The Honda Accord is 40 years old and few cars currently in production can say that; even less have left as indelible a mark on the American car landscape.
You may ignore it as a car you see in every third space in a parking structure or a way of transporting five people around and not much more, but the Accord is one of the pillars that established Honda as it is today, and the bar for so many other carmakers. Therefore it deserves to be honored on this big birthday.
Even Honda notes the Accord’s humble beginnings, as a three-door hatchback introduced in June 1976 not much larger than today’s Fit. But Honda staked a claim on refinement and quality that few other automakers were able to match in the ’70s. Its fuel efficiency at a time of erratic oil prices and inflation helped its popularity, too.
By 1982, the Accord became the first Japanese car to be built in the U.S., at the Marysville, Ohio plant that’s still churning them out today. Honda says of the 12.7 million Accords that have been sold in the last 40 years, 10.5 million have come from U.S. plants.
It wasn’t until the third generation debuted 30 years ago that the Accord started to become the household name that it is today and the shining example of what a family sedan should be. Its simple lines and efficient packaging was buoyed by a reputation for quality and longevity. It was with this generation that Honda began exporting Accords made in Ohio to other countries, even Japan.
And in later years, the Accord spawned variants such as a wagon, some hybrids and a coupe that’s today’s equivalent of a personal luxury car. There was also that Crosstour thing that Honda probably doesn’t want to talk about yet.
But over the four decades, it’s not like the Accord is just for middle-aged families. Honda execs love to point out the Accord is the second-most popular car among buyers under 35 years old. The first? The Civic.
Click below for a run through the Honda Accord’s history.