By on March 12, 2013

1988 CRX Si

My buddy John is one of the smartest guys I know and over the many years we have been friends John has always been a step or two ahead of most people, myself included. In 1988, when I was selling spark plugs and oil for just a scratch over minimum wage, John who is just a few months older than I, was writing computer programs and maintaining the data systems for a fairly large shipping company. He has always been a responsible, hardworking man but, to be honest, he is also a bit of a computer nerd.

Computer nerds and fast cars seem like an odd combination, but one trip to through the parking lot at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, WA will convince you otherwise. Fast cars and bikes are common and that isn’t because all these people have money burning holes in their pockets. The best programmers, John explains, are all about making machines go fast. To them, cars and computers are two sides of the same coin.

Uber-Nerd Bill Gates is reputed to own a Porsche 959

John was always a Honda guy. Growing up, his dad had several Honda N600s and prior to the CRX he had owned a 1979 Prelude. About the time I purchased my Turbo Shadow, John started looking for a new car himself and with me in tow we hit all the local car dealers. Since his income was a lot better than mine, we were able drive cars I could never afford and we had a great time. But eventually we came back down to Earth and found our way to the Honda shop where John soon fell in love with the CRX Si.

The CRX was a tiny black go-kart of a car. The dash was low and the giant windshield made it feel like you were sitting right on the pavement. The seats were rock hard and put you close to the floor with your legs almost straight out in front of you. The five speed transmission was slick shifting but the hydraulic clutch felt like a limp wristed handshake compared to the more manly clutch in my Shadow. The engine made around 105 horsepower and although the car was light and fairly fast, it never felt genuinely powerful. The whole package made it seem rather like a toy and to my youthful mind, that was a problem. Today I know better.

The CRX was a pure sports car. What it might have lacked in straight-line power, it more than made up for in the curves. The little car handled like it was on rails and, because John and I sometimes swapped keys, I soon found that I could carry a great deal of speed through the corners. It was a fun, slick little car and I enjoyed every chance I got to slide behind its wheel.

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By 1992 I was in the Merchant Marines and John had taken a transfer to his company’s headquarters in New Jersey. Far away from his family and friends, John decided that the move wasn’t to his advantage and left the company. It took some time for him to find a new job after his return to Seattle and, as his finances began to suffer, he made the decision to sell the CRX. Sometimes, when it rains it does actually pour and John had a tough time selling the little car. He advertised it for several weeks and for resons unknown received scant interest. Eventually, he sold it to the son of a family friend for a fraction of its true value. Two weeks later, that young man totaled the car.

Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I know now I should have bought John’s CRX. Not only would it have helped my friend in his time of need, it would have put me into another of those legendary cars from the late 80s. Knowing that the kid crashed it tears my heart out. Live and learn.

But it makes me wonder – If you had it to do over again, what is the car that you should have bought?

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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116 Comments on “The 1988 CRX Si – The Car I Should Have Bought...”


  • avatar
    Scout_Number_4

    Dude, how many great stories do you have to tell?? This is another gem, thanks for sharing.

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      +1. I second that question! Excellent article.

      I was able to partake in that Honda magic of 80s-90s when I bought my ’00 Integra GS-R sedan in 2005. It was a great car all around and despite being a 4-door quite go-kartish. Sadly, these cars are very prone to rust in New England so they’re become rarer every day. Much like the CRX.

    • 0 avatar
      d524zoom-zoom

      Agreed

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I could have bought a triple black 1964 Sting Ray convertible with a 4 speed and an engine built by a NASCAR race shop for $8,900 in 1988. It made about 560 hp on pump gas, IIRC. My friend used to wreck it every time he got on the gas, so it was far from original. It looked completely stock though, so there was some appeal to having the fastest road car in Virginia, even if it had drum brakes. A year or so later, I almost had the opportunity to straight trade my ’88 Festiva for a ’73 911T Targa. I’ll never know how close I came, but I’d worked out the deal with the dealer that employed me, if only the mark had come back to trade his Porsche for a new Subaru Loyale wagon like we’d talked about…

    I rolled a 1987 CRX Si at a speed over 100 mph. I guess that makes me one of the bad guys in stories like this. A week earlier I’d been a passenger when someone hit a bridge with another black 1987 CRX Si. The ’80s made every other decade I’ve lived through look like a visit to the DMV.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @CJinSD – I bought two ’88 CRXs around the mid ’90s that had been rolled. Too expensive to repair so I’d floor-jack the roof back up and drive them like they were stolen.

      Their low to the ground, slot car handling made them a blast, but that just gave drivers a false sense of control when driving around 9/10th’s. Their too light back end would snap loose without warning.

      • 0 avatar
        jastereo

        Man if that isn’t true… I remember driving my 84 CRX down a neighborhood street – hit a little bit of black ice, corrected and then got off the ice and a front wheel got a touch of grip and the car did a 360 quick as can be and ended up against the curb going the same way I was headed originally. Went on about my day as if nothing happened. Most fun car I ever had, felt like you we going 90 when you were going 60 w/ the lowness to the ground…or maybe it was just me being 16. The handling, the shifter, the weight, it was just right in the CRX.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The CRX Si that I lost control of was a friend’s. He’d put a Hurst shift knob on it that didn’t have the same threads or diameter as the shaft, so he wrapped the shaft in tape. I was entering a decreasing radius uphill turn at top speed in the rain when I went to downshift from 5th to 4th and wound up with a T-handle in my hand, a car in neutral, and no time to find the stub and select a gear. With no throttle to balance the car, the back end came out and we were off on an adventure. I will say one thing. The only injury either of us received was a few scratches from crawling out through the broken windows of the upside down car. I’m not one of those people the wets themselves if their car doesn’t weigh more than a 380SEL and have more airbags than the senate.

