The Gallants, Gammers, Damsels and Dandiprats

Whilom a two-door coupe often featured in a manufacturer’s line-up, they are now something of a rarity as we have already discussed.

Honda beforetime sold quite a few different versions of their Civic and Accord cars. This vehicle is from the tail end of the last part of the final bit of the glory days of sub-model variation Golden Age.

As a global car, the Accord has a complex life-history. My search for information started badly because I thought the car looked like a Civic so I went after them. It looks rather small, you see. Further research led me to suspect the vehicle really wasn’t a Civic at all and should be wearing an Accord badge (which it doesn’t in this case). So I started looking under A for Accord on the internet. That worked better. So, what is the received wisdom saying? Car magazine (Jan., 1998)  considered the saloon dull but overall called the range “slick and surprisingly satisfying”.

The coupe here is the 1993 to 1997 version (which you knew). At the moment has a mere 10 for sale, ranging from pocket-money to around €5000. In the UK such a car cost £21,000 in 1998. The car topped out at 129 mph, propelled by a 2.0 litre engine and generally it gurgled one gallon every thirty miles.

And the competion? A Nissan 200 SX cost about a thousand more and could reach 145 mph. Peugeot´s 406 coupe cost pretty much the same as the Honda and performed about the same. It just happened to look fabulous. Rover who partnered with Honda for the 600, didn´t bother with a 600 coupe (but should have). They had a 400 coupe for about £16-18,000 but this was a different bowl of fish.

Autocar reviewed the Honda coupe in August 1998. Something is stopping me from spending €10 to find out what they said. There is also a review from June 1994 of the 2.0 LS Accord coupe which I guess is an early write-up of the 1995 car. Again, something is stopping me from pursuing this line of inquiry. Is that revealing?

The coupé is rather handsome, more distinguished than the saloon shown above. It has not much of an internet presence though and the review material I tracked down came from US sites. So, it hasn’t made much impact at all, like a large number of Japanese cars that didn’t fall into the obvious categories. I’d be intrigued to know about the typical user-owner profile, if there is such a thing for an oddity of this sort – is the owner madly in love with it or is it merely cheap transport for a recent graduate?

If we turn to Parker’s we find most of the owners like their car (which is not unusual). One owner says about the driving: “Smooth and comfy. Not slow, per se, but no sports car. Once it gets going, it’s adequately quick. Nail it at the right time and it will move. Auto box thinks it knows best – it doesn’t. Overall though, the auto does suit this car very well.” Another writes: “Definitely not sporty. Accurate steering, but not great handling. Torque steer, slow off the mark but remarkable v-tec performance at higher speeds”. This person says “Nice to drive. Just wish suspension gave you more confidence when going round bends!” And this owner says “Front wheel drive and a little soggy on tight corners, but even so it’s still a lot of fun.” I do wonder about how people drive their cars. I note that there was also a 2.2 litre version of the car, which is what most of these owners reported on.

The upshot of all this is that the Accord coupé is one among several good coupés from the period. In a growing market it would have found more fans. In a collapsing market buyers tend to gravitate in a dramatic fashion to the best of the crop, which was the Peugeot 406 coupé.

For the follow-up car, the American-market Accord coupé stepped in and smothered what remaining demand for Accord two-doors might have remained. I rather like the later car’s style and for the same reason many others didn’t, since it was viewed as ‘too American’ (by people who probably never went there or ever drove an American car).

1994-1997 Accord coupé verdict: a gallant.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

14 thoughts on “The Gallants, Gammers, Damsels and Dandiprats”

  1. I’m not sure I even knew that this generation of Accord included a coupe variant. If I did, I’d certainly forgotten that fact.

    It says plenty about the collectively uniform appearance of Japanese metal that as I scrolled past the second pic I assumed it was a Galant. And then had to study it quite hard to determine that it wasn’t. And also wasn’t a 626.

    1. That’s the thing. It truly doesn’t, because I know exactly what they will say – the same as they do about any other mid-size Japanese saloon of the period.

      What it does make me think though is that I am surprised they even bothered trying to flog this in the EU, especially when they were trying to shift Preludes as well. I read a while back about the fixed costs to federalise/Euro-ise a car and it is surprisingly high – well into the multi-millions once you’ve added together bumpers, lamp clusters, seats, and other legislation-specific bits and pieces. I can’t find the reference now but Marchionne was once quoted as saying that to change the headlamps on the Flavia to EU spec alone cost between $15-20 million. (It makes me happy that Fiat must have burnt a decent amount on that vile little experiment.) In any case, even if Mr M plucked that figure out of thin air (and it seems a touch high to me), the cost isn’t nominal.

