Saturday, July 14, 2012

1992 Honda Civic - My New Ride - No One, But No One - Including Me - Saw This Coming

Meet the new car. Yep. It's a 1992 Honda Civic. A base 1992 Honda Civic. Power windows? Nope. Power locks? Nope. Right side mirror? No way. Sunroof? Nope, a solid roof. A tachometer? Hell, no. It doesn't even have a clock. I have the original window sticker. It has zero options. (It does have A/C. I believe that was dealer installed and therefor wouldn't show up on the factory sticker.)

It looks like it hasn't seen a coat of wax since its initial dealer prep. The drivers door makes a noise upon opening and closing that large amounts of grease has not yet cured. It has a few small dents and dings. The driver's seat, which has an aftermarket seat heater in it (!!!), has a tear. The seats feel like they are made of poured concrete and not foam. However, they are really well shaped and hold you in place very nicely.

On the plus side, it hasn't used a drop of oil or coolant in the 700 or so miles I've had it. (The first of which were a 500 mile - one day - trip from Richmond, VA to Massachusetts. It performed flawlessly. Slowly, but flawlessly.) According to one of the repair receipts that came with it (I have all of them - or most them - dating back to its original date of purchase-) it had its head gasket replaced about 30,000 miles ago. At the time it had its valve seals replaced. The body does not have a speck of rust on it. It's truly amazing. It really is a 20 year old rust-free Honda.

So, you ask, how and why did I wind up with this fine piece of Japanese automotive history? The how is easy. It was given to me. The why is a little tougher.

My brother bought this car a number of years ago for his stepdaughter. She used it to commute back and forth to college. After graduating, she gave it back to him. He parked it in the garage at his "second home." It was a third car to him. And, since he always drove one of his other vehicles to his second home, it rarely, if ever, got driven. He's been offering it to me for a year or so.

Why I took it is twofold... With the exception of the BMW, I shop before I buy a car. I really shop. I'm not a super savvy buyer, I just like driving an assortment of cars. As long as I know deep down inside that I'll eventually buy one, I don't feel too guilty taking up people's time by test driving their car.

The problem was that the BMW was fading fast. The brakes had gotten to a point where it was dangerous. I didn't have time to shop. I was going to have to make a decision and make one fast. This Honda buys me some time. I can shop 'til I drop or the Honda drops, whichever happens first.

Secondly, my brother knows me too well. He used the old "I guess if you don't want it some kid will buy it and customize the hell out of it." To me that's the automotive equivalent of saying, "If you don't take this dog we'll just have it put to sleep." Ugh.

The more I think about it, the more it intrigues me, though. It is sparse. It is slow. I have no idea how it handles as the mis-matched 175/70/13 tires give out way before the chassis does.

What can I do to it - cheaply - to make it a semi-enjoyable ride for the next 3 - 6 months? By cheaply, I mean cheaply. I do not want to spend thousands on this car. I need to keep in mind that for a few thousand dollars I could have bought another E36. I don't want to spend that much on a 1992 Honda Civic.

Obviously, I don't want to rice it out. I want it to look like a car that a middle aged man would drive. (Because that's what I am.)

First thing I need to do is get some new wheels and tires. (** Update - Since I wrote that line one of the mismatched 175/70/13 tires stopped holding air. This is now really important.) 20" chrome spinners are not my style. I'm thinking about a set of 1987 - 1991 CRX Si rims. They are 14" and take a 60 series tire. I'm not going to win any gymkhanas with this set up, but at least I'll be able to take a sharp curve at something more than 15 MPH. From what I remember, they look pretty cool, too. If you or someone you know in the New England area has a set they're looking to sell cheaply, email me.

Performance is going to be a tougher issue. It is hampered by its automatic transmission. A free flow 6" exhaust is out of the question. Again, I'm a middle age man. Can you chip these things, or is it too old?

I'm here looking for ideas. I honestly know next to nothing about older Japanese cars. I never owned one. (My ex-significant-other had a CRX Si. But, she bought it new and had a warranty. I never had a chance to take it apart. I once had an Isuzu Trooper, which isn't really a car. I wouldn't even call it a form of transportation. I hated it. I didn't want to even look at it, let alone work on it. I just wanted it to go away.)

I'll keep you posted on its progress or lack of. Who knows? Maybe when I'm done with it, some kid, disappointed in the Volvo 700 / 900 Series or old BMW 5 Series station wagon his parents gave him, will swap me straight up. Stranger things have happened.

Feel free to laugh.


Anonymous said...

I must say, you got a lot of work ahead with that civic. Maybe you can just pick up some 15" wheels from the brooklyn honda dealers for that; those would look better on your car.

Unknown said...

This car has been the dream car of my friends. They always brag about how good this car can be if tuned up and pimped out. I don't car about it just because I'm already contented on my hyundai elantra used Long Island. Even if it's not pimped out, I still think that it's one of the best car ever.