A great car. Really a best buy. If you get one that wasn't too harassed, have no second thoughts, buy it and you will love it. Fuel economy is incredible, as it sits "on cam" at over 5.000RPM. If you keep it under reasonable 3.000 it can run 100.000Km with 7.5l of fuel with no problem. Real power that lies next to the red line, however, eats up to 12l like nothing. A rocket.
But, if you don't use good lubricants, trash it while the engine is still cold or let it overheat and generally not take care of it, it will die soon. Maintained well, it can live up to 500.000km without opening the engine.
I have driven in my mechanic's old civic which has 550.000km on the clock and has started to burn a little oil recently. Unopened. Insane :)
Clutch plate was slipping a little at about 7000RPM. I guess a perfomance plate would do great. (not that I driven it like that everyday, just sometimes)
Could, however, handle a bit better, needs really good tires to be called safe. Needs 15" wheels, definitely.
With stock wheels it understeers first, and then it just twitches the back end, oversteering, to make you scream with horror on an iced road. But, as i said, shocks were worn out and tires were almost slick most of the time.
Lots of space, I have driven amps, complete 400W PA and a singer in it. Great driving posture, like sitting in an air glider. Quick, responsive, reliable. Worth investing in. Everything you upgrade will reward you with an obvious result. A collector's item, a fine piece of japanese quality engineering at its best, a design that was still good looking after 10+ years.
In my country, there is a general opinion that japanese cars suck and are unreliable. Unbeleiveable :) That's good because they just get cheaper and cheaper. Parts are, however, a bit expensive and some are hard to find. I'm talking about Serbia, of course.
This was my second civic, I had a SOHC one before, and that one was great too. All the colts, golfs, Alfa's etc just seemed like a tractor or a lawn-mover after having one of these. There is a small number of 4WD Honda civics made from 1987-1992, i'll maybe try to get my hands on one.