Honda’s midsize Accord has been on sale in the U.S for 40 years. Is that all?
Seriously, for just about anyone under 50, it is difficult to remember a time when the Accord wasn’t putting Detroit to shame with a mix of quality, economy and reliability that domestic car makers seemed unable to match.
40 Years of America in Accord
You have to remember the Accord’s competition in those days: uninspired machines like the Ford Maverick, Pontiac Sunbird and and Plymouth Volare, which came with the tenor Sergio Franchi’s melodic endorsement but few real-world recommendations.
These American cars are probably better-known for the speed with which they fell apart than for any standard measure of performance. They are among the worst vehicles the U.S. ever turned out, and the models that followed into the 1980s — sketchy appliances like the Chevrolet Citation and Chrysler K-cars — were only slightly better.
Accords, in contrast, started easily, ran smoothly and reliably, and used less fuel than rival models. They were also fun to drive. Honda engines, while never particularly torquey, loved to rev and could quietly feed a young driver’s racing fantasies. One of my best friends drove an Accord hatchback in the mid-1980s that he called the “Williams-Honda,” after a famous Formula One team that was using Honda engines at the time.
Today’s Accord is huge compared with the original model, which was about the same size as the current Honda Fit subcompact (but weighed even less). It also has convenience and safety features that were science-fiction in 1976.
Another change: Cars from Detroit, like the Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion now compete effectively with the Accord and occasionally beat it in comparison tests. It took them most of the last 40 years to catch up.