  • avatar
    Dr.Nick

    The Saab dealer near my house was blowing out the Saab 9-2x Aero manual equivalent of the Subaru WRX in 2005 when GM was ending the model for like 19K brand new. Given that I only put on about 8k miles a year, the value of that car used has probably only recently fallen below $19,000.

    Idiotic.

  • avatar
    Instant_Karma

    A few years ago I passed on a 68 Sedan Deville, everything worked but the clock and it had 60k miles and Grandma had it garage kept all its life. It was a period avocado type green too. That 472 made it launch pretty fast for anything that massive and driven enthusiastically, it was like drifting the Titanic around residential corners. Could have had it for an even grand, too. But then again single digit MPG figures scared me off. Ended up buying a W126 later to scratch that big sedan fetish itch, but still wish I had that Caddy, even if it did just sit there in my yard and only went around the block a few times now and again.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr.Nick

      What happens to cars like the Caddy if you drop a modern LS3 or crate engine in there?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        asplode.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        There’s absolutely no reason to – the high-compression 472 will do a burnout with 2.78 gears in the back already, and easily hit triple-digit speeds. There’s no replacement for displacement!

        I drove a 1969 Cadillac Ambulance with the 472 in it for ten years – it was one of the funnest cars I ever owned.

        And then about 5 years after selling the Cadillac, I bought a 1971 VW rabbit diesel. It was also one of the funnest cars I have owned.

        Go figure . . .

        My good friend had one of these CRXs and he stuffed a JDM VTEC V6 in it – holy crap did that car screem like a banshee!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I too would be scared of the MPG, but a running, clean, ’68 Caddy is well worth $1000 of my money.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I didn’t buy a brand-new Peugeot 205MI-16 at rather less than 1/2 price back in ’93 when Peugeot pulled out of the market. Have regretted that one ever since!

    On the other hand, I DID buy a black ’13 FIAT 500 Abarth today! All hall stupid fast tiny cars. This thing is like a demented chipmunk on crack.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Do not lament that you didn’t buy the Peugeot. They were seven kinds of terrible. Hopefully, you won’t pay the price for your slow learning curve because of the Fiat. My uncle drives his on a gravel road and has to replace the windshield about ten times as often as he would had he bought a car that was engineered instead of fashioned. 0-60 in 6.9 doesn’t really seem fast in this day and age, but I’ll concede that it is the other things that you called it.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Is there anyone else on this forum that embodies the image of a wet blanket more than CJ? You must be real fun at parties. There is more to life than cars that don’t break.

        • 0 avatar
          cackalacka

          This doesn’t have an obligatory rant about Audi/VAG products or Obama; I’m thinking this may be substitute CJ.

          But seriously, krhodes, enjoy! Love love love FWD whips with impossibly short wheel bases. Last time I was in Naples, I saw 5 gens of 500’s lined up, in chronological order. Car at the front was an Abarth with a die cast Abarth in the back sill. So cute, yet so menacing.

          Watch out for snap understeer, but hoon on!

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        Tell your hillbilly uncle to move where they have paved roads and indoor toilets, CJ. Problem solved.

        • 0 avatar
          joeveto3

          Congrats on the Fiat. I managed to make it to 3 auto shows this year, and everytime I left, it was the Fiat that stuck with me as the car Id most like to own. They are just so right-sized and fun.

          And The CRX, back in the day, I had it bad. I wanted one so bad I could taste it. My buddy and I would go up to the local Honda dealer and take test drives. Looking back, I can’t believe they let us. We were only 17.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          He’s an architect in Rhode Island. In my defense, he’s an uncle by marriage. And yes, in spite of his state of residence, his profession, and his taste in cars, he is married to my aunt.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @krhodes1 – Congratulations on the purchase! A great car for New England roads. Here, with our long narrow twisty roads, small and quick rules over straight line acceleration.

    • 0 avatar
      1998redwagon

      “This thing is like a demented chipmunk on crack.”

      my word that has to be the line for the day. thanks for the laugh – even if it is true.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      “On the other hand, I DID buy a black ’13 FIAT 500 Abarth today! All hall stupid fast tiny cars. This thing is like a demented chipmunk on crack.”

      You are in for some BIG Fun, my friend!

  • avatar
    niky

    Three big regrets. One was not buying a first-generation Kia Picanto when they first came out. Introductory price was half what it is now, and people were selling them for more than they bought them three years after launch. Not a great car, but cheaper to gas up and maintain than the absolute clunker I bought instead. While I did love the 626, it was a guzzler and the combined cam-position sensor/ignition coil/distributor was a nightmare to source. On the other hand, everyone I know with Picantos is in love with the damn little thing. Dead-reliable and lots of fun.

    Another was the Jimny I reviewed here last year. Had a chance at a secondhand, but got trigger-shy. Someday.

    The last of those “maybes” is an FC RX-7. What a lovely little car. No power-steering and a clutch of iron, but what a lovely little car.

  • avatar
    niky

    Three big regrets. One was not buying a first-generation Kia Picanto when they first came out. Introductory price was half what it is now, and people were selling them for more than they bought them three years after launch. Not a great car, but cheaper to gas up and maintain than the absolute clunker I bought instead. While I did love the 626, it was a guzzler and the combined cam-position sensor/ignition coil/distributor was a nightmare to source. On the other hand, everyone I know with Picantos is in love with the damn little thing. Dead-reliable and lots of fun.

    Another was the Jimny I reviewed here last year. Had a chance at a secondhand, but got trigger-shy. Someday.

    The last of those “maybes” is an FC RX-7. What a lovely little car. No power-steering and a clutch of iron, but what a lovely little car.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    Here is my ‘blew it’ story.

