If I’m honest, my MK2 Honda Accord isn’t all that great. Most sensible people would have put it out to pasture many years ago, chopping it in for a newer model and probably never thinking about it again. But I’m not that sensible. And besides, I’m growing rather fond of the old girl. It has become, rather worryingly, what a car enthusiast would call a “keeper”.
Let’s look at the list of issues.
It’s not exactly what you’d call a ‘looker’. But I do have a soft spot for the three-box styling, if only for the fact it looks exactly like the cars my father would draw for me when I were a lad. So it has a timeless appeal few other cars could reach.
You couldn’t describe the MK2 Honda Accord as interesting, either. Without the appeal of rear-wheel drive – a set-up enjoyed by some other Japanese cars of the era – it hasn’t, and probably won’t, attract the attention of retro car nuts. It’s not quick, it’s not especially fun to drive and, thanks to a lethargic Hondamatic transmission, there’s not even a satisfying manual gearbox to revel in.
Sure, the MK2 Honda Accord was the first Japanese car to be built in the US of A, but to claim that as part of this particular car’s provenance would be to clutch at a selection of cheese straws. Face it, few people would shed any tears if the MK2 Honda Accord disappeared from these shores altogether. So why the appeal?
Well this weekend I brought the Accord out of winter hibernation, the first time she had turned a wheel since June of last year. I’m frankly amazed that it’s been that long. Shame on me.
That she didn’t start at the first time of asking was entirely my fault. I had let the battery run flat and had forgotten about the temperamental fuel pump. The latter could be fixed with a hammer and some petrol poured into the carburettor. But my green petrol canister was empty. None of this was the fault of the Honda, I could only blame my poor planning.
Fast forward 24 hours and with a fully charged battery and a spray gun loaded with fuel, it was time to wake this fair maiden from her sleep. You know when a car turns over, but won’t quite catch and yet you know the car is desperate to get going? This was one of those occasions. Fair play to the Honda, it had been eight months since I’d asked her to do anything and that was a torturous journey to and from the Cotswolds. Torturous for her and torturous for me. The M5 has never felt slower. Or hotter.
For minutes and minutes she continued to turn over, desperately trying to catch breath. The battery was doing its job, but the fuel pump wasn’t playing ball. Inevitably, too much fuel was sprayed into the carb and it looked like all was lost. I’d left it too long. After nearly three decades of being started every week without fail, I had let her down through months of neglect. I’ll admit, I was actually bringing her out of hibernation to prepare her for sale…
Moments later, all that changed. Trying one final time and with a full dose of choke, she burst into life on the turn of the key. Within seconds she was idling beautifully. The sense of achievement was overwhelming. A misplaced sense of achievement I grant you, but overwhelming all the same. And this is the point about running a car such as this.
With the Honda Accord, every passing day feels like a minor achievement. Another day of survival and a firm two-finger salute to the modern ways of finance packages, depreciation and lifestyle-led marketing bunk. I run this £150 Accord because I want to, not because I’m forced to.
In the time she was laid up she hadn’t lost a drop of oil, while the tyres had maintained their pressures to perfection. It’s no accident this Accord has managed to survive for so long. Honda did things right back in the 1980s. And to be fair, it still does.
What followed was the kind of self-satisfying drive few people would understand. A glorious spring-like day, some near-empty Devon roads and a car running as well as can be expected for a 33-year-old. This may have something to do with the 20 services she has had during these three decades. That’s an average of a service every 2,800 miles.
As I hinted at previously, this particular MK2 Honda Accord isn’t the last word in razor-sharp dynamics. The steering is unpredictably vague, inspiring little in the way of confidence. Picture Mr T driving his A-Team van along a perfectly straight road, yet constantly adjusting the wheel, and you’ll have some idea of the degree of play in the steering wheel. As a result I tend to approach corners with a fair amount of trepidation, losing as much speed as possible before entering the bend. Occasionally I’ve been known to get out and walk around the corner. It’s safer that way.
The tyres, while perfectly legal, are of a vintage that should render them good enough only for the wheelbarrow. Indeed, a quick search for replacements reveals a rather worrying suggestion that they’re best suited for use on a trailer. Oh.
And one thing that wasn’t immediately obvious under the darkness of the garage was the think layer of mould that had covered the headlining, door cards and dashboard. Either the dehumidifier needs replacing or I simply need to get out more. Probably a bit of both.
I’m more encouraged by the bodywork which is nowhere near as bad I remember. The bonnet, wings and doors are surprisingly sound with only the roof and boot lid in serious need of attention. Everything can be sorted, although the roof is giving me ideas involving roof racks, Webasto sunroofs and vinyl. Good or bad idea? Answers on a postcard please.
So she lives on under my custody and I’ll be making plans for the next MOT in April. Having sailed through the last one without so much of an advisory in 2014, I’m expecting more minor miracles in 2015. Fingers crossed.
More updates on life with a MK2 Honda Accord, soon. Well, within eight months, anyway.