Seven Amazing Things about the Honda Civic del Sol
- The Honda Civic del Sol got its name from the Honda Civic compact, from which its platform is based on, and the Spanish phrase “del Sol” or “from the sun” as reference to the roadster’s removable roof.
- Contrary to popular belief, the Honda Civic del Sol is not a convertible but a targa top. Like most targas, the del Sol has a removable hardtop, a retractable rear window, and a full roll bar behind the seats for added support. The hardtop can be stored inside the trunk, reducing the trunk space by 3 cubic feet.
- Although it uses the platform of the Honda Civic, the del Sol is actually the successor of the Honda CR-X sports compact car. Because of this, the del Sol is marketed in Europe as the CR-X del Sol, although this was eventually dropped in later models.
- Del Sol roadsters sold in Europe and Japan can also be fitted with the TransTop, which is an electric mechanism that allows the roof to retract into the trunk with just a push of a button. The roof is activated by flicking two catches above the windows and then pressing down the button, causing the trunk lid to rise vertically and two arms to extend into the targa top. Once the arms lock into the lid, it pulls down the targa down inside the trunk. The process is reversed when the targa top is raised back up.
- Production and sale of the del Sol was very limited, beginning in 1992 and ending in 1998, with a total of less than 75,000 roadsters sold in America. Today, the del Sol retains a small, but energetic following in street and racing enthusiasts.
- Del Sol roadsters marketed to the US were not offered with limited slip differentials.
- Partly because of its unique look, the Civic del Sol was a popular prop in popular TV shows and films. TV shows such as Malcolm in the Middle, Roswell, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and the Sopranos featured various del Sol models, while a 1993 del Sol was featured as one of the racecars in the hit racing film The Fast and the Furious.
Common Problems Encountered in Honda Civic del Sol Model
Although it shares the name of Honda’s storied line of compact cars, the Honda Civic del Sol is nothing like the Honda Civic. From its distinct targa top design and a spunky 1.5-liter VTEC engine, the del Sol definitely turned heads whenever it went. The fact that it only saw limited production with around 75,000 units available further added to its mystique.
Del Sol owners know that their roadsters have their own set of lovable quirks, but they share a lot of problems as well. The following are some of the more common problems encountered in del Sol models.
Probably the most frequent problem that is unique to the del Sol is with its removable roof. The roof is known to be the source of wind noise, squeaks, and other odd noises as well as water leaks on the sides and the front top corner of both windows. Cleaning the seals with a rubber protectant often solves the problem, although in more extreme cases, it might require the removal and replacement of the weatherstripping.
Del Sol brake rotors have also been known to warp over time, leading to severe vibrations especially when braking. In such cases the rotors will have to be machined or, if the discs have become too thin, replaced with new ones. Take note that replacing the brake rotors of the del Sol will also require the replacement of the calipers.
Over time, the del Sol’s engine mounts will deteriorate and lead to vibration and roughness that can be felt through the steering wheel. Rattling noises in the dashboard and engine area may also be caused by faulty engine mounts. Replacing the engine mounts with new ones typically fixes these issues.
The A/C system of the del Sol is also prone to leaks, leading to reduced effectiveness or even a complete breakdown of the car’s A/C unit. Replacement of the leaking components is necessary, as simply plugging in the leaks is not as effective and the seal will give way over time.
Mold has also been known to grow on the evaporators, leading to a foul odor coming out of the A/C. Cleaning the evaporator with bleach effectively kills the mold, but if the smell stays the same, the evaporator itself may need replacing.
DIY Car Care Tips for the Honda Civic Del Sol
In 1992, Honda launched Honda Civic Del Sol. It is a two-seater, front-engine, front wheel drive, semi-convertible sedan based on a miniature Civic platform. Its removable hardtop can be stowed in the trunk (known as a ‘targa top') while featuring a retractable rear window, giving the feel of a classic convertible car. Honda has stopped producing Del Sols since 1998 and can be a rare find right now. However, a well-maintained and renewed Del Sol can be a delight to drive. Being a two-door roadster and a semi-convertible, it gives off a Sporty vibe that can appeal to the young market. Here are some tips on how to care for your Honda Civic Del Sol:
- Clean the hard top regularly.
