1981 Honda Accord from Australia and New Zealand


A very good value as a lively starter, if you can find a low mile minter with a good service record


Nothing really, aside from a cigarette burn to the driver's seat!

An ashtray became disjointed and would not return to its original position between the seats, so was removed in 1983.

Car was regularly serviced at the correct intervals from new.

You had to make sure coolant contained antifreeze and was green.

Dash top plastics started to fade after a few years.

General Comments:

Bought in very late 1980 as replacement for a slightly tired Datsun 1200 with 78,000 miles up.

This was an early reg January 1981, Nevada green metallic car, and proved quite a little sweetheart, all things considered. So much so that we christened her Tiffany after the Charlies Angels character on TV.

My two sisters and her girlfriend were particularly taken with our new, stylish, chic family sedan, and its 5 speed European Alfa like gearbox!

My sixteen year old sister could not WAIT to try her out!

Right from the start, as a family car, this one proved an all round winner, as the equally adequate performance was right there when you needed it, and so also was night lighting!! Yay!! It was brought home, starkly into focus shall we say, on one long trip to the South Island ski resorts in 1981, some 950 miles there and back!!

We were, or my dad was, worried about longevity and build quality - initially, but time would tell, and by the middle of May, he needn't have worried, the car was proving durable. Although perhaps it did not so much look it.

More importantly to us at the time, was its ability to swallow luggage on a trip, and with the rear hatch door open, plus rear seat folded forwards, there was enough to turn it into a small estate car. Brilliant!! This was a car which dealt EASILY with two weekly shopping!

We were frequenting friends a lot, and going to discos a lot come Friday night at this time, so come to think of it, this car did a fine service all round, taking three of my friends and I to a disco on a Friday night, with them shoehorned in across the back seat! And me in the front!

Only then, with three big teens in the back did it seem a little weighed down, as dad had commented when going through a tighter turn on the way to the other side of town that time.

AND for once I was NOT ashamed to pull up outside of a flash disco in the Accord as a teen; it was THAT stylish an effort from Honda, and believe me, I was fairly discerning about cars.

Seeing as we were out of school by now, there were at least no more school trips to and fro, and only long holidays at the end of the year!

As I was coming of age mid year, and had my own car, a 1972 Rover 3500, I was seeing less and less of the family car by and by, but I have to say toward the end of 83, when we took a trip to the South Island this car, now at 18,000 miles, even caught in a bad weather night time storm, it coped easily with the conditions three up and with luggage for a week. A fine effort for the Accord.

The interior of these is airy, with good all round visibility and NO blind spots.

The seats were both multi-adjustable and reasonably comfortable.

Headrests were fitted as standard, and there was a radio too.

Glass was that Triplex or Pilkington Sundym.

Instruments were clear with a rheostat, and well detailed.

Far superior than my next doors neighbour's 1.8 Marina.

The five speed was slick in operation, and easy to shift.

A rear wiper washer keeps the rear screen clear in foul weather.

Brakes are adequate disc / drum combination / no servo assist.

Steering is a modern rack and pinion, and 3 turns to lock. Very good.

Handling is secure and taut up to say 70 mph; thereafter it becomes a little soft, and could do with better gas dampers than the standard oil shocks. We only found this with a load in, on some twisties at speed, so not that much of a likely situation.

For all day, every day general family use then, even while taking longer trips away of some 500 miles, this darling little stylish coupe proved to be a real winner!!

There's little roll on corners, courtesy of four wheel independent suspension taken briskly, and the ride is reasonable, while the foam padded seats make up the rest.

And additionally there's a 28 mpg / 35 mpg economy on top of that, at a steady 75 mph with the 5 speed! Very good indeed!

Dad had the car serviced right on the dot, and washed & waxed it every other week, and we NEVER had any issues with this car whatever!!

It had had injected Waxoyl rust treatment from new, and even as late as late 1986 when I was twenty five, I remember we still had the car when I went home, and it was now at some 78,000 kms and STILL there was NO rust on the bodywork! Save for early the next year with one small 5 cent sized spot from March 1987 to the bottom left of the hatch, and by that time the car had 85,000 kms on it. Excellent!!

We finally sold this car just after my sister's wedding in 1987 in May of 1988, with 98,000 kms on it, or nearly 60,000 miles! The car had very recently had a full service, & was still very much running sweetly when the pretty lady handed over 9500 dollars for it.

My sisters and I were sad to see it go, as well as my dad, as we had all relied on it completely, being our family transport for 6 years, and it had taken us from our teens to adulthood, through such good times! But as it went to a very cute and nice new keeper, the blow was lessened somewhat at the end!

My dads next car was a white 1987 Honda Legend V6 sedan, which ran equally well and reliably, and was very SWIFT!! 130 mph!!

But no matter how fancy the new cars become, I will ALWAYS remember the fine Honda coupe hatchback!! 1600 sweet as a nut. Tiffany!!

She took me from 19 to 26! My best years of all. And never skipped a beat in all that time.

You can't say fairer than that about a car!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th February, 2012

1st Mar 2012, 04:38

My family bought one of these used in 1986 (off-white 1981 Nelson-built with Hondamatic transmission) to replace a very unreliable Vanden Plas 1500 AKA Austin Allegro.

The Honda was extremely reliable, but by 1987, the body was full of rust holes, which finally killed it off in the mid 1990's when it failed its WOF after bending in the middle while on the hoist (sealed its own doors shut while it was up in the air).

The rust was repaired by a back-yard panel beater, which gave it another year, but when it failed its next WOF in 1996, on dad's orders I drove it into the hay barn where it stayed until 2003 with only 130,000km on the clock. It continued to rust even in the barn with the Waikato humidity. Dad paid a wrecker to take it away in 2003 when the farm was sold. The only things to ever go wrong with the car while it was still drivable was the rear muffler (maintenance), and the camshaft needed a re-grind at one point as it went noisy.

There are a few of these in Australia where I live now, that seem to have escaped the rust, and are blowing smoke due to the kazillion km they probably have on the clock.

1981 Honda Accord LX 1.8 from North America




Rust everywhere, rocker panels, fenders, quarter panels (and it had been rustproofed. Ha, ha).

Clutch replaced at 5000 miles, OK until 92000. 50K; timing belt jumped 1 tooth, causing the engine to be off time.

Water leaks from sunroof, windshield and into the trunk (never could be fixed).

All 4 door handles stopped working hard to get in & out. A/C stopped by 65000. Water pump a pain to replace.

Engine valve guides were shot by 75000; used a quart every 4-500 miles. Valve cover leaked.

Brake rotors warped & hard to replace. CV boot tore open.

Hard to start when cold. Door locks froze easily. Hand brake could not be adjusted & wouldn't hold.

General Comments:

I had a 77 Accord hatchback, which was a much better car than this 4 Dr. It was the reason I bought another. It made it to 156000, before it needed too much work.

The common problems like rust and valve guides remained.

I owned a few more Hondas afterward, and the engines and bodies still had problems. They were dependable though.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 22nd August, 2010