Saying goodbye to my Civic

My 2004 Honda Civic

I’ve been painfully sentimental for as long as I can remember. viewing the simplest of items as an embodiment of the memories attached to them. I hate goodbyes.

Needless to say, when it came to turning in my 2004 Honda Civic I must have looked surprisingly upset about upgrading.

The Civic was the first car bought only for me. Dad spotted it in a Kroger parking lot. It had only been driven around 10,000 miles and the price was right. I knew hardly anything about cars then, but I knew that this wasn’t the Cavalier wagon that had been overheating three times a week, so I was happy. Unfortunately for the car, I was also a teenager.

That car took all of the punishment that I had to offer it. I blew a tire and bent a wheel plowing through a landscaping arrangement while looking for a CD. On a wet ninety degree curve I ran it into a ditch and cracked the inner fender and front bumper cover. One of my high school buddies left a cigarette burn in the back seat. And despite these and all other bumps and bruises of a teenage driver, the Honda Civic wouldn’t quit.

My Civic’s 1.7L 4-cylinder engine didn’t so much as cough through its 108,000 miles of work. The only mechanical system requiring attention was the air conditioning.

As I spun the key off of its ring, I didn’t feel relief to be getting rid of the car. Instead, I felt like I owed that Civic. I owed it better care and attention than it had received. It was how I imagined one might feel after abandoning an old friend. Yet this is exactly the role of a first car.

In so many ways our first cars are like old friends, refusing to break on us no matter what befalls them. As the old saying goes, these cars “take a licking and keep on ticking,” determined to get us from A to B no matter how incompetent we are. And that’s exactly where the Honda Civic lives.

Don’t ask me. Ask anybody you know who’s owned a Civic. Outside of the occasional hiccup, you’ll find a wealth of love stories between driver and machine.¬† The Civic lives in the memories of its owners without luxury or power. It’s memorialized in stories of first dates and spontaneous¬†road trips.

Any other first-time car owner gives up his ride with a sigh and a “Thank God.” The Civic owner takes a parting photo and offers an “I remember when.”

Tell a friend!


  • Handsome Henry

    1975 Civic…best car ever made…12 years of not single problem-no floor under the carpet at the end, but that’s just a quibble.

    • Will Eifert

      First generation, eh? I saw one of those for sale for a couple of thousand dollars not to long ago. It was in bad shape but I fantasized about re-building it.

  • Denise

    Hi Will,

    I was wondering what vehicle did you end up buying after saying goodbye to your Civic?
    Also, have you done an article on whether minivans and smaller SUVs work for tall guys? I am getting rid of my old Honda Odyssey ( 238K miles) and because my 6’3″ son is longer in the legs than torso, there isn’t much that he can stretch out in. I may be stuck with another van ( don’t really want a big truck or large SUV). Just wondered if you had any luck with vans/ SUVs?

    • Will Eifert

      Hi Denise!

      I ended up buying a ’15 Chevrolet Malibu.

      I apologize for my absence! I spend the end of May and June preparing for a wedding and haven’t gotten back to writing heavily yet. I’ll keep a minivan and small SUV guide in mind!

  • Matt

    Will…..great website. Found it through google. I’m in the market for a new(er) car. How do you like the Malibu? I was actually checking those out. They seem like a good deal for the options you get. I’m 6’3″ and was wondering how the rear legroom is. I’m coming from a 99 LeSabre which I know I’m not going to match spacewise. I was also checking out the Impalas. I love the looks of those. Keep up the good work.

    • Will Eifert


      Thanks for the kind words.

      I love the Malibu. Now, when I have the seat scooted all the way back, which isn’t necessary for me even at 6’7″, there’s no way somebody is sitting behind me. For me that’s not a big issue because generally it’s just my wife and I, and I can scoot up a bit if we’ve got passengers. The ceiling isn’t the most spacious of the vehicles I mention, but you shouldn’t have a problem unless you’ve got big hair.

      There’s a lot that I love about the Malibu. There are two things in particular: the ride is very smooth, and even on Detroit’s crater-pocked roads it takes a big one to make me cringe; second, it’s very quiet inside.

      Everyone has different needs. If you’re looking for power, you need to move up to a bigger engine. But I’m all for comfort, and the Malibu offers plenty of that.

      I drove an Impala and enjoyed it. The gas mileage difference pushed me towards the Malibu, but that’s the only quality that made it an easier decision.

  • Dad

    Hey Dutch Boy. This one kinda choked me up…

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