By on June 21, 2013

LosAngelesJune6th 083

My reference point for “old cars” is an old MGB, owned by my friend Paul. Passed down from his father, Paul’s MGB has less than 70,000 original miles and every conceivable part that needed replacing had been swapped out for new during its relatively easy lifetime. When Paul offered me a chance to drive it, it took me all of two seconds to agree on waking up at 6 AM on a weekend just to do so.

Predictably, the drive was a let down for me. I loved the noise of the carburetors…and that’s about it. The unassisted steering and brakes were nothing short of spooky and their vagueness and the gearshift felt like it was lifted from a Gran Turismo force feedback wheel. I drove it for about 10 minutes before I decided I’d had enough and politely thanked Paul. I won’t lie – part of me was scared that if I pushed the car even slightly, his heirloom would spontaneously destroy itself, as old cars are wont to do.

The MGB was never a hero car of mine, but I began to lie awake at night wondering what other old cars I lusted after were really crap to drive. The Alfa Romeo GTV? The Lotus Cortina? The Elan? Surely they couldn’t all be that bad could they? Did every old car need a resto-mod to be any good to drive?

During a recent tour of Honda’s Museum, I had the chance to drive a 1987 CRX Si, a car that has been canonized as one of the great performance cars of the past half-century, and a landmark car for Honda. This example, with about 52,000 miles, was donated to Honda some years ago by a gentleman who wanted a good home for it before he left for the Coast Guard.

This very well may be one of the last clean CRX Si’s in existence, and therefore it’s a great baseline to see how it performs. I’m a big fan of Honda cars as you all know, and I’m proud to say that I’ve driven may of the cars from the golden age, like the Prelude VTEC, the Integra GS-R and various Civics, with and without VTEC motors in them.

This one isn’t fit to lick their boots.

The things that other people may find charming and soulful about old cars simply didn’t sit well with me. The manual steering which I last enjoyed so much on a Lotus Elise felt primitive and didn’t exactly inspire confidence in any situation. Making a quick U-Turn on a side street, something I normally never think about, was nerve wracking. The 1.5L engine did its best impression of a Honda lawnmower and puttered down the street, while the brake pedal had more travel than George Clooney’s character in Up In The Air. For all the talk of “feedback” and “purity”, it just seemed like, well, a crappy old car. Again, I drove it for about 10 minutes, took a picture of it outside Toyota’s head office and flipped the keys to Blake Z. Rong of Autoweek, who ended up writing a piece that serves as a more tactful version of this one.

Of course, tell this to anybody and they’ll sputter and spit in an apoplectic fury. “This is exactly what Honda should be making!” they’ll cry, with all the indignation and disbelief of a Milli Vanilla fan who just found out about the whole lip-sync deal. Others will justify the CRX’s shortcomings by stating that we must judge these cars in the era they were introduced. Yes, it was a revelation compared to the unsophisticated barges of the time, but the Mazda Miata, which debuted three years later, it actually feels like a modern car when you drive one, whereas the CRX felt more closely related to Paul’s MGB. The two cars are of distinct generations of automotive technological progress, the same way a CRT television is antiquated but distinct from one where you have to turn a knob to change the channel.

There is a strong chance that I am biased towards modern cars, having been raised on them, but if someone offered me the choice between this CRX and a modern CR-Z, I’d take the CR-Z. It may be a slow hybrid but it also wouldn’t tear in half like tissue paper in a crash, and honestly, no car, no matter how cool, is worth losing your legs over. When I think back to all of the great Honda products from the 90′s that I’ve driven, it’s hard to find a common link between them and the CRX. Even the rattiest, most hack-job VTEC swapped Civic hatch still felt lithe and fiesty, like it was ready to attack the pavement with the kind of grip and balance you’d never expect from a front-drive car,  while making pseudo-superbike noises from under the hood. The CRX felt like the senile old relative to those cars, who got to come home from its assisted living facility for family occasions. Now, if you stuck a B16 with a 5-speed Y1 gearbox and an LSD, Integra 4-wheel discs and some Bilstein HDs, then we might have a fun car that steers like a shopping cart. In stock form though, I was not impressed.

Nevertheless, I am stuck with an even greater problem now. The curator of the Honda museum has offered to let me drive their 1991 NSX next time I visit. I have no real attachment to the CRX, but the NSX has been a car I have idolized since I was a sentient being. My childhood bedroom is filled with all kinds of NSX posters, brochures, trinkets and die-cast cars. I have never driven one, but now, I’m afraid. What if I’m let down by the now meager 270 horsepower? Will the superb-at-the-time handling dynamics seem mundane after years of driving R8s, Boss 302s and BMWs? You know what they say, don’t meet your heroes and all that. Then again I am a glutton for inflicting mental anguish on myself. Why else would I still be working here?

