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Posts Tagged ‘CRX’

MPG Disappointment

September 24th, 2010 View Comments

Several years ago I owned a 1988 Honda CRX Si.  I had big plans for this car — paint, wheels, tires, performance modifications, suspension modifications, etc. — most of which did not pan out.  But I loved that car, nonetheless.

I bought it in 1999 for $1500.  I didn’t buy it because it was fuel efficient; I bought it because it’s like driving a go-kart every day.  Regardless, fuel efficiency was a welcome bonus with the CRX.  I added an aftermarket AEM intake and a Greddy EVO-2 cat-back exhaust which had a notable positive effect on performance (and it made it sound a lot better, too).

I drove it from Provo to Logan one time in 2003 and tested my fuel mileage on that trip.  Driving on the freeway, at between 70 and 80 mph most of the way, with performance modifications on a 15-year-old CRX with over 200,000 miles, I got just over 44 miles per gallon.

Yes, that’s right:  44 miles per gallon.

According to fueleconomy.gov, there are only two cars sold today that have better fuel economy than my CRX did.  Both of those cars are ugly, boring hybrids, whereas my CRX was a bundle of fuel efficient joy.  In fairness, the list is not entirely complete; for one, the all-electric Tesla Roadster is available for purchase and effectively gets infinite mpg since it is a pure electric.  Still, I think it is safe to say that the lack of fuel efficiency in cars is surprisingly disappointing.

I remember growing up in the late 70s and early 80s when we were introduced to such appalling vehicles as the Hyundai Excel and the Yugo 45, all in a quest to achieve better and better fuel economy.  I remember some cars advertising average highway mpg rates in the high 40s and even the low 50s.  I distinctly remember thinking that surely, by the time I was an adult, cars would be easily getting 80 to 100 mpg and that this would be so commonplace that it wasn’t really remarkable.  Funny how things have NOT gone that way.  Take a look at that list on fueleconomy.gov again.  Notice how many of those cars considered to be among the most efficient are only getting average highway mpg in the 30s.  Why do we think this is remarkable?  My 350Z is a 300 HP sports car, not an economy car, and I drive it as such; yet even in that car I’m averaging nearly 26 mpg!

It seems like we should be able to expect more than what we’re getting.

Categories: Cars Tags: ,

A Year With the Z

August 26th, 2010 View Comments

This month marks one year since I bought my 2003 Nissan 350Z (heretofore “the Z”).  I’ve learned some interesting things about it, about cars, and about myself this past year.

First off, I bought the Z because I like hot cars.  I like horsepower, speed, handling, and great looks.  I didn’t buy the Z to impress anyone or to try to be cool.

I know that sounds like an excuse, but after a number of comments from friends hither and yon, I really did think inwardly about why I bought that car.  I can honestly say that I did it for myself, not to impress people or try to be someone I’m not.  I’m relieved to find that out.

That being said, one of the first things I learned about the Z was this:  You get noticed.  People look as you drive by them on the freeway or as they drive by you.  They will comment, “Nice car, man,” or some such, when you park near them in the parking lot, or you’ll catch them walking around your car looking when you come out of the convenience store.

Not most people, but some people.  This never happened with my Grand Prix.

Another thing I noticed:  It’s kind of a chick car.  I had it parked there at the Roosevelt Car Show next to my brother’s Mustang GT and I spent a fair part of the day sitting there while people walked by.  When people were walking up, girls would walk to the Z and guys would walk to the Mustang.  Guys would look at them both and comment to each other on how they liked the Mustang better; girls would comment to each other on how they liked the Z better.  In the latter case, some variant of the word “cute” was overheard a number of times.  This was pretty much a universal thing.

So if a Mustang is more of a guy’s car, maybe I should’ve bought a Mustang instead.  Except my wife really likes going out on dates in the Z.

