Just as Honda's sporty Prelude is based on the conservative Accord, the sporty Del Sol is based on the conservative Civic. This is good thinking, because the Civic is a good-handling, fun-to-drive sedan. Take 10 in. out of the wheelbase and fit it with a snappy 2-seat body, and you've got a recipe for Instant Sports Car.
The Del Sol is a hardtop coupe, but the entire roof lifts out to form an open-air targa. The roof panel can be stored on a clever rack inside the trunk where it takes up very little space. Plus, the power rear window retracts at the touch of a button, turning the Del Sol into a true convertible with a fixed rollbar. This dual personality lets the little Del Sol compete with small coupes like the Toyota Paseo and Mazda MX-3, as well as Mazda's Miata convertible.
Like the Civic upon which it is based, the Del Sol comes in 102-hp S and 125-hp Si models. But unlike the Civic, there is also a 160-hp version of the 1.6-liter engine, this one fitted with dohc and Honda's variable valve timing and lift system called VTEC. As you might expect, the VTEC Del Sol is a blast to drive. It has more than enough horsepower, larger disc brakes, stiffer suspension and V-rated tires. Surprisingly, the Civic's ABS system is not available on most Del Sols, only being added to the later years of production, and only to the Si and VTEC trims.
Honda's Del Sol is one of the most practical small sports cars ever designed. The hardtop roof makes it more theftproof than a convertible, the surprisingly large trunk plus storage space behind the seats make it capable of carrying a week's worth of groceries or luggage, front-wheel drive means it goes in snow.
The 1996 Del Sol went on sale in early 1996.
- $14,400 (1994 Honda Civic Del Sol S)
- $16,450 (1994 Honda Civic Del Sol Si)
- $17,900 (1994 Honda Civic Del Sol VTEC)
As of October 3, 1994:
- $14,780 (1995 Honda Civic Del Sol S)
- $16,950 (1995 Honda Civic Del Sol Si)
- $19,200 (1995 Honda Civic Del Sol VTEC)
As of April 12, 1995:
- $14,930 (1995 Honda Civic Del Sol S)
- $17,120 (1995 Honda Civic Del Sol Si)
- $19,400 (1995 Honda Civic Del Sol VTEC)