During the ‘70s, many people didn’t favor family cars that were made from Japan because it simply lacked excitement and thrill when it came to driving. Although the Datsun 100A Cherry and Toyota Corolla are starting to have its own fanbase because of its high quality standard equipment, Honda was taking a different approach to its customers.
After the disastrous sales of the ambitious Honda 1300 in the early 1970s, the company already considered abandoning car production. However, Honda’s decision of pulling out of the automobile industry changed after the unexpected success of their 1972 release, the Honda Civic.
Honda Civic was released in 1972 although it was sold as a 1973 model. Civic was available in a coupe and a hatchback version. The hatchback features a rear door that has an opening window. It was packed with a 1,169cc (73.1 cu in) four-cylinder water cooled engine along with various features such as reclining vinyl bucket seats, front power disc brakes, simulated wood trim on the dashboard then the optional FM/AM Radio and Air Conditioning. Also, customers had an option of choosing between the 4-speed manual transmission and the clutch-less Hondamatic.
Mk1 Civic had its own share on spotlight during the 1970 fuel crisis
Honda somehow benefited from the 1973 oil crisis. Since the demand for a fuel-efficient vehicle was at its peak, Honda introduced the CVCC engine to the public in 1975. It was designed for more efficient combustion and it doesn’t even need a catalytic converter or unleaded fuel to pass the Japanese and US emission standards.
Meanwhile, selling Civic to the United States was a big challenge for Honda and one of the most common factors was its relatively small size. Luckily, Honda has the perfect product to replace the “gas guzzler” Buicks. Although Civic are known for being a rust-prone vehicle, its sales on United States were increased in 1973 with almost 40,000 cars compared to the 65 cars in 1969.
Honda was planning to compete with Ford Mustang in the United States with their 1976 release, Honda Accord. Accord is almost the same as Civic but it was larger. It was supposed to have a V6 engine but due to the success that the Civic was having, that plan had been changed. The CVCC engine was expanded to 1,599cc and it was paired with an upgraded gearbox that received a fifth forward ratio. All of these upgrades were available to the brand new enlarged hatchback body. This new configuration resulted to a huge export success for Honda.
In 1977, Accord’s success continued with the release of its four-door saloon version. It also gave Honda a sort of Identity and the innovative hatchback’s opening rear door was a hit among the “business motorists”.
Fast forward to 2016, Honda is still having a huge success in selling their cars in the United States as well as in many European countries. A lot of people might not like it since it doesn’t have powerful engines or elegant and stylish designs but this classic Japanese car somehow stole the spotlight in the eyes of many budget-friendly car buyers.
Reference and photo credits