COAL: 1980 Honda Civic GL1500 – You’ll Never Forget Your First Love

1980 honda civic

In my second year of college, I landed an engineering internship in a neighboring state. I needed a reliable and affordable car to commute to work and back home on weekends. With the freedom to choose my own car, I stumbled upon a classified ad for a 1980 Honda Civic GL.

At first glance, the Civic didn’t make a strong impression on me. It looked cute and stubby, unlike the refined and matured second-generation Civic. But upon closer inspection, I couldn’t ignore its appealing features. The dashboard was elegantly simple, with full instrumentation including a tachometer. The controls were well-marked and easy to reach, operating with a smoothness that the other cars of its time lacked.

Compared to my father’s Dodge Omni, which I had been driving, the Civic felt like a dream. It boasted a slick 5-speed transmission, light clutch, and crisp manual steering. The 1500cc engine loved to rev, encapsulating the essence of Honda’s driving experience. It was a no-brainer; I had to buy this car.

However, being six years old with 75,000 miles on the clock, the Civic was starting to show signs of age. On my limited college student budget, I replaced the worn-out tires with the cheapest radials I could find. I also upgraded the stereo system and addressed some bodywork to combat the effects of Midwestern road salt.

Throughout college and grad school, my silver Civic became my pride and joy. It faithfully took me to work during that summer internship in Ft Wayne, Indiana. During the school year, it mostly stayed parked, except for the occasional SCCA Solo II run around the campus parking lot. The Civic became a loyal companion on countless road trips around the Midwest, creating lasting memories.

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My Civic was a joy to drive. Its agility and maneuverability, combined with the engine’s willingness to be pushed hard, made every journey rewarding and fun. I was convinced that Honda had mastered automotive magic in the 1980s. In fact, I yearned to work for Honda when they came recruiting engineers on my college campus. However, fate led me to a different path, as I ended up working for GM.

As graduation approached, I found myself preparing to move to Michigan to work at GM. I needed a more politically correct car to commute to work, ideally a GM or American-made vehicle. Sadly, the rust that had plagued my Honda from day one was finally taking its toll. The floorboards in the rear were completely rusted through, and every bump in the road resulted in a shower of rusty debris. It became unsafe to drive for much longer.

Reluctantly, I handed over my beloved Civic to my dad, who was driving a Ford Escort at the time. The Civic’s fate remains unknown to me. Dad likely drove it for a while before it met its demise at the crusher. I missed my Civic dearly, especially when having to drive around in Dad’s less-than-impressive Escort. I couldn’t wait to return it to him.



In conclusion, the 1980 Honda Civic GL1500 holds a special place in my heart. It was my first car and provided years of joyful driving experiences. While it eventually succumbed to rust, its impact on my automotive enthusiasm was immeasurable. The Honda Civic represented the epitome of practicality, reliability, and driving enjoyment. It left an indelible mark and will forever be remembered as my first automotive love.

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