    About 10 years ago I’m driving past the local wrecking yard and up front is a Toyota Corolla, an AE86 to be exact. It was the liftback model, though it wasn’t a GT-S, just your normal 4AC powered example. This one was pretty clean, no body damage and was presentable. It was this pewtery bronze-ish color, but in good shape. The 4AC though was shot though and hence the reason for it being there. The asking price was only $300 and I gave it a long hard look….. I wanted to build it into a clone of the Initial D Sprinter Trueno and I work at a Toyota dealership (still do actually)so parts and service would be a non-issue. Plus at the time I could have easily afforded this play toy.

    I walked away though. The reason was that my dad would have murdered me for bringing a “junker” with a bad engine home and having it parked in his driveway. He also really didn’t care for these kind of cars and he didn’t understand why I liked Initial D, or why I liked cars such as the Nissan Skyline GT-R, he just didn’t get it. In fact I showed him a model of a Hakusaka Skyline GT-R and he asked me what was so special about ‘that’ Datsun 510….

    This one stills tears me up… not only could I’ve had a neat little car on the cheap, my own Takumi Fujiwara Haichi Roku, it could have served me now as a cheap and practical run about, or a track slut, or I could have cashed in on the drifting craze that was still on the horizon back then and made a hell of a profit…. damn I wish I bit on it!

  • avatar
    rentonben

    Nice guy wanted to sell his El Camino – I needed something to haul junk around and it was in good enough condition to be sort of awesome. I balked at the $2000 asking price.

    Two weeks lather the owner drove drunk into a ditch and killed himself. I sort of wonder if life would have taken a better turn for him had he had a little more money and a little less El Camino. :(

  • avatar
    PCP

    It’s not so much about the vehicles I should have bought, more about those I should have kept. First of all, the Supra MkIV. Also the Isuzu Piazza Lotus Edition. And of course the P1800E. All manual of course. Not to forget the Honda VFR750F. The Volvo Penta equipped Glastron. But then I’d need a barn. Life goes on…

  • avatar
    izido

    I have a full list of cars I SHOULDN’T have bought…

  • avatar
    cammark

    small correction: “…but the hydraulic clutch felt like a limp wristed handshake…”

    The CRX and mechanically identical Civics were cable clutch equipped. the hydraulic clutches appeared the year after the CRX was killed off in 1992.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the correction.

      Just for clarification, should anyone take offense, I don’t really mean that the clutch was in any way weak, it was just totally different from anything I had experienced up to that point. I wrote what I hoped would convey my feelings at the time. Today I can say that as far as clutch pedals go, light is good and, if anything, the clutch in the CRX felt more sophisticated than the heavy, spring loaded contraption in my Shadow.

      John noticed the difference in our cars too. What I thought was powerful and primal, he thought was crude. But like I said, he has always been just a little ahead of me.

      • 0 avatar
        lzaffuto

        My first car was a 1991 CRX Si. I was a lucky kid indeed. The cable clutch was light as a feather, but made it exceptionally easy to learn to drive stick. I wish I still had one to teach my wife.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ………John noticed the difference in our cars too. What I thought was powerful and primal, he thought was crude………

        That’s ok….Crude has its place. Your Shadow offered a different kind of reward, not better, or worse, just different.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I was looking to get a car for college. Coming from a family with zero automotive interest, I really knew nothing at the time. I did like an acquaintance’s 72 Chevelle – just a 350 with an auto – and coming from a car-as-appliance household, I thought it was cool. Luck would have it that a 1970 Chevelle was for sale just down the street. Didn’t know anything about it, except it was a four-speed car. Dad was willing to buy it for me, but offered the “sound” advice that a four door car and an automatic would be a better choice for college. Knowing nothing, I said ok and the Chevelle was sold a week later…still own that car from Dad, and am grateful for what I had, but I see Chevelles every here and there and just wonder what it would have been like…

        EDIT: don’t know how this ended up here, but…

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Re: light clutch

        I perfectly understand. Reviews in buff mags of that era also described Honda clutches as too light, or much lighter than their American and European counterparts. Now we know that’s a good thing!

        Thomas K. — I really enjoyed reading this. I wish I had 20/20 future sight.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Good someone caught the cable clutch was only available on the USDM models. You can change out the spring with something that gave more resistance but it isn’t needed as the CRX and the Hatchbacks of the EF generation were near perfection. I just sold my ’89 hatch several months ago to a friend and sorely miss it. I will get frequent chances to drive it from time to time.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I’m sad I sold my ’85 Civic S1500 Hatchback, everything about the car was nearly perfect. The only thing it lacked was torque.

        I later owned an ’89 Prelude Si which was awesome too, but had the same downside. It had the hydraulic clutch, I learned that when the master cylinder started leaking one day I had to double clutch each shift in order to build enough pressure in the system to make the shift. I often shifted my Civic by pure rev matching, you could just glide it into gear with the right timing, no clutch required. My current 350Z has a super heavy clutch in comparison, combined with Nissan’s aggressive throttle tip-in makes from some embarrassing take offs where people must think I want to race. My wife’s Volvo C30 has the lightest clutch ever… its more like a switch you flick with your toe.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    I had a chance to buy my grandfather’s pristine 1972 Volvo 1800ES. I loved that car, and to my teenage eyes it looked, in its yellow paint, like a Ferrari wagon would have looked had it been built in the sixties. Years later I had a chance to buy his ’61 Morgan Plus 4. In both instances I made the rationale choice and passed on the cars due to worries about being able to maintain them correctly. However, ever since my grandfather passed away, I regret not having one of those cars as an heirloom and historical connection to him.

    • 0 avatar

      One of these days I’ll tell the stories, but I inherited both my father’s pick-up truck and later his Oldsmobile. In both cases it didn’t work out the way I imagined. Unless you really have the time, money and space to maintain them, cars make lousy touchstones.

