After forty years of production, it can sometimes be difficult to believe that the Honda Civic was ever a small economy car. The current car isn’t huge, but even the shortest model (the hatchback) is still a full two and a half feet longer than the original 1973 model, and it weighs over a thousand pounds more as well. The Honda Fit now has the role which originally belonged to the Civic, allowing the bigger model to continue packing on the pounds. But the Fit just isn’t as cool as the old Civic hatchbacks used to be; it’s too utilitarian, too deliberately planned to maximize cargo space. But Honda very quietly rolled out a new concept at the Montreal Auto Show this week, one which very clearly draws inspiration from Civic hatchbacks of the 1970s.
The concept is called the GEAR, and it’s actually smaller than the Fit, but with a much sportier look that incorporates elements from the original Civic. The front fascia — particularly the headlight and grille shape — is very ’73 Civic, although the quad exhaust pipes on the GEAR are something of a departure from the original design. Inside it’s got a customizable center screen which allows the driver to choose the layout they prefer, including a retro display in the spirit of the old Civic. Of course, as AutoGuide reports, Honda’s design director Dave Marek said the car is just a design study, and that production is hardly a sure thing at this point. There’s also the unavoidable fact that this car made its debut in Montreal while the massive Detroit Auto Show was going on in the States. That isn’t the sort of thing that’s generally done with a car intended for production, but it’s still a very cool concept, and we can always hope that Honda will move forward with it.