Honda City Turbo 1982 

Some time ago, we told you about a car that in some ways became the precursor of turbocharged kei cars and one of the first collaborative projects between Mugen and Honda – the City Turbo 2 model. Symbolically, just a week later, I came across the base model – the City – in one of the garage cooperatives in Moscow. The car was almost buried in the ground, but it was in its standard configuration. And today, we will talk about the first version of the turbocharged microcar – the City Turbo 1.

Let’s briefly recall the history of the car. In 1981, Honda introduced the new City Turbo model to the market. This tiny car with a 1.2-liter engine was intended to serve city dwellers who were already facing problems with both traffic and parking spaces. There isn’t much interesting to say about it, similar to the first Matiz – small, agile and economical. That’s it. But for some reason, this little City caught the attention of Hirotoshi Honda, the son of the legendary Soichiro Honda. It caught his attention and sparked the thought: why not turn this grocery cart into something truly interesting? The son of the Honda’s leader was not just an heir, but also an ideologist of the dynasty – he had Mugen tuning studio at his disposal.

So, the foundation in the form of a 1.2-liter CVCC-II inline 4-cylinder engine ended up in the hands of the guys who loved building fast cars the most in their lives. In modern times, they would start tuning the engine control unit, inventing direct fuel injection, installing a bunch of useless sensors, turning the pristine forests of South America into office paper in A4 format and so on. In the 80s, it was simpler: let’s just attach a turbocharger and feed as much air into this engine as it can handle. Everything we described in the article about the Turbo 2 (I recommend rereading it to feel the difference in appearance) holds true, except for the different shape of the intake manifold and the absence of an intercooler.

At the end of the summer of 1982, two cars covered 10,000 km from Sicily to Karasjok in the Arctic North to ensure the reliability of the new components. The test was successfully passed and in September, the car was presented to the public. It differed from the Turbo 2 model, which would appear exactly a year later in the fall of 1983, by the absence of aggressive body kits, wider tracks and larger diameter wheels, but the main components remained the same.

The same cylinder head made of a titanium-magnesium alloy, the same cutting-edge (at that time) technologies in engine assembly. The Turbo stickers along the sides of the car were meant to unmistakably communicate to fellow drivers: do not underestimate compact cars. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), this was Honda’s singular mass experience with a turbo. However, the approach of “turbocharging a small engine” would later be successfully applied to many other compact cars. We hope to have the opportunity to tell you about them and show them from all angles!

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