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150 Comments on “Generation Why: Spoiled Brat Drives Legendary Hot Hatch, Commits Blasphemy...”


  • avatar
    hp

    “a 1987 CRX Si, a car that has been canonized as one of the great performance cars of the past half-century, and a landmark car for Honda.”

    By who????

    • 0 avatar
      Flybrian

      Hondaphiles that rationalize their continued ownership of $1000 Craigslist specials by spouting their performance cred, nuanced handling, and engineering simplicity instead of simply admitting, “I like this car because I own it and I won’t buy a modern Honda/Acura because its not in my budget at this time, not because they don’t make a modern-day Accord wagon with a 5-speed, crank windows, and no A/C.”

      i.e. Jalopnik.

      • 0 avatar
        Synchromesh

        Actually, I used to be a huge Honda fan. My previous car was an Integra GS-R sedan. When I was deciding to buy a new(er) car I didn’t look at Honda. Why? Because their current lineup is complete and utter junk. The Accord is way too large and bulky, the Civic Si is too similar to old Integra but not in a good way. The CRZ? Please don’t make me laugh. Same with Acura. From the eurotrash TSX which I cannot stand (it could never measure up to my old GS-R) to the ugly new TL there is no way I’ll be rolling in one of these. So after 12 years of Hondas I bought a WRX. And I won’t touch Honda again until they stop going after volume and start making fun cars again.

        So you see, it’s not always a money issue – sometimes the manufacturer really does make boring toastermobiles which no enthusiast would dare touch.

        • 0 avatar
          crm114

          Are you implying that a WRX is somehow more tasteful than a TSX?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            LOL

          • 0 avatar
            Synchromesh

            When I pay moneys, I want performance. And TSX simply doesn’t perform. It’s overweight, underpowered, Eurotrashy and now ugly with that beak. The WRX might not be a beauty queen but at least it delivers.

            Plus after owning a GS-R sedan which was replaced by the original TSX, I call blasphemy on the latter altogether. There is none of the Integraness in that car.

        • 0 avatar
          crm114

          Um…OK.

        • 0 avatar
          hutch1200

          I loved my ’06 RSX-S Type. 28 MPG at over 100 mph was my usual backwoods commute speed. Great fun until I had to change the tranny @ 35k (Warranty). Sold it @ 70k and the dealer told me the V6 TSX was faster. BS. BTW, I hated seeing that WRX walk away from me some mornings, at 140 mph!

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      In 1987 Corvettes had about 220hp and Mustang GTs had 200. I don’t think they derated for insurance reasons, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get a lot more by losing the CAFE cams.

      The CRX HF got 50mpg. The CRX Si was the hottest ecobox around. The AE86 was rare and hard to spot amoung more common AE85s (I’m guessing here, my father had an AE85 that was fun to toss through turns it had no power and really never felt like a sports car). Lets just say that calling the other cars “also rans” is generous.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        In ’87, the Mustang GT put out 225HP and 300 torques thanks to the High-Output 302 V8 for about $18k. However, if you wanted the horsepower, but not the ground effects and locking rear diff, you could get a 5.0L HO in the LX model for under $15k, which was staggering good value for the money. Not sure the little Honda’s value, but I don’t remember the CRX’s being worth a shiny dingle-turd until the ’89 and the advent of the 16V engine. In comparison at the time if I had the money, it would’ve been no contest of the Stang over the Honda.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          In ’88, the notch 5.0 Mustang retailed under $11K and the GT was under $13K. But I believe included the locking dif along the rest of the GT hardware.

          The ’88 CRX was $9,085. The HF was $8,755

          http://autos.msn.com/research/compare/default.aspx?mode=trims&modelid=1293&ref=vip

          http://autos.msn.com/research/compare/default.aspx?mode=trims&modelid=943&ref=vip

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          In April of ’85, I took delivery of my factory-ordered 5-Speed GT. With a few options (A/C, cruise, tilt wheel), it cost me all of $11,666. A few weeks back, I ran across the dealer invoice from Main Street Ford in Waltham, Mass.

          The ’85 was the last 4BBL and put out 210BHP and weighed about 2900 pounds. It was a blast to drive. Unless it snowed. Then it was almost undrivable. I kept that car until my daughter was born when I traded it on an ’89 Maxima SE.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Having owned an ’87 GT for 5 years, I don’t want to imagine driving it without the locking diff. Wheelspin was not it’s middle name; it was it’s first name, especially in the wet.

        • 0 avatar
          noxioux

          Someone please tell me we’re not seriously comparing a 5.0 Fox Mustang to a CRX. . .

