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Today in History: Six Millionth Honda Civic

The word “ubiquitous” might have been coined specifically for the Honda Civic. Civics are so common, such an everyday sight that you don’t even notice them anymore…until you actually pay attention and realize that there are a LOT of Honda Civics on the road.

On July 23, 2007, the six millionth Civic rolled off of Honda’s production lines; the Civic was introduced in 1972 and has been through numerous generations and nine separate design iterations along the way. The tiny two-door first-generation Civic couldn’t have come along at a better time; in ’72, the American auto industry was being shaken up by the first oil crunch as the Middle East turned off the spigot. Big, wasteful cars were suddenly on the outs, American companies were scrambling to introduce (very mediocre) small cars, and in no time the Civic was a success in the North American market.

From 1976 to 1978, the Civic was the best-selling import car in America, and by the 1980s Honda was capitalizing on the Civic’s success by setting up production facilities in the United States. The first Honda Civic rolled out of a plant in Marysville, Ohio in 1986 (the slightly larger Accord was already in production there), with a second plant in Ohio opening in 1989.

Today, Honda operates 12 manufacturing plants in North America, employing more than 30,000 people. In 2002, the Civic was made available as a gasoline/electric hybrid (alongside the Insight); now, more than 75 percent of all Honda and Acura models sold in the United States were produced and assembled stateside.  Today’s Civics are roomy and comfortable, with options like leather upholstery, power accessories, a premium stereo and satellite-linked GPS…and to think that it all started with the tiny, bare-bones Civic model of 1972.