Pocket Rocket: Introducing the “Samba Green” 1993 Honda Civic del Sol Si

Odometer (del Sol):  88,292

Trip Distance:  800 Miles

So this ought to be a fun summer cruiser, right?  I put together a spreadsheet the other day of all the cars I’ve owned.  If we exclude temporary “project” cars and the like, the grand total comes out to 27 vehicles.

There are a few that stand out as unique:  My Infiniti I30 and Chevy Celebrity were my only non-Honda/Acura cars.  The SLX is my only 4×4.  And even though 22 of the 27 have had moonroofs, none have been a true “removable top” or convertible.  Enter the del Sol, which in fitting translation to English means, “Of the Sun.”  Because this one will actually let me feel some of that Arizona sun like no moonroof ever could.

Honda’s fun, yet economical two-seater CRX model lasted through 2 generations and 8 model years until it was discontinued after 1991.  Two years later, a successor was named and the “Civic del Sol” was launched in the United States in 1993.  Its top trim was the Si model, with a 1.6-liter, 125 horsepower 4-cylinder motor and 5-speed manual transmission.  It was Honda’s attempt at giving a roadster-like driving experience, many years before its legendary S2000 roadster came out.

The Civic del Sol model evolved over a 5-year lifespan, including cosmetic changes, powertrain changes, and even a name change (by dropping the “Civic” prefix).  At its peak, the del Sol sold over 25,000 units in the United states its initial model year, dropping each year for 5 years until only 5,000 were sold in 1997.  That kind of trend is sometimes typical for new model launches – as I recall, the Acura Legend had a similar linear sales decline over the 5 years its second-generation model was sold.

This is a fun commercial from when the del Sol first came out.

Samba Green is certainly one of the most polarizing colors that a conservative company such as Honda has ever offered on a production vehicle.  While my Aztec Green Integra is pretty wild itself, it can’t quite compare to the lime green hue of the del Sol.

This Samba came from the original (77-year-old, if you can believe it) owner named Fred who lived in northern Utah.  He kept it for 26 years and drove it during summertime in western Wyoming and northern Utah.  His maintenance records were painstakingly detailed, including a 14-page handwritten ledger kept in the glove compartment which documented every single fuel up and its associated MPG.

That’s some attention to detail I can appreciate!  When Fred decided to part ways with his del Sol in late April, my friend Jason in Salt Lake was the first to respond to a classified ad listing.  It wasn’t for about a month that I was able to make a trip to that area and pick up the car, so Jason and his wife were gracious enough to store it at their home for me.

The pick-up agenda coincided with an already-planned visit to northern Utah to visit friends and family members the last weekend of May.  I arrived at the Salt Lake airport and was picked up by the little green machine and Jason.  Our first stop was for some fine dining at a place called Lucky 13.  Shaun and Sunny decided to join us, in their Legend & TSX respectively.

I had a nice weekend traversing northern Utah topless and visiting family.  On Saturday I met up with some other local Honda/Acura fans at Legends Sports Bar.  In addition to Shaun coming out again, we had Talin in her MDX, Daniel in his Integra GS-R, and Nate in his Tacoma.

The del Sol’s buzzy 1.6-liter made the 800-mile trek from Logan, Utah, to Phoenix, Arizona with ease.  I made good use of my cassette tape audio adapter, and I took the top off after sundown near Wickenburg for the final hour or so of the trip.  I can definitely see why there is such a devout enthusiast following for these little cars!  Looking forward to seeing what kind of fun I can have with it!

Here is a short video and below are some additional photos of my new little green machine.

Original ad (redacted)

Photo from the ad

FaceTiming with Jason to see the car for the first time, from 700 miles away.

The car at Jason’s (with his Legend in the background)

Check out those green stripes on the seats!

Jason’s son has a future in automotive modeling.

Initial mileage at 87,170.

Getting new tires at Discount – gotta love how cheap tires are for 14″ wheels!

Already got ahold of some literature including a Car & Driver magazine from when the car debuted.

Incidentally, a friend of mine is pictured in the 1993 brochure!