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Prepare to be disappointed… But, if you’ve never driven one, you might not be. Of all the talk here and most everywhere, of our glorious cars of our past, I doubt if many would actually put the smiles on our faces as well as the legends in our own minds do

  • avatar
    7402

    I think what you’re saying is that Generation Why is getting old . . . .

    I had the same experience. For me it was a love of the cars from the 1950s before realizing that the era of truly-modern cars began in the late 1960s, early 1970s.

    Cars still don’t seem “old” to me unless they are older than I am, but it’s the cars that were new when I was coming of age (as opposed to before I was born) that really touch me.

    You’d have to take an MG TD/TF for a spin to really appreciate that MGB.

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    As long as you’re not obsessed with blistering acceleration, the NSX will not let you down. It’s a very tactile, communicative car – pay close attention to the feelings and sounds from it.

  • avatar

    The problem is that you are looking at these cars with 20/20 hindsight. Like anything good from the past, what you need is context. You have to understand the state of the art at the time a car was produced in order to see why people still lionize it today. Then add to the equation the fact that when people talk about driving these cars they are really talking about how much they enjoyed their youth.

    It’s like those guys who remember being in the Army as the best time of their lives and who still think of those guys they served with as their best friends forever. The truth is the Army is tough and most of those quirky guys you look back upon so fondly were annoying tools you couldn’t get wait to get away from. It’s only in retrospect that the edges soften and the silliness of it all comes out.

    I have a hunch if I actually went out and dropped the money on one of the late ’80s Dodge turbos I recall so fondly I would find it slow and unsophisticated when compared to any base-model economy car today. That still doesn’t stop me from wanting one because I have the context that car fits in fixed firmly in my own personal history. It is when I go back beyond my experience to even earlier cars that I find them lacking – and that, my friend, is the power of context. You’ll get that in time.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Thom
      I thought of you the other day when I ran across a low mileage original Chrysler Lazer XT, red with t-tops.

      I think you need to drop some cash on a toy and then write about it!

      I’m starting to get the bug to pick up my first car, a Fiero GT.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        Older than either of you, I have a hankering for my first car, a 1968 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe. Disk brakes, twin cam engine, 5 speed manual, 2000lbs. There is a restoration shop in Toronto that had one of these, all over-restored and with a 2L Abarth engine replacing the 1.4L I4.
        But because it’s an old Fiat, you’d need to store it in one of those plastic enclosures you fill with dry nitrogen after tossing a few pounds of dessicant in.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          I just saw one of those today, in mint condition, in shocking pink. I noticed the car behind it kept its distance. Maybe the shocking pink repels water too?

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        My Fiero SE V6 had the 3-speed auto, and I’ll never forget how slow it was. Hopefully your was the stick.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          Mine was a 5 speed, but I have driven the automatic V6 combo and thought it was peppy enough too. I guess it all depends on what you are looking for.

      • 0 avatar

        There is a really kick-ass Fiero GT with a stick for sale just north of me. I thought about calling the guy and seeing if he would let me come out to test drive it for an article but then I realized it was just too far away to make it worth my while.

        My problem is that, if I bought it, it would be the exact same trap I fell into with the 300. It looks so nice that I wouldn’t want to use it for hooning about and it certainly doesn’t need any tinkering.

        No, what I need, friends, is a super cheap hoontastic car I can enjoy playing with on the road AND in the driveway while the kids play…

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          There are fun swaps people do with Fieros, I have seen blown 3800s and Caddy 4.9s done. That one would be quite the hooner with a swap.

          EDIT: The swaps I’ve seen I believe were both donor engine and trans, not sure if the manual trans would bolt onto either of those engines.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            they ususally use the original manual trans, but swap over the 4T60 if going with an automatic. That’s what I’ve heard anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      laphoneuser

      @Thomas Kreutzer:

      Sad, true, and perfectly put.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I love to lionize a car! Wait, what’s a lionize!?

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      My sister had an 89 Daytona Turbo. I HATED it compared to my moms 84 LeBaron. The LeBaron was comfortable with good sightlines. The Daytona was like sitting inside a bathtub. Just meh. A coworkers 1989 Camaro RS felt similar.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    The falling of idols is a time-worn generational icon. The outgoing lionize dubious examples and imbue them with mythic qualities associated with the emotional state in which they experienced them. The up-and-comers gleefully point out the flaws as affirmation of their superior logic and youthful superiority. Vonnegut once commented about the man who learns something, only to find the knowledge didn’t change anything. And so it goes.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “a time-worn generational icon”

      Pretty well describes Vonnegut.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        Maybe. But he was a better writer than almost anyone writing today. I’ve been itching to re-read Sirens of Titan to see if 41 years of elapsed time have altered my perspective.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t know if Vonnegut was better than anyone today. I spent my intellectually ravenous years reading and re-reading every scrap written by him, Niven, Clark, Pournelle ..etc. I haven’t had the time or energy to learn the newer crop of writers; Orson Scott Card is about modern as I get.