      • 0 avatar
        talkstoanimals

        Odd as it seems to say about someone else’s negative experience, that is comforting to hear.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        That I understand. I still have my late mother’s 92 Sable. Twenty one years old. I used it for years as my second car, allowing the fun ride to be protected from the rigors of life. I really don’t need it anymore as I don’t take the train with regularity so no need for a station car. I still use it for Hone Depot runs and errands, but we have another car for that, so now I am keeping it on memories. It runs fine, no crash damage and every single item works as designed. Just a touch of rust by the filler neck. I thought about a niece or nephew, but none will be interested in anything that is not near new. Just as well. I’d hate to see it totaled by stupidity. But now that we just inherited my MIL’s car, I guess its my wife’s turn for four wheeled memories…

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Yes but none of those cars were a sexy 1800S or Morgan. My grandfather gave me his old Cadillac but it was junk by then, not one of the good ones, a 91 DeVille. The engine blew, we donated it. If it was a 1800S I’d have kept it.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Whilst shopping for a first car in 1982 I turned down a white-on-white 1967 Camaro convertible as “to girly.” Settled on a chamois colored ’73 with lemon yellow interior. Still a fun first car and I remain a bit color blind to this day..

  • avatar
    threeer

    My sister’s first brand new car was a 1989 Honda CRX Si…she came all the way from Washington, DC to buy it from a local guy I knew in Clarksville, TN. As the car she wanted was actually in Nashville, I was allowed to go down and pick it up. I was 19 at the time, and had the car to myself for that glorious ride back up to Clarksville. And later, she would ofter let me “borrow” the car during the spring when she’d use my old Mazda truck during softball season. So there I’d be…a young buck in college, driving around in a brand new Si. Yes, it was never going to be the fastest car out there..but damn…it didn’t matter! With the sunroof back and me heading down to Cheatam County dam on some of the slickest curves this side of the Tail of the Dragon, all was right with the world! I’ve never driven a car since that had the same tactile feel as that little buggy. No power accesories (save for the roof), the snick-snickiest (yes, it’s a word…go look it up!) gearbox ever…pure driving nirvana.

    Four years later, she thought she had to “grow up” and bought a Prelude…fully loaded. Compared to the little Si, it was a severe disappointment. When she sold the CRX, I toyed with buying it from her, and to this day we both wish I had. I find myself looking periodically online for a clean 88-91 Si, but they are few and far betweem and usually modded to the hilt. I’m sure that car is why I still prefer small, lightweight and relatively simple cars.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      As a former owner of a ’91 CRX Si and a current owner of a ’01 S2000, I can tell you that a nice, unmodded S2000 will more than scratch that itch left by the CRX. And clean S2000s are a lot easier to find than clean CRXs anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      racer193

      There is one on BAT that is very nice and very original(save for the hood). It is also up around the original 1991 price, the bid last time I checked was right at $11500. But if you are looking you could do alot worse.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    Someone down the street from me was selling a 1984 Saab 900 turbo manual that ran and drove for $300. This was in 2005,and I should have bought it. Also in 2005, in the same area, a guy was selling an ’88 528e in very nice but not perfect shape for $1900. Should’ve bought that one, too.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    In 1997, I stopped and looked at an ’89 identical to the pictured one. It may have had some thin red pinstripes. Perfect appearance-no mods, no rust. Around 80K, and either $2500 or 3500. That was at least 15 years ago and I already knew better then than to not try to buy it. I drove by it a few more times over a week or so without slowing down. Never forgot it. Like seeing your soulmate at the bar on the way to john without stopping to even say hello. Her face will always be there. I don’t even drink anymore. Opportunities should be answered when they tap.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Cars I could have, would have, should have?
    Attainable cars that I fell deeply in love with and never owned . . .
    I have always had a soft spot for the CRX.
    The second generation Toyota MR2 turbo.
    1968 Camaro Z-28.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I wish I had a chance to buy that generation Civic Si hatchback. Didn’t have the cash then in the early 90s. When I got the cash, bought the 2000 Civic hatchback new, same 106 hp, but obviously a very different car. Still served me very well.

    The black factory Saab 900 turbo with 5k miles for $23K was a good deal that I once did not make, probably the only regret.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    For me its not so much the cars I should have bought as much as it is the cars I should have kept.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Me too…tempered with the realization that if I had kept “them all” I never would have been able to buy “them all”. I’ve had a 1957 stick-shift Fury, a 1962 Lincoln convertible, a 1964 230SL, a 1969 factory 4-speed Valiant Signet coupe, a 1967 383 4-speed Barracuda, a 1955 Packard 400, a 1957 New Yorker 4-door hardtop, a 1958 Imperial 4-door hardtop etc, etc….

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Most people, that is most men, are number/spec whores (hey it’s in our genes!). There were bigger cars with bigger motors for the same or less money. So it really took a bit of vision in ’88 to buy one of these.

    Did those who bought a Thunderbird or Monte Carlo or whatever else was at the time get a decent enthusiast car? Sure. But they missed out, in a sense, on the ‘go-kart’, small and nimble experience and 25 years later a Monte Carlo is much less memorable.

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    Sometimes I wish I had bought an E46 330Ci instead of my ’03 Accord V6 6MT. I still think about doing it.

    Then again, I have 225k miles on the Accord with zero major issues and plenty of 2000+ mile trips without ever being stranded. So maybe I should appreciate what I have.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Back in 2003 I needed a new cheap ride. I was gonna go with the crx or 3rd gen prelude. You could still find them stock back then. When I discovered the crx was a 2 seater I went with the lude. 88 si 4ws 5 speed. To this day I’ve yet to drive a car as fun as my Prelude. Unfortunately it was an electrical lemon. I miss it dearly.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    My wife and I recently decided that I needed a 4 seat sports car so her and my sons could ride along too, since that wasnt possible in a Miata. After thinking for a while I decided I wanted a big V8, so I was looking at Challengers and Mustangs. Finally I eliminated the Challenger and decided to go stang.

