Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCWay back in the polyester era, there was a little thing called the Oil Crisis (circa 1973). And right about the time giant American barges were coughing and wheezing their way to the (empty) fuel station while managing eight miles per gallon, Honda had a little idea.

Say hello to the “Civic.”

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCStill a fledgling car company in North America, Honda just happened to have a small and fuel-efficient car available for the desperate public. Released in Japan just before the oil crisis, the Civic was that efficient car. The CVCC version we have here was the most fuel efficient of them all.

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCIntroduced in July 1972 for the Japanese domestic market, Honda shipped the Civic to North American shores in 1973. Several inline-four engines were available, and the CVCC version came along in 1975.

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCOriginally, a four-speed manual or two-speed semi-automatic (a manual without the clutch pedal) were available, but this one has the five-speed introduced in 1974. In case you were wondering, this little 1.4-liter engine generates all of 52 horsepower.

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCCombined with the power sap of the dealer-installed air conditioning, this Civic is most assuredly not quick. But the slow pace of travel does have a benefit: about 40 miles per gallon. For the final two years of the first-generation Civic (1978 and 1979), there were some exterior revisions and a bump in power for the CVCC engine. It now generated a whopping 60 hp.

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCThe dash design on this first-gen Civic looks oddly pleasing for the time period. Clarity in gauges and realistic some wood panel add an air of luxury.

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCThe plaid seats also please me, though they don’t match. The ad indicates a recovering happened to the soft front buckets.

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCBut the Civic’s tale was not all sunshine and rainbows. Buyers of first-gen models in areas with salt-crusted winter roads were displeased, as their Hondas often started to rust — quite rapidly, too. The problem was so pervasive that American Honda agreed to a recall with the FTC. All owners of 1975 to 1978 Civics with rusty fenders could receive replacements or a cash reimbursement for the damage, or about 1 million Honda owners all told. This amounted to about 10 percent of all Civics sold. Dealers conducted inspections and performed replacements of rusted-out fenders.

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCThe NHTSA issued its own recall for the Civic’s suspension corrosion, covering over 900,000 vehicles built from 1972 to 1979. Suspension components were replaced under the recall, and in some instances Honda bought back the entire car if corrosion proved too extensive.

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCCIn any event, this little Civic is in spectacular condition, had only one owner in the past 40 years, and sold to its second one recently on eBay. This one sold for $5,700, surely to a Honda enthusiast who will take care of it and keep the rust worm at bay for years to come.

[Images via eBay]