          While one of my sons has made a valiant effort to bring me piles of books and, now, mobi files of new people to read, and I do read them, I couldn’t tell you a single name or describe more than a couple of plots/scenarios that have stuck.

          My only point about Vonnegut is that he is entirely a creature (and creator) of the Disaffected Generation following WWII and further battered by Vietnam. He’s the Boomers’ Oracle, all right. And I’m sure I’ll be re-reading him until I die.

          But geezers like me are on our way out and geezers have never been known to give new blood adequate attention.

  • avatar
    ajla

    IDK, I think it’s just a different strokes kind of thing.

    I love driving old cars. I once had fortune of driving a mostly-original Plymouth Duster 340 and it was pretty much the most fun I ever had in a car.

    A G-body Regal coupe is admittedly pretty ratty, but I’d still enjoy it more than an Eplison Regal.

    My ’89 Buick doesn’t feel all that different from my ’06 Buick. My Diplomat definitely felt like it came from a different era, but not distastefully so.

    Maybe the CRX just sucks?

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      A very light econobox is my memory of them, they were sporty for that reason but I don’t recall any sort of sophistication in their design.

      Honda’s fox body Mustang I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      @ajila, totally agree. My ’95 Cobra convertible is nearly the slowest Mustang to ever wear the Cobra badge, but I love her reegardless of her obvious faults. Yes, I could get a much newer Stang with three time the horsepower and nine times the track ability, but that’s not why I love her. It’s appeal is in its quick 0-60 time, throaty rumble through the true dual exhaust of the ancient mariner 302 V8, the last clay model designed coke-bottle body, and the knowledge that if I’m not careful when driving, she will not hestitate to kill me.

      Not to say that the Honda does the same, but then again, I’m still captivated by the ’73 Honda CVCC with the 4 spd manual in the dash. So much fun to drive as fast as you can in it.

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    Derek, you are my hero!

    Most of these 80s cars that the “awesomesaucewtfbbq!!!!1one!!” and “manual trans only” crowd think were the best thing to happen to the automotive world just weren’t that good.

    They were good cars, most often better than their Domestic counterparts, but not nearly as good as people seem to “remember” them to be.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Fortunately both cars I’ve owned so far were nothing special, so if I go to something older, I’m not expecting it to be drastically worse.

    Granted, there’s no way in hell I would be driving a muscle car on a regular basis without putting on at least front disks and converting to power steering. I don’t want to DIE.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 I would LOVE something like a 60′s Falcon with a modern motor (hell, even a 3.7L V6 would be cool), and the brakes, suspension and steering out of a modern car.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        A 3.7 Falcon would have more power than a 289 and the 3.7 would probably be lighter too…would be a fun machine to take on a road course.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          Hmmm… that’s a good question?

          I’ve looked around and the dressed weight of the 3.7 is supposedly 330 pounds. A fully dressed DOHC 5.0 is about 110 pounds heavier and then there is the F.I pushrod 5.0 from about 86-93 dressed is 450 pounds all cast iron.

          The 3.7 would be novel but I bet it would be really expensive. Swapping a new 5.0 into an older car is north of 10k with all new parts using an almost bolt in application.

          Frankly, the pushrod 5.0 is fairly plentiful and can be made quite feathery with the addition of aluminum heads and an aftermarket intake. Converted to carburation with AC and power steering delete along with an aluminum flywheel and a lightweight harmonic balancer the engine might just approach 400 pounds or be a tad lighter limiting the penalty to 70 pounds or so. All for a lot less cash and more ease of installation. Even mildly built the engine would offer more power under the curve by dint of simply being bigger with more peak power to boot.

          Handling could be significantly improved since the Mustang was essentially a tarted up Falcon and most of the modern bits and pieces swap over from rack & pinion kits to complete SLA front ends and if your going to mortgage the house for your suspension build there is an IRS setup out there as well for early Mustangs that would probably fit with little trouble or barring that a good three link rear with a panhard or watts link.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The way the 3.7L swap would be done would be to buy a wrecked but complete secretary special Mustang and swap the powertrain over piece by piece. Putting it together over the counter would be a nightmare. You’d need a good number of the nodes on the CAN buses aside from the ancilliary stuff like the radio, HVAC modules, and stuff like that.

            A swap like that would be easiest to take the PCM, SJB/BCM, and the instrument cluster (IIRC its a gateway module on that one) and graft it into the receiving vehicle after stripping out the powertrain and body harnesses of anything unnecessary.