    On a whim I went and looked at a new School Bus Yellow Boss 302 at a dealer not too far a way even though it was more than I wanted to spend. Abslutely fell in love and made a reasonable offer on the car to which they balked. Dejected, the next day I went and ordered a GT w/ track pack and recaros (my second choice) from a different dealer figuring there was no chance I’d get the Boss.

    Well, the day after that the first dealer called and said they would take my offer on the Boss. I sat on it (freaked out) for another day or two and just thought to myself, damn I dont want to be regretting this for the rest of my life. I know the GT is great, but damn the Boss is just special. Cancelled my order for the GT and picked up the Boss that saturday. Its now sitting in my garage waiting for some nicer weather. It was a good decision :)

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    In 1973 I moved to Houston from Washington, DC, bringing my lightly modded VW Karmann Ghia with me. Much as I loved the Ghia, living in Houston without a/c was just too much; and saddling that engine with an a/c compressor would have been borderline insane. With cash in the bank, I went new car shopping. With the money I had, I coulda bought a BMW 1600 (same body as the 2002; smaller engine). (The 2002 was out of my price range.) However, I bought a Mazda RX-2 instead. That would have been o.k.; the Mazda was fast and, over the five years that I owned it, stone reliable. However, it was a thirsty sucker (20 mpg on the highway at best) and about six months after I bought it, the “Arab oil embargo” hit and the price of gas doubled overnight. So, the better fuel economy of the BMW would have been appreciated; and I would not have felt compelled to unload it for peanuts when it needed a major repair (as I did the Mazda, which was experience seal failure).

  • avatar
    wagic

    I bought a new civic in 2001. The salesman tried to get me into a 2001 CR-V instead. He went on and on espousing all its virtues, but I wasn’t going to let him win. I was sure he was just looking for a larger commission. Well, maybe he was, but he was also right.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Old faded Plymouth with some minor dents. Some surface rust, but no cancer rot through. Guzzled gas and constantly vapor locked on the three hot summer days I was allowed to test drive it. No air conditioning. Battery constantly went dead from the hard starting, leaving me stranded twice. Absolutely worthless brakes and suspension, like driving a particularly unwieldy oxcart. Needed a paint job, new tires, new brakes and someone who knew how to tune the behemoth, and do it constantly.

    I had the guy talked down to $2,500 in 1988.

    A numbers matching 1970 Hemi Cuda.

    • 0 avatar
      1998redwagon

      oh that hurts.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Yes, when I was in college in 1986, the son of the major local GM dealer was selling not one but TWO 1969 GTO Judges in decent original condition – one was $2500 and one was $3000 IIRC.

        I had no money and no place to store them.

        It was amazing how cheap those muscle cars were going for back in the 1980s. I still remember people daily-driving Shelby Mustangs back then too!

        • 0 avatar
          Larry P2

          I know a guy near here, who has allowed me to photograph his collection of LS6 454 Chevelles (20 completely restored, 30 more in various stages of restoration) and 427 Corvettes (about 10 completely restored, another 20 waiting on various stages of restoration, and probably another 20 or so 396 and 327 cars). He owned a gas station franchise in southern california during the 1974 oil crisis, and picked up many of those cars for less than a song…….several of the LS6s he picked up for $300 or less, and almost all of the Vettes he got for less than $1,000.

          Just in case you might want to feel bad about your misspent youth.

      • 0 avatar
        Larry P2

        Yeah, but think about this…..gas was about a buck a gallon then, that Cuda would hold around 20 gallons and only make it about 50 miles if driven in town, or about 100 miles out on the highway. If you babied it. REALLY babied it.

  • avatar
    Skink

    BMW 2002. I shopped them, but bought a 75 Buick Skyhawk instead. The Skyhawk was OK, and was useful in moving. While driving the Buick, I’d keep noticing 2002s. If a car could be jealous, the Skyhawk had just cause.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    1966 pontiac bonneville CONVERTIBLE. 389 4 barrel 3 speed auto column shift. my dad talked me out of it b/c i was 15.5 at the time and it would have sat for 6 months before i could have driven it.

    always regretted that. what’s worse years later i mentioned it to my dad and he agreed that he should have let me buy it. facepalm.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      In ’72, I had a chance to buy a dark blue w/black interior ’66 Chevy Nova SS… 327 and a 4 speed… beautiful car at $1175… and I still deserve an ass kicking for not pulling the trigger on that one.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport 5 speed that my coworker bought brand new and owned for 10 years. He never missed a service on it, and that thing looked brand new. Living in Colorado, it would have been nice to have, but I was living in downtown Denver and had no place to keep it.

  • avatar
    jco

    how about a car I regret selling?

    my ’98 Civic got crunched up, and since I was still living at home I had extra cash. I bought an ’89 Civic Si, which really was a CRX with a larger hatch area and a surprisingly accommodating back seat. i bought it for less than $2,000 and it ran perfect.

    try finding an unrusted, clean, low-ish mileage EF now. that car would have been an investment. at this point it’d be worth closer to $4,000.

    • 0 avatar
      jastereo

      Absolutely – those Si Civic hatches were rare as can be. Total sleeper and like you said, pretty much the same thing as the CRX (minus the good looks and + the utility.)

