5k: Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion: 1978 Honda CVCC 5Spd

The first generation Honda Civic was built in Japan and New Zealand from 1973 to 1979.  It was initially only available in the USA with a generic 1.2 liter 4-banger, but a later, spiffy high-tech 1.5 liter 4-pot called the CVCC was also available.  Most first generation Civics have rusted into oblivion, but a few lucky dry state examples have survived and are now kinda cool in a funky-retro way.  Find this 1978 Honda Civic CVCC 5-spd for sale in Independence, CA currently bidding on ebay for $2,050 with 1 day to go.

If there is ever going to be a collectible Civic, this has to be it as the CVCC 5-speed was actually a separate step-up model of Civic, which came equipped with beauty rings on the wheels, a tachometer, wood shift knob, three spoke steering wheel a funky black/white hound’s tooth cloth interior and an overhead console with a map light. Even if this never appreciates like a V12 Ferrari, the savings in gas will be measurable as you tool around town. 

The CVCC 5-Speed and VW Diesel Rabbit were the EPA mileage champs in 1978 coming in at a whopping 50+ mpg on the old highway hope cycle.  Another big plus in 1978 was the Honda’s ability to fuel up with leaded or unleaded gas stations with no concern of fouling a catalyst, as they passed even the more stringent California emissions standards without one…but today this isn’t a big deal.

Honda named their 1.5 liter inline-4 cylinder engine, the CVCC, which stood for Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion, which was simply an inexpensive way to achieve stratified charge combustion.  Honda engineers figured out that a lean (excess air) combustion event was able to reduce HC and CO emissions but the lean mixture doesn’t ignite easily with a standard spark plug.  Therefore, the area around the spark plug needed to be a standard air-fuel ratio and could be achieved via complex fuel injection strategies.  Honda wanted to keep an inexpensive carburetor setup, so they used an small auxiliary intake valve near the spark plug that fed from a different section of the carb to deliver stoichiometric air/fuel ratio and create an ignitable stratified charge.  The lean burn engine won’t work with a 3-way catalyst and was able to meet mid 70s emissions standards without it.  As a bonus it got fantastic fuel economy and was still able to put out 60 horsepower.

 The inside of this Civic looks torn up, but not ‘meth-addict-home’ bad.  We even see 35 cents on the seat as a bonus for the new owner. 

Bottom line, this Civic is reasonably straight but needs to be repainted and interior
freshened. It could be a fun around town car and in its current condition and will certainly generate conversations whenever you fill up…which won’t be very often given its fuel efficiency.  Saving best for last, the seller assures us that the A/C blows ice cold.  He’s even attached a few videos on youtube for your viewing pleasure.

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