            Whatever is left of the body, part out to recoup cost. I’d probably try and use as much of the rear suspension and axle as possible as you’d need an 8.8 to handle the power anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Sounds like you’re more of a pro-touring kind of old car guy. I prefer more traditional old cars, but definitely appreciate modernized rides after participating in the builds of a few. I’m all about modern engine swaps especially.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Oh yeah, while I would love a ’71 Road Runner with a 440 Six Pack, a ’71 Satellite with a 6.4 Hemi swap would be plenty fun as well.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Yes, the Gen III 392 is such an incredible engine, especially in production MDS and VVT form. If I had nothing but money and time, I’d be swapping those into everything with wheels.

            After driving a 3.6L 8spd Ram pickup, I’ve also begun wondering how that combo would perform in a more pedestrian vintage body. If that combo can usher a 4100lb Charger to 60 mph in around 6 seconds, it should have no problem bettering that in a somewhat lighter Belvedere or Satellite while getting 30 mpg + highway.

      • 0 avatar

        You’ve seen Zach Bowman’s Mustang, right? Probably stretches the definition of “classic”, but it’s pretty much that.

        I’m taking a slightly different route with my Falcon, which is to upgrade to the best versions of “period” engineering.

        They’re manual, but the 4-piston vented disks (OEM for a Shelby) had no problems on my track day with Jack.

        …now I just need new from A-arms, a lateral link out back and some chassis bracing.

      • 0 avatar

        Have a friend trying to sell a ’63 wagon with a Big6. I could get you in touch. ;)

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    Maybe having paper-thin body panels, minimal sound insulation, and very diminutive size (likely very low; very close to the road surface) made these cars feel faster and more exciting than they objectively were.

    Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

    I wonder how you would compare it to other 80s import legends like the AE86 or even FC RX-7s etc?

    • 0 avatar

      The AE86 was the first stickshift car I ever drove. The only problem is my friend’s car now has an F20C in it. Not exactly fair.

    • 0 avatar

      True, I remember being 7 or 8 and riding with dad in grandma’s 4 speed ’79 Chevette and thinking it was the fastest thing around as dad worked it up and down the gears much harder than she ever did. I was used to big lazy V8s and lots of sound insulation and the noise of that OHC four made it sound like we were flying.

    • 0 avatar
      zeus01

      At around 8.5 seconds, the CRX was actually marginally QUICKER to 60 mph vs. the 13B FB and FC normally-aspirated RX7s of the era (albeit, by only about a tenth of a second), which were in turn a smidge quicker to 60 than the even-more-worshipped early-’70s Datsun 240Z. And the CRX did this while delivering upwards of 40 mph highway, where the Zs and 7s barely made 25.

      Compare this to an ’82 Corvette, which in stock form put up zero-to-sixty times just a shade over 8.1 seconds, while delivering a whopping 17 miles per gallon at cruise.

      But Corvette and Mustang buyers don’t care about fuel economy. It’s worth every drop of petrol to hear that throaty V8 rumble rather than the sound of a sewing machine produced by the CRX. And then of course there’s the Vette’s “date bait” factor…

  • avatar
    lon888

    What year of MGB were you driving? My 77 MGB had a shifter that felt as positive as the action of a very nice bolt-action rifle.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      So did the 4-speed in my ’70 GT6+. Compared to ’80s Hondas, classic British cars were lacking in many areas, but the shifter was *definitely* not one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      My 67′s gear shift was fast and light (well- 3 of the 4 speeds anyways). Of course- it depends on what kind of transmission oil you put in there. If I recall, MG told you to use a fairly thin engine oil in the trans. A lot of people put thicker oil in there and that makes the shifting more sluggish.

      Also- the steering feel was exceptional, even on the old bias ply tires. It was light and crisp feeling. Radial tires worked well on MGB’s but the feel is more numb.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    This seems more like a different strokes for different folks situation.

    I’ve driven a fully restored (to factory) Model A Ford, a 58 Vette, and various other old cars and loved each one of them. I was never dissapointed and would like to own each one of them.

    I know self proclaimed car people who wouldn’t think of not having the latest greatest ride and laugh at the old stuff. I know car people who don’t want anything after 1970. I can appreciate anything from any year for its unique character.

    I feel like Generation x and y’s are typically more into the high tech modern stuff. I guess I go agains they typical.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Was the ’58 Corvette restored to factory or just the Model A?

      Key phrase from the Autoweek article: “Replacement bushings and a tune are needed, they told us.” That CRX looks good (except for the wheels) but may in fact be performing at at “75% good as when new” level. I’m pulling that number out of thin air, but you get my point.

      Slightly OT: Please don’t lump Gen-X and Gen-Y together.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        The Vette was a very low mileage original. It even had reproduction bia ply tires on it.

        Slightly OT?

