TireKicker Time Machine: 1980 Honda Accord LX

Say hello to the car that changed the world. It looks unassuming and frankly very small now, but from 1976 through 1981, this was the Accord that showed that Japan in general and Honda in particular was deadly serious about making very good small cars.


Five years after exploding Ford Pintos and imploding Chevy Vegas, the idea of a small car built to a standard and not to a price was an appealing one to American drivers. The first-gen Accord was jewel-like. And the demand was huge. Dealers were charging $1,000 over sticker price...and getting it.


The LX model was added as an upgrade from the base Accord...Air Conditioning, a digital clock and power steering were standard. And while Detroit was still pushing four-on-the-floor, the Accord's manual transmission was a 5-speed.


Power? Not much by today's standards. 72 horsepower for the 1980 model you see here. But there wasn't much weight to move, either...about 2,000 pounds. And gas mileage was astonishing...35 city/45 highway...with some owners reporting far more.


And the interior was a revelation for the time...far roomier than the exterior would have you expect...with logical control layouts that were exactly where your hands would fall. This one shows the usual signs of age...which is to say, some fading and splitting of the upholstery and not much else.

For as big a seller as the 1976-1981 Accords were, they're not a common sight anymore. Though 15 years and 200,000 trouble-free miles was a common Accord owner experience, like most Japanese cars, at the 20 year point, the cost of a major repair was more than the car was worth and the owner (by then the third or fourth) sent it off to the junkyard.

As a result, the remaining ones, now between 29 and 34 years old, are starting to see values climb...one in this condition is probably $1500...you could have gotten it for $725 a decade ago. Best one on earth?  The NADA guide says $3250. That's more than half what it sold for new.

As a former early 80s Honda owner (mine was a Civic), if presented with the choice of spending $3250 for a mint condition first-gen or nearly $30,000 for the current Accord coupe, I'd seriously consider going with the classic.