1 Mar 1973
Honda’s 1972 small car was an update of the Mini’s transverse front-wheel drive engine layout.
Called the Civic, it catapulted its maker into the global big time.
Initially it was sold only as a 40kW 1.2-litre four-cylinder two-door “hunchback” or three-door hatchback variant, with the option of a four-speed manual or Honda’s clutchless manual two-speed “Hondamatic” transmission.
Their instant success led to the inclusion of a four-door 52kW 1.5L “hunchback” from October ’74, as well as a slow-selling five-door 1.5L wagon in February ’76.
At the same time, the smaller engine size was upped a little and now produced 44kW of power.
Two years later, all the three-door Civics were replaced by a proper five-door hatchback variant, with both receiving a revised nose, new interior trim and upgraded equipment levels.
Frugal, durable and fun to drive, the original Civic spawned the world’s first low-emissions engine in 1973, a feat recently honoured with an Engineering Car Of The 1970s award.