A good thing I learned:  If you buy a sports car, you need some time to get used to it.  Learning where the clutch engage point is, how long it takes for the engine and transmission to warm up, how strong the brakes are, etc. took a while.  The friction limits for turning are particularly important.  I’ve almost gotten myself into trouble trying to turn with too high a g-load.  After a year of driving and about 15000 miles, I’m still learning, so if you buy a sports car, be prepared to settle in and get to know her slowly.

300 horsepower can get you into trouble in a hurry.  This is a long-term relationship, not a fling, so get to be friends first.

Now that I’ve had the Z for a year, I can tell you about some of the bad points:

  • The blind spot.  Holy cow, do the 350Zs have a blind spot.  That spot off the left rear corner is completely out of my vision.  This is especially true a) if the sun is shining into the driver side window, or b) if it is dark.  Now you know — 350Zs have a serious blind spot.  If a Z is merging onto the freeway and he cuts you off, just know that he probably can’t see you there and it was most likely unintentional.
  • Alignment.  You have to be very careful with a Z’s alignment so you avoid tire problems.  This means I end up having the tires rotated a lot – every 3000-5000 miles.  It’s annoying.
  • Expensive repairs.  Since I bought it about a year ago, I’ve spent over $4000 in repairs.  Here’s what I paid for:
    • $1100 – New tires.
    • $2600 – New fan, water pump, and thermostat.  (Yes, really.)
    • $100 – New battery.
    • $300 – New serpentine belt and tensioner.

Of course, those are minor in comparison to the good points, some of which are:

  • Handling.  The Z is like the ideal child:  Whatever I tell it to do, it does.  Immediately.  Turn here?  Okay.  Stop here?  No problem.  Jump into that small opening in traffic?  Yes Daddy.
  • Power.  The Z has a weight-to-horsepower ratio of just over 11 (lower numbers are better).  Compare that to 19 for my wife’s Durango and my old Grand Prix, or 18 for my CRX.  Or compare it to 11 for a Mustang GT, 7.5 for a Corvette, or 9.2 for a Porsche Cayman S.  The Z can push you back in the seat and as you climb through the gears it just keeps grabbing at the pavement and lunging you forward.  I have no idea how fast it will go.
  • Sound.  The Z comes with an excellent sound system:  The Nissan VQ35DE, an awesome 3.5L multi-port-fuel-injected V6 with variable valve timing.  If you romp on it hard enough to cross the variable timing threshold you will be rewarded with an awesome sonic wonder as the engine climbs toward the 6600 RPM redline.  And if you don’t like that sound system, or are in a place where you can’t really experience it, the Kenwood/MTX/Rockford Fosgate setup in my Z is a pretty decent substitute.
  • Look and Feel.  It looks awesome from nearly every angle.  It feels awesome when you are sitting inside it.  The ergonomics would make Steve Jobs proud.  And when you strap into those bucket seats and close those high-sided doors, it feels like your car is giving you a big old man-hug.  Sorry, but it is true. :)

So, am I glad I bought it?

Yes.  And no.  But mostly yes.  I love driving it.  Love love love driving it.  Even when I’m not speeding, which truthfully is most of the time, I really love to drive it.  I love to look at it, and then drive it some more.

I love the thought of owning it.  The reality of owning it is less great.  It’s expensive to maintain.  My other car was fully paid for, and when I sold it there wasn’t a thing wrong with it.  Now, every time I make a payment on the Z or have to get something fixed, I think about how the Grand Prix was running excellent and was fully paid for.  Maybe I should have just stuck with the Grand Prix instead.  Inside my mind, it will forever be running perfect with no flaws.

But it will never be as much fun.

Categories: Cars Tags: , ,

Saying Goodbye

June 13th, 2010 View Comments

This is a very painful and sad post, so by definition it should be hilarious.

It looks like my 1998 Kawasaki KX 250 will belong to someone else tomorrow.  I bought that bike, worn and beaten, six years ago.  I brought it into my garage, took it apart, cleaned it, painted it, put new graphics and a new seat cover on it, gave it a new rear race tire, had the forks rebuilt by Pro-Action, and gave it a new Renthal rear sprocket.

This, my friends, is how you show your motorcycle just how much you love it.