New floor mats, soon to be installed.

Key handoff from Jason, even though he wasn’t technically the person I bought it from – he just held the car for me for a few weeks.

Visiting a park in northern Utah named after a relative.

Canyon cruise with Ryan and his 2001 Honda S2000.  Vastly different car, and superior in a lot of ways.

Visiting my friend Paige at the Parts Department at Jody Wilkinson Acura in Salt Lake.  I’ve known her since I was 16.

Rolling back home with a visit to mom, who wore the right color for the occasion.

Visiting my brother and his kiddos.

Home sweet home, tucked in!

41 Responses to “Pocket Rocket: Introducing the “Samba Green” 1993 Honda Civic del Sol Si”

  1. From a former Samba Green dS owner (bought new) Congrats! Wishing you many happy miles!

    • I was about 11 when the dS came out, but I recall it well! It’s fun to now be being “dream cars” from my younger years – especially when they’re as well-kept as this one. I hope Sandy enjoys the fact that I put his pic from the brochure in this blog entry too. Haha

  2. STL_Dave Says:

    Another impressive find!

    • Thanks Dave! Reality is, this car wasn’t even on my radar. But the opportunity was there and I’ve always wanted to try one out. Plus the color & the maintenance history made it kind of irresistible. Hope things are going well out in STL!

  3. Check out that 7200 rpm redline! I’m guessing it shares the same engine as the 5th-gen Civic EX. Also gotta love how the old-school fuel gauge stays where in place even after you turn the car off, as opposed to all the newer gauges that go to 0 when the car is shut down. What’s the status of the timing belt and water pump? I’m guessing the previous owner changed it based on years, not mileage. And what did you go with for tires? It’s funny how 14” was on the bigger side when I was a kid, and now they’re positively tiny.

    Very cool update, and such a fun little car – congrats on the newest addition to your garage (and here’s one vote for keeping it as a permanent addition to your garage 😉). I was in high school when these came out, and I thought they were cool then – and I still do now!

    Have a great weekend!

    • I’m glad you asked about the TB / WP. I’m supposed to get a call back today from Hon-Man about a quote on that, actually. Both items were changed in 2011 but only about 13,000 miles ago. I’ll probably go ahead and have them done just for peace of mind. Thanks for reading!

  4. autoscribe1974 Says:

    It’s so cool seeing the Samba and Aztec greens together. Many happy and fun miles together!

    • Thanks Mark! It’s kind of crazy how the Samba makes the Aztec look so much more blue. Now I just need to line those two cars up for a drag race and see what happens. 125 hp versus 160 horsepower, but the Integra is heavier. It might be a toss up. “Battle of the Green Bees (B16 vs. B17) could be the title. Haha. As you can see I’ve had some time to think about this.

  5. I’m very happy you added this car to your collection. I think you’ll be happy with it for a long time to come…

  6. telafonic Says:

    A complete failure as a successor to the CRX, and that color was never easy on the eyes, was it? haha

    However there’s a certain charm to the misfits and the also-rans. And that car is in such amazing condition!

    • Totally. It drew a crowd this morning when I dropped it off at the Honda dealer for an oil change. Sometimes the attention is unwanted though, haha. That’s one area where the ILX has always stood out… by being an incognito bland silver sedan!

  7. That thing looks spotless and I bet will bring many smiles this summer! Congrats and looking forward to seeing it in person mañana. 😉

    • For sure! Looking forward to seeing you! It’ll be gassed up and ready for some adventures. And we can make room for the Contour in the garage. The Acuras play nice 😉

  8. sweet addition! I can envision your hair being A LOT lighter by the middle of September!

  9. Ah now that’s a cool little car that I fully approve of – what a brilliant addition to your fleet. I’m looking forward to reading more of it’s adventures!

    Great photos as always!

  10. I can’t get over how clean that Del Sol is! It definitely will be a fun summer cruiser for you. I really wish Honda still made cars like the Del Sol and the S2000. Thanks for meeting up and letting me see the new car in person!

    • I’m glad you met up! Thanks for taking the time. Also, I love that your avatar is the pic of your iM at Monument Valley, haha. Best destination ever.

