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Thread: Going to look at an '83 Accord - any advice?

  1. #1
    DX User
    Join Date
    Nov 2016

    Going to look at an '83 Accord - any advice?

    Howdy folks. Found me a neat little car. A nice '83 Accord 3 door. I dig the look of it. I'll be viewing it later this evening, and plan to do a full once over if I can - check all the usual stuff: brakes, all lighting, oil, fluids, test drive (both street and freeway if I can), let it idle for a bit and see if starts making any noises/smokes/cuts out/whatever, look for any rust or repairs, etc. Also look over paperwork if there is any.

    I'm aware this is an older car, so I have some idea what to expect - I've owned old Honda CT90's and a couple '74 VW Super Bettles - did all the work myself, with certain exceptions since I don't have an impact gun. So I'm not afraid ot get my hands dirty.

    I"m trying to be realistic here. Assuming i buy the car, we're looking at, at the very least, a full tune-up. The 250K miles is a 50/50 concern. I know that with good care, these things will run pretty much forever, provided they were well maintained and not given to a teenager and stomped around on.

    So from you, the experts, what should I expect on this car? Any thing I should check specifically? Lastly would you consider this (if in proper condition and repair) a daily driver? Or is this like one of the other cool old cars where parts are scarce and it's better off as a weekend cruiser?

    Thanks for any advice and help you can give!

    From the ad:
    "1983 Honda Accord LX - 5 speed stick shift
    Runs great
    New axles, brakes, tires, timing belt, plugs, radiator, stereo
    250k miles
    Smog good till January 2017 "

  2. #2

    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    1989 Accord LX-i
    Fresno, California

    Re: Going to look at an '83 Accord - any advice?

    Given the age and relative rarity of these cars, you'll have to set your expectations accordingly, which I know you've done. It's pretty obvious that the car isn't going to be perfect, so you're looking for something you can at least work with. When I buy an older car, I do a visual inspection and a test drive. I also pay close attention to the vibes I get from the owner. In the engine bay, I want to see all the factory parts present and accounted for. I don't want to see a lot of jury-rigging, hay-wiring or other obvious signs of incompetence. I like to see a bay dotted with a few newer parts too. It indicates careful maintenance. I check the condition of the fluids too. Old, dirty fluids suggest lack of maintenance. I also look for oil. I expect to see some, but major leaks indicate major problems. I also look under the car for oil. The less oil, the better. In the passenger compartment, I look for ground in filth, roach burns, odd-ball damage and the like. It tells me what kind of person the owner is. The more signs of abuse and neglect I see there, the more I know is waiting for me to find elsewhere. For me, any major body damage is a no-go because body work is so expensive. The test drive tells me a lot. If the car blows smoke, runs rough, has no power, shakes badly at speed, I walk away. However, I don't mind if the brakes pull to one side, or if a small vibration disappears after a certain speed. I probably put the most stock in vibes. If the owner stands straight, looks me in the eye and speaks well, I'll be a lot more inclined to take his beater than to buy a seeming beauty from someone who creeps me out.

    Parts are going to be difficult to find. A lot of the maintenance parts (plugs, wires, filters, etc.) are still easy to come by. More major parts, like a rebuilt transmission, are going to be quite difficult, so buy carefully. Restoration parts, like door handles and dash buttons, will be impossible to find new and difficult to find salvaged. If you can find a good base car that doesn't need any major work, you shouldn't have too much trouble.

    As for daily driving it, I'll confess, I've found that to be a real challenge with old cars. You need to stay absolutely on top of maintenance and you must address any problems immediately. Even then, however, it just seems that there are always surprises you couldn't have anticipated. On my trucks it's been the ICM. On the Accord it was the oil pump. It's always something and they've left me stranded. So if you're an emergency room doctor and people will die if you are late, then don't buy the car.

    I will say that these cars are about the most fun I've ever driven. My '82 was an absolute joy. I loved that car. Looking at this one, I'd say expect some problems. I'm not sure what they will be, but expect some repair expense beyond the tune up you plan to do.

    Good luck and keep us posted on what happens.

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis

    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

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  3. #3

    2ndGenGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    1981 Accord Hatchback, 1984 Accord Sedan
    Seattle, WA

    Re: Going to look at an '83 Accord - any advice?

    The fact that it passes smog is a pretty good sign though. Especially with that factory carburetor.

  4. #4
    DX User
    Join Date
    Nov 2016

    Re: Going to look at an '83 Accord - any advice?

    Yeah, the previous owner actually had it done earlier this month before I picked it up. So far it seems he's been honest with me about it's condition, which is a rarity with used cars, let alone older ones.

  5. #5
    DX User
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    82 honda accord
    City Roses

    Re: Going to look at an '83 Accord - any advice?

    That is a clean car, leather an all. Like John said, fact it passes smog is a great sign. Those old carbs are finnicky, so I replaced mine with a webber.
    You will love driving this car, I Know i do.

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