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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #149: Does this tired old Honda deserve to be "reimagined" by (a) singer?

My son will never know just how close he came to being humiliated in front of the whole subdivision. The story goes something like this: Way back in 1981 or thereabouts, my best friend at school was this very tall and dour fellow named Scott. We both lived in a kinda-sorta upscale neighborhood.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-149-does-this-tired-old-ho...
75 REPLIES 75
Sajeev
Community Manager

Needs JDM VIP-worthy velour on the seats, brown out the guts and pick one of these vintage Honda greens for the exterior.

https://hdpaintcode.com/files/honda-1973-2.jpg
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

G37!!!!
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Twin-turbo that puppy!
danhise
Advanced Driver

Hey, Sajeev. Just trying this to see if it allows me to post a just-rejected comment.
danhise
Advanced Driver

It worked. Thank you always.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Whew! The system didn't confuse you as a bot/spammer!  🙃

TeutonicScot
Detailer

I'm just surprised that it took you 8 years to get to 100,000 miles. Hell, where I do most of my driving, the thing is a brand new car!
kyree-williams
Detailer

The man and his wife have fifty-leven other cars. Haha. I’m not surprised.
Nick_D
Intermediate Driver

Find a quality custom interior shop and have them remake the front seats with whatever kevlar-shaming fabric Volvo used to do the cloth 740/940 interiors that could be removed for washing (or, if really ambitious, the wool from a wrecked Century) and be done with it.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

THE WOOL FROM A WRECKED CENTURY

This is the idea!!!
CitationMan
Gearhead

I thought the answer is always Porsche Pasha?

They still make it.

SJacobT
Detailer

Chilewich woven vinyl - we started buying their rugs for the house because I read that's what the ponce from Icon makes the floormats for his "reimagined" trucks out of. They're indestructible and come in all sorts of weird patterns...
Quadradeuce
Pit Crew

"It seems like a real shame to just let this generally decent Honda continue to visually deteriorate while remaining mechanically excellent."

You just described my entire life's experience with GM products.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

What do they say? A GM car will run badly longer than most cars will run at all. If the GM car in question is a Grand Am, that goes double.
Quadradeuce
Pit Crew

Which is why for a glorious half decade, my entire fleet was powered by LS-based pushrod reliability. Then I was stupid enough to trade our 9-7x for a CX-9. 50k miles on that direct-injected turd, and there's significant gasoline in the oil when I change it.

As soon as GM decides to put Super Cruise in the Suburban, the CX-9 will be just a bad memory.
Snailish
Instructor

Yes! The sister-car Olds Alero, particularly in stick shift form, seems particularly difficult to kill. Perforated bodies, no outer rockers --no problem!

hyperv6
Racer

They can say what they like but the Vega was the most perfect imperfect car. 

Yes it rusted, yes it used oil but they ran for ever. Many in school would buy them as winter beaters and drive them in the winter. -25 below they fire right up and had heat. Most of us worked part time wrenching so used motor oil went in so no cost there. 

One neighbor had one for several years to store his modified Blazer and he finally sent it to the junk yard. It was sold and went at least two more winters. 

Few fooled with the Asian cars. They were more expensive to repair.  In some cases more complicated and they also rusted out in major ways for a number of years.

 

High school lots here were full of GM cars that while not perfect just kept on running and remained affordable to keep on the road. 

A bodies, Cruze, Cavalier, Cobalts etc all kept rolling along with the Baretta’s.  Same for the S10 and most full size trucks. 

The W body yet today has not been built for years but are so common on the road again for cheap easy repairs and cost along with the reliable 3800. 

Rider79
Technician

Agreed on those W's with the 3800. We had two, a regular sedan, and a GTP (supercharged) coupe bought new. The coupe was still doing great, 20 years and 140,000 miles later, when it was violently rear-ended by a drunk woman at a stoplight. We got over 100,000 out of the sedan (for a total of about 130,000), and it was still going strong when we traded it. We also had a 2009 Buick Lacrosse Super, and it was a great (and quick) car, although with the LS4 V8 instead of the 3800.
SJacobT
Detailer

My distant past (and my immediate family's, come to think) is littered with unkillable 3800s, but those seats, oy...
hyperv6
Racer

Most Hondas I have seen remove the seats to make ‘em faster.

Boy that is one rough Honda. That price for a car like that? Hmmmm.

 

The greatest challenge t most new cars today are that the interiors are not great and to restore it is near impossible as often the parts are non existent. Junk yards are now salvage yards that strip the mechanicals and seldom save the half way good interiors. 

 

Few make repo parts once they NOS is gone. 

 

Add to all this most people are pigs in their cars. I keep mine like new but most use their cars as dumpsters and often the interiors suffer for it. 

 

In some cases we get lucky. I put a full customer interior in a Fiero courtesy of Mr Mike. He is a guy that makes leather kits for Fiero seats. Some are Fiero style for conversions. Some are stock style only in leather and others are made for street rods and Cobra kit cars as the seats fit many custom applications where size is a factor. 

