Unmolested: 1997 Honda Del Sol S 5-Speed – $7,500

Jul 2020 | Classifinds, Topless Thursday

In normal times, I jump at any excuse to visit Watkins Glen, NY this time of year and this completely stock, 43,000 original mile, 1997 Honda Del Sol S five-speed listed earlier this week here on Craigslist up there for $7,500 is an even more compelling reason.  A check of the NADA Guides Classic Car Online Valuation Tool will give the false impression this Del Sol is priced too high based on the current “Low”, “Average”, and “High” retail value range of only $2,225, $3,275, and $4,225, respectively.  Checking recent results on BringATrailer.com confirms the private seller has their Del Sol priced in line for a desirable low mileage original.  If you are serious about buying this Del Sol, you can start the conversation by emailing the seller and when you do please remember to mention you saw their car featured here on GuysWithRides.com.

The Civic Del Sol (Spanish for “of the Sun”) marked Honda’s return to the two seat sporty car after the demise of the CRX in 1991.  The Honda Civic Del Sol debuted as a two seat targa top convertible based on the Honda Civic. Not a true convertible, the Civic Del Sol featured a a system distantly similar to early C3 Corvettes in that it had a removable targa top roof combined with a removable rear window for a very open experience.  Unlike the C3 Corvette, the Del Sol’s targa top fit in room but shallow trunk while the rear window lowered into the body.  While North America made due with a manually removal targa top, in typical Japanese fashion at the time, the home market cars featured an elaborate automatic retracting top system.

The base “S” model featured here came with a 1.5 liter SOHC 16-valve four cylinder engine and rode on 13″ wheels and tires. The uplevel “Si” model came standard with a 1.6 liter SOHC 16-valve four cylinder engine with Honda’s VTEC technology for more power. The Si also came with 14″ alloy wheels, power side mirrors, cruise control, and an anti-sway bar for improved handling. The only options on both models were a rear spoiler and floor mats.

While most Del Sols and other Civics from the 1990s long ago fell prey to tuner’s hands, its refreshing to come across a low mileage, manually shifted model that appears to have been used only as a summer around the wine country of beautiful Seneca Lake.  This Del Sol is a RADwood-eligible car on the cheap that is a sporty way to enjoy a nice top down in the Finger Lakes.  Good luck with the purchase! 

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1997 Honda Del Sol S Only 43000 miles. Equipped with D16Y7 1.5L engine, 5 speed manual transmission, Honda alloy wheels with new tires. No rust, no winters. Clean Carfax available. $7500 firm.

Do you have a Honda Del Sol story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!

2 Comments
  1. Analog Man

    These cars are much more fun than they might initially seem. I owned a new 1993 back in the day. They’re a perfect balance of ‘sportiness’ and practicality. With FWD, it’s not truly a pure ‘sports’ car, but it’s a lot of fun to drive in the real world on real streets (but not the first choice if you want to autocross).

    For most people (myself included), that’s the right balance. Despite all the bravado talk of ‘going to the track’, the reality is most people don’t (except as spectators). What the del Sol gave up in sheer performance it more than made up for with a big dose of comfort (very spacious inside for a 2-seater), practicality (the trunk is HUGE), and reliability (hey, it’s a 1990’s Honda). Plus the FWD means it can actually be driven in the snow.

    The targa top was of course the highlight of the car. The design is brilliant in its simplicity and flexibility. It offers the rigid roof and feeling of safety and security of a hardtop, but take the top off and power down the rear window, and it’s pretty much a true ‘convertible’ experience. The way the roof stores on a rack in the trunk is also genius – it can be removed in seconds, it takes no longer than putting down a soft top, yet doesn’t take up much trunk space. It’s the kind of clever, fun design that just isn’t seen in new cars these days, and mores the shame of it.

    The one downfall of the car was chassis flex. It had the torsional rigidity of a wet noodle. With the roof on or especially off the body would noticeably twist and flex, resulting in leaks around the windows. It was built as a light, inexpensive car, and cutting the roof out made it floppy. Honda knew about the problem, and by 1994 tried a quickie fix. The inside door jambs had steel and hard rubber fittings to essentially turn the doors into quasi-structural members, locking them in place against the inner panels when closed. Mine was a first-year 1993 without this fix, the problem was annoying at the time, but nowadays any of these cars will be weekend toys and not daily drivers so it shouldn’t be a concern.

    I miss my old del Sol. It’s one of the cars I’ve been trolling classifieds for years looking for one (but it would have to be red). As you said, very few of these have survived in stock form. They were cheap for many years and went through that awful phase where almost every one was modded to the extreme with ghastly, unspeakable perversions. This one, with 43k miles, seems like a good deal. It looks like it would be just as much fin as a weekend getaway car as it was when it was new.

    If Honda would reintroduce something like this I’d buy two in a heartbeat (one to drive, and one to store for when the first one wore out).

    Reply
  2. Jeff Lavery

    Always felt these were underappreciated, but when the bar it had to clear was the second-gen CRX, it had an impossible task.

    Reply

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