1979 Honda Civic Station Wagon 1.5 liter 4 cylinder CVCC from North America
One of the most functional and utilitarian vehicles I've ever owned
Engine was replaced at 80,000 miles and thereafter I had a persistent head-gasket problem. Replaced the gasket 6 times until I finally found out that when the head had been resurfaced at time of engine (short block) replacement, the idiots at the machine shop had planed it improperly.
The front suspension bushings are worn and probably need replacement, but since this doesn't create problems (other than a somewhat 'clunky' ride), I have not bothered with them. Shocks (MacP struts in front) have been replaced, as have conventional oleo shocks in rear.
Alternator has been replaced twice and numerous tires have been gone through.
Like several other owners of similar model & year Honda Civic station wagons, I love this rugged little beast. I would compare it with a Mexican burro--a faithful, sturdy, always capable, and sure-footed little vehicle with commodious cargo capabilities, excellent gas mileage stats, and an overall utility value that simply goes WAY off the charts. It handles in a very spirited manner with its front-wheel drive, and the two-speed manual automatic transmission seems bomb-proof (and is snappy & fun to drive, as well). It was never intended to be a Rolls Royce and I don't expect that type of creature comfort from it; however, it can't be beat as a great all around town-car (and our two Siberian Huskies love it, too!).
Its name is 'Buster the Wonder Honda' and it is, interestingly enough, a REAl 'SUV' ("Small Utility Vehicle"). To paraphrase another 1979 Honda Civic station wagon owner, "I am keeping this little guy in the motor pool until it dies a natural death from terminal metal oxydation (if that ever occurs)." I have several Porsche 914s (including a rare 1970 6-cyl) that I am quite fond of, but this little Civic is still my ultimate favorite 4-wheeled vehicle around town!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 30th September, 2005
Update on my head gasket problem: Turns out that it wasn't the head that was causing the persistent gasket blowing, but a warp in the engine cylinder block's deck!
An examination of the deck revealed a .0003 inch declivity in the deck's head-sealing surface, located directly at the spot (between cylinders two and three) where the older Honda Civic's engine block has an inherent cooling defect.
This made me reflect back on the fact that the gasket blowing problem had developed AFTER I had a rebuilt engine installed in the car. This was back in 1995.
The fix that eluded everyone over the past history of 6 subsequent gasket ruptures lay in planing out the engine block's deck, NOT in re-machining the cylinder head (the usual remedy)! No one, in the course of the past 13 years, thought to check the engine block's deck for perfect flatness! Furthermore, one has to conclude that the people who sold me a 'rebuilt' engine that had a deck; no one had checked for perfect flat-plane smoothness, either!
There's a lesson in this (an expensive one!) : always be sure you are getting a rebuild from a company that checks EVERYTHING before installing the engine (even the block's deck plane).
Hopefully this revelation will help some other poor soul in the future, who has an older Honda Civic (1972 through 1979) that has been similarly plagued by repetitive head gasket blowouts (that cannot be otherwise logically explained)! As the old jokey German saying puts it: "We grow too soon old, and too late smart!"
Were the 1979 Honda Civic Wagons made automatic (honamatic :P) back then? I'm looking to buy one because my parents had one when I was a kid and I'd love to own that trip down memory lane, but I'm not a fan of the stick shift. :(