Honda Civic (first generation)

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First generation
1976-77 Honda Civic)
AssemblySuzuka, Mie, Japan
Body style(s)2-door coupe
3-door hatchback
4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
5-door station wagon
LayoutFF layout
Engine(s)1.2 L EB I4
1.5 L ED CVCC I4
Transmission(s)4-speed manual
5-speed manual
2-speed Hondamatic automatic
Wheelbase86.6 in. (220 cm)
Wagon: 89.9 in (2283 mm)
Length139.8 in. (355 cm) (1973)
146.9 in. (373 cm) (1974-1979)
160 in. (406 cm) (wagon)
Curb weight1500 lb (680 kg)

Honda began selling the 1169 cc (70 in³) transversely mounted inline four-cylinder Civic for about US$2,200. The car produced roughly 50 hp (37 kW) and included power front disc brakes, vinyl seating, reclining bucket seats, and a woodgrain-accented dashboard. The hatchback version added a fold-down rear seat, an AM radio, and cloth upholstery. The car had front and rear independent suspension. A four-speed manual transmission was standard. Options for the Civic were kept to a minimum, consisting of air conditioning, an automatic transmission called the Hondamatic, radial tires, and a rear wiper for the hatchback. The car could achieve Template:Convert/mpgus on the highway, and with a small 86.6 inch (220 cm) wheelbase and 139.8 inch (355 cm) overall length, the vehicle weighted 1,500 pounds (680 kg).

The 4 door sedan version of this bodystyle was not available in the USA, and the sedan was not a hatchback until 1978, just before the introduction of the Second Generation. In the USA, the advertising campaign used to introduce the Civic was, "Honda, we make it simple."

The Civic's features allowed it to outperform American competitors such as the Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto. When the 1973 oil crisis struck, many Americans turned to economy cars. Reviews of American economy car quality were poor and getting worse due to spiraling costs for manufacturers. Japanese culture had a long-standing tradition of demanding high-quality economy cars, and the growing American desire in the 1970s for well-made cars that had good fuel mileage benefited the standing of Honda, Toyota, and Datsun in the lucrative U.S. market.

For 1974, the Civic's engine size grew slightly, to 1237 cc and power went up to 52 hp (39 kW). In order to meet the new 5 mph (8 km/h) bumper impact standard, the Civic's bumpers grew 7.1 inches (18 cm), increasing overall length to 146.9 inches (373 cm).[1] The CVCC (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion) engine debuted in 1975 and was offered alongside the standard Civic engine. The optional 53 hp (40 kW) CVCC engine displaced 1488 cc and had a head design that promoted cleaner, more efficient combustion. The CVCC design eliminated the need for catalytic converters or unleaded fuel to meet changing emissions standards, unlike nearly every other U.S. market car. Due to California's stricter emissions standards, only the CVCC powered Civic was available in that state. A five-speed manual transmission became available this year, as did a Civic station wagon (only with the CVCC engine), which had a wheelbase of 89.9 inches (228 cm) and an overall length of 160 inches (406 cm). Civic sales also increased and topped 100,000 units for this year.[1]

1978 brought slight cosmetic changes: the grille was black; the rear-facing hood vents replaced the sideways vents; and turn indicators were mounted in the bumper instead of in the grille. The CVCC engine was now rated at 60 hp (45 kW).[1]