I’ve loved every minute I’ve ridden it.  I love that rush of adrenaline I feel when you kick the engine to life and you feel the motor revving beneath you.  I love the awesome power as you launch off the line and the pull you feel in your arms as you climb through the gears and that amazing 250cc two-stroke powerband.  I love that feeling of soaring high above the ground (where “high” means “a multitude of inches”).  I even forgive my bike for that time I was trying to learn to double-jump and instead I broke my collarbone.

If any girls read my blog they probably think this is so dumb.  And to that, I say this:  I had a fair number of girlfriends when I was single, but when I found one that I felt this strongly about, I married her.  And if that doesn’t show you up, well, I don’t even know what I meant by that.

Seriously, I really wish I could keep it.  Maybe someday, when my career doesn’t require every spare minute of my time and investments of large sums of money in laptops, maybe then I can have another one.

Until then, there’s a part of me that will be dead.  There’s a part of me that will ache every time I watch motocross or supercross racing live or on TV.  There’s a part of me that will feel like I sold my soul in order to try to move my career forward, and that part will let me know how disappointed it is with me for the rest of my life, especially if I fail.

It will definitely be a bittersweet memory.  Like the CRX, I’ll love it forever.  And I don’t care if you think that is stupid.

So, for posterity’s sake, here’s some pictures to remember my baby by:

Jumping my KX250

Catching tons of air at Bunker Hill Raceway in Delta, 2004-ish.

KX250

I love this picture.

Categories: Hobbies, Sports Tags: , , ,

Project CRX is Dead – Long Live Project 350Z

September 11th, 2009 View Comments

(Warning:  I’ve realized that when I wrote about that Ferrari before, I felt no guilt because it was not my Ferrari.  Now, even though a 350Z is no Ferrari, I feel guilt writing about it because it is mine.  So here’s the deal:  I’m going to write about my 350Z, because this is my blog and I want to.  I’m not boasting about it.  Okay, maybe I am.  I don’t care.  If you don’t like it, don’t read it.)

I said this already, but Project CRX is dead.  Or at least very, very dormant.

I had a CRX before.  I loved it.  Nobody else loved it but me.  The faded, chipping paint with the peeling clearcoat.  The black body with the contrasting white driver’s side door.  The rust spots that marred every body panel, discriminating against none.  The threadbare, torn seats and carpet.  The 200,000+ miles.  Yes, it was a car only it’s owner could love.

One of the best things about my 350Z is that it reminds me of my old CRX.  Or rather, what my old CRX would have been like if it had good paint, no rust, matching body panels, nice interior, and 300 horsepower.  Anyway, now that I have this 350Z, my yearning for a CRX has suddenly disappeared.

Cars are like people:  You love them more when you serve them.  This is why project cars are dangerous.  But I’m a man in touch with my inner feelings, and I’m not afraid to love my car.  So I’ve been doing some work to fix a few minor things here and there.  I’ve put an amplifier and subwoofer in to fix the pathetic lack of bass.  I bought an Escort Passport 8500 x50 and installed it discretely by hiding most of the wiring behind the dash and tapping directly into the stereo wiring for power.  I downloaded PDF copies of the stereo owner’s manual and the 350Z owner’s manual because the car came with neither.  I bought a brand new remote on the Internet to arm and disarm the security system that came with it.  I found an excellent site to help me with my project quest.

But now I have a problem.  My car came with some really sweet 19″ Carré CS-2 wheels, but two of the wheels are missing center caps.  I’ve been looking around trying to figure out where I can get some, but I’m not finding any good leads.  I finally went to a Les Schwab dealer nearby who does not sell them either, but gave me a phone number of a place that carries them.  I contacted this dealer with high hopes, but they were dashed.  Carré is out of business.  He has no extra wheel caps and cannot get them.

So now it is up to you, dear readers.  Find me my two Carré wheel caps.  If you help me, I will reward you greatly by mentioning your name on my blog, which is sure to bring you fame, fortune, and an abundance of babes.

