1996 Honda Accord Wagon 5-Speed
|Air Date||March 6, 2017|
If you parents want you to have a safe car, but you want an enthusiast's car, buy one of these, a Honda Accord Wagon with a stick-shift!
OPENING NARRATION by MR. REGULAR [Screen: Close your eyes.] Close your eyes and picture a car. It's a car you just bought off a guy on Craigslist. You go to pick it up and inside there are slips of paper with addresses and phone numbers of complete strangers. A Highmark health insurance card from someone who wasn't even the car's previous owner. A Turkey Hill card. A $200 ticket from the Redding Parking Authority. And a cap from a malt soft drink made in Puerto Rico. Now open your eyes. [1996 Honda Accord Wagon fades in on the screen] 1996 Honda Accord. Because your weed dealer needs to get around too. --- INTRO SONG by THE ROMAN: Gas, cash, grass Nobody rides for free --- MONOLOGUE by MR REGULAR: In terms of design, the 1996 Honda Accord was one of the most painfully generic cars ever made, but you don't really get a Honda Accord because you care about appearances. You want a budget friendly little shitbox that won't break down in the middle of your burn cruise. GAS, CASH OR GRASS; NO ONE RIDES FOR FREE. [Screen: Asking for "ass" is just desperate and tacky] Because there are a few things on this earth more annoying than friends who don't pay their way. Mike only had this Accord for a month before we filmed it. He had set up a deal to purchase it off of a guy who was was living with his dad, probably. Everything was set up and ready to go, but before the deal could go through the owner's house caught fire, and as with plenty other guys before and since the owner made a beeline right for the garage to get the car out of there but by the time he got there, the whole one side was scorched and melted. Not too bad, but man it messed up the paint... ugh. Mike still wanted the Accord. He made the deal, and damn it he was sticking to it, and believe it or not, he has no plans now to flip this car. He's keeping her and he isn't changing a thing. There's a aftermarket head unit and also a remote start button on the key fob but other than that, nothing. She's pretty much stock as she is with a 2.2L 16 valve non-VTEC engine; these are the ones who still have the distributor on them, and I don't know, it has a manual transmission, we'll get to that, and 224,000 miles on it. Releasing in 1976, the Honda Accord was a big hit at the time, when the demand was high for smaller, more fuel efficient cars. We're talking about the Arab oil embargo a lot because it really did shape the modern auto industry. With the first oil crisis getting the ball rolling in 1973, and the second pretty much completing the ritual killing stroke in 1979. So you can't really contextualize why the Accord was so successful without getting into this stuff so forgive the brief Magic School Bus detour. In 1972, imports only made up 13% of the market share in the american automotive market, but by 1975 it was 15.8% and would continue to grow throughout the decade as consumers had to look to Japanese and German cars to find something economical that didn't compromise on performance and reliability. American automakers tried to compete but struggled after the creation of CAFE standards. The result was a bunch of poorly planned flops like the Cadillac Cimarron and the Ford Pinto and the Chevy Vega. America had been the beacon of excess for so long that we didn't know how to downsize. WE ONLY KNEW BIGGER, WE ONLY KNEW MORE! For every make and model that weathered the storm, like the Ford Thunderbird, the Lincoln Continental or the Oldsmobile Cutlass, there were makes and models that slowly died off like dinosaurs, like the Ford Galaxie 500. And there might actually be more physical evidence that dinosaurs existed than there is to prove that the Ford Galaxie was ever a thing. Of course, necessity is the mother of invention, so we got innovations like turbo charging, front wheel drive and direct fuel injection. And the embargo also led to the rise of the SUV which came out as a direct result of CAFE litigation, because SUVs were never considered passenger vehicles; on paper those things were trucks. And trucks didn't have to conform to CAFE standards because "uh these are just infrastructure vehicles". Meanwhile, Ford Explorer Ford Explorer Ford Explorer Ford Explorer. Right. They were just cheating a loophole. [Screen: CAFE... I'm not touching youuuuu!] America still had a hard time kee ping up with the import market, and it was because of manufacturers like Honda, who developed the reputation as a manufacturer of fun, reliable fuel sippers. I mean, the Honda Civic was popular in the early 70s, laying the foundation for the car that would go on to become one of the most successful nameplates among millenial shoppers, but the Accord was arguably Honda's crown jewel since it took those same concepts that made the Civic a popular choice and offered more power and more room. By 1982, the Accord became the first japanese car to be produced in America where it remained the top selling japanese import from 1982 until 1997. We're looking at the fifth generation Accord, which comes at the tail end of its glory period. This was at the point where the Accord was slowly becoming a swiss army car with interchangeable bodies and dimensions on a single basic platform. For it's time, the fifth generation Accord was a car that narrowly avoided looking like an anachronism from the 1980s; but again, were you really trying to impress anybody with a car like this? If you ended