The Civic has had a total of 8 different generations. They are as follows:
- 1973 -1979
- 1980 - 1983
- 1984 - 1987
- 1988 - 1991
- 1992 - 1995
- 1996 - 2000
- 2001 - 2005
- 2006 and beyond
There is a sportier version of the Civic named the Civic Si. It has a better engine and tighter suspension, among other things. People who can only afford a used Civic often end up making sporty modifications on their own, such as a DOHC VTEC engine swap for the original. There is a whole community out there just for Civic modifications, although don't expect any buyers of the newest version (the 8th generation), to be accepted as a part of the group. Honda has made some significant changes to the car to make it safer, such as raising its center of gravity. This may appeal to the general consumer, but not to passionate drivers who enjoyed ripping it up in their little Honda.
There are few cars that are as common as the Civic. I think everyone in America owns this car, if only as a spare in their garage. You can find a used one in any used car classified ad section of any newspaper in the country.
Chances are you will want to buy used, for both the sportier look and (more likely) the much lower price. I suggest giving eBay a look around for these cars, as there are at least a few dozen auctions going on for these at any given moment, sometimes many more.