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    I bought a new dark blue CRX DX in the fall of 1986. The day after I closed the deal on the CRX, GM announced big rebates on the Camaro. At the time, I thought maybe I’d made a stupid mistake buying the Honda for about 2k OVER its suggested retail price. LOL! OH Boy! The Camaro would have been a disaster – NOT NOT NOT the car I shudda bought. That CRX served me well for the next 23 years! Cost per mile = not much.

    • 0 avatar
      CAMeyer

      I bought the same car at about the same time, but got sort of a deal on it (low interest loan by the standards of the time). It was an ’86, not an ’87, which presumably accounts for the difference. It was a dream come true, cool beyond belief, although it would scream in complaint if you turned on the dealer-installed a/c while the car was in motion. We even had Blaupunkt stereo in a benzi box (city dwellers will know what this is).

      It was too beautiful to live in Brooklyn. After about a month, we were hit by hit-and-run driver in a ’64 Malibu, followed over the next 5 years by a skidding Honda Accord, a city bus, and a taxicab. Finally, it was stolen. It was time to grow up and buy a Camry.

      BTW, I agree about the Camaro. A couple of my friends had Camarobirds from that era, and they (the cars) were abominable. Last American cars they ever bought.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    It was 1974, 2 years out of high school and needing transportation. I was heavily into Corvairs and had a freshly rebuilt powertrain but no body to put it in.

    A friend of my father’s was moving from the Bay Area to Colorado and was selling off all his cars, so I went over to look at a ’65 Monza coupe shell I could use to build a complete car. It had a great interior and OK paint.

    Ahead of the T-bucket roadster in his driveway was a ’63 Studebaker Avanti. Cream exterior, cream leather, supercharged 289.

    Asking price was $1800.00

    It might have well have been 18 grand, parents had recently divorced, money was tight and there was no way I could persuade either to bankroll that purchaase.

    I got the Monza shell for 35 bucks and it became my DD for the next 3 years.

    But I always kick myself for not having the funds for that Avanti..

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    1969 Mach 1 was the one that got away when I was in High School in the 90’s for around $7k, a friend of mine was selling it. The car would probably be worth $30k today.

    The reason I passed is my friend was upfront that it didn’t make a good daily driver and that it was nickel and diming him to death. I was getting out of a lemon already. At that point, I just wanted an “appliance” that didn’t leave me stranded.

    I also owned a ’65 Mustang as a daily driver, and I’m convinced classic cars are best as 2nd cars despite the emotions. So it was probably the smart choice as far as transportation goes.

    • 0 avatar
      Larry P2

      A high school buddy had a Mach 1 after graduation, and we used to beat it to death driving it on back country backwoods gravel roads, and “four-wheeling” it like crazy off-road. Never really ever abused the motor though.

  • avatar

    At 6’4″ in height, the cars I regret not buying are all the cars I’ve sat in, but couldn’t fit: Miata, Elise, CRX included. There’s tons of perks to being tall, but fun sports car ownership isn’t one of them.

  • avatar
    waltercat

    In 1973, I was shopping for a practical used car and ran across a ’61 Mercedes 190SL advertised in a Long Island newspaper. I looked it over – it had a book of receipts for a recent engine rebuild, and a new exhaust system waiting to be installed. Aside from its front fenders needing some rust repair, the rest of the car was near-mint – black with red leather, two tops, original Blaupunkt radio. I walked away when the owner said he couldn’t take less than $900.

    OK, my stupidity hadn’t improved any when, two years later, I walked away from a ’67 Austin Healey 3000 Mk. III in silver-blue with black top and interior for $1650.

  • avatar
    Tom_M

    I regret not buying a bus pass back in 1992. I bought an 88 Corsica instead.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    In 1983, I had the option of buying an honest to goodness all original numbers-matching 1969 Road Runner Superbird. The owner had two Superbirds: a yellow 440 car that he was willing to sell for $10,000, and an orange Hemi car that he would not sell. The yellow car had a clean, rust-free body and everything worked, right down to the adjustable rear spoiler. However, $10K was a lot of money in 1983 so of course that car got passed over. What a mistake!

    On the bright side: my brother bought a ’70 Dodge Demon 340 GSS (Mr. Norm’s Gran Spaulding 6-Pack) then and that car is still in his garage today.

    • 0 avatar
      Larry P2

      Here’s the sad Wikipedia entry for the Superbirds:

      “The Superbird’s styling proved to be a little extreme for 1970 tastes (many customers preferred the regular Road Runner), and as a consequence, many of the 1,920 examples built sat unsold on the back lots of dealerships as late as 1972. Some were converted into 1970 Road Runners to move them off the sales lot.”

      And some had already developed some surface rust sitting in the dealer lot.

  • avatar
    stevejac

    The car I should have bought?

    It was 1974 and my wife and I needed a 2nd inexpensive car to ‘compliment’ our ’73 Plymouth Duster. I remember checking out Datusuns and hondas. At the honda dealer they had nothing on the lot and while we were there a truck pulled up with a load of cars. Customers swarmed around pointing out cars they wanted and were told those were spoken for already. The wait time was 3-4 months back then.

    I made the mistake of reading Consumer Reports and following their advice for the best small car as of then: a FIAT 128.

    The car I should have bought? Literally anything else! I canceled my subscription to Consumer Reports.

    On second thought, the Datsun dealer also sold Lamborghinis. I looked at one and the salesman asked if I was interested. The price was $30,000. I told him he’d have a deal if he’d move the decimal place one digit to the left. He declined. Think of it, a Lambo for $30k!

  • avatar
    Styles79

    For me it was an R33 Skyline GTS-25t. I was looking for a car in the early 2000s, and my shortlist was a Pulsar GTi-R, an MR-2 GT and the R33 GTS-25t…… somehow I ended up buying a 1991 KA-8 Honda Legend coupe…… in all honesty, the Legend was a very nice car, but I can’t believe I ended up so far from the brief, as it were!

