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Old 08-24-2000, 06:35 PM   #1
burr101
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Thumbs up Thinking about buying a Honda.. need input

i know i'm kinda tricking you guys into reading this but i was thinking about getting a beater car. and i saw a 1991 Honda Civic Si.

it has 189,000 miles
a almost perfect body and interior (rare for a new england car)
tons of new parts water pump, head gasket, belts, ect.
5 speed withe the 1.6l (i think)

they are asking $1800.00

good deal? its going cost an extra $550 per year to insure it. but i'll save tons of miles on my car and acctually enjoy driving it when i do.
please talk me in or out of it.

what the hell is the si anyway?

shaun
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Old 08-24-2000, 07:07 PM   #2
Overtime
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Si=sport injection, Honda's US top-of-the-line model. Not quite as imposing as "WRX", eh?

I don't think those earlier ones put out the near 170hp that the current ones do, but the nice thing is that the aftermarket spits out Honda crap like a drunken trunk monkey.

Use NADA to find out whether it's a relatively good deal or not, but I suspect Honda or no, that engine is going to need a little work...bet it's been run hard...
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Old 08-24-2000, 07:24 PM   #3
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'91 Civic Si should be something like 120 or 125 HP.

Hondas, contrary to popular belief, are not immune to wear. 189,000 miles is 189,000 miles. Plan on doing some costly maintenance during your ownership and if you don't have to, you got lucky. Granted that car may be more reliable on average than a ... say '91 Cavalier (a lot, actually) but you have no idea what specific brand of hell it's been through and you should plan to pay.

Even Honda cams are getting pretty round at 189k miles. If you need a driver I'd look lower mileage and for something like a Civic VX or Mitsubishi Mirage. Screw having fun, an early tired Si ain't that fun.
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Old 08-24-2000, 07:26 PM   #4
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I plan on doing the same as you

after buying the new WRX TURBO (not ganna but it unless its turbo) i plan on getting a 88-91 CRX SI. yank out the drive train and pop in a 1.6DOHC engine and tranny combo that is good for 160hp stock.
get good set up for SOLLO racing and here i come.

buy the car for about 1,000-2000 and buy the engine/tranny for 2,000-3000 (this is everything CV's, computer, engine, tranny, new mounts, bla bla bla bla bla

so for about 5,000 total you got your self a little pocket rocket
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Old 08-24-2000, 07:28 PM   #5
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Its a great buy, specially if you later decide you want to swap in a b16 engine found currently in the new Si, imagine, 160hp in that little lightweight 91 si?
 
Old 08-24-2000, 08:12 PM   #6
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Having owned that exact car earlier in life, I can tell you it's a GEM. Exact same mechanically as a CRX from the same year, but a little more stealthy.

I'd check the CV boots, compression, and clutch. And there is no (nor was there ever) power steering. But it had phenomenal road feel.

It has a 1.6 liter putting out 108 HP and 100 ft-lbs. Nice quick (relatively) car at about 2200 pounds.

Tons of parts available including a Jackson Racing Super Charger.

actually, I'd pay about $1200 for it.
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Old 08-24-2000, 08:17 PM   #7
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If you want a beater get a old subaru Turbo. A pristine 88 GL-10 will be about $1800, but with down around 120,000 miles. Stick with what you know.
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Old 08-24-2000, 09:19 PM   #8
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Go for it. Hondas are good economy cars. When I sold my honda, i thought it was a POS, until I saw american cars as old as it. Good luck.
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Old 08-25-2000, 09:07 AM   #9
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Thumbs down

Hondas are good car cars, but why buy somebody else's problem. when i sold my 93 integra after 176K miles it looked great but needed new struts, springs, and rotors. the engine still ran strong and got 33 mpg but who knows for how much longer. when i sold the car i put some stp fuel treatment and octane booster in it to mask the rough idle and the guy only drove it around the block once so he didn't pick up on the worn springs or struts. if he would have put a load in the car he would have noticed the car sink. my point is a car can look great upon initial inspection and short drives but 189K miles is a lot and you can't verify how the car was maintained or check engine wear without tearing down the motor.

