I spend a lot of time maintaining this website and never really take the time to properly document what I have done along the way. So here we are, hold your breath it going to be a long one describing what it takes to do the restoration on a 1978 1200 Honda Civic from southern Ontario rust belt. This is my second, sorry third, damn, 5th one and the last I hope. The first was parted out due to some problems and we will talk about that later. Yes the parts went to a good home, how about it was parted out all over the world. I kept some of the good stuff .
Let get-at-er and git-r-done.
Shreck’s 1978 1200 Project
So begins the restoration and long road to repairing this little first generation Honda Civic also known as an MK1, The restoration will entail the upgrade of the 1200 motor to a modified engine combination from an MK1 and MK2 Civic, suspension repairs and blunders. Rust removal from just about everything and a lot of accessory upgrades and a seat swap from a MK2 Prelude.
I purchased the 1978 Honda Civic in July 2002 from Cobourg Honda in Ontario Canada. It has had 134,000 original kilometers. Gold exterior, AM/FM radio with 2 door mounted speakers (looks like dealer installed when new). The Honda was purchased by dealer from the original “elderly” owner in 1996 for display in their showroom. It was repainted in 1997 in the original gold color in base coat clear coat, since the original owner had the car painted white when new and this was the only way she would buy the car.
The interior is very clean with all original vinyl and carpet in excellent condition, the driver’s seat was replaced with the covers from a passenger seat of the same colour car. The car ten sat 3 years in the dealers showroom until the space was required to display current models until it was moved to the location where the new dealership was being built.
A lot of new parts were put on the car including front calipers, hood, rear hatch, door, fenders, bumpers and filler panels.
Took me about 1 week after I picked up the car and $95.00 to get it certified. Some parts I needed I had lying around including 2 drive shafts, 1 upper strut bearing, 1 tie rod end, front strut and lower ball joint and some new parts I needed was 2 rotors, pads and tires (the tires which I stole from my other restoration project car).
It’s a good-looking original First Generation Civic considering it is from Ontario as most of them have the floors and rocker panels rot out of them in one place or another. They tend to rot in the corner of the windshield as well letting water in to continue the rust process on the floor pan. The corner of the rear glass on the hatch can also be a problem spot too, I always figured it was due to the way the trim was put on against the paint causing scratches and gouges to penetrate to the bar metal where rust begins. I had a good chance to look under the car while it was up on the display stand and could clearly see it was in very good shape and had been recently under coated.
This would be a huge error to trust anyone that I did not know. I would have never dreamed that A Honda Dealer would go out of their way to cover up holes with window screening and under coating. It gets worse and I will cover that later in how Cobourg Honda also covered up and tried to disguised a broken off motor mount.
It still had the stock size tires (155/80 12 inch) that were badly cracked in the side walls, and I have future plans to upgrade to better tires. The center wheel caps were missing the typical red paint so I cleaned and repainted them using a good artist paint brush and enamel model paint. Finding the stock tires can be a bit of a challenge depending on what you like.
Dealers said they could get them from a Korean company or bring them in from the USA. Not even retailers like Canadian Tire stock this size anymore. I was lucky enough to pay a visit to Wall-Mart auto center and did find them in stock to my surprise. If you are lucky you may even find a wider flavor of our 12″ tires. Now in 2017 these are some popular brands Nankang and Federal
Check back soon for my next post on the big surprise when I took it for its first drive.