  11. Chris Green Says:

    I love it! A friend of mine bought a white ‘95 del Sol when it was about a year old, also previously owned by an elderly man. It was promptly stolen from his carport in West Hollywood, so apparently these were pretty appealing! Although the Del Sol seemed to be a letdown from the CRX at the time, it has only grown more charming! And you got THE color, as Car & Driver’s editorial staff no doubt would agree!

    • Haha, yes, I was thrilled when I saw that the C&D article was with a Samba-colored Si, just like mine! Had to have it. Funny that you mention theft – this one came with “The Club” in the trunk, so I tend to think I should use it, as nerdy as that feels!

      • Chris Green Says:

        Oh yes, the Club is a must-have ’90s car accessory! Just be careful, I had one on my ’95 Civic back then and it melted a small part of the steering wheel on a hot day! But a little cloth or something to protect against any bare metal would help with that.
        Funny thing, I can’t remember if my friend used the Club on his del Sol or not…I should ask him!

  12. Wow, a stunning example. I can’t believe you’re still finding cars with such superb history. 125 HP? In New Zealand, we had them badged as the CRX all the way throughout their lifespan and I’m pretty sure they all had the B16A engines in them – making them a pretty popular (and quick) car! With the del Sol tucking away in the main garage, where’s the poor Vigor hiding?

    • I remember seeing that! How the del Sol was badged as a CRX in other parts of the world. Pretty interesting. As for the parking situation – it’s a constant juggle, but luckily since I have the new awning in the backyard, everything still gets shade. I discovered just tonight that I can actually fit 3 vehicles under that! hehe. Hope you have a great weekend, Adam!

  13. Chris Green Says:

    Oh yes, the Club is a must-have ’90s car accessory! Just be careful, I had one on my ’95 Civic back then and it melted a small part of the steering wheel on a hot day! But a little cloth or something to protect against any bare metal would help with that.
    Funny thing, I can’t remember if my friend used the Club on his del Sol or not…I should ask him!

  14. Chris Miller Says:

    What other Honda-Acura has the clock within the cluster? This is an oddity for sure!

    • I was thinking the same thing. I love the little del Sol “outline” near the clock too. It has a green light that comes on to indicate when the rear windows is down, and a red light to indicate when to the roof isn’t fully latched. Definitely some attention to detail. I will be thinking of the clock question. Kind of like when you noticed that the SLX is only “Acura” with the fuel filler door on the passenger side.

  15. That car is del icious!

  16. So. Our boy Jason is the one who acquired this car for you? Or he just held in reserve for you? Let’s get real, though. This car. I NEED this car. Can’t you see me tooling down the highway (not freeway — I would take the backroads) with perma-grin? I miss my VW EOS for that. If you run out of garage space, it’s probable that the Del Sol is the only one of your collection that would fit in mine…. just sayin’. Wink.

    • There ya go. I’ll trade you for the RLX for a couple of months. It’s a real sweet little ride! I think convertible season here is over – unless you’re wearing a lot of sunscreen. But from about October through April it’s prime time.

      • Sounds like a fair exchange, though I would require that our RLX have a reservation in your showroom…. Let’s consider a swap, maybe after the heat season has expired.

  17. I love your blog and I congratulate you on this fantastic find! I’m in the process of buying a ’93 samba green with 60 thousand miles myself; it does have some rust and the ac has been removed. I think it’s still worth checking it out!

    • Wow, sounds like a great car – with that low of miles, definitely has plenty of life left! Thanks for reading, and good luck with your new Samba!

      • If you don’t mind me asking, Would you share how much you paid for? I’d like to compare the two prices.

      • No, I’d rather not talk about the purchase price. I got a very fair deal on the car, then went on to spend money on getting the maintenance up to date, putting new tires on it, and having a few light dings removed by a paintless professional. So I’ve put some money into my investment but it’s perfect now.

  18. Thanks for your detailed and fun post! This is my exact dream car (loved it from my teens) and all the info you’ve shared will come in handy when I am ready to buy when an opportunity comes up.

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