Photo Roll>> Air Ride Golf & Diatribes About Civics

I have a theory I'd like to run past you lot…. please bear with me, as I'm working out my thoughts as I write this… it's a bit of an experimental premise and needs some feedback from you.

Here's the thought: The Honda Civic and the Volkswagen Golf have had somewhat parallel histories and comparable positions within certain factions of car mod culture. Both started out life as small FF cars, in 1972 and 1974 respectively, and each developed some big followings over the years in different parts of the world. However, the parallel pathways have become more divergent in recent years.

It seems to me, that the following for the Golf has never really diminished, whereas momentum behind Honda and the Civic has stalled out in the past period of time. From an outsider's viewpoint, the VW Golf scene appears to be quite strong: from Mk1s to Mk5s this is a pretty devoted international community.

Perhaps one reason for this, is that VW has done a great job in making sure that the spirit of the original Golf lives on in each successive model.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like interest in Honda Civics is not what it once was. Although this scene has always been very North America centric, the general trend for Japanaese modded cars in this region has moved away from FF towards AWD and FR.

I'd also have to question, exactly how much of the spirit of the Honda Civics that we all loved back in the '80s and 90s lives on in the current model.

John Renna's photos of this fantastic Air Ride equipped Golf, has got me thinking about the parallels and differences between the scenes surrounding the Golf and the Civic…. Nice car huh?

So what do you think? Has VW done a better job in staying true to the spirit of the Golf than Honda has done with the Civic? Have the rise of Drifting, Time Attack and VIP Style interrupted interest in front drive cars inside the North American Japanese car scene?


Open Road Tuning

John Renna's Photostream on Flickr



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Anymore pictures from this show? My friend had his silver FD3S there.


vw has no such thing like racing pedigree

but honda does


Cool discussion. I think the WRX, EVO, 240sx has taken over as the top car to mod. The Civic and Integra is what everyone learned on, then as they got older, got more money, gained experienced modding their Civic's, they have stepped up to go drifting in 240's or lapping in WRX's and EVO's. The Civic from 01-05 killed the Civic. I know some people can mod them to look and perform decent, but they gained weight, size, did not gain power. The Si was crap until '06. At the same time as the Civic got worse, I'd say the Golf got better.


FF sucks. People are just getting some sense now.

And yeah, VW has kept the Golf's soul better than Honda has kept the Civic's.

Civics actually used to look good. Not so much anymore.


Interesting theory, Dino. I think the whole "hellaflush" scene among Civic owners is very similar in style to this VW and the whole wheel offset obsession that's been going strong in the VW community for many years. Same with the wire tuck and shaved engine bay look, which is really heating up among Civic owners Stateside and has been a staple of the modified VW scene for a while now. And the vast majority of modified Golfs and Civics I see are older gens. I rarely see a Mk5 or a FD2/FG2/FN2 Civic modified in this style. So I think over here in North America the VW and Civic scenes still have some pretty strong parallels, even if neither camp wants to admit it.

Where I see some divergence is with respect to track days, where there are still tons of Civics out there at lapping days and Time Attacks, but I rarely see VW's being put to use this way. There's definitely more late model Hondas out at track days than late model VW's, and the EG's and EK's are still a big favorite among Honda lapping day junkies.

I also think that Honda has stayed truer to its performance-roots with the Civic than VW has with the Golf. Mk1 and 2 GTi's were awesomely fun cars to drive, but later gens got really nose heavy and understeer horribly (and have some pretty funky suspension geometry). Civics got heavier too, but their overall balance and performance capabilities have stayed strong among the Si and R models at least, although admittedly the non-Si versions have turned into big and boring people haulers.

The 7th gen Civic was pretty much a bust among enthusiasts in North America, and although the 8th gen Si is a really good car, its DBW and still uncracked ECU make it a less loved option among Honda fans who want a car they can really make their own. But in time i think the 8th gen has a lot of potential in this market to continue our Civic love affair in America. The Civic is one of the best selling cars in America (best seller in Canada for 10 years running), which is not something VW can say in this part of the world.


I would say they both have gotten worse, but performance wise vw did really well with the mk5. They have both gained too much weight and are becoming too comfortable, but I guess you could say that about a lot of cars these days. I would love to own a mk1 vw, they are the unbelievably cool to me.


NASA Honda Challenge. SCCA Honda Cup. FG2 Civics dominating Showroom stock B. 2 Civics running in BTCC this year. 4 Civics in USTCC. nuff said.


people that did drive civic's have grown up and drive 4WD and FR cars.


I think there are a few things that killed the Civic scene as the "it" car to have. The first was the introduction of the early 00's was just not as tuner-friendly as the outgoing chassis. The next was the introduction of the WRX (finally) which stole the show as far as a factory performance model from Japan. The other was the Mk4 Golf. It came with a turbo from the factory, you could get over 300whp out of one with a big turbo without sleeving the block, and the chance of you walking out one morning and finding your pride and joy stolen was significantly less than with a tuned Civic. Lots of ex-import tuner scene people got into the Mk4 and Mk5 cars, believe me.

The waning popularity of import drag racing and increasing influence of drifting I think were the final nails in the coffin. The older Civics are still an outstanding platform for performance, as the many examples at race days will show you, but they just aren't the "cool" thing to have these days.