  • avatar
    DGA

    One of my top 3 cars of all time. I had a 91 SI and I miss it greatly; sold it about a decade ago. Like you said it handled like it was on rails. Suspension wise I just braced the strut towers and sub-frame to chassis points, not wanting to lower it, which made it handle even better. It was truly an amazing car.

    Oh…it’s a cable clutch too.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    Yeah, we need two companion threads.
    1 – Cars we should have kept
    2 – Cars we should have walked away from because we should’ve known better

    But as far as stuff I was so close to I could taste a better, grander life, mine was owned by a Mopar collector/restorer in the mid-eighties. He had some property in the country at the foot of a hill, full of derelict 66-67 Chargers and the other oddball Mopar, like the first 300 I’d ever seen (some version with dual-carbs). They were mostly trashed, but he was restoring them and selling them one-by-one. Hope he made a mint when the prices later went nuts.

    My Dad took me there at 16 when car shopping, and I will always yearn for the basic, dark-green, column shift 1968 (or 69, or 70 maybe – old age sucks) Dodge Charger. Bench seat (also green like the dash and carpet, but not the black vinyl roof), 383 2-barrel motor. Hidden headlights I think? Did I mention it was green? Sat in it and felt so freaking evil-awesome…for just long enough to realize the $5000 ask was about $2000 over what we had, and that my father was bordering on being abusive by letting me experience that thing and then telling me there was no earthly way. Where it wound up I’ll never know. Bought a 1980 Firebird. Nice, but no Charger.

    But, to be fair Karma-wise, someone else got it worse. There was also a white over red interior louvre-faced ’78 Magnum sitting there, T-tops and all, in total leisure-suit-disco-glory-awfulness. I remember lots of tape stripes. A girl at my school bought it instead of the poor Charger as well.

  • avatar
    lost1

    Back in 1974 had the chance to buy for $4500 a friends red 64 Corvette split widow coupe with 327 and 4 speed manual, it was in mint condition and had low miles. I owned a 73 Z28 at the time but looking back I wish I had gotten that Corvette.
    I know this may sound crazy but the car I miss most was a 1977 Toyota Celica GT hatchback. I bought it new after living thru 2 gas shortages while driving the Z28 with its single digit MPG. I sold the Z and bought the Celica 5 speed manual without even a test drive. I can still remember getting in the car for the first time and almost putting my foot thru the floor while pressing down the clutch. I was use to the heavy duty clutch in the Z28 which was mechanical and not the hydraulic clutch in the Celica. That Celica served me well for 11 years and I sold it when I moved the family out of state it still ran great but was eaten up by rust and the interior was self destructing. It would be nice to have again a small rear wheel drive hatchback with a stick that doesn’t cost a mint to buy.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    Here’s your chance to get the Honda CRX
    http://bringatrailer.com/2013/03/11/39k-mile-1991-honda-crx-si/

  • avatar
    kjb911

    before buying my jeep which turned into a cash cow I had the chance to buy a SAAB 9-3 Aero convertible in a jade green with the orange leather. THe car has 20,000 miles on it and the salesman slipped saying no one was interested since it was a stick. 16,000 including taxes, reg and zero down (2008) I kinda hesitated and as fate turned gt the grand cherokee instead i still beat myself up for not getting the car it probably would have been more fun than rebuilding the HVAC system and dishing out 100.00 a week for fuel in the Jeep

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Car shopping back in the mid seventies as a 21 year old dumbass a friend’s father – who had just bought a new Vega! – offered to sell me his immaculate 1964 Corvair Monza coupe , white with red interior and 4-speed , for $300 . Even as a young geek I wanted a small station wagon , and decided to keep looking for either a VW Squareback or a Datsun 510 wagon and wound up buying a 4 year old Squareback – still regret passing on the Monza .

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    CRX was a cool car – unfortunately I could not fit in it. And nowadays the US government and their crash regulations make it impossible to build one.

    I personally can’t fathom how a Motorcycle can be legal and a CRX illegal. A CRX is not safe but its like 100x safer then a motorbike..

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    I remember taking a pass on an ’86 BMW 325es, manual, white on black with motorsport accents. Instead I ended up with an Audi quattro that blew up a year later. Sure, the eta motor wasn’t the pinnacle of performance, but it was still better than the Audi. Pretty sure those E30s are still going for what I could have gotten it for 17 years ago and it’d probably still be running. Should have spent the extra grand for the Bimmer. I still regret it…

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I always hated the CRX but it was a jealousy thing. My GF in high school ex had one and it looked so cool. He would come back from college with it and visit her. Two years later, dating another girl and her ex had one too. But come to think about it, my car was better because mine had a back seat.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I had lots of friends with these, a couple ex-gfs had them too, my best friend in high school had a CRX Si, I drove it a lot, we got so many girls with that car. And the front passenger seat is surprisingly roomy, just ask your girlfriends. :)

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        Thank you for the laugh.

      • 0 avatar
        jd418197

        A friend of mine had one of these in college, and I’ll never forget riding in the hatch so our two lady friends could ride up front. they fit side-by-side in the front seat. combined they were probably 210lbs, but still – the front passenger seat WAS pretty roomy for the overall size of the car. thanks for bringing back memories of those days . . .

        closest thing i ever owed was a ’95 ac integra GS-R; the power steering made it a little less fun than the CRXSi, but it was still pretty much a go-kart.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I had the chance to grab a $400 Ford Maverick once, it was a pre-big bumper sedan in good shape save for a crunch to the side, it still drove just fine and the rust wasn’t that bad.

    Instead I grabbed a $900 Plymouth Horizon, yea it had AC and better interior space but it was a battered piece of junk, the Maverick would’ve left me with some dough to repair it.

