Edric realises that his current ride has a lot in common with the car he grew up with.
MY earliest escapades behind the wheel were in my mum’s trusty EF-series 1988 Honda Civic 1.3 saloon.
That car was the victim of my first, crunching attempts at heel-and- toe gearchanges, and was also the tool with which I learnt handbrake turns and reverse flicks.
I even experimented with some backyard “tuning”, removing the air filter element to allow a freer flow of air to the carburettor.
The long-suffering Civic was a brilliant, simple little car. With just 74bhp from its single-cam engine, it was hardly quick, but the 5-speed transmission’s closely spaced ratios meant I could really exploit every ounce of power, and the positive, short-throw gearshift actually encouraged enthusiastic use. Not that I, a newly qualified 17-year-old petrolhead, needed any invitation to thrash the engine to within an inch of its life.
The Honda handled nicely, too. The steering was unassisted, so parking was a bit of a pain, but the upshot was that I could feel absolutely everything the front wheels were up to.
The car held no surprises – when the tiny (155-section, 13-inch diameter) tyres relinquished their meagre grip and started sliding, the steering had already given me advance warning, so I was well prepared.
The Civic was a low-cost vehicle, and it showed. Its cabin plastics were grey and hard, and the boot floor was a basic pressed-fibre board, not carpet. The wipers didn’t even have an intermittent setting, and the steering wheel lacked adjustment of any sort. But all this meant the saloon weighed just 875kg, helping its power-to-weight ratio immensely.
And yet the bare-bones Civic had double-wishbone suspension like an F1 racecar, instead of the cheaper and more common MacPherson struts. Truly, a car after my own heart.
Over a quarter century later, I still drive a Honda Civic. Admittedly, it’s rather different from my mum’s old car. Mine is a 2-litre FD2 Type R with 220bhp, Brembo brakes and a limited-slip differential, but astonishingly, the common lineage with the old EF Civic is still clear.
Both Civics share the same minimalist, performance-focused approach. Like the EF, my FD’s cabin is pared down, clad in hard plastic and totally devoid of modern fripperies like sat-nav or fancy infotainment. It has only two airbags where other cars have six or more. There’s no sunroof, cruise control, automatic headlamps or automatic wipers. In fact, there isn’t even a clock.
But the car weighs just 1252kg, making it lighter by some margin than rivals like the Golf GTI.
And though the FD Civic is at least one size up on the EF Civic, the proportions are surprisingly similar – squinty headlamps, a low “needle” nose and short bonnet, thin pillars and a low waistline, leading to a slightly raised, abruptly truncated tail.
And the similarities continue on the move. With three times the power, the FD is far punchier, of course, but the low-slung driving position; the tight, positive gearchange; the keenness to rev; the linear, communicative steering and lively, faithful chassis – they’re all warmly familiar.
The classic Civic that Edric played with as a teenage petrolhead was a simple and light 1.3-litre saloon.
Edric has come a long way since his hot-headed teenage days in his mum’s old ef civic, but every time he drives his fd Civic, the memories come flooding back.