Clean the hard top as you would clean the rest of the body by using a mild, natural non-detergent shampoo. Be sure to rinse the top thoroughly as any cleaners left exposed may hasten color fading. It's also best to use a soft microfiber cloth when wiping.
- Keep the interiors free from dirt.
The Honda Civic Del Sol is a relatively old model. Hence, if it has been years since you last gave your Del Sol cabin a makeover, then now is probably the right time to do it. Remove the inner and outer door panels, and give your car and thorough vacuuming. Use a solvent or a cleaning solution to scrub the more delicate inside parts. Change the seat upholstery as it has likely gathered mold and mildew. Depending on the condition, the seats might even need to be entirely replaced. Check whether the gauges are still intact or now falling off the dashboard. You can also consider upgrading the sound system so you can enjoy more modern sound amenities like a media file player, CD player, etc.
- Polish and wax the car's body.
To make the most out of this two-door, targa top roadster, it's good to prime up its exteriors. Of course it may mean a new paintjob, but it is actually more than that. Depending on the condition, it may warrant the stripping of all the body panels down to the bare metal to remove traces of the old paint. This can be done using chemical treatments or sandblasting. Afterwards, the stripped-down panels should be coated in a grey epoxy primer before they will be repainted piece by piece and placed back on the car. If some panels prove to be completely stricken with rust, consider replacing them completely.
- Do an engine tune-up when necessary.
In order to make your Del Sol run as new, an engine tune up must also be done. If it has been a long time since you have last done an oil flush, then its time to do it now. You can also do it for the brake, coolant and transmission fluids as well. Check the fuel pumps, the carburetors, the cylinder heads and the compressors. Determines which parts must be restored or replaced.
Honda Civic del Sol: The American Japanese Car
For many years now, Honda has had a reputation of making the finest examples of automobiles in the world. True to its Japanese roots, Honda’s product line include vehicles that are a perfect yin and yang balance of affordability and durability, simplicity and performance, as well as reliability and longevity. The Civic del Sol is one such example wherein Honda enters into a niche with a car that can wow the competition. A 2-seater, front engine, semi-convertible with a targa top, the del Sol was a classy and beautiful little car that took the American market by storm.
1993-1994: Year one
Though it actually debuted in Japan in 1992, the Civic del Sol only reached American shores a year after. Here it was sold in two trim levels: the S and the Si. The S was the base model, and the one most closely related to its Japanese predecessors. This base model came with a 1.5-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder, SOHC engine capable of 102-horsepower. It drove on 13” steel wheels and, coupled with the engine and a lighter frame, performed well enough to attract consumers from the offset.
The Si was the up-level model intended for those in the market for something that was above basic. With a 1.6-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder, SOHC engine with Honda’s revolutionary VTEC technology, the Si was capable of up to 160-horsepower output. Cruise control, rear disc brakes, a front anti-sway bar, and 14” alloy wheels all combined to give the car excellent handling characteristics.
1995-1996: And great run
The Civic del Sol saw a great deal of improvement in 1995—beginning with a simplified naming convention. The Civic tag was dropped, and the car was referred to simply as the del Sol. The “old” SOHC engine was upgraded to a B16a3 which featured both DOHC and Honda’s VTEC technology. It still put out 160-horsepower but was more efficient than its predecessor. The targa top that always accompanied every del Sol saw a redesign to improve the seals. Anti-lock braking also became standard to the del Sol this year.
Not one to slacken the pace, Honda introduced yet another slew of improvements for the del Sol in 1996. The B16a3 introduced just a year before was immediately replaced with the B16a2 which was wholly similar to the engine that preceded it with the difference being slightly less torque output. More sweepingly, all del Sol variants got 1.6-liter engines as a standard. Last and most impressive, the del Sol came equipped with an OBD-II Emission control system to comply with rising demand for greener cars. Sadly, the del Sol eventually got overtaken by other Honda designs but never really was forgotten as its influences can be seen in many other Honda cars up to today.