Honda City, an unworldly city boy
Text & photography: Aart van der Haagen
A hip, fast-paced, well-developed, social and totally at home in the city jungle, that's the Honda City. On a closer acquaintance, however, he turns out to be quite foreign, because most continents and even large parts of Asia say nothing to this compact Japanese. What does the red do here in the Netherlands? In the meantime nothing more, because he said goodbye to us after a short stay.
As a cosmopolitan, this specimen will remain the only one of its kind, because Honda saw no bread in export with the second-generation Honda City. The first was here between 1984 and 1986 for a while, referred to as Jazz, after which the brand withdrew from the B-segment in foreign markets. Because there was not much music in it, because people did not understand the so-called 'Tallboy' concept. The idea was ingenious and very successful later with the Toyota Yaris: put four people upright in the cabin, fortunately in a sitting position, then you can keep the carriage short and let the car squeeze into the smallest parking spaces easily. This means that the name Honda City no longer needs any explanation, which, incidentally, was not allowed to be used in Europe, as the rights were vested in Opel. Honda's smallest also struggled with the lack of a price packer.
After the moderate interest in the Honda City of the first batch, the Japanese licked their wounds. Strikingly enough, they took a completely different approach with the second generation, but did not attempt a new attempt at export. This time they were looking for it in width and not in height, with a strikingly short nose. This and the low center of gravity offered excellent basic ingredients to create a fine tear-off iron, equipped with a high-tech multi-valve engine with 76 hp from 1,2 liters. The model debuted in 1986 and two years later the Honda City already reported to the plastic surgeon for a nose job and some more procedures. In a refreshed form, the compact Honda sang it out to 1994 and with that, it had an un-Japanese long life cycle. Now you will always find a freak somewhere that sooner or later brings such a copy to Europe, in this case the Swiss importer Claude François Sage, who added it to his Honda curiosity cabinet.
Knowing the above, the virgin condition of the red Honda City GG from 1987, with only 142 kilometers on the clock, quickly explained. "It seems Sage was unable to get the thing on license plate," says Ronny Lucassen of Honda Mobility, who got hold of it via the small shooting brake. For a short while, just a few weeks, the Honda City stayed in the Netherlands. Already during our report an American enthusiast from the Lucassen network reported himself as a candidate and now the car is on the other side of the ocean. A pity, because it is highly questionable whether there is any other specimen on our continent.