Here's my advice - since you're already paying for your subaru why not just drive that? the car was made for driving, what else did you get it for? take the extra money you would have spent on someone else's old car and use it for mods or taking your girlfriend on vacation.
if you're rich or just insist on spending a lot of money, buy a cheap new car or at least a car with less mileage, or better yet,
BTW, $550 a year to insure a 9 yr old civic ton a multiple car policy? what's wrong with your driving record? I pay less than $500/yr for my wife's 2000 accord EX.
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Old 08-25-2000, 09:34 AM   #10
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I think that is the little hatchback, right? We weighed one in on a truck scale a month or so ago... 2200 lbs.

Sounds like a fun car to autoX too since it'll just tool around the course like nuts... there is hardly weight to make the car roll to begin with.
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Old 08-25-2000, 02:42 PM   #11
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If the owner maintain the car well, the car shouldn't need an engine swap at all. I used to own a 93 Civic EX, 1.6 SOHC VTEC (yes it got VTEC!). I put 190,000 hard miles in 5 years before I sold it for $5K to another guy 2 years ago.

About 6 months ago, I bumped into the guy and he told me the A/T blew. It was quite a surprise to me consider the engine still worked and the A/T acutally last 1.5 more years from so much of my abuse (N -> D shifts).

I will say this is a fantastic deal to get as a communte car or even weekend race car.
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Old 08-25-2000, 03:35 PM   #12
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Sounds like a good deal, but watch out for a few things. A few common Honda-isms:

- Simple but annoying, the heat shield. If you hear a terribly annoying rattle under your car (a metallic vibration, like a ping pong ball inside a watering can), it's the heat shield. Don't replace it. Just take it, or have it taken, off. You don't need it unless you park on dry grass often.

- Radiators. Hondas have cheap plastic caps on the radiators, which can split sometimes.
They can be repaired, but it's NOT a good idea. You have to replace the whole unit.

- Water pump. I had a '94 Acura Integra RS
that blew a water pump at about 75K mi. Didn't get mad at the car, but it happens.

- Brakes. Maybe other Hondas were better, but the Integras had poor brakes. I mean they stopped well enough, but they weren't built well. Calipers blow a lot. They were made by Nissin I think.

I'm sure Subarus have their own lists of evilness. But those are a few to look out for on a Honda. Otherwise... I say go for it. Hondas are not invincible... but they're damned close.

-S2-
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Old 08-25-2000, 04:08 PM   #13
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Thumbs up

when my farther and i looked at it he suggested my offering $1500, but i going to see it tomorrow and hopefully take it for a spin.

as far as reliabilty.. i drive mostly back roads to work. and i will be taking the subie when i go out. so is this good or bad for the car (backroads, that is)?

i'm really up in the air about this, i want a car just to put miles and beat the daylights out of it once and a while. But on the other hand i don't want to get burned.

say if the motor does go, what does a rebuild go for? or an engine swap, samw motor or slightyly better?
thanks
shaun
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Old 08-25-2000, 06:39 PM   #14
uncleho
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For those who've never owned one... and dis it on assumptions and gossip - "You're full of crap." Heed all those that actually have owned one. As far as quality goes, this car is tops in it's class in 1991+/-3 years. Any and all cars can be lemons or run their fair share of maintenance problems(real problems... not minor little $100 buck repairs). My family has lived on Toyotas, Nissans, and Hondas for the past 20 years and had our gems and our flops. My wife's family has always owned GM's and although plain and boring, have served them well... as well as our imports have served us.

Back to the '91 Si...
-I bought mine in early '92 during the changeover and think this way: "If Honda still made them, I'd buy three more to drive the rest of my life... honest!" You know how some cars you've owned have 'touched' you in a way that will make you remember it the rest of your life(my likes in a car are: 1) Fun, 2) Economical, & 3) Practical). Well, that '91 Si is my '55 Chevy! I know. You think I'm a quack and this is some generic Nip econobox. You're half right. It is one Goddamn(pardon me) freakin' exceptional econobox for those who couldn't afford a muscle car or rally wannabe rocket sled! Below are my thoughts as compared to cars of its generation(and some today):

Design(body): Clean lines, simple, extemely well-proportioned, unoffensive, cute, and semi agressive. I say agressive, because you won't find a car in its class anymore with its perfect hatchback proportions. It sits very very wide(vs. length & height) for a car its class. The overhangs are nonexistent. The track can't be any wider or else the tires would look like those lowriders with the Indy 'open wheel' effect. The view is unblocked(great for dodging in/out of traffic), especially the front... typical low cowl for Hondas of that era. For a hatchback, I always thought it had its competitors(VW Golf, Toyota ??[can't remember that short-lived hatch], Mazda 323, Escort GT, Subaru ??) beat when every factor was totalled.