 

I started there and then used factory Pontiac items like a later radio with CD player and even a shift from another Pontiac. 

 

I cracked open the dash and programed the dash from the 85 MPH with a diode and capacitor. My buddy a graphics artist made me new gauge faces that read much higher. He even added my last name and placed it in the center like where Smith gauges have their name. 


I have custom glove box that matches the dash pod that was offered in the 80's. Added T tops and it changed the entire car. 

 

Most cars are not that easy to make changes too like this and I was just lucky the aftermarket took interest in the 80's. Today I could be featured at Radwood for what it is worth. 

 

To be honest, I have a plan for a 911 I may inherit some day. It is clean and rust free. 1985 911 Carrera.  The interior is dry cracked due to the So Cal dryness. What I would like to do is leave it all stock with the cracks in the leather. But build up the engine of send it to Singer to rebuild it. Add the power and remain the low key 911 that looks stock. 

 

kyree-williams
Detailer

This has always been a goal of mine. There are lots of cars I’ve loved that have been hamstrung by indifferent build quality, especially on the interior.

Get the powertrain, suspension and mechanicals right, and then make the interior and exterior better than new. But not in a Pimp My Ride kind of way

One of those cars is a 1995 (preferably 1996) through 1999 Buick Riviera, if I could find a good candidate and had the time and space.


I’ve also wanted to restore examples of my first and second cars, which were rough examples when I got my hands on them (a 1990 Accord EX Sedan and a 1997 Jetta GLX VR6, respectively).

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

The Riviera would be a brilliant choice for something like this. There was SUCH a disparity between the interior and exterior of those cars.
Snailish
Instructor

I remember my brother showing me (instagram? youtube?) of a guy that does very nice upgrades on older (80s 90s I think it was) Mercurys. Replacing the plastic with wood sticker interior bits with real wood and so on.

 

Done right, this could be a pretty awesome thing to do for yourself. I have seen... not quality woodworking done on truck interiors and it didn't appeal to me. The execution has to be coachbuilder (or 1930s craftsman) good if you are going this route.

 

Unless you are making a clown car. Then have at it with the popsicle sticks and white glue.

CitationMan
Gearhead

Cosmetic work can be such a slippery slope when comes to spending. Also time consuming. I would rather just buy a low mile example that is in great shape cosmetically, put paint protection film on the front clip, and drive the hell out of it. In essence, kick the can down the road. Stockpile some parts for the replacement car at your leisure since you already know the weak points.
hyperv6
Racer

This is my recommendation to most people anymore. 

 

It used to be easy to fix up a car and still not go over value. Anymore that is not easy to do. 

 

I tend to recomend buying low mile and in good condition vs fixing up unless you can do all the work yourself. Even then to buy replacement parts as near impossible. 

 

By going low mile you may spend the money up front but you still have a better car and you don't have to fix it up. 

 

In most cases in the snow states it is not the miles but the rust. Most cars go 12 years in salt before they start to rust if you care for them sooner if not. Some brands even sooner.  Same with the road and pot holes. Many cars implode. 

 

My son now has a 08 Malibu. He is finishing collage and by then it will have 100K mile. He will be debt free so we will shop for what he wants then. The Bu has been solid and has needed no real repair other than brakes and tires. The V 6 has been flawless for his needs. The rust is just starting under it so we will replace it while the paint is still bright and the interior like new. 

MWL
Intermediate Driver

Sell the accord to finance a 100k Maverick to reimagine.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

CarMax has a great Maverick XL with just 4,800 miles for the low low price of $38,990
danhise
Advanced Driver

I miss John Phillips, but Mr. B is at the same high level. A perfect mix of great comic timing and a certain grumpy savoir faire.

"I lost my sense of irony in a childhood accident"! Such a fine coinage that I almost believed it.
ATLpaul
Detailer

This is why when you see a mint condition Accord from 20 years ago, people on BAT go crazy. Because these vehicles are born to be driven. So very few of them are around in good as new condition. Compare that to C4 Corvette ZR-1 and so many of those are in like new condition. 20-30 years later, an Accord or Civic in great shape is hard to find. A Corvette ZR-1 is easier to find.

thewas4x
New Driver

Might a reliable Singer sewing machine be an appropriate comparison to your vaunted manual-trans and silky smooth Honda coupe engine? I am a firm believer in wasting plenty of money refreshing and completely overbuilding cars that you enjoy. Who cares about what anyone else would do.
4RenT
Advanced Driver

I should have taken your advice a number of years ago and repaired the engine of my Suzuki Sidekick!
(I miss that little armadillo!)
Tsaxman
Advanced Driver

While it is perhaps true that, "an Acura is just a Honda with the paint and materials that it should have had in the first place," face it, they are both Hondas. The resale value is fabulous for both, probably because you can likely get to 300K miles.

To freshen that exterior, just rattle-can paint that thing, like the GM guys do with those "unkillable" 3800s. Trust your discretion about sanding, priming and taping. Thereafter, use the gas station car wash's spray-on wax. And never look at it in good light while wearing your reading glasses.

