Real Time Wagon: 1989 Honda 4WD Wagon – SOLD!
(Click on the photograph below to expand it and navigate through all the others)
December 2, 2022, Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “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.
The Honda Civic Wagovan is one of the most recognizable of the 1980s class of Japanese wagons. However, if you want to find the one that is the same model plastered all over the factory brochures at the time, you’ll want to track down an example painted in red with white steel wheels and four-wheel-drive, not to mention a 5-speed manual gearbox. This is the ultimate spec for a Wagovan fan, and one of the hardest to find in good condition. That’s why this minimalist listing for a 1989 RT model caught our eye in Nipomo, California, with an asking price of $8,500 – it checks all of those boxes and then some with the bonus of having no rust. Comparing that price against the Classic.com model guide shows that the seller is asking for market-correct dollars, given that the average selling price is $8,772.
The red Honda Civic RT wagon triggers some very powerful memories for me. A local used book store – called The Bookworm – in my hometown of Poughkeepsie, NY, was run by a family that kept the shop going for many years. My parents had store credit for ages in that place, and I always tagged along to see if any good Chilton manuals got turned in. But what also caught my eye was the owner’s car: a bright red Honda Civic RT with a low-range gearbox and six speeds. It had white-painted steel wheels and made it through the Hudson Valley snow when other more imposing vehicles got stuck. It was driven by the proverbial little old lady and ended up being sold right out from under me, a few weeks before I turned 16. To this day, these cars catch my eye, especially when painted the bright red paint like our subject vehicle wears. While many casual observers of the car hobby don’t even know it exists, this was the template for Honda’s wildly-popular CRV. Many of us wish Honda would bring back a true reincarnation of the classic Wagovan with a manual gearbox.
The MotorWeek RetroReview YouTube Channel features this test drive of a similar 1989 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon:
The seller does not wax poetic about his Civic RT, but he may not have to. The pictures really do tell the story, as any Civic from this era that’s survived to this point in the Northeast likely has completely rotten fenders and discolored paint. This Civic lives in sunny Santa Maria, California, which is the ideal place to find a four-wheel-drive vehicle such as this. It was never used like a winter workhorse, so the sensitive (and obsolete) transfer case and other 4WD-specific components are likely still in good shape. And, of course, there’s no rust to speak of, as Japanese body panels of this era were extremely prone to rusting away in front of your eyes. Condition notwithstanding, I would still like some details regarding belt services and fluid changes, as any four-wheel-drive car should have fluids drained and re-filled out of the driveline bits that withstand a fair amount of abuse. If this was someone’s escape pod to northern California or Colorado, the condition looks far better than a vehicle driven to just under 200,000 miles. When was the last time you saw a real-deal Civic RT in this sort of condition?
Here’s the seller’s description:
“1989 Honda Civic Wagon, Real Time 4WD, 1600 engine, 5-speed manual transmission + SL
191K mi, Red, excellent condition, well maintained, and always garaged. Service, Electrical, and Owner’s manuals. Thule roof rack. Michelin All Season tires purchased 10/19. Ready for skiing! $8,500.00 OBO.”
Red wagon: is there a more recognizable Japanese wagon from the 1980s than a Wagovan with four-wheel-drive and a six-speed?