Categories: Cars Tags: , ,

Addiction Fed

August 21st, 2009 View Comments

Well, nobody else would save me from myself by buying out from under me, so I had no choice but to buy it myself:

Me with my new 350Z Aug 19 v2

My Sweet New Ride — 2003 Nissan 350Z

I’ve wanted one of these since they first came out.  And, I always wanted (and still want) a 300ZX before these.  When I saw this one for sale on Autotrader for the price it was at, it was more than I could resist.

I drove this about 10 days ago for a few minutes, and then again last week.  I was a nervous wreck for most of last weekend and earlier this week.  Responsible Me and Fun Me were arguing back and forth in my head non-stop and it made it really hard for me to concentrate at work or be a happy daddy at home.

Finally, my friend Andy at work told me what he said was the most important lesson he had learned on finances, when he was in first grade.  The lesson in a nutshell is:  There’s no point in saving your money, so you might as well blow it.

Responsible Me and Fun Me wrote an e-mail to Amber requesting her input.  Responsible Me outlined several key reasons why I should not get the car.  I have to hand it to Fun Me.  He was pretty honest about his reasons.  He told her simply, “I want it.”  That was the best reason he could think of to get it.

I have the world’s coolest wife.  She said, “Honey, either way is fine with me.  You know whether we can afford it.  If you want it, go ahead and get it.”

Well, Fun Me eventually won.

The other day as I was leaving work for the day, I was riding down the elevator when Responsible Me started piping up again.  ”Don’t you think you might have made a mistake?” he said.  ”Don’t you think you should have used that money for something else?”

I pondered this for a bit as I walked outside.  But then I came within eyesight of my new car.  I couldn’t help but smile as I walked toward this sweet machine that now belongs to me.

Nah.  No mistake.

(Oh, by the way:  Project CRX is dead.)

Categories: Cars Tags: ,

I’m Addicted to High Performance Vehicles

August 15th, 2009 View Comments

What was the first car you ever rode in?  You know, the car that brought you home from the hospital after you were born? In my case, it was a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang that looked exactly like this one.

Did you know the xkcd guy hides secret witty comments in the alt tags of the comic strip images he posts?  Weird huh.

1970 Boss 302 Mustang = Awesome

This ruined me for life.

There wasn’t too much I could do about this while I was growing up.  I couldn’t afford my own car (or motorcycle) even after I was old enough to drive.  So mostly I would just ride my 20″ Redline around, in full aero tuck down big hills until that time I lost my balance, crashed, and broke my fall with my face.

Now as an grown-up, or at least an adult, silencing this addiction is much harder.  I’ve been to supercross races, motocross races, NASCAR races, ALMS races, World Superbike races, and AMA Superbike races before the Daytona Motorsports Group ruined it.  I watch every Formula One, World Superbike, and MotoGP race that gets televised.  This helps but doesn’t fully address the problem.

So about ten years ago, I bought myself a used 1988 Honda CRX Si with my annual bonus from IBM.  This car was not pretty at all.  But it was fun to drive, and pretty fast.  This really helped my addiction problem. Then the CRX died.  That was a sad, sad day.

I bought my 1998 Kawasaki KX-250 to feed the addiction.  And boy, it works.  My adrenaline rushes every time I throw my leg over and kick it started.  I shift into first, crack the throttle about 1/4 open, and release the clutch and that thing will climb through the gears just about as fast as I can shift.  What can compare to motorcycle acceleration? Nothing.  Well, a Ferrari, I guess, or a Corvette.  But I can’t afford a Ferrari – not yet, anyway. So yeah, my motorcycle will address this problem, except I never get to ride it.  It’s too hard to get enough free time all together to go ride.

So my addiction is not getting fed again. Which is why I test drove this.

2003 Nissan 350Z Track Model

2003 Nissan 350Z Track Model = Awesome

Boy, am I in trouble. My only hope is that someone buys it before I break down and get it myself.

P.S. I stole that picture from Innovative Motors, I hope they don’t mind too much.

Project CRX Part Deux

June 26th, 2008 View Comments

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)

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