Interior: Great Recaro imitations!!!! Great driving position... the car is very low to the ground. Materials and construction, as compared to its then competitors, are superior. Even against Toyota, which I think is highly overrrated. Instruments and controls are simple and clean in design and function. Moon roof standard!

Powertrain: The 108hp/100lbft motor is a simple gem. It's no powerhouse, but it isn't a ***** -footer, either. As another poster said, a Jackson blower and an LSD will have it running with the big dogs on the track. But you won't be using it for that. Mine had no A/C so it didn't even hit 2200lbs. The gearing, weight, and adequate power would get me 0-60 in high 7's depending on tires and surface. Like all Honda motors(I think that's their true forte), it sings at the high end... not affraid to tickle 6k rpms. The clutch, throttle, and gear shift feel is great. It's somewhere between sports car firm and econobox slush... I think today's ***** -foot subcompacts(Honda Civics included) have such wimpy and isolated feeling that you seem separated from the driving experience. Its fault would be lack of a 6th gear for highway cruising(but that goes for 75% of subcompacts out there). At 80mph, you'll easily hear the 4k rpm through the nonexistent sound insulation. But the gearing is nice... that 5th gear will pull strong at cruising speeds(it isn't your typical oooooverdrive). I use to take the car to the speedo's limit(125+mph) every other month. I don't know how much error was in the speedo at that high a speed, but it loved it. I would actually get scared because it would seem to get really eerily quiet and silky smooth at that speed! Creepy.


Handling/chassis: This is as close to a go kart as you can get and still have somewhat minimum crash protection and room to carry insane items(furniture, little fridges, lumber, etc.). Its weight complements its suspension perfectly. Hondas decision to put semi-wishbones up front and descent independent setup in the rear(I thank Honda's forrays into racing for this!) made for a stupendous ride. It isn't a Miata or an AC Cobra, but it doesn't cost that much either. As mentioned before, it doesn't have power steering, which is great, because at that weight and 185mm tires, only really tight parking maneuvers slightly bug you. When you're autocrossing or cruising at 90mph, the feel it provides is unmatched in that class. After market parts are endless and can make a great ride... supurb - if you can afford to be raped in the wallet.

My record:
-Mine is still with me... all 197k miles worth. No rust. The only major problem I've had so far is the distributor seizing just a month ago. I don't drive like Andretti everyday, but I do drive agressive... my clutch is original. Some pads, a couple timing belts, 3 sets of tires, oil filters(~7k intervals), air filters, muffler, fuel filter... normal stuff. Oh, my engine leaks a little through my oil pan gasket, but that's expected at 197k. Haven't checked compression, but I'm sure it is fine. As far as I'm concerned, it is only 3% weaker in feel than when it was new. And those insanely expensive Honda service checks... never. No valve clearance checks, none of that! Dealer was amazed at its performance(for its age) when I got the distributor fixed lately.

Conclusion: Like any used car, unless you know the driver, it is always a risk... regardless what brand. I love my baby. I hope it serves as a cheap and fun beater ride for you. The only reason I don't rebuild it completely is because 1) My wife won't let me spend the $10k I want to spend to get it new AND add aftermarket toys and 2) Most shops think I'm looney for wanting to refurbish a Honda Civic.

P.S. Don't think I'm some Honda fanatic that can't say wrong. I think Honda has been slowing going down hill in that class in regards to everything except their powertrains since ~1994. Right now, the only thing I might consider is the S2000, but I'm not in any mood to drive like a kamikaze pilot 100% of the time to enjoy that ride.

Oh, yeah...

As far as backroads go(I assume you mean dirt/gravel)... it is wonderful. The semi-wishbones have long wheel travel and my original shocks/springs still dampens fine! I use to live on a long series of dirt roads and first went slow and gentle until one day a got silly and drove like a WRX. It was actually smoother driving fast than slow!!

[This message has been edited by uncleho (edited August 25, 2000).]

