Published on May 9th, 2020 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Honda Accord 1976 historical review
The forgotten first generation.
Sometime before 1976, Honda Japan wanted to try their luck in a brand new vehicle segment. A segment that Toyota, Mazda and Datsun were enjoying brisk sales.
Honda Motor had recently released the compact Honda Civic in 1972 and it was a runaway success despite being a little more expensive over the Mazda Jumbo and the Datsun 1200. Toyota was the segment leader with the Corolla. Honda needed a slightly bigger car and a bigger engine to go global and so the Accord was born.
Honda’s first Accord was a sleek looking two-door hatchback that weighed in at just 945kg. It was Honda’s premium car, above the tiny Civic and it was powered by Honda’s second-generation, 68hp 1.6-liter CVCC four-cylinder engine. Yes, Honda launched the two-door hatchback first in 1976 and then the following year in 1977 the sedan arrived with features never seen with the immediate Japanese and even some European rivals. Soon after the 1.8-liter engine arrived with 94hp and while being the most economical car in its segment it was also the quickest.
Our best memory of this Honda Accord was its superlight steering wheel, super slick 5-speed gearbox with a light clutch and the remote boot release which at the time only luxury cars had. There were features that arrived with its rivals only with their next generation. The cabin quality was almost on par with Mercedes and BMW at the time and this Honda Accord was well damped which meant a quiter cabin at speeds above 110km/h.
Today, some 44 years later, it is almost imporssible to find a well respected unit on the road or even for sale. Small towns might still have a unit or two and there must be a retired person somwehere in Malaysia with a mint unit that is still running sweet and so they are not willing to part with it.
Rust is its biggest enemy just like with all Japanese cars from that era. Wheel arches, rear hatch or bootlid, ‘A’ pillars and parts of the engine bay would be rusting away like a cream cracker and over the years diligent owners might have spent money on putty repairs and numeorus repaints.
An automatic gearbox was available (but not very popular with buyers) and it was a three-speed unit and it hampered straight-line performance (and overtaking ability). The five-speed manual was theone to have, with a nice slick shift and good feel. Basically, the manual box was nice enough and the clutch light enough that it was no real hardship to have to change your own gears. Even today with heavy traffic, it is an easy drive.
The Honda tradition of soft suspension and minimal damping continued right to the end, so don’t expect the car to feel responsive or agile today. The steering is pretty decent and there is lots of body roll in corners, especially if you are in a hurry. By now, any surviving first generation Accord should be on at least their sixth set of dampers, so with any luck, a previous owner will have fitted something better than the OE set. Absolutely the best thing about this first Accord is that they were bought by conservative Malaysians who tended them and loved them.
Physical abuse if any would have come from over excited teenage sons with brand new licenses. Prices start at RM4,000 for clean cars with lots of kilometreson the odometer. Some sellers (and some dealers) will ask up to RM6,000 for a mint version and we think that this is not too much money for a bit of history.