VW owners also tend to be very brand-loyal, but then the choices are fewer as well. Japanese performance capable cars to chose from include Civic, WRX, Evo, Z cars, Miata, Masdaspeed offerings, etc etc. There are a lot of performance European cars, sure, but they tend to be more expensive. I've owned many cars in my life, and all of them have had VW badges...would I own something else? Sure, if I was rich, but until I can afford a GT3 RS I'm going to stick with what I love, and what I can afford. I can't afford a Porsche and I don't feel that love for a WRX or whatever to make that leap to the other side.


The honda civic lost a lot when it went to strut front. I have both a modded 2002 civic ep3 and a modded 1988 wagovan. I've grown to hate the ep3 and when given the option i take the wagon out for a boot, i long for my ef's and eg's. The suspension is only part of it tho, they seem to have lost their character.


Excellent observations Dino. Vdub guys are a different breed, once a dub lover always a dub lover. I dont see that loyalty in Honda guys, they will go to another brand that offers more performance soon as they make more scratch. I would say a main problem is that Honda not putting out fun vehicles anymore, the civic is blander than vanilla ice cream and they are too proud of their type-r to release it here an america and they do offer the mugen civic but its WAY over priced for some mugen parts on a civic. For all of its racing heritage Honda is pissing it away on less than exciting cars. The S2000 was a nice platform but under powered and now is cancelled. What are Honda lovers to step up to now? S2000 is gone and Acura is fuxx0red as well. Still love my RSX type-s and will keep at as long as she runs which will be quite a while.


konaxxxxx hold your tongue.

Ever heard of Dakar? VW just won that and has been getting podium spots for years now

How about Le Mans/ALMS? VW-owned companies (Audi and Bentley) have won it for the past NINE years.

VW also has a very strong Rallye scene and participates with their S2000 Polos.


Before you make a fool of yourself, do some research.


Honda of course has some great motorsport history, like motorcycle racing, and the fact that they fielded an F1 team (albeit unsuccessfully), but it is unfair to say that because of this they have any more of a "racing pedigree" than VW has garnered. To be fair, i'm leaving out many specific examples of motorsport involvement that both brands continue to have or have had in the past.


I agree with Rod about the parallels between the VW and Honda scenes. The cars were and are very similar in purpose, shape, and tuning style. The obsession with having the "right" set of rims, the rarest or most JDM/Euro rims et cetera is something that can be found in both camps.


Now i'm hugely biased, being a VW owner, but I'm not afraid to admit that Civics and Golfs are very similar solutions to the same problem. Both started out as lightweight economy cars and later evolved performance versions of these which are cherished and great fun to drive. They've both aged more or less equally in terms of quality, they have both gone upmarket and gotten fatter and less "fun", but both still retain quirky-yet-contemporary styling.


Oh and Rod, you forgot about the mk6, it's out now ;)


ahh I left that out as it's not globally released just yet...... :>


Golf - Luxurios interior,milder engine

Civic - Bucket seat, red carpet,revvy engine,

Manufacturers built them for opposite purpose.



more analysis of the current tuning scene is necessary


What Dave Pratte said!!! and also Honda seems to have gone with the majority of new car buyers who happen to be people who dont like to modify cars very much ($$$).


just wanted to give a shout to john for the pictures and speed hunter for the interesting blog topic.

that is my car up top and i had no idea what people were saying when they mentioned "speedhunters" on vwvortex.

keep up the good work!




VW's are never of an interest to me because 1. they usually break down. 2. they cost a ton to repair and 3. I like to go to the track...But on the other side German cars are very attractive as well as this Golf, I think I have seen this in Malvern before??? Nice car Andrew!


I think in an instance of overall asthetic of what the car used to be...VW wins. I think Honda has taken the reliability thing to a new level. The cars are almost indestructable, but lately Honda's are ugly as shit...with respect to the civic. The S2000 is pure sex. But VWs are faster out the box than Civics and they look sexier too. SO VW WINS IN MY BOOK.


chris, thats correct. i'm from the area. what do you drive?

susannah's car is another good example.


I myself have a modded mk3 getta (jetta with a gti front end conversion), but still do respect a decently modded Honda, as long as there not thos ricers that mexicans drive! I feel that vw has more people that are interested in modifying than honda, On the roads I see twice as many modded vw's than civics/ crx cars. I feel that the modern hondas are more for older people, who aren't as interested in modding, especially the newer ones. As for the new vw's i dont think that their too great looking, the big chrome grills just look dumb. As for staying true to the spirit of each company, I feel that VW has done a much better job. Although each car companys have tried to have similar outcomes of thier products, that being feul efficient, styleish cars, I feel that the designs coming from honda have changed, and grown away from the original styles; whereas the VW's still look similar, having euro aspects to them. I think that the interest in FF cars is still there, but is slowly starting to die out. I think this is because of the newer cars that are coming out, they dont have as many moddifiable options for them, and they aren't as "workable" on as the older models. I think that we will always be seeing cars like this one around, at least until they break down for good....haha. Cars lookin good man, nice spread, we'll have to cruise around some this weekend.


I have a subaru bugeye