I absolutely loved this car. I nearly cried when my wife's uncle drove it away. To say I got my money's worth out of it is an understatement. In fact, I still see it driving around town from time to time. I'm sure it's at or near 200,000 miles by now.
I bought this car back in 1993. It was four years old, with only 43,000 miles on the odo. After three low-priced, high-mileage cars that fell apart on me, I decided to get myself something newer. I was only 20 when I got this car, so it was a big deal.
It was light metallic blue with a blue interior. It was the definition of base - no air conditioning, four-speed transmission, vinyl seats - but it still oozed quality. I remember sitting in the car shortly after buying it just moving the stalks up and down, marveling at the smooth operation. Interior materials were top notch. The seats were (and still are) the most comfortable I've ever sat on. The engine, though a little short on power, had a great sound, excellent throttle response and revved smoothly and freely to redline (whatever that was - it didn't have a tach). It also got excellent gas mileage - I routinely got 30-33 miles per gallon regularly, up to the day I stopped driving it.
It was also the best handling car I've ever driven (and I've driven a lot). Despite being the base model, it had what I call "baked-in goodness." It had the same four-wheel independent double-wishbone suspension and taut chassis found on all Civics, including the CRX. Steering was phenomenal, road feel was outstanding (it had no power steering) and grip was progressive, especially after I upgraded the tires (the 155 pizza cutters that came with it were replaced with 175s).
I blame myself for killing - or, at least, hurting - this car. For the majority of its stay with me, I was in my "irresponsible youth" phase. I changed the oil once a year, sometimes. I ran it out of oil many times. Tune ups? Forget it. I may have hand washed it three or four times total in the eight years I owned it. I waxed it only once. I would put gas in it, start it up, and drive. It handled this abuse for 120,000 miles before the engine said, "enough."
It started burning oil, although only a little (about a quart every week and a half). I finally caved and brought it to a mechanic, who told me that for the money it would cost to rebuild the engine, I could just get another one and put it in. So I did. At 120,000 miles, my little Honda got a heart transplant, a 1991-spec engine with 60,000 miles on it. It ran beautifully for three more years and 60,000 more miles, and, like I said before, it's still on the road today.
After the transplant, the rest of the car started succumbing to my past neglect (at this point, I started really taking care of the car, but it was too little, too late). The spring-loaded windshield wiper stalk lost its spring, and I used a rubber band to temporarily fix it, but never got around to replacing it. The left strut for the hatch fell off, but again, I never got around to fixing it.
But I can't complain. I loved this car. It was so good to me. For the $4,000 I paid for it, I got so much more out of it. I even took it on a trip to Texas (sans air conditioning!) a few months after the transplant. It took everything I threw at it and then some, and never left me stranded.
So what happened? Well, in 2001, I decided it was time to upgrade and got a brand-new Civic LX coupe. My poor little Honda sat neglected in my driveway for a few months until I gave it to my favorite uncle-in-law. As I said before, it was a tearful day. Not only that, but after all the problems I had with my new Civic (see my review on this site), I wished I'd never got rid of it.
I recently traded my new Civic on a Saturn Ion (yet another review on this site) and so far I love it. I get the same good feelings about it that I got with my old '89 Civic. In fact, looking back, I should have just kept the old one and fixed it up. Not only would I have saved money, but I would still be driving the best car I've ever owned.