    Then again, when I had my first car (a ’75 Beetle) I was offered a nice Volvo 800-series wagon, I passed it up for a Mustang since my younger self saw Volvos as boring.

    Now look at what I’m driving, a Volvo 240 sedan, and I enjoy every minute behind the wheel…when I’m not in bad traffic.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    I think you’re right on about computer nerds. The stereotype of a fat, socially awkward nerd are not always true. Their “nerdness” usually extends to all technological things, not just computers. Most advanced DVRs, motors, etc. They got it. I went to UC Berkeley a decade ago, one of best schools for computer stuff. Whenever I passed by the Soda Hall, Berkeley’s ground zero of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, I always saw wicked fast motor bikes parked on the street: BMW, Ducati, etc. These were not rich professor’s bikes. These were so called “starving” students’ bikes. I have never seen the same next to say the law school or business school buildings. Three of my friends were EECS students. Straight out of school they bought a 330i, G35, and a Miata.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’m basically a professional computer geek, it keeps my garage full of fun toys. Especially for the college-age geek, the opportunities for good paying employment during school are a LOT better for a computer science major than for a law student or chem major or whatever. There are always websites and programs to be written on the side, and for the truly talented the school work is not all-consuming.

      Sadly, I did not actually get into computers until I was in law school – I have accounting and law degrees, but ended up in IT consulting – go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      >>The stereotype of a fat, socially awkward nerd are not always true.

      I’ve known exceptions as well and they tended to be fit and pursued solo sports like running, cycling, kayaking rather than team / social sports like football, baseball, and soccer. It was about achieving a personal best — optimizing and becoming more efficient.

      Nerds are also too smart to be inspired by a team coach who asks for 110% — a mathematical impossibility.

      So yes, fast bikes and cars, as well as fast computers fit in their lives. Fast women? Hmmm… perhaps… :)

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “I’ve known exceptions as well and they tended to be fit and pursued solo sports”

        Exception: Ultimate Frisbee. Also, a lot of nerds are skinny because they never eat anything or have bizarre eating habits.

        “I have never seen the same next to say the law school or business school buildings.”

        It’s probably more likely at UCLA, USC, or UCSD — easier to cut through SoCal traffic and the weather is very compliant.

        That said, probably fewer bike riders than CS/engineering. A lot of the law/business school types who had Ducati-type bikes were often washed up 40-year olds who were on their 4th “career.”

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Despite the well warranted but zealous anti VW position here on TTAC, one car I should have bought was a new 2004 VW Golf TDI with a 5 spd. The monthly payment was more than I wanted to spend though and I passed. Who knows what would have happened, but I could still be enjoying 30 mpg+ city and a paid off car. Yeah, probably not, but it’s one I wished I would have bought. I did wind up with a largely problem free used 2004 Jetta 1.8T wagon for a few years from 2007-2009 until I was offered use of a free Pontiac G6 for two years. I spite of the free-ness of the Pontiac, I missed my VW.

  • avatar
    amca

    I’m here to report that back in the day, and despite the diminutive dimensions of the car, it was possible to have a rockin’ good time with the right guy in a CRX parked in a quiet section of a less travelled street late at night . . . .

  • avatar
    dm2012

    Yes… I recall getting it on with the judge’s daughter in the rear hatch area of my ’88 CRX Si. And I’m 5′-11″.

  • avatar

    1995. My first car, a Fiat Uno 89, etanol, was pretty used up. Lots of hard, juvenile driving, a big crash (that somehow the insurance company didn’t write off), some smoke coming out of the exhaust. Time to change. On offer at the time was a Fiat Tipo. Imported from Italy, it undercut Brazilian cars so much, and it had everything, AC, power Windows, steering, 4 doors. the ride was so sweet. Problem was it had been catching fire. When I started looking News started coming out. I then went and bought another Uno, completely basic. After I made the purchase, a solution was found. Very cheap and fast. Seems like that due to high temperatures in Brazil and etanol in the gasoline, the hoses in the engine would melt.

    A couple of years later, ready to change the 2nd Uno. Na uncle offered the car, another Tipo, for a very good price. I jumped on it, he accepted. A day later he got greedy and raised the price. I was so angry! I said no thank you and bought a more expensive Fiat Siena. Basic too, but just to show my uncle. Though I did put na AC in it and the car did fine with me, those are the 2 cars that got away. Both Fiat Tipos. How I regret not having bought them

  • avatar
    qa

    Would have loved to own a FORD ESCORT RS2000 with the Cosworth BDA powerplant back in the very early 80’s. but they were pricey and in limited supply. Several years later I found employment with a global company that relocated me back to the US and importing that car here would have made it a rare breed. I hear rally shops in UK and Australia still rebuild those into full race machines. Now I still can’t afford it…..so I settled for a vintage E30. Cheers.

  • avatar
    msquare

    1986 Buick Regal T-Type. Basically a Grand National in a color other than black, in this case maroon. $5500 in the summer of 1992. Mileage was reasonable, somewhere in the 50K range.

    I test drove it and it was as advertised, a beast. Two things put me off. First, the wastegate made this rattling noise on overrun, which I wasn’t used to and sounded like the thing was coming apart. Second, it seemed like too much engine for the car.

    I went with a black-on-black 1986 Toyota MR2 with only 16,000 miles on it. Basically showroom new despite being 6 years old. $5250 after negotiating with the owner, a doctor who had just bought a new Subaru SVX of all things. Given that I had an ’82 Trans Am prior, it was a revelation in vehicle dynamics. A milestone car for me, really.

    No regrets, especially since I might not be here now if I went with the turbo Regal. Around that time someone crashed a Grand National into a limousine carrying a wedding party. Horrible.


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