There was a time, long before PCP deals put everybody behind the wheel of a fashion-friendly SUV, when people just wanted solid, economical, trouble-free transportation. We took a look at this era last week with the Fiat 126 of 1981, and we’re sticking to the same theme this time around. This time we’re looking at the 1978 Honda Accord. Admittedly a much bigger car than the Fiat, but barely any more pretentious.
So lets recline in the armchair of curiosity and let history sweep us up in its warm, comforting arms. Welcome back to The Carchive.
“The Honda Accords — European quality, elegance and refinement, combined with Honda’s reputation for reliability”
The thing that immediately strikes you about this brochure is that there’s barely any lifestyle nonsense. There are no laughable attempts to define the Accord as ‘dynamic’ or ‘innovative’, and it makes no claims of ‘bold’ or ‘iconic’ styling. Instead, it serves to list exactly what the Accord Hatchback and Saloon offered buyers in ’80, and it does so with remarkable clarity.
This was the first generation of Honda Accord, one of only two Honda models when it first arrive in ’76 as what was essentially a larger version of the Civic and used an expanded version of that car’s mechanical package. It’s also fair to argue that it was the Accord more than any other model that made North America really take notice of Honda – the Civic had been an interesting little economy car, but the Accord was built to a scale that was far less quaint and curious.
I’m not sure I’ve ever known anybody else to say this, so I will. The first generation Honda Accord was a genuinely handsome car. Yes, most aspects of its shape are derivative in some way, and the whole has been compared to the Mk1 Volkswagen Scirocco, but f0r me this first Accord had the best nose of all.
Zoom on in the above picture and the extent of its ‘sharknose’ effect can be seen — there were overtones of BMW going on there, and its twin headlights were far more distinctive than the single items worn by the Civic. The saloon was somehow rather less glamorous, though, Japanese sedan-by-numbers rather than ‘almost coupe’.
The Saloon was nine-inches longer, too, and all that extra length was found in a trunk that was three cubic feet bigger than the hatchback. This pushed it even further into ‘normal size car’ territory – the hatchback was still a bit Civic-and-then-some.
We all know the rest of the story – if it wasn’t for sheer patriotism the Accord would have taken an even stronger grip on the American market than it did, and the same can be said about the UK. These were around the most capable ‘transportation appliances’ you could buy in the late seventies, and their interiors showed typically Japanese fitness-for-purpose that certainly shamed some European and North American rivals.
Thanks to their propensity to rust, compounded by their somewhat non-aspirational image, very, very few of these now remain on the streets, and I reckon that’s a pity.
(All images are of original Honda publicity material, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Honda – who really need to bring back sharknose styling)