Well the tags and title are in process, the car is unloaded, and the Uhaul is returned. I guess I own this now. Next up is figure out what the hell I’m going to do with it.
Let’s start with a recap...
Middle of last week I stumbled across a Craigslist listing for a this. It was a little far away and very not running, but otherwise caught my interest. I’ve long been a fan of weird late 80s, early 90s 4WD... things... and the 4WD Civic wagon was certainly one of my favorites.
I texted the seller, one thing led to another, and we agreed on a price, time, and location.
Sunday I loaded up the Land Rover and headed out. After a brief hiccup where the UHaul place I’d booked the trailer at wasn’t actually open on Sundays, I got a trailer and headed to the sellers house.
First impressions... weren’t great. From 20 feet the thing looks great, but the closer you get you begin to notice a lot of problems. The driver’s side mirror is broken, there is pretty extensive hail damage, the tires are old, there is no battery, etc etc. Still, the interior is immaculate and oh what is this...? A solid rear axle?! Ok yeah... we’re doing this.
Money changed hands and we loaded it up on the UHaul.
The guy’s driveway was steep, narrow, rutted, and gravel, which was... interesting. I put the Landy in low range and it powered through no problem. Three hours later I was pulling into the house, wondering what I’d just done.
So what is wrong with it?
Great question! I don’t know. The seller claimed it was a carburetor issue and that it just needed a kit installed. What he didn’t mention is that he removed the factory carb and all the stuff that went with it.
And it was a lot of stuff.
Like... what is going ON HERE?! I can identify most of the major components, but it seems like I’m missing some parts of the carb and control box, not to mention all those vacuum lines! Wow...
Ok, well he provided a Weber K726 kit as well, presumably because he was tired of dealing with... all that. The kit includes a Weber 23/36 DGEV Progressive Series carburetor with an automatic choke (boo) and a bucket full of stuff to fit it to the Honda.
Woof. OK so I’ve got my work cut out for me figuring out what of that is still needed what I can do without, and how to proceed. I’m inclined to go with the Weber kit, though I am sad that means losing the uhh “charm” of the factory system.
Other than that?
Well, provided I can sort out that mess… not a lot. The rear hatch needs new gas struts, the oil needs changed, and the interior could use a good cleaning. It is also missing a battery, which is a bummer, and the tires could use replacement. That is all that I know of that is wrong. I’m sure there are other issues lurking.
The exterior is presentable, but rough. The hood and roof have extensive hail damage, which is earning this thing the name “Project (Blue) Golf Ball”… or, you know, “blue ball” for short.
Or maybe not.
What is right with it?
It is a 4WD Civic from the 80s! So… nothing?
Ok kidding aside, the interior is in truly excellent shape. Dash, seats, headliner, visors, instruments… everything looks very minty, making the 103k miles on the clock slightly more believable. It also rocks factory AC, the correct number of pedals, and is decidedly funky.
However, the thing that really put this one over the edge for me was what lurks underneath…
Yes. That’s right. A solid rear axle. Maybe not the most important thing in the world, but for a softroader that is pretty cool! Additionally, the “super-low” gear give this little Civic the same final drive ratio of a 2016 Jeep Renegade…. Which is both disheartening and hilarious. Add that to a stock 7” of clearance and decent gas mileage…
I’m excited to see what this thing can be.
So what’s the plan?
Well… first step will be to get it running. The more I think about it the more I am fairly resigned to doing the Weber conversation, even though that really isn’t my style. I feel like taking something off because it is “too complicated” (See Saab w/ CIS) is seeing a challenge as a nuisance… rather than something to be conquered and learned about.
But I digress… the PO removed the everything and it looks like it’ll be pretty much impossible to put it all back without an example car parked next to it… to steal parts off of.
So yeah, Phase 1 is to throw the Weber on, drain and fill the gas tank, replace the battery, and see where that gets me starting-wise.
Phase 2 is a cat-back exhaust replacement, timing belt, water pump, and belts and hoses. Also I’ll do whatever other problems are lurking, and probably throw in an ignition system refresh “while I’m in there”.
Phase 3 is where we start to get into the fun stuff! I’m looking to source some 14" OEM wheels for it and some all-terrain tires to match. Also looking to source an OEM (or equ) bull bar and roof rack. Yes, those were available options if not on this generation, then certainly the next.
I need them.
Phase 3 also would include whatever I choose to do to it cosmetically. I have enough thoughts there that it probably deserves its own post.
While the Civic is certainly a departure from my normal stable-o-projects, I like it! It is honest and weird and just... different from my other children. Will I love it as much as I love the Alfa or Saab? Maybe! I hope so! But if not I’ll sell it on and probably won’t lose much cash.