This isn’t the first time we’ve presented a utility-minded multipurpose hatchback in the Rare Rides series. Rather, it’s very nearly the culmination of the major players in the segment. In addition to today’s ride, we’ve had the Colt Vista, and Nissan’s Prairie (now owned by an enthusiast collector), as well as a pristine and pricey Tercel 4WD Wagon.
After today, we’re missing just two: an Eagle Summit/Mitsubishi Expo, and the last-of-breed Nissan Axxess. Onward, to Wagovan.
The third-generation Honda Civic was wrapping up its tenure in 1987, as the Civic became larger and more American-friendly in 1988. The third generation presented Civic buyers with more body style options than in modern times. There was a three-door hatch, four-door sedan, and a five-door hatchback or “Wagovan,” in addition to the two-seat CRX “coupe.”
Though introduced for the 1984 model year, the Civic’s four-wheel drive system was modernized in 1987. Originally, the system was push-button in nature, requiring manual input from the driver to switch modes. 1987’s development made the switching automatic: power was sent to the rear wheels automatically when sensors at the front wheels detected a loss of grip.
Proud of its achievement, Honda printed the automatic nature of the 4WD right on the steering wheel. This automatic all-wheel drive system also saw the implementation of “Realtime” terminology, which is still in use today on the CR-V (technically this model’s successor). Ground clearance of four-wheel drive models was a half inch greater than front-drive Wagovan versions.
Paired to the four-wheel drive system was a mandatory six-speed manual transmission. The box was comprised of five forward speeds, and one SL (Super-low) crawler gear. To the best of my knowledge, this Wagovan would have a 1.3-liter ZA1 series inline-four under the hood. Given the variance in Civic engines during the period, I’m prepared to be wrong here.
The Wagovan would live on through the fourth-generation Civic as well, bowing out after the 1991 model year. This later version attempted to broaden customer appeal by offering a four-speed automatic on all-wheel drive versions, in addition to the manual.
Today’s tan beauty is a high-mileage example out in Oregon, America, which is somewhat south of Vancouver, Canada. It has some excellent lace alloys and looks to be rust-free. The owner seems to know Wagovan well, and is asking $2,000.