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 (164) Join the discussion on the forum

  • TORQ 22 Feb 2013

    Sorry but (to me) this is so god-awful in every way!

  • mull1974 22 Feb 2013

    Not the most inspired choice of shed, always looked like a pensioners car. However with that engine under the bonnet I guess it could provide some cheap fun

  • ninos 22 Feb 2013

    Finally, a car I've recommended for SOTW a few times to say the least although not this one. Fantastic little cars, great power although a bit thirsty, ultra reliable and fun to drive. Good choice of she'd this week and a nice change from the usual barges.

  • Valgar 22 Feb 2013

    Oh I recognise this, I posted it in bargain basement! Honestly, I just bought a Scooby Turbo, I think if this was around a week ago I would have looked at it, I'm already missing my Legacy estate and can't get bugger all in the scoob.

  • Loplop 22 Feb 2013

    The ONLY thing MB Civics are good for is breaking.

    Completely different to the EK (1.6 VTi) in that the chassis is shared with the Rover 45.

    I'll have wishbones all round on an EK4 please.

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