Welcome to Part Eleven of The Series That Refuses To Go Away.
Over the last few days I’ve been rather indulgently wallowing in nostalgia, and you American guys are probably utterly fed up with it. Today I thought I’d throw it back open to a car that was familiar on both sides of that big wobbly wet mass that separates us.
It’s the Honda Civic Shuttle.
When I was little I had a strange love of engorged, enbiggened versions of familiar cars. There was the Toyota Tercel and it’s ugly mutant four-wheel-drive derivative, then there was its later Corolla cousin, naturally Soichiro’s boys had to wade into battle with a jumbo-ized hatchback of their own. It’s raison d’etre:
“Whether you require a large amount of interior space or whether you need a vehicle that can take you virtually anywhere you want to go at any time, the Shuttle is the answer you’ve been looking for.”
I’m going to say this only warrants a hyperbole rating of about 5/10, because I totally dig what they’re getting at. You just have to have a pinch of salt handy for the “virtually anywhere” stuff. That bit was mostly directed at the all-wheels-driven variant.
The semi-egrigious “Real time 4wd” was one of my favourite bodywork decals, ever, and was prominent on the four-wheel-drive model, which in ’87 had gained an automatic viscous coupling, which, “automatically”:
“….Transfers torque to the rear wheels in “real time” whenever the front wheels begin to lose traction due to ice, snow and gravel etc.”
That’s getting pretty close to the crux of what the Shuttle 4WD was all about; traction in all weathers. Sure, it was an impressive little tool if you were trying to negotiate, for instance, a particularly muddy campsite or trying to haul a heavy boat up a greasy slipway. But this wasn’t about to follow any Jeeps into the Jungle.
“The instant you slip into the drivers seat you get an impression of complete control”
Again, this is hyperbole, but only of the low-level, “can’t think of anything better to say” grade used by estate agents, vacation booking firms, that kind of thing. What we had here was a bone-stock Honda Japanese small car interior, albeit quite a modern one and very well put together. Versatile, too, with rear seats that folded flat and all that space out back.
As a car, though, it had purpose and wasn’t afraid to wear its utilitarian heart on its sleeve. I dig the way these look, especially from the rear three quarters, where that kooky deep rear window proudly announces that this Civic has a bit extra to offer. I used to see these around every now and then, but can’t remember when I last saw one. But hey, At Least I Own The Brochure.
<Disclaimer:- All photos were taken by the author on his bathroom floor and are of genuine original manufacturer publicity material. All copyright rights remain in the possession of the manufacturer, who sadly no longer write their car’s entire specifications down the sides in graphics>