"Honda-isms":
How about 'car-isms.' I've got original water pump, radiator cap, gas cap, washer fluid cap, toothpaste cap,etc.! Weak brakes?! What do you want, Brembos??? This isn't a Ferrari! My brakes are plenty good AND original... I pound on them daily! I love their feel, just like I love the feel of my clutch pedal and steering. Hell, I even like the way I can turn on wipers and lights with finger tips and not remove the palm of my hands from the wheel!!! Take that!!!!!!

[This message has been edited by uncleho (edited August 25, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by uncleho (edited August 25, 2000).]
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Old 08-25-2000, 09:06 PM   #15
vinman
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Honda-isms: my 93 integra (expensive civic) needed a new water pump (130K miles), brakes were 'okay' but never great, front calipers needed replacing - don't forget to grease those slide pins!, only got the valve clearances checked once in the 176K miles and thought it was wasted money.
Hey uncleho, I find it highly unlikely that your suspension is just fine after 197K miles especially considering the fact that you drive on dirt roads. Any honda dealer will tell you that the OEM springs normally last about 90K - 100K - that's what they were designed for. The struts will last a little longer but most people will replace the struts as the same time since it all has to be taken apart anyway and its cheaper to pay for the labor only once. Don't misundestand me, hondas ARE good cars. My wife has always had hondas (mostly used - but with much less mileage) and she drove them into the ground. She got rid of them when the maintenance costs increased too much and it was more economical sell the old one and buy another car. Which is probably exactly what the seller of the 91 civic is trying to do.

Now, lets not forget the orginal question - burr101 wanted to buy the OLD civic as a beater so he wouldn't put too many miles on his RS. This logic is flawed!
#1 - I assume the impreza RS was bought so you could DRIVE it! Or did you plan on just staring at in?
#2 - I drive mine everyday (80+ miles/day) and I enjoy every minute.
#3 - Spending $1200 - 1800 on the OLD car, plus $550/yr for insurance, plus registration fees, plus inspection fees, plus maintenance on an OLD car, just to save some miles on the car you already have? This is bad math! Especially considering the fact that you still have to pay for the existing impreza (gas money, maintenance, loan payoff, insurance, registration, inspecton, money for mods, etc.) Save your money.
This would only make sense if you were buying an old pickup so you could haul mulch or lumber, etc. But you didn't say you wanted it for racing or hauling stuff you can't fit in an impreza.
Hey it's your money. But since you have so much why not share the wealth, send me some.
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Old 08-26-2000, 12:10 AM   #16
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The '91 Si if set up properly can do alot of damage on Auto-x... it's a light car, very very easy to handle.

Anyways, the cheapest way to extract performance out of it is probably to drop in a 1.6L ZC in there (1.6L DOHC non-vtec) this is about 130-140hp if I remember correctly, then just bolt on parts from the B18A engine (LS/RS Integra stuff)... this'll be the cheaper and easier set-up to do.

Either that or swap in a 1.6L SOHC VTEC from the 92'-'95 Si/EX's This is a direct bolt on and does not require any welding!

I myself have a '92 Civic Hybrid as well (2.0L CR-V block w/ JDM Integra Type-R head, Civic Type-R Cams, w/ a S/C in it.... very very fast and hard to beat in auto-x and on the track)
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Old 08-26-2000, 12:51 AM   #17
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everyone talking about engine swaps:

that's all well and good but I think the original poster was after basic, if mildly entertaining, transportation and not looking for the "hott setup" for a future hybrid project.

glad to see vinman agrees with me that 189k miles is too much for a daily driver.
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Old 08-26-2000, 11:20 AM   #18
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burr101,

I have the same motor in my car(88 4wd) and it does fairly well. It will still get to 7100rpm and it has 264,000 miles on it. The ZC is a direct bolt in, but there are better choices that are a little more work. There are a lot of aftermarket parts for this car and best of all, it will save wear and tear on your better car. As to stuff like water pumps and brakes. I replace my water pump every time I replace my timing belt. It is only about $80 extra. Brakes: yes they could be better. You could always have them cryo treated. I have bansi'd my car down many dirt roads and have suffered only one failure. That one came from the road being washed out from a storm the night before. I did learn two things out of that. Check the road before you race and Honda 'A' arms are not cheap. Overall the older civics are good, but have a mechanic you trust check it out before you buy it.
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