        Sorry, I agree, X and Y should not be lumped like that. Y doesn’t give two craps about cars as it is.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          Bias ply, nice!

          This discussion brings to mind the Top Gear episode where a DB5 logs the slowest time to date on their test track. I believe that car was all-original, and I wonder if its engine had lost some compression. I wouldn’t argue that it wasn’t surprisingly slow compared to present-day cars, but I also think Top Gear wasn’t giving it its fair due.

          I wasn’t old enough at the time to drive it, but a late uncle of mine had a ’66 Corvette which was down-at-the-heel when he purchased it. He restored the mechanicals to factory condition (or perhaps better-than-factory, considering the car was getting individual attention) and did some amateur racing in it for a year or two prior to completing a cosmetic restoration. I suspect the car drove a lot better than a true survivor would have. It was a very quick car, and not just in a relative sense.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    As much as I like old cars I don’t have much respect for CRX’s, they’re weak rust buckets often admired by people who’ve seen too many FnF films, fine cars when souped up but the same goes for any car.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    So Honda can’t locate a decent set of the factory four hole wheels? Okay.

    • 0 avatar
      jco

      i believe i read, probably from Derek’s other post about the museum, that they had a set waiting for it, and would be installing them when they cleaned this car up for display.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    I can confirm that old British cars don’t drive anything like even any basic car from the last 20 years. I say this having driven a few hundred miles through the Swiss Alps in an immaculately maintained ’73 Spitfire with about 60k miles on it. The brakes are downright scary even at 30 MPH until you acclimatize to needing to push your foot damn near through the firewall to get any sort of deceleration, the steering is heavy and at low speeds giving more than half-lock results in some weird scrubbing noises and feelings, as if the tie rod geometry weren’t correct, the 4 speed transmission would be nearly redlining in one gear, and then well out of the powerband in the next. This is a real problem when you’ve only got about 80 nominal hp or so, especially if you’re at altitude. At any point, you’d have no chance of keeping up with a 10 year-old minivan.

    But you know what? The experience makes it all worth it. As long as said minivan isn’t actively passing you, you feel like a racing driver even while doing the speed limit. The thing is a challenge – it’s engaging. The unassisted steering gives feedback, you never know when the rear end will start coming around on you, the widely spaced gear ratios reward proper rev matching, and double-clutching aids the lazy synchros. All the while, you’ve got a primitive wood-trimmed dash and simple, beautiful gauges that jitter with the voltage fluctuations in the electrical system. It’s glorious! Combine that with the fact that you’re going slow enough to enjoy the sights and smells of places like the winding cobblestone roads of the Gotthard Pass, and it adds up to one of my greatest automotive experiences, different but no less memorable than blasting down a straight back road at 160 MPH on a fuel injected crotch rocket.

    When it comes down to it, Grassroot Motorsports pitted a Porsche 356 against a 2004-era Honda Odyssey and the minivan trounced it in every measure, including an autocross-style slalom, but the experience isn’t the same. If nothing else, think of an old British sports car as a way to handicap a great driver from being faster than the rest of traffic.

    But everyone knows that the zenith of car design was the ’92 VW Jetta 2-door. It was my first car, and if you don’t see it for the masterpiece it was, you’re a Communist.

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      My 76 Spitfire is just like that, even the window washers are manually pumped.

      It feels fast but isn’t, at 70+ it’s pretty scary.

      Rarely put the top up. 4 wheel motorcycle experience.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Next you have to drive a GT-6+. At 70mph in fourth gear, it has very impressive acceleration. At least when the carbs are properly synched…

      • 0 avatar
        HiFlite999

        True enough. I was lucky enough to own a special 1969 GT6+. Not only was it gorgeous, the previous owner had fried the engine. The dealer couldn’t get parts for the 2.0L six, so rebuilt it as a Euro-spec 2.5L (as from the TR-6). Above 80 mph, the aero was so bad it was barely touching the ground, but the local hooners learned to avoid drag races with me. 1900 lbs and 150 hp made for a wicked combination in stoplight competitions.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Two things:

    Where did you actually drive? The urban surface grid may be what the car was built for, but it’s not a venue for any kind of enjoyment.

    IIRC, this was the last year for the original torsion-beam-rear CRX. The 2nd-gen CRX had the full wishbone setup that really built Honda’s reputation for handling, even if you couldn’t get a B16 at the Honda dealer for another decade.

  • avatar
    patman

    I met my childhood hero – a 944 Turbo. I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations after all those years of lusting but I was wrong. It was exactly as excellent as I’d imagined it would be. Maybe a little more sluggish in the bottom part of first gear with the turbo lag than I was expecting perhaps.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I got my iicense in late 1969. Since then I’ve owned and driven many cars. I have friend that has 3 British cars. He is a very handy guy,and loves them. He would be the first to tell you his 63 Healy is like driving a tractor. However ist one very cool car.