up getting the old Bernville bobble head in this car odds are your success had nothing to do with this car just as surely as there's someone in the world eating pussy right now. But just like that, oh man you don't know what you're missing! EH EH EH. Look, alright, uh; if the EH2 is the tomboyish girl who gives bigs hugs in 8th grade, the Accord Wagon is that same girl in 12th grade, after she fills out and still gives big hugs. This is a fun car! This big old wagon... is a blast. A lot of it is down to that manual transmission, but the engine gets credit too. Ok, this 2.2L isn't a VTEC, so relax, ok? There's no coil packs either. No variable valve timing at all. And after this many miles, I'm guessing it's making, ughh... Look, if you put this on a dyno I'll be surprised if a hundred horsepower is getting to the wheels. And this Accord Wagon is heavier than the sedan. This non-VTEC motor is carrying a heavy load all the time, even when this vehicle is unladen. But the personality of this moderately sized Honda 4 is what makes this... A stealth enthusiast car. Yea. This family wagon, avaliable with a 5-speed manual, is an enthusiast car. Look, I got an email from a kid the other day saying "I really want a..."... uh gosh, what did he want? He wanted a Honda Civic; he wanted something fun and fast, something that I reviewed. Oh, he really wanted an EH2, that's right. After, after at... That review did really well and a lot of people said "Oh I want EH2s now". Great. But this one kid — sorry to call you kid but, you know, I'm 35, you're a kid to me — his parents got him a safe car. You're, you're, you're 18 years old, we'll get you a car but it's going to be safe because we're parents and we want to keep you alive, so they got him a Ford Taurus. Yeah, fine. But a Ford Taurus, well, that's not a fun zippy around car, that's just a family sedan that's just something that doesn't really give you any feedback. It's made just get people around in some confort and be safe, but that's what a parent is thinking. A parent wants to buy you a car that's going to keep you safe. They don't care if you're having fun or not, our jobs as the people who created you, our job is to keep you alive. I don't care if you're having fun behind the wheel or not, especially, you know, what is an adolescent but a small adult with no civil rights? Suck it up, here's your, here's your Ford Accord... [laughs] Oh, here's your Ford Taurus. Huh. But this. This station wagon, is a safe car. This is a car that your parents would be totally fine with you having. You say "You know, so-and-so selling their Honda Accord station wagon". And they think, parents still think "Oh, station wagon. That's a nice benign car that's not gonna go fast", and then you so, and then you get to the car and say "Oh, it's a stick shift, can you drive stick shift?" "Well maybe you can teach me". Great. Father-son bonding moment. They don't really equate that this motor, this transmission and this car, they don't really go together even though this is a package deal but the end result of this combination is something that's fun. --- LIVE RECORDING *Mr. Regular gives it THE BUSINNESS at an on-ramp* MR. REGULAR — Look at that! MIKE — [giggles] MR. REGULAR — Oh, this is fun. It's a big car but it's fun. Well, big-ish. MIKE — It's a nice size. Good size. MR. REGULAR — Good size. Correct size. --- MR. REGULAR You-I don't care that it's not a VTEC motor, you can wet-this is a car that you drive 10/10 all the time. You can boaaah, right up to the top, and the thing-the beauty of, I know, I'm a little bit Honda fanboy here, but the beauty of this motors, or engines depending on what you [mutters], they want to go. They wanna go fast. Even though this is not the performance engine, it will enthusiastically just whoaaa, right up to the redline all the time; and it's quiet when you're just driving around. But when you nail it, this little thing growls! --- LIVE RECORDING MR. REGULAR — All right, so 2.2L four single-jingle with a distributor. *Mr. Regular gives it THE BUSINNESS yet again at an on-ramp* That sounds nice! --- MR. REGULAR It wants to go; it's not like that stupid Vulcan V6 that you ask for performance and it goes "huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh"; this is on the top 10 of the, top 10 of the most fun cars ever driven and it's a Honda Accord station wagon. And it has all, and it's, and it's really really well made, and it doesn't feel old in here, and, and inside the trunk too or the trunk, yeah, the cargo area; the area above where the space saver donut is, instead of like, even on my Honda Fit, the base of the cargo floor is just a piece of cardboard, with, with carpet on top of it. This [Accord] is a well designed piece of reinforced plastic. [Mutters] Like a thick, heavy, plastic thing that's not gonna bend and break, and look, it has little cubby holes on either side for more stuff; this thing's amazing, so put the Honda Accord station wagon with a 5-speed on your list. These are nice. And they deserve to stay out there. I mean, why get a car whose best days are behind her; why save an old dog from a shelter or adopt a sick child? Because damaged things still have value. Instead of being grossed out by cosmic imperfections, we ought to be wondering what sort of story is here. Because every story is a window to understanding. --- OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN: (2x) Don't you really hate friends who don't pay their way No, it just ain't right Saying "dude, I promise that I'll pay you soon just give me a ride"