The original Honda Civic released in Australia in 1973 was the right car at the right time. Its fuel efficiency in an energy crisis, combined with state-of-the-art technical design, quality engineering and attractive styling, made it a global sales phenomenon. It also proved to be a robust and cheap class contender in touring car racing, competing at Bathurst with the V8 big guns for a fraction of the cost.
An article that appeared in Sports Car World in 1974 highlighted how easy and affordable it could be for a Honda Civic owner to turn their dream of competing at Bathurst and other endurance races into a reality. SCW claimed that for as little as $1000 you could race-prepare a Civic that could “compete on equal terms with the Class A front runners (the legal ones, anyway).”
The article attracted great interest and changed a widely held perception that touring car racing had become too expensive for all but works teams and wealthy privateers. The Honda Civic opened many eyes to the possibilities available - all they had to do was look towards the rear of the grid.
What the big-hearted little Honda lacked in physical size and engine capacity it more than made up for with its impressive reliability, agile sure-footed handling and spirited performance during four appearances on the Mountain from 1973 to 1976.
During that time the Civic competed in Class A for cars with engine capacities up to 1300cc. Even though these tiddlers were dismissed by some as little more than ‘mobile chicanes’ for faster cars, the annual clash for Class A honours at Bathurst was just as intense as any other class or outright battle.
The Class A cars also enriched the colourful mix of makes and models competing at Bathurst each year, when the annual 1000 km race was still true to its original charter in showcasing the diversity of the Australian car market. A diversity, it must be said, that is sadly lacking in today’s race.