    Driving an old vehicle is,for sure a different experience,than the modern offerings. Though,not in a bad way.

    The old car experience,requires,time,tools,and patience. I came very close to buying a non numbers matching,cloned 69 SS Chevelle convert. The resortation shop had paid great attention to every detail. I had the history, saw the restoration photos. I went as far as driving into the U.S. with two of the best car guys I know.
    The seller wasn’t giving it away.
    I remember when these cars were new. While the the 69 in question had been modernized. Front discs,electronic ignition etc. It was still a 69 Chevelle. The seats wernt that comfy,the driving dynamics,were like a late sixties “A”body,with modern tires.

    I loved it,and saw myself cruising around,and going to car shows. Wifey even give me the green light. I didn’t pull the trigger.

    That was nearly five years ago. I call it the “Barret Jackson syndrone” was peaking.

    Today I’m glad I didn’t buy it.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      You might want to check back with him. If he wasn’t giving it away then, he might still have it now. Today he may not have the justification for his asking price with the muscle car bubble deflated quite a bit since 5 years ago.

  • avatar
    vaujot

    Well, the Autoweek article you quoted says that the Car you drove was on the wrong wheels and needed a tuneup as well as replacement bushings. In light of that information, I wonder how different the reviews would read if the tested car had been in perfect shape.

    • 0 avatar
      mitchw

      Seconded, vaujot. Those wrong wrong wrong wheels are gonna mess the whole thing up. Come on now, Derek, play nice. The Autoweek piece also says the car needs new bushings and a tune up. These things make a difference.

  • avatar
    iMatt

    As an owner of a first gen Accord Wagon in excellent condition, I have to say one of the reasons I love this car is exactly what you harp about. Everything in this car’s nature is there to remind you that you’re operating a machine and nothing more. My other vehicle, a Kia Sedona, is leaps and bounds more refined and even goes and stops “faster” but whenever I’m looking for fun, the Honda is what I roll in, lawnmower engine be damned.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    As someone who regularly buys, tickers with, drives and sells old cars, you’ve probably set your expecations too high or in the wrong place. Enjoying old cars is about the nostalgia and enjoying the car for what it is. No, they don’t compare to new cars at all. My 2013 Charger is infinitely a better car than my 50 year older Thunderbird. However, thye are both fun to drive in entirely different ways.

    The T-bird is slow and thirsty but oozes jet-age style. The big hard top greenhouse is a nice place to cruise with all four windows down breeze flowing through. It’s a great talking point for people who love shooting the sh1t about cars, especially the guys who were around when it was built, who have a unique perspective that I’ll never have.

    So old cars are not just about their shoddy dynamics, but about the culture and spirit for which they represent. And that truly makes for an enjoyable drive.

    • 0 avatar

      I love the “culture and spirit” as you say. A time of eternal hope and optimism unburdened by the reflexive self-doubt that plagues our society nowadays. I would love to own and operate a car museum of some sort one day. They just tend to let me down behind the wheel.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        While I consider myself lucky to be a child of the space age, counter to all that hope and optimism you speak of was the horrifying fear of nuclear war. AS a result of the air raid drills, movies and news from that era, I had recurring nightmares for years.

        And, actually, I’m exceptionally optimistic about this age. Our best years are still ahead of us. And never in history has that been true for so many of the world’s people.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          Listen to the man, chilluns.

          I too had non-stop mushroom cloud nightmares from 3rd grade (1963) through the late 80′s with the Pershing II/SS-20 showdown.

          Between nukes and ‘Nam, we really didn’t think we were going to live to adulthood. That may explain a lot of our stupid behavior vis sex, drugs & rock n’ roll. We weren’t expecting to have to act grown up.
          Bunkie excepted, of course :-)

    • 0 avatar
      ArBee

      Ah, Bullet Birds. They were one of the automotive icons of my youth. You’re right, such cars are for those of us who remember them when they were new.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I wouldn’t be around for a while after the car rolled off the Wixom line, but I’ve always had a thing for 50′s chrome and fins. My ’63 Bullet Bird represents the last gasp of that era and I think it’s one of the “best ofs” of that time.

        I sold an old Camaro to buy the Bird and haven’t looked back. In every way it drives worse than the F-body, but it’s infinitely more fun to cruise. Especially for the fact that the whole family, a shade tent, lawn chairs and a cooler can come along.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Never drove the Honda, so I can’t comment about that. I have driven a number of 60s British sports cars equipped — like the MGB — with disc brakes. The brakes actually work fine and do a good job of stopping the car. The problem you’re noticing is that they’re not vacuum assisted. So, you have to use a lot of pedal pressure to get the to bite. At the time, most cars had drum brakes, which are self-actuating. That is, the design of the drum brake makes the shoe want to engage the inside of the drum more tightly without lots of pedal pressure. So, a drum brake equipped car without power assist was easy enough to drive.

