5 Reasons You Should Own a Golden Era Honda
Ah, the late 80’s and early 90’s, what a great time to be alive, or so I am told. This era produced some of the most iconic Japanese sports compacts ever to hit the streets. From 1988-2000, Honda was the king of front wheel drive cars, seemingly turning out hit after hit. These are fun to drive, timeless cars began to be known as “Golden Era Hondas.” What is it that made them so great?
“GEH” models like the Civic and CRX were incredibly lightweight, often weighing under 2000 pounds. Crash test standards of the period were much less stringent than those of today, so these older Honda models, despite their largely steel construction, didn’t need costly aluminum used in their structures to keep the curb weight low. Weight impacts all facets of performance, so keeping it low improves everything from fuel economy, to handling, braking, and acceleration.
2. Double Wishbone Suspension
Honda was one of the few brands to offer models with double wishbone suspension in the front and rear of the car. Most brands used, and still continue to use a simpler McPherson-Strut suspension, which although less costly, and maintenance intensive greatly reduces available cornering grip. We will spare you the lesson in suspension dynamics, but know this: that double wishbone front suspension meant Golden Era Hondas could handle with the best of them.
3. Simple Aesthetic
A simple, no fuss design language permeated the entire GEH line-up. The CRX had a simple boxy look, while the Civic and Accord featured smooth, rounded lines, and an aerodynamic look. Many classic Honda owners opine that the Honda of today could do well to look back and appreciate this uncluttered and timeless aesthetic. Additionally, the “JDM” scene was beginning to bloom at the time, and if you wanted your Honda to stand out, Japanese-spec parts could add some subtle distinction to your ride.
This is Honda-Tech, why would we care about non-Hondas? We care because competition drives companies to innovate and offer more to the consumer for less. In the early 1990’s, sports compacts like the Volkswagen GTI and Toyota Celica GT among others forced Honda to stay on the top of their game. Eventually, there was even in-house competition from Acura as the need to develop superior engines and technologies grew to help distinguish their premium brand, before eventually releasing that tech into other Hondas. Without competitive zeal, we may have never seen the massive spread of the 16-valve DOHC Honda engine and VTEC.
They were inexpensive as new cars, and they are downright cheap to get into right now. Whether you’re looking for a fun, reliable daily driver or possibly the basis of a simple, track ready build, a Golden Era Honda is a safe bet. In addition to the cost of entry being low, their reliability is such that servicing costs are kept low and infrequent, and if you’re so inclined, aftermarket parts are numerous, readily available, and easily budgeted for. Really, why aren’t we all building one up?
Credit given to Honda-Tech user Todd00 for article concept.
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For more information on maintenance and repairs, please check out our do-it-yourself technical articles at https://honda-tech.com/how-tos/.