SOTW: Honda Civic VTI Aerodeck

Scrof’s ruminations on the future of the sporting wagon have conveniently coincided with someone deciding to blow the ballast tanks on this 1998 Civic Aerodeck.

Quirky mix of practicality and VTEC pace
Quirky mix of practicality and VTEC pace
There are two good reasons to buy this car. The first is that VTEC Hondas of any hue put a nice inky tick in the Shed speed requirement box. Some say that the 1.6 Civic VTi is actually a little bit quicker than the 1.8, courtesy of its lighter weight and lower gear ratios, but this 1.8 with its 167hp motor is still good for a solid eight-second 0-60 time and a terminal velocity of around 133mph. It will also cruise at a more relaxed rate of revs than the 1.6. Hooked up to the standard Torsen LSD it adds up to very acceptable launch action both off the line and out of bends.

The second reason is that Hondas are super-reliable. Honda owners routinely rate their steeds high in the big reliability/owner satisfaction surveys. Yes, we all know that ownership surveys are sometimes more about purchase validation than reality, but Honda’s consistently high placings in JD Power (currently fourth) and the Warranty Direct reliability tables (currently top, with a 10 per cent failure rate) didn’t come out of thin air. For comparison, that failure rate is seven per cent clear of second-placed Toyota, and 61 per cent clear of Land Rover in last place. For further comparison, Porsche stands at 39 per cent, BMW 41 per cent and Mercedes 45 per cent.

A classic 90s Japanese interior then...
A classic 90s Japanese interior then...
This Aerodeck has a goodly mileage on it but that excellent reliability record means that’s no reason not to expect plenty more of the same. The funny thing about mileage is that it’s hardly ever a problem to the owner, only to the tooth-sucking purchaser. All you have to do is adopt the mindset of the contented vendor and you’re laughing.

Honda’s part-leather perches of this era are traditionally a bit flat, but the bolsters will give you some lateral location. This car has every last feature listed from sunblinds to child locks but doesn't have a whole lot of information about service history or suchlike. A proper inspection is called for then and hopefully you’ll have very little to complain about, because so very little goes wrong in Civics.

When VTEC kicks in this is the view they'll get
When VTEC kicks in this is the view they'll get
Engine check warning lights and intermittent starting could be EGR valves or TDC sensors on the way out, or a dicky distributor – they can be picked up for about £175 on Fleabay and are easy to fit. Older VTEC engines will use a little oil; valve seals eventually wear out. Any maintenance you may carry out there will be well rewarded by the addictive high-rev VTEC rasp which (we are happy to report) comes in much less progressively on these earlier cars. Cambelts only need changing every 70,000 miles, though of course nobody would chastise you for doing it more often.

In Shed’s opinion, sunroofs are the invention of Satan. Old Aerodeck ones need to be kept greased or kept shut. It’s an estate, but don’t expect to cram wardrobes in the back: it’s only 835 litres with the back seats folded down, which is about half what you’ll get in something like an E-Class Merc – but that is literally two classes up from the Civic. Golfists will be pleased to hear that they can fit their sticks in widthwise without having to resort to the traditional post-round club-bending.  

The information on this car is scarce but faint heart never won a fair maiden...


Original advert reproduced here:

5 Doors, Manual, Estate, Petrol, 103,252 miles, Metallic Blue, MOT-12-2013. "ALL MAJOR DEBIT/CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED", """SPECIAL INTERNET LAST PRICE OFFER""", ""PLEASE PHONE FOR AN APPOINTMENT""", LONG MOT, TAX, SERVICE HISTORY, ABS, Adjustable seats, Adjustable steering column/wheel, Air conditioning, Alloy wheels, Anti theft system, Central locking, Child locks, Colour coding - Body, Driver airbag, Electric mirrors, Electric windows, Electric sunroof, Foglights, Head restraints, Headlight washers, Folding rear seats, Heated screen, Leather seats, Immobiliser, Metallic paintwork, Power assisted...

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Comments (166) Join the discussion on the forum

  • rob1234 29 Dec 2013


  • Pingman 29 Dec 2013

    quite a few years ago my father finally got one of these after wanting one for a long time, and kept it for about a year as it really was not great!

    Interior was really dated, not comfortable, was quite noisy at speed and not all that practicable compared to other estate cars and really struggled with any load in it.

    On it's plus side it was cheap to buy, cheap to run and cheap to maintain. Economy was reasonable too If I recall.

  • Jayhoath83 22 Jul 2013

    I have a aerodeck vti on an s plate n its the first estate i have owned and as far as estates go for under a grand its the best on offer . With a little bit of tuning mine has embaressed some fast cars n i dont no about you but theres somthing satisfiying about sleepers . And as for the handeling being dangerous lol they are prone to lift off oversteer but that can be cured by the mgzs180 shocks n rear anti roll bar. So go on peeps buy a bargain n put a smile on your face as u waste a rude boi in a golf gti

  • fokiohero 27 Feb 2013

    Not sure why they released so many estates and saloons with the VTi engine over here but the 'sport' coupes mostly came with the rather reserved SOHC LSi engines. Oh well I suppose it makes for a good sleeper car!

  • tali1 26 Feb 2013

    Rich_p said:
    I don’t tend to post much but as it’s a vti I thought I’d comment.

    They are quirky estates that’s for sure! (frigging ugly at the back in all honesty)

    I’ve had the 5 door hatch for 10 years now and it’s been a cracking car really having paid under £6k for it at the time with only 31k on the clock, I think it was near £18k new.

    The fuel consumption isn’t so good though!
    2001 the final year lists at 16k BOTH for hatch and estate
    Oddly, rare run out 123 bhp SE Exec Sport was 1k more!
    Have to admit Vti fits Q car tag perfectly

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