  2. Funny how us Europeans are ambivalent at best about the Accord, but in America the car has a following that is both vocal and numerous. Indeed, the US mid-size saloon market is not far off divided between Accord and Camry (the latter still being the biggest seller), with everyone else fighting over scraps.

    1. Not correct at all, I’m afraid and not for years.

      2016 sales

      Camry 388,000
      Accord 345,000
      Nissan Altima 307,000
      Ford Fusion (Mondeo) 265,000
      Hyundai Sonata 199,000
      Kia Optima 124,000
      Chevrolet Malibu 228,000

      Accord plus Camry 733,000
      The people fighting over the scraps and not including Mazda6 1,123,000

      Accord and Camry together 39.5% of the total 1,856,000

    2. Slightly relatedly, I read this the other day:

      “The Accord first went on sale in Australia in 1977 as a Japanese-built three-door hatch. It later became a sedan, briefly added the ‘Aerodeck’ wagon, switched its sourcing to America and then Thailand and was joined by the smaller Accord Euro between 2003 and 2015.

      “Only the Civic nameplate has had a longer continuous run for Honda in Australia.

      “The US-designed, Thai-built ninth-generation four-cylinder and V6 Accord has received some critical approval, but is these days a sales nonentity in Australia.

      “In 2016, just 719 Accords were sold, compared to 26,485 examples of the medium category leading Toyota Camry.

      “‘Ten years ago that segment was 100,000 units and 50,000 units was private buyers,’ said Collins.

      “‘I think in that period it has reduced 45 per cent and 27,000 of that are now sold private and 30 to 40 per cent of them are Camrys.'”

      I hadn’t realised Accord sales had collapsed so far. The first comment, however, is illuminating:

      “Of course the current Accord sales numbers would have nothing to do with the pricing and lack of range. The cheapest model is $48+k for the 4 cylinder & $57+k for the V6. The most expensive Camry is $45k retail.”

      Bottom line: nearly 50 grand for a basic Accord is nuts. No wonder they’re not shifting any.

  3. Wasn’t this the generation of Accord which shared its platform with the Rover 600? I recall there being lots of talk about a coupe being developed of that car (I think I am right in writing that the first edition of the short-lived CarWeek led with an artist’s impression of one on its front cover!) which could have been a very handsome thing. That said, I have scoured the excellent AROnline and not found any reference to one, so it must have been a load of puff. Shame.

    1. Tangentially, a weirdly immaculate bronze 600 occasionally parks opposite my house. There can’t be a huge number of those left in such good condition. I should ask the chap if I could photograph it.

  4. I fully agree with your verdict, Richard. The Accord coupe was imported to Brazil for only one year (1995) but it sold relatively well; can’t say why Honda stopped bringing it. As reviewers at Parkers pointed out, this is no sport car, even if you get one with the 2.2 and a manual gearbox – I think the Prelude or the Civic VTi suit the sport coupe role best, and maybe the Accord was a budget-conscious “personal luxury” car – a U.S. car category that sadly died (Lincoln Mark VIII fan here).

    I wouldn’t say this 2-door Accord has a timeless design, but a pleasant one – even after 25 years of its debut.

  5. The coupe was sold in Europe in parallel with the ’93-98 Swindon-built Accord. Both it and the wagon came from Ohio, in LHD and RHD. Some of the US four door sedans were sold officially in Europe, possibly in Ireland and Spain. US cars had a C27 V6 option, but that didn’t make it to Europe.

    The succeeding generation coupe was also sold in Europe with the 2.3 litre four and the new 3 litre J series V6. Here’s one I spotted a few weeks ago:

    Almost forgotten now, but it’s rather a fine looking thing with a strong hint of NSX about the tail treatment.

  6. Honda offered a fantastic range of coupes in the mid-late 90s, covering the whole performance spectrum from hairdresser’s car to supercar.

    Civic, Accord, Prelude, Integra, NSX, CRX (Del Sol).

    Those days seem a long time ago. With the exception of the ultra-rare NSX, Honda’s current UK range consists entirely of 5 door hatchbacks, estates and crossovers.

    1. The coupe offered a quite broad range of forms, didn´t it? Those are pretty markedly different cars. These days the five door hatch as morphed into the CUV yet where is the corresponding diversity in that format? I can understand Honda not selling what people will not buy. The Prelude, Accord and Integra market went extinct at least ten years ago or more so much as we might admire these cars, few do. That said, the CUV market isn´t that diverse at all. In a way we´re back to a situation where saloons of various types dominated. Now the saloon is a niche (a big niche) and the five-door hatch is king.

  7. I liked the Aerodeck.
    But then I also liked the Stream, which disappeared but seems to have re-emerged lately — in France at least.

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