BaT Bozo: 1981 Honda Accord 5-Speed – Sold?

by | Aug 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday

September 19, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the listing for this Honda Accord “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Ah, the Bring A Trailer Effect.  What is it?  Well, it’s when an owner of a particular make, model, and year learns a ride similar to theirs sold on Bring A Trailer for a record price. Running with that single data point, the seller decides, foolishly, they can achieve a similar amount simply by offering their car for sale on Craiglist.  In the vast majority of cases, it never works out that way.

Our latest example will likely be this 1981 Honda Accord 5-Speed sedan with 87K original miles originally listed in September 2021 on Craigslist in Mineola, New York (Long Island) offered at $14,500 currently. Despite becoming increasingly rare to find, most still consider first-generation Accords used cars rather than collectible classics.  The fact the Hagerty Insurance Valuation tool does not provide values on these cars remains a barometer of that fact. Backing that assertion up is the Collector Car Market Review Online Tool indicating this guide’s #1 “Excellent” value currently stands at only $5,475.

Yet, two bidders on a No Reserve auction of this nicely optioned and leather-equipped 1981 Honda Special Edition Accord, took the bidding in the final two hours from $2,750 to $16,250 back in March of this year.  Yes, the Endowment Effect and BaT’s silly two-minute time-extension rule still has the high bidder stinging from the Winner’s Curse of paying too much their Accord they will likely never get back. Unless the seller can get BaT to list their Accord in a similar auction and they agree to offer their car at No Reserve, we doubt any buyers on Craigslist will be willing to buy this Accord for over ten thousand. Stay tuned and comment below if you agree or disagree with our assertion on this Accord.

1981 was the First-Generation Honda Accord’s final production year as the new, made-in-America, second-gen version launched later that year. By 1980, the optional two-speed semi-automatic transmission of previous years became a three-speed fully automatic gearbox. North American versions featured slightly redesigned bumper trim. Other changes included new grilles and taillamps and remote mirrors added on the four-door (chrome) and the LX (black plastic) models. While Honda deleted “CVCC” badges, the innovative but complex induction system remained. At the same time, California-specification engines received a four-port exhaust valve head and a catalytic converter. This version of the EK1 engine was equivalent to the 1981 49 state High-Altitude engine, with the addition of an air jet controller device that helped maintain the proper mixture at higher altitudes (above 4000 feet). The horsepower increased from 72 for 5-speed cars and 68 hp for automatic cars with the two-port 49-state engine to 75 hp (56 kW), like the 1981-83 versions.

In North America, the 1981 model year only brought detail changes such as new fabrics and some new color combinations. A bit later in 1981, and SE 4-door model was added for the first time, with Novillo leather seats and power windows. The paint color was NH-77M Glacier Gray with a gray interior. Base model hatchbacks, along with the four-door, LX, and SE four-door, all received the same smaller black plastic remote mirror. The instrument cluster was revised with mostly pictograms which replaced the worded warning lights and gauge markings. The shifter was redesigned to have a stronger spring to prevent unintentional engagement of reverse, replacing the spring-loaded shift knob of the 1976 to 1980 model year cars. The shift lever was also shortened by a couple of inches, with a larger thread diameter, allowing usage of later Honda shift knobs, including the rectangular knob used on all 1986 and newer Accords.

We came across this modern video from Great Britain of a YouTuber providing a point-of-view (“POV”) drive of a similar 1981 Honda Accord 5-speed sedan, albeit in a right-hand-drive version:

While we can’t deny this one-owner Accord appears to be in great shape, the fact the seller indicates Honda repaired rust issues under warranty not once, but four times on various parts of the car gives us pause, especially for such an optimistic asking price.  Additionally, the lack of a license plate combined with the description has us wondering whether this may be a dealer or broker not being transparent in what appears to be a private owner listing.  If a thorough chassis inspection does not reveal any unattended rust issues, then only you can decide whether you’re willing to pay such a price for Malaise-Era nostalgia.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Near pristine 1981 Honda Accord.

This Honda has been garaged its entire 40-year life and is one of the only remaining ones in this condition. These imports had such bad issues with rust that Honda issued a recall and warranty extension on the paint. That being said, the wheel well flares/arch were repaired under this extension about 4 times times and the hood once.

One owner car, very well maintained and runs and drives. Everything works including the A/C. Available for showing by appointment.

Miles: 87240
5 speed manual
Seafoam green exterior

Vehicle comes with all maintenance records dating back to 1983 and original title from 1981. There is some wonderful history behind this car and hopefully it finds a loving home.

Show or go: what would you do with this restored Triumph?  Comment below and let us know!

  1. Anonymous

    My name is Jack Stapleton. I am looking for a 1981 Honda Accord 5-Speed Sedan. I have been looking for quite some time. I had one from 1989 to 1995 when I was in high school. I have purchased over 60 new cars in my lifetime. I have never loved a car like I did my 1981 Honda Accord. I am looking to acquire one. Can someone help me source one? 512-264-5115

  2. Anonymous

    If the new owner is interested in selling this car please contact me 512-264-5115


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