Being a Honda Accord must be tough.
Here you are, one of the few remaining mid-sized sedans left. For the last four and half decades you’ve been one of the best entries in this category, and certainly one of the most appealing (hey, did they ever make a Camry with pop-up headlights? Case closed). Still, when a new Accord is introduced, it often gets a fraction of the enthusiasm as some flashier car that’s not even a third as good.
Familiarity breeds indifference, and one gets the sense that if, in an alternate world, Honda were to introduce an all-electric Accord right now with batteries under the floor it might be met with the excitement level reserved for a new type of Wonder Bread. “I thought they already made one” might be the response of others. That’s a shame, since the latest model looks better than ever, and an EV Accord could certainly be a major bone in the throat of Tesla, with better build quality at a lower price.
An old school trick of manufacturers back in the day was to make a show car or special edition of a new car to gain attention and drive showroom traffic to the lower-level, run-of-the-mill models. Creating an Accord EV show car that’s exciting and a little absurd might be the answer to get our Accord some well-deserved interest. Did somebody say absurd? Hey, I’m your freaking guy, there. In fact, I’ve been looking for a place to try this next one out.
Rumblings Of Extra Seating
Second in popularity to those dumb ‘Ten Ugliest Cars’ lists must be the list of ‘Ten Features That Will Never Return To Cars’. All of these click-baits mention vent windows and ashtrays but only a few bring up the rumble seat. This was a seat that appeared when you opened what looked like the trunk lid on a pre-war car, and it offered essentially none of the weather protection that front passengers received.
Still, if the weather was decent it might be a fun place to ride, and the penalty-box ‘mother-in-law’ seat title might not have been fully deserved. This feature disappeared from all cars after World War II. The rather unfortunate looking lumpy/dumpy Triumph 1800 Roadster was the last car to offer one (supposedly different designers created the front and back of the car). Part of the boot lid became the rear windscreen (British car, so gotta go by their terms, right?); nobody designing it seemed to notice that said windscreen became a window into what valuables you were carrying to let thieves see if they should have a go at nicking what’s in there. Brilliant!
The rumble seat did occasionally appear on show cars and in the aftermarket. Galpin Ford made a conversion kit for Mustangs in the late sixties, and our very own Beau Boeckman’s Galpin Auto Sports restored a surviving example:
Aw, come on, you just KNOW that American Motors was batshit crazy enough to suggest this outdoor seat again, didn’t you? I mean, AMC should stand for ‘Advancements Misunderstood and Costly’, and the Vignale-built Javelin/AMX showcar they built certainly has plenty of them.
In back, the trunk lid flipped up to form what AMC called a Ramble Seat (Rambler was still an American Motors brand). The cool trick here is that the backlight also flipped up, creating a rear windshield that likely made rumble seat riding far more pleasant than in the prohibition-era cars. It’s a painfully cool concept, looking like a toy you’d run down that orange plastic track in your rec room while Sid and Marty Croft’s Wonderbug or Lost Saucer played on your black and white Zenith 17”.
That’s just the beginning, though. You’ve heard of ‘2+2’ coupes where the rear seats are ‘occasional’ passengers? Well what about a ‘2+2+2’? Here’s how one source described the Javelin Ramble Seat show car:
“It offers three-way seating – full bucket seats flanking an aircraft type console; a “Ramble-seat” which is activated by a push button control inside the car; and fold-down contoured rear seats which may be used when the Ramble seat is not in use”.
Wait, so there were fold down seats INSIDE the car to allow passengers to ride indoors if the Ramble seat wasn’t used? Could these seats be deployed WITH the Ramble seat in place? That sounds impossible, but I uncovered this picture below that seems to prove it was one of this concept’s capabilities:
Good Lord. We could be looking at an ‘occasional six-seater’ sports coupe. Sort of like the extra seats in the cargo bed of Subaru BRAT, right?
Just like the Soobie, it’s an idea that doesn’t make much sense- but it will get a lot of attention for our poor, under-appreciated Accord EV.
The Party Really Is In Back
Named after the targa-topped Civic coupe that OG CR-X fans love to hate, the Honda Accord Del Sol EV is a perfect fastback shape to copy the old AMC show car. You start with an Accord sedan with a glass roof that retracts in several pieces and stacks over the roof above the rear passengers. Simple enough, but if it’s a nice day and you’ve got more than five people to take on your trip there’s another option.
Pop open the upper part of the trunk lid, hit a button to raise the rear backlight, and fold up the two passenger ‘jump’ seat in the trunk and you’ve got a rumble seat, baby! Many rumble seats in days of yore required you to step over the fenders to get in, but our Accord requires you to fold the second row seatbacks forward to climb in (and this row can slide forward to allow for more legroom in the rumble seat area). The whole idea is ridiculous, but if it Honda were insane enough to build it, here’s a few details.
Unlike the old AMC where the opened rear glass appears to just be spring loaded open, we’re going to add supports on the side that not only prevent the wind from the moving car from shutting it, but also have the ability to hold the weight of the back of the car. That’s right; the frame around the glass is steel that acts as a roll bar.
The trunk lid could open like a regular one if the glass was lowered, the raising top being just a part of lid structure (likely that would make a damn heavy lid but if raises and lowers electrically it won’t matter). Also, the fold up seat itself could be removed from the car in a manner similar to the third row in older Land Cruisers or even the cushions in three row station wagons (allowing you to put cargo in the space under the floor of instead).
Dangerous? Of course! But third row seats in the back of many SUVs are just as close to the rear bumper, so there’s that.
But Why Tho?
As much fun as riding with half a dozen people in the open air sounds, the complexity and structural reinforcements needed to get this very limited use feature on a very limited production car (if it were produced beyond a show car) would be worth it for only one reason: you’re reading this story, right? You’d breeze (pardon the pun) over some article on the range capabilities of a stock EV Accord, or just ignore it completely and read some Mustang review. Make a seat pop out of the trunk? Now we’ve made you look.