Some time ago I started Project CRX, with the noble intention of acquiring and hopping up a second-generation Honda CRX and making a true thing of beauty. And I did the first part, way back in 1999 – I acquired a black 1988 Honda CRX Si with about 160,000 miles on it, for $1500. It was the fixing-up part that I failed to do, sadly. Still, I really – and I mean really – liked that car.
The Honda CRX was an unsung hero of automotive history, in my opinion. When they came out, I thought it would be the ideal commuter car – great gas mileage, small, agile, and fairly good performing. This lasted for four years, 1984-1987, the CRX’s first generation. Then came the second generation, with a much better looking body style and even better performance, especially if you got the Si. And if you fix them up – well, just look at the picture; need I say more?
My little black CRX was not a good looking car. The interior was shot, seats were torn, and there was a big hole in the dashboard where someone had stolen the stereo from the previous owner. Outside, there were a number of rusted panels, and the paint was faded in almost every place. The one upside was that the paint was such a dull, lifeless black that I’m pretty sure it absorbed all of the radar, and so I never got a speeding ticket.
Even worse was the fact that the driver side window did not really roll up and down easily. I tried to adjust the inner window tracks but I couldn’t get them to align properly. After I’d already spent the money to install a pretty decent stereo system, I was trying to roll the window up one time and in the process the window bound and shattered all over the place. I replaced it with a door from a junkyard, which was unfortunately white. Now I had a black CRX with a white driver-side door. I didn’t think it would matter much, because I always intended to paint it. I drove it that way for probably three years.
It may have been an ugly car, but it was a blast to drive. Even though it just had the stock D16 inline-4 that came with the Si, it had plenty of horsepower for the size of car, and I really loved to drive it – so much, in fact, that I didn’t really care what it looked like.
I put 50,000 miles on that car and was pretty pleased with the fact that it had over 200,000 miles on it. I even did get the chance to install an AEM intake and a Greddy cat-back exhaust on it. Even with 200,000 miles on it, I was getting 44 miles to the gallon on the highway at 75 mph.
One of my best memories in that car was driving home by myself along this back road to my home called River Bottom Road. I was taking the road at roughly twice the posted speed limit as it wound around the curves following the river and the hillsides bordering the river bottoms. Like always, my CRX went exactly where it was pointed as fast as it could. It was like driving that road in a go-kart. Days like that were almost like the car’s gift to me for taking care of it.
One day Todd and I were going golfing and were on the freeway, about one mile from the golf course, when the CRX just died. It shut off right there on the freeway at 70 mph. I coasted over to the side of the road, tried to restart the car but it wouldn’t start. After several futile attempts, I called a tow truck and had it towed home.
Later that day I went out and tried to start the car again, but still no luck. I decided to start by pulling the plugs to see if they were sparking, thinking that perhaps the distributor need replacing. As I pulled the first plug out I saw that it was covered in oil. It ended up that two of the four plugs were completely coated in engine oil when I pulled them from their sockets.
At that point I knew my CRX had died a catastrophic death. Either the oil had leaked in through the head, requiring a new head, or the oil had leaked past the piston rings, which would require a completely new rebuild. My CRX was dead. It was a very, very sad day.
My intention all along had been to eventually swap a B16 or (ideally) an LS-VTEC into my CRX. At that time, however, I did not have nearly the coin for such a swap, and couldn’t afford to go without a car. I had to let the CRX go for basically nothing.
Since then I’ve been driving my 2002 Grand Prix. It’s not been a bad car, not at all. But it doesn’t offer the fun that the CRX did. And now, with gas prices where they are, I’m thinking it might be a good time to get another CRX, which would not only help me save money in gasoline but also be a dang good time to drive again. Since I’m now driving about twice as far to get to Mozy as I had to to get to Novell, it seems like a reasonable idea.
So we’re back to the beginning again, Project CRX Part Deux. As before, the first task will be to acquire a CRX. I’m going to be a bit more picky than before. Here’s what I’m looking for:
- Second-generation (1988-1991) Honda CRX.
- Preferably an Si, and in particular I’m not all that interested in an HF.
- It should be in drivable condition and must pass inspection and emissions tests.
- Ideally it should already have the B16 or LS-VTEC swap done. If not, it pretty much has to have a ZC or D16 in it.
- I’d like the body to be in really good condition – no rust would be great.
Just about anything else I can deal with. For example, I can deal with a suboptimal interior. I can deal with little to no stereo system. I can deal with lame wheels and tires. I can deal with faded, worn, scratched, or chipped paint as long as there is little to no rust.
I’m not willing to sink a lot of money into one of these, because with the age who knows how much money I’ll end up putting into it anyway. But I’ll keep the blog updated, because if I find a deal that can work for me, perhaps I’ll be initiating Project CRX Part Deux.
(Image credit: explicitspeedperformance.net via Google)