equal. I'm not talking about the Honda Civic in general, I'm talking about this particular Honda Civic. This is a car that's rough as a coal miner's elbow on the outside, but has an interior more inviting and familiar than a hug from your grandmother.
How many miles does it have? Does it have any mechanical issues?
Miles are a thing of the past. When you measure things in terms of miles, it's easy to get mixed up as to how much is "too much". For reference, the distance from the Earth to the moon is 225,622 miles. The circumference of the moon is 6,784 miles. To put this in perspective, this car could have driven to the moon, then when it got there, circled it 5 times and still had more than 1,000 miles left for detours. Except this car didn't do something as boring as go into the lifeless vacuum of space. It traversed a sprawling world of shopping malls, university parking decks, highways and even a park or two, all without batting an eye or breaking a sweat because it's just that good. These weren't "easy highway miles" by any stretch of the imagination. It had to make its way through 75 seasons of torture, and came out on the other end without so much as a cough or sputter. It wears its 260,582 miles with pride and will continue to do so happily. Think of it as an employee that's overworked and underpaid, but comes to work 30 minutes early because it's the RIGHT THING TO DO.
Going back to my space travel analogy, if you look at the build quality of the Saturn V rocket that took people to the moon, and compared it with this car, you'd see that not only is this car much more technologically advanced, but it's built with higher standards and it's much more reliable and can be fixed without the use of a spacesuit. In fact, you could fix nearly any issue this car could ever have with a hammer, duct tape and string. This car thinks breaking down is something that the kids do in night clubs. It has zero starting/running/driving issues, and unlike that fickle prima donna Achilles, it doesn't have a fatal flaw that will render it useless. All the oil does a great job of staying in the engine and it's (pardon the pun) beneath the car to leave something behind when you park or drive it. It's more environmentally conscious and frugal than a 3rd-year liberal arts major that works part time as a cashier at Trader Joe's.
There's a reason that the car's engine is dirty - it's to accentuate what parts were recently replaced. It's quite ingenious if I do say so myself. Without me even having to tell you, you could clearly see that the distributor was changed, as its clean exterior clashes with the battered look of the rest of the engine. It's not neglected, it's functionally themed.
What's the vehicle's history?
Asking about its history is a lot like asking what occurred before the Big Bang. Sure, there are viable theories floating around, but no one can have any evidence either way, because our understanding simply breaks down at the point we ask the question. Here's what I do know:
The previous owner had the car for 13 years and was a Princeton graduate. Not Princeton Online Vocational Institute, I'm talking about THE Princeton. This Civic parked there. In the same parking garages and spaces that once housed the cars of America's greatest and most prosperous people. Could it have parked in the same place as Alan Turing's car? Possibly! The car has the parking passes to prove it - and here's the kicker to end all kickers - one parking pass is still active until the 10/14. That's right, this car allows you access to Princeton University, with FREE PARKING. All you'd need is to sit in on a lecture with a cleverly taken selfie and your parents will never have a reason to doubt your greatness again, they will never be so proud as they will be at the moment you showed them that you attended an Ivy League school, all because of the insanely smart investment you made while trawling ebay looking for a cheap and reliable car.
The car's 2-owner number and amount of accidents match, somehow as a sign from the universe that the purchase of this car simply makes sense, as easy as putting 2 and 2 together. There weren't any major wrecks with this car, simply fender benders and side swipes. But I'll let you in on a little secret: A dented car is less likely to attract theives, while simultaneously giving the car street cred with the ironic hipster crowd. It's character building for the car and the owner, knowing that beneath its damaged exterior lays something that will never, ever quit on you. Ever.
How many people can the car fit?
Comfortably, 5. Uncomfortably, potentially thousands. It depends on how thoroughly they're blended.
How fuel efficient is it?
This is another question that is rendered useless by this car's almost magical ability to defy the laws of physics. It's like asking "How high is up?"To bring it down to Earthly figures, a Toyota Prius, a car made to literally save the skin of the one Polar Bear left in the world, gets 50 miles per gallon. This car gets 52. And it costs 1/40th of the Prius, and its repair bills can be paid with change. Not to mention the Prius is absolutely joyless and ugly. This car might not be a looker, but it's cute enough for the girl you asked out to get in without thinking that she will get a lecture about how hemp can single-handedly save the world's economy.
Is it fun to drive?
It's got a peppy 4 cylinder, 16-valve engine coupled with a responsive 5-speed manual transmission. It's low to the ground, has skinny tires and weighs half that of a modern-day sedan. If that's not a recipe for personal enjoyment, admit yourself to a hospital because your nervous system isn't working anymore.
Will it drift?
Anything is possible if you set your mind to it, grasshoppa.
What is the quality/condition of the interior?
The quality of the interior is such that it can take a quarter million miles of constant abuse and still look like it came from a loving home. The carpets are a little dirty, but faulting this car for dirty carpets is like faulting Stephen Hawking because his toenails aren't painted. There's one thing missing - the passenger's side window rollup lever. You could purchase it for $5 on ebay, or simply make a power play every time someone wants to ride in your car. You, and only you control their destiny. You can create a fun activity out of it, by giving them completely unrelated tools and telling them that they have a certain amount of time to roll the window down or else you'll let one rip. Just one idea out of many you can encounter by solving this problem that I call an opportunity in disguise. The interior is largely blemish-free, save for one gouge above the radio that looks like a gremlin took a bite out of it. Hope it wasn't after midnight.
What is the quality/condition of the stereo system?
I hate today's radio stations. It's all nonsense to me. It's a great thing this car comes with a Compact Disc Player! It's like my own personal jukebox! Sure, the car only has 2 speakers, but do you really need any more than that? It sounds great and can easily drown out any voices in your head, no matter how loud or vulgar.
What's the reserve price?
I put a reserve price because only the strong survive in such an economy. What it is, is a mystery to even myself. Honestly, I closed my eyes and mashed the keyboard. There's a good change the reserve price may have a letter and a hashtag in it. Only bidding can reveal the true price.
Are the tires in good shape?
The tires look meatier than a turducken, and probably have the same nutritional content. They're in amazing shape and are skinny, but not in the "look at me" kind of way.
Is this the car for me?
This isn't just the car for you. It's the car for you and your entire family and everyone you've ever known. If we regressed into a dystopian society where everyone was forced to drive a 1995 Honda Civic DX, we'd be in great shape. Of course it's the car for you. You'd be crazy not to get something that has this much character and personality, while at the same time bringing this next-level amount of practicality, thrift, dependability, and excitement every single day. Buy it just to remind yourself that life can be good sometimes.
And here are the "finished" pictures:
Part 3: Everything went better than expected!
While the auction was going, the bill for my friend's relative amassed $409.70, which was a little more than I wanted to spend because I didn't think I could get that much for a Civic that was doing its best impression of a crumpled piece of paper. Good thing I'm a complete idiot and the car sold for a WHOPPING $710. Not bad for something that just needed a clean, a subpar photoshoot, and a funny description. Here's the extensive rundown of costs for this car:
|1995 Honda Civic DX||-$0|
|"Exchange" Parts and Labor||-$409.70|
I made almost $300 for washing a car and writing for 20 minutes. Time to go fill up my tank.
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