At PetrolBlog, we make no apologies for concentrating on the emotional side of buying and running a car. Rational thought and common sense scarcely warrant a mention. And this emotional aspect of motoring is highlighted in no better way than the latest and unexpected arrival here at PBHQ. Introducing the MK2 Honda Accord Hondamatic.
It’s at this point that I should probably point out that the Audi A4 – purchased to tackle the regular airport runs – has departed from PetrolBlog Towers. For all of its solidity, reliability and sensibility, it was just too bland to warrant a long term place on the PetrolBlog Fleet. It failed where the Honda Accord Type-Shed and Saab 9000i blossomed – being completely devoid of charm and soul.
So when the opportunity to acquire the 1982 Honda Accord Hondamatic arose, I needed little excuse to whack the A4 on eBay and await the flurry of bids. But more on this another time, because this update is devoted entirely to the Honda Accord. A car dripping in PetrolBloggyness. A car which – in less than 48 hours – has completely stolen my heart.
It’s a second generation Honda Accord, introduced in 1981 and built in Japan, a full decade before Accord production started in Swindon. Contemporary reviews were extremely positive about the rival to the Ford Cortina and the Vauxhall Cavalier and it’s widely accepted that the Accord was the model that put Honda on the map in the United States.
LGT 864Y was originally sold in December 1982 to a Mr Drew of West Molesey, Surrey – it still wears its original Comerfords of Thames Ditton number plates. Less than 16 months later it was up for sale at Balmer Lawn Garage in Brockenhurst for the princely sum of £4,850. Clearly liking what they saw, Mr and Mrs Tiffin of Hampshire part-exchanged their 1979 Honda Accord and – after fitting a sun roof – drove away in the later model.
Its mileage then was 12,506. Today it stands at 55,947 – a mere 43,000 miles covered in just under 30 years. Never missing an MOT, never missing a service, never being off the road. This Honda Accord is a true testament to properly loving and cherishing a car. It’s never wanted for anything, but then you sense that it never let anyone down. It’s no accident that this Accord has survived against all the odds.
In fact – as I’ve since discovered since driving her home – she’s actually one of only two left on the roads of Britain. Talk about responsibility. Buying the Honda Accord is like being given custody to a child. It’s so much more than a three-box saloon car. This Honda Accord is filled with memories. If it could talk, it would regale you with stories of trips to the west country. Of evenings sat perched on a cliff top, watching the sunset over Hengistbury Head. Happier times – when the Accord, much like its devoted owners, was still in its prime.
Mr Tiffin sadly passed away many years ago, but Mrs Tiffin couldn’t bear to part with the Accord. So it remained in the family, locked inside a garage every night, infrequently pressed into service for a quick trip into the New Forest or to the shops. It stems from a time when cars were bought for the long term. Depreciation was something for other people to worry about. When something went wrong, it was fixed.
This Honda Accord managed to survive the travesty of Scrappage. Is it any coincidence that at the start of 2009 there were six MK2 Honda Accord Hondamatics still enjoying active service in the UK, only for that figure to have been halved by the same time in 2010? I suspect not. We just have to salute the likes of Mrs Tiffin for resisting the temptation to cash in and drive away with a soul-less and rather desperate Hyundai i10.
But at 85-years-of-age, Mrs Tiffin finally decided to call time on the Honda Accord. Driving the car was proving to be too difficult, not helped by the Accord’s lack of power steering. Indeed, the garaged charged with looking after the car had cruelly advised Mrs Tiffin to scrap it. Even the merest mention of the word ‘scrap’ brings tears to the eyes of Mrs Tiffin. Remember what I said about emotions and cars?
A deal was agreed back in October and having sold the Audi A4 and cleared a space for the Accord, I ventured up to Hampshire to collect my latest acquisition. Thanks to Honda UK, I had the luxury of a brand new Accord Type-S – the chance to do an old versus new comparison was too good an opportunity to miss. More on this soon.
It’s strange. The usual ‘child-on-a-Christmas-morning’ levels of excitement were still there, but I had really mixed emotions when driving away in the Honda Accord for the first time. To Mrs Tiffin, the Accord is much, much more than a car – it’s a key to a lifetime of memories. It almost felt wrong driving away. But it’s clearly the right thing to do. And where better than PetrolBlog HQ for a car as lovely as this?
Considering the Accord has travelled no more than 1,000 miles in the past three years, the journey home was remarkably uneventful. There’s clearly a few cobwebs that need to be blown away, but the 120-mile drive was completed at speeds of no more than 60mph. Performance would be best described as leisurely, but it’s hard to expect much more from a 1982 1.6-litre, three-speed Honda Accord Hondamatic.
I’ll save the in-depth report on the car for when I’ve had more time with it, but for now let me just say what a pleasure it is to drive. The tiny 13-inch steel wheels mean that – despite the lack of power steering – its manoeuvrability is effortless. The seats are wonderfully comfortable, the cabin is delightfully light and airy and absolutely everything works. And the original National MW/LW radio does a brilliant job of picking up 5 Live.
Cosmetically, the Accord needs work, but there’s no structural rust. Over time, it – along with the Citroën AX GT – will be restored to former glory. But for now, I’ll just revel in the relaxed and leisurely way in which in the Honda Accord goes about its business.
Many thanks to Carol for putting me forward as a worthy custodian to this wonderful survivor and to Mrs Tiffin for entrusting me with the responsibility of looking after the Accord for the next 30 years. Here’s to more happy memories.