For many years now, Honda has had a reputation of making the finest examples of automobiles in the world. True to its Japanese roots, Honda’s product line include vehicles that are a perfect yin and yang balance of affordability and durability, simplicity and performance, as well as reliability and longevity. The Civic del Sol is one such example wherein Honda enters into a niche with a car that can wow the competition. A 2-seater, front engine, semi-convertible with a targa top, the del Sol was a classy and beautiful little car that took the American market by storm.
1993-1994: Year one
Though it actually debuted in Japan in 1992, the Civic del Sol only reached American shores a year after. Here it was sold in two trim levels: the S and the Si. The S was the base model, and the one most closely related to its Japanese predecessors. This base model came with a 1.5-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder, SOHC engine capable of 102-horsepower. It drove on 13” steel wheels and, coupled with the engine and a lighter frame, performed well enough to attract consumers from the offset.
The Si was the up-level model intended for those in the market for something that was above basic. With a 1.6-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder, SOHC engine with Honda’s revolutionary VTEC technology, the Si was capable of up to 160-horsepower output. Cruise control, rear disc brakes, a front anti-sway bar, and 14” alloy wheels all combined to give the car excellent handling characteristics.
1995-1996: And great run
The Civic del Sol saw a great deal of improvement in 1995—beginning with a simplified naming convention. The Civic tag was dropped, and the car was referred to simply as the del Sol. The “old” SOHC engine was upgraded to a B16a3 which featured both DOHC and Honda’s VTEC technology. It still put out 160-horsepower but was more efficient than its predecessor. The targa top that always accompanied every del Sol saw a redesign to improve the seals. Anti-lock braking also became standard to the del Sol this year.
Not one to slacken the pace, Honda introduced yet another slew of improvements for the del Sol in 1996. The B16a3 introduced just a year before was immediately replaced with the B16a2 which was wholly similar to the engine that preceded it with the difference being slightly less torque output. More sweepingly, all del Sol variants got 1.6-liter engines as a standard. Last and most impressive, the del Sol came equipped with an OBD-II Emission control system to comply with rising demand for greener cars. Sadly, the del Sol eventually got overtaken by other Honda designs but never really was forgotten as its influences can be seen in many other Honda cars up to today.