1981 Honda Civic Wagon-- what should i pay for this thing?



(i call it a “thing”, but i am actually in love with this car, which i have already dubbed THE TANK.)

hi car talkers, i’m hoping someone can help me out… our mechanic is selling us his old 81 honda civic wagon for whatever we want to pay him. i have no idea what that should be! i’ve found 3 listed online, from $100. to $2,000., so no help there. here are the facts:

it’s got approximately 300,000 miles on it (the speedometer flips when it’s hit 99k, so that’s a guess), no stereo, mismatched tires, needs a new muffler, the paint under the front fender is looking very tired, has minor dings, occassional squealing, and the first start of the day is a bit dicey.

anyone have an idea of what i should offer? he knows we’re on a budget, and basically told me he likes us, and hates pricing, so whatever we come up with is fine. but, i like him too, and don’t want to offend him!

thanks in advance for any help…


it’s probably worth around 300 bucks. Subtract 100 for a muffler, and another 100 for the tires.


It’s a 26-year-old car with 300K miles on it. It’s not worth a nickel. Give him $50 for it if it makes you feel better.


really? i guess i feel bad because he knows we were ready to pay $800 for an '84 toyota with 200k on it. which may just point to our bad, bad judgement of cars…


84 toyota what? If it’s a Supra it might be worth that :wink:

Also there is a BIG difference between 200,000 miles and 300,000 miles. It’s reasonable to expect around 50,000 miles out of a 200k mile Toyota or Honda. 300,000 is stretching it, especially if you don’t know how it was cared for that first 300,000 miles.

Anyone who wants 800 or more for an 81 Civic is crazy, and from what you’ve daid it doesn’t sound like your friend is crazy.


It’s really not worth anything unless it’s in very good condition (and it does not sound like it is). I wouldn’t pay more than a token amount (something less than $1000), if it makes you feel better. If he is a friend, you might be better off not buying it from him.


Offer him $500 if he replaces the muffler, fixes the starting issue, and stops the squeal. Make sure you know what he fixed.


Walk away. Unless you get it for FREE it’s not something you should consider. Rocketman


I think this car is more in line with the 100 dollar car rather than the 2k one.


Ask if he’s changed carburetor floats or auxiliary valves in it. If not, or if the engine hasn’t been replaced or overhauled, the car is not reliable. If the engine doesn’t idle smoothly or has a slight miss, there is a burnt exhaust valve. It will still get 33 MPG or better on the highway. Look at the top of the (manual) transmission, if you don’t see an intact rubber hose, like a vacuum hose coming out of the top with the end down, then the transmission has contaminants in it. It is a vent hose, and if it is rotted away, water gets in through the vent fitting on top. It costs over $800 to rebuild that 5-speed. A head gasket kit alone costs over $100. The first start of the day being difficult is due to age and the fact that the CVCC engine requires fairly retarded timing or it will burn the auxiliary valves and exhaust valves up in a week and a half. So if someone cures the problem and gives you great power, that’s how long the engine will last. Parts in the junkyards are just about gone for that age Honda. The good ones anyway. Take the car for free but don’t pay for it.


thanks everyone for your help!


update: i now own my fantastic 81 honda. pleasedodgevan, thanks for all the specifics-- they actually replaced the catalytic converter and about 3 ft (i think)? of pipe. runs beautifully now!

just wanted to really thank everyone again.


No surprise, this has happened before. Someone got all the advice in the world and then bought a new Impala. I was amazed. So far, the Impala is doing fine.


[b]He should give it to you just to get it off his hands! This car’s worth nothing!

He’d have to pay me to take it!