As to the interior, another commenter mentioned Chilewich woven vinyl; use that stuff for the floor and the headliner, cover the seats with a locally-sourced serape, and there you have it.
1stGenCamaros
Intermediate Driver

Honda's are just fabulous cars. Started with a 90 Civic EX. Next was a 98 Accord EX V6L. Current is a 2005 Accord EX V6L. Purchased all three new. I'm still driving the 2005. Everything still works. It still runs, drives and rides great. No fluid leaks. Original exhaust system and rear shocks. Maintenance and care have always been a priority with our vehicles. The 2005 now has 274,300 miles on the clock. It is now the errand runner, dog hauler and grocery getter, sits outside while the nicer stuff enjoys the garage. Only has two minor dings, however within the last couple years the clear coat is giving up as is some of the window tint. I still love driving it. Wish I could include a picture.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

There are other ways to have it reimagined by Singer... https://www.singer.com/
If you possess the skills or know someone who does you can embroider the heck out of it!
4RenT
Advanced Driver

I didn't look it up, but Singer once made a vehicle.
(They also made electronic test equipment, but the less said about that, the better.)
MrKnowItAll
Advanced Driver

100 grand is nothing today for any car. Really wasn't for the 70's either. 200,000 is the new benchmark for "not worth fixing, buy another". And 2014? A late model used car.

Oh, you're in Michigan.

Out here in SoCal, I'm driving our family 2001 Chrysler Voyager. Bought it new, sharply discounted, as it was lingering on the lot as new 2003's were coming off the truck.
Went from my wife's car, thru both kids, and now it's my truckette/wheelbarrow. 181,000 and no sign of stopping. Been a great car! Comfy, rapid enough, hauls like a pickup, and I sure don't care where I park. It's got dings and dents, sketchy clear coat, sunburned interior (the malady of the southwest) but zero rust. Parts are cheap, and PYP yards are my friend.

Just drive the Honda. Who cares what the neighbors think.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I'm in Ohio, but this car has led a TOUGH life. A lot of racetrack laps, a lot of winters, it's never been garaged.
4RenT
Advanced Driver

I'm hoping (fingers crossed) to get my '04 CR-V to 300k (currently 230k).

 

My daughter thinks it is time to get rid of her 2011 Outback (189k), uhhhh, NO!

JDHilton
Intermediate Driver

let us know if you make it - and if the odo keeps climbing after you do. I've been in two Toyotas (well, one was a Vibe) that crossed the threshold and decided, enh, at this point, who's counting?
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

"Infiniti is a Nissan for people with a FICO of 600–700 instead of the Altima’s 450–550 range"

I laughed because it's true. I had a brief period of time I did automotive refinance and these were the number one car of the 550 or so credit score along with Nissan Rogue's, Chevy Malibu's, Equinox and Dodge Charger/Challengers. None are the original owner they are owner #3 to Infiniti (wink) and have interest rates that are as high as 25%+ making their cars 2-3 times more expensive than the original purchase price. I learned so much I left that industry.
BillyD
Pit Crew

Interesting, like someone else posted earlier, that you are just now reaching the 100k mark. I have several vehicles that are over the 350k mark and still doing well enough to get folks around. It seems that was a great achievement back in the 60's, 70's and maybe 80's but not any longer. The newest model is 2009 Chevy Traverse, which surprisingly, is still going fairly well and the body is in descent shape still... keep on driving all!
CitationMan
Gearhead

Gary did you know that the 392 badge on the Challenger is really the owner’s credit score, and not the cubic inches?
Rider79
Technician

Yeah? Then how did he buy the car? ;<)
Maestro1
Technician

I have an accord with 307,000 miles on it and it is still running, although the transmission is
slowly eating itself up at anything over 60 mph. I had a water pump/timing chain installed at
over 200,000. Previously owned by two females not interested in cars other than personal
transport they had men who knew about these cars so this one was pretty well taken care of
before I inherited it. I just bought a battery for it, and it's oil change time along with some fat
fast domestics I own. Back to the barn, Jack. Always very good work on your part.
82spider
Pit Crew

Great story. The bedsheets. Love Hondas but you're right about the paint.
miata93
Advanced Driver

Pull out a JC Whitney catalog and have at it! Can you do that any more?
SuperDeLuxe
Advanced Driver

Before you say no, just hear me out - "Dragon" vinyl and bamboo. Am I right?! 😉
Tinkerah
Engineer

If you were me, and you should be thankful you're not, you'd only do what it takes to prevent further deterioration like arresting rust wherever you can. Preferably in a wildly clashing color.
4RenT
Advanced Driver

My Datsun 720 diesel pickup turned 100k while driving North in the middle lane of I-25 with the Air Force Academy to my left. Surrounded by cars, there was no way to pull over and take a photo of the odometer with my 110 camera...

Now, to the embarrassment of my daughter, I frequently photograph the odometer (and front windshield view) whenever "interesting" combinations of numbers (e.g. good poker hands) are displayed.