1984 Honda Ballade 1.3 from South Africa


The bottom of the Japanese learning curve


Twin carburettors were initially poorly adjusted, and I had to fix them myself.

Poor performance at Johannesburg height, so valve timing was adjusted. Head gasket blew at coast level at 130 km/h.

Poor repair at AA of SA accredited garage, fourth timing belt in use now. Engine then lost all water and was stopped the minute the oil light came on - too late, engine badly overheated. Repair not good, using a repaired "new" head.

Started to blow into cooling water. Engine then re-done with original head by reputable engine re-builder in Port Elizabeth. Now missing and overheating.

Arguments rage over whether the aluminium (international spelling) block uses stretch head bolts or not, and whether or not there are spacer gaskets underneath the "free-standing" four cylinders. These "gaskets" may have collapsed due to the overheating and now the cylinders do not stand proud higher than the engine block rim. Nobody can fix this engine.

General Comments:

When the car was new and ran for a few hours, it would not re-start until cooled down. This persisted.

The paint-work (green) is very good.

It started to rust very slightly after 17 years - can be fixed.

The interior is high quality.

A rattle from the left rear could not be found in spite of practically taking the inside to pieces.

The Owner's workshop manual (AK Legg -Author- = Triumph Acclaim) is very good except for really fixing the engine.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 18th June, 2003

11th May 2008, 22:55

Hey all! I have Honda Ballade 1984. It's a very good auto.

12th May 2008, 16:34

Im sad to announce I have to sell my honda ballade 1988 model... tomorrow... It has don 298 000 and still runs like a beauty... This car is unbelievable, I have driven on all terrain with my honda... Never had any problem with it.. it is running strong like ever... small rusty bits on the undercarriage. that's it...seriously...Never had a big garage fix. fill the oil, now and then, water, and fuel, and shall drive you any where in the world...

Im sad to let you go...

10th Apr 2010, 14:24

No, this car went wrong in every away, not made well.