The 3rd generation Honda Civic hatchback (1984-1987, type code AG/AH/AJ/AL) is one of my favorite cars ever. I've driven a number of these and owned a 1986 1.3 DX (type code AG).
The European specs 1986 Civic differs from the '84 and '85 models by having a different final drive ratio, improving both fuel economy and acceleration (the ratio used to be too tall for 5th gear). Other changes to the 1986 model year were an upgraded interior and the integrated roof spoiler at the top of the rear hatch which was now painted in body color instead of satin black.
These Civics offer superb handling and even better brakes: Honda fitted the same braking system that was also fitted to the larger Accord, so these Civics can be stopped on a dime.
The Civic hatchback shares its drivetrain, brakes and suspension with the Civic CR-X coupe. The suspension offers great handling despite its very compact design. The front suspension has a pair of longitudinally mounted torsion bars for springs whilst the rear suspension looks like a pair of coil sprung trailing arms connected by a rigid beam, however the righthand arm is not fixed to the beam but instead to a torsion sway bar fitted inside the hollow beam, allowing the arms to move independent of each other.
The little 12v 1.3 EV1 engine isn't that powerful so top speed and high speed acceleration aren't that impressive but around town and on country roads it sure is quick. Fuel efficiency certainly is impressive.
The surprisingly roomy interior offers a sporty low seating position and comes with some clever features such as a sliding rear benchseat with split reclining seat backs that can be moved up to 30cm (12in) forward to increase luggage space. For 1986 the headrests for front and rear seats were changed from low solid foam core rests to higher ones with a hole in the centers.
Both Gran Turismo™ 4 and 5 for Playstation 3™ include a very well modeled 3rd gen Civic 1.5 Si, right down to the slight lift-off oversteer that makes high speed cornering so much fun.
The GT4 picture on the left shows an unmodified 1983 Civic on Sports tires at the Nürburgring, on its way to a lap time of 10min 23sec.
Tamiya made a nice curbside (no engine details) model kit of the top spec 1984 1.5 Si model with full and accurate suspension and interior details and a choice of left- or righthand drive.
This Tamiya Civic model kit dates from 1984 but was released again in 2011.
I decided to build a Tamiya model exactly like the NH-82 'Greek White' 1986 1.3 DX model I used to own, so I had to do some converting:
Tamiya omitted the front edge of the hood, it is shown on the boxart and on the painting diagrams, but it is missing from the model. I scaled up a copy of the paint diagram to 1/24th scale, cut out the hood section and used that as a template for scribing the missing edge.
I could have gone one step further by cutting the hood open and taking some of the engine details from a Tamiya Honda Prelude XX kit, but I decided that the Prelude model is too nice a kit to relegate to the spares box.
I made a hub cap out of an old button and some pvc tubing (insulation from electrical wire) with brass pins for wheel nuts, made a silicon rubber mold of it and casted some resin copies.
The Tamiya kit decals come with instrument panels featuring a large rev counter and a choice of speedometer ranges. My 1.3 DX had a pair of gauges for coolant temperature and fuel quantity instead of a rev counter, so I cut up the decal with the lowest speedometer range and rearanged the gauges to match the instrument layout in my car.
By removing the central spoke from the kits steering wheel the wheel can be made to look exactly like the twin spoke wheel.
I made a new taller shift lever from stretched sprue.
First thing to do with a car model like this is to fill the backs of the front seats with putty. The vinyl covering the rear of the seats is usually curved slightly inwards towards the bottom.
Either apply the putty in several thin layers or apply one thick layer, let it cure for a month or so then fill any dents and cracks caused by the putty shrinking.
I usually keep an old tube of putty just for jobs like this: for filling a seat back the putty does not need to be particularly soft and old putty contains less solvent so it won't shrink as much and there is less of a risk of the plastic warping.
The width of the recess for the rear license plate needs to be increased. With the actual car a hole is cut in the bumper and a plastic insert fitted, so I did something similar.
The picture shows an unmodified kit marked for modifying on the left and a modified kit on the right.
Before I painted the body I stuck a small piece of Bare Metal Foil over the raised Honda emblem on the nose and rubbed it down firmly.
I applied a base coat of Tamiya Gray Primer, then I used a spray can of Motip/Duplicolor automotive acrylic laquer paint equivalent to Honda NH-82 Greek White.
After painting the body I carefully polished the paint off of the raised parts of the Honda emblem on the nose, revealing the Bare Metal Foil as a shiny metal Honda emblem.
My white Civic came with a blue-gray interior with black details and blue seats with white/dark gray thatch-pattern inserts.
Scale Motor Sports decal set nr. 1970 'Houndstooth Upholstry Pattern' applied over a white base is an easy way to create the right look for Civic seats like these.
Date finished: Xxx xxth, 201x.
|Paints (to be) used|
|body, base coat||Tamiya Gray Primer|
|body, top coat||NH-82 Greek White automotive paint (Motip 1-0060)|
|window trim, door handles, door mirrors||Humbrol 85 satin black|
|body molds and unpainted parts of bumpers||Tamiya Acrylic XF-63 German Gray|
|floor pan, louvres||Humbrol 33 flat black|
|plastic parts in interior||Humbrol Authentics HU-5 Intermediate Blue|
|seats||various shades of dark blue, mixed|
|indicator lights||Tamiya Acrylic X-26 clear orange|
|tail lights||Tamiya Acrylic X-27 clear red|