    I’m surprised at your complaints about the steering and the shifter: perhaps your example had some issues that needed to be fixed. If there’s a fault with the steering of these cars, its that it’s “darty” which can be unnerving at speed unless you’re used to it. Many of the transmissions lacked synchro in first gear, so a knowledge of double clutching or coming to a full stop was mandatory. With only 4 speeds, the engines’ relatively high torque at low rpm did make the shift feel awkward. These engines literally came from farm tractors, and there was no point in revving them past 4,000 rpm even though most had 5,000 rpm redlines. The DOCH engines in Fiats and Alfas were different, and liked/needed to be revved.

    But Nate has the right idea. The point of these cars was to be fun, not fast in the objective sense. The small size, light weight, noise, etc. of these cars make their “perceived speed” much higher than their actual speed. They are not fun on the Interstate; they are fun on some two-lane in the country . . . because that’s what they were designed for.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Driving impressions for MGBs should always mention the year. Strangling the engine, raising the ride height, and adding a hundred pounds of bumper to each end did little for the car’s handling during its production. A nice 1967 MGB would run rings around the best stock 1977 MGB.

  • avatar
    jco

    the 1G crx is all but forgotten, to be honest. the one people really care about is the 88-91. especially, like you said, with a B16a (a version honda sold, but not to the US). one look at how tightly the single cam motor fits under that tiny hood and it’s obvious why these aren’t modified as much. true, you can still source the twin-cam ZC motor, and it is possible to fit the twincam 1.6 motor, but when you move to the EF body it just gets a lot easier.

    the 1G CRX/3G Civic had a torsion bar suspension. they have .. strange handling characteristics. the next generation went 4-wheel independent, which was of course much sharper.

    I’ve owned a 3G Civic Si and a 4G Civic Si, and although the ’87 was a lot of fun to drive, the ’89 was just a much more complete ‘car’. still manual steering, but a bigger interior. power sunroof. much improved suspension.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Their low to the ground, go-kart handling made you forget you were in a FWD penalty box. They handled amazing… up to a point. Too many found THAT out the hard way…

    Early ’90s, I bought a $300 rolled 88 CRX, floor jacked the roof, new a windshield, some plexi-glass and drove it like it’s stolen. The next one was a rolled ’86 CRX I made into hack-job convertible. That one was the coolest. Didn’t need no stinking structural bracing.. Just welded the doors shut!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      These cars were not made of tissue paper. I was in one that hit a curb and a parked car sideways at high speed and landed upside down against a house. The only injury either of us suffered was some scratches I got while crawling out of a broken window. A week earlier, I was a passenger in another one that hit the side of a bridge, also at a reasonable clip. That time my friend put on one of those black vinyl autobras to cover the damage and kept driving it. The following week I did not ride in or drive a black CRX Si.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Smart move. I saw a guy taco a CRX around telephone pole and walked away. Ran away actually, but he must have had his reasons. I walked up and saw all the beer cans… But engine in the damn was still running as if nothing happened!

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          I just happened to pass by an accident two days ago while in Cortez CO involving a CRX that was T-boned by some sedan much larger than it.

          First, my Rust Belt brain is still baffled seeing any import from the 80′s still on the road here in the high desert climate, let alone so many of them. At least 3 different Tercel wagons, a Stanza wagon and at least 3 Subaru Loyales.

          The little CRX took a good hit and the driver was still walking around.

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        Thanks for posting this as my 86 crx Si gave its all in a 45 mph tbone after a gal in a mustang ran a red light and hit me in the drivers door ( I was prob going 40). I was knocked unconscious until the firemen arrived and they had to cut the roof off as the door wouldn’t open. It definitely held up much better than i expected and had been a reliable and fun college car…I bought it from a high school friend who was moving to NY for $1500 in 91 with 105000 miles and a sunroof that stayed in the “vent” mode. It took me to 172000 miles with a cv joint replacement and a clutch as the only “major” repairs. It was a good car and I enjoyed it.

        I never considered it fast but it was solidly reliable and returned 32 mpg up until its final year where it dropped to about 30.

        It was definitely not a tin can and the next day when I walked back to the junkyard to retrieve my personal belongings, two of the guys working there could hardly believe I’d been involved in the wreckage less than 24 hrs earlier.

        Psshaw on this tin can nonsense. :)

  • avatar
    glwillia

    I think it also depends on the car and what your intended use is.

    I’ve driven plenty of E90 BMWs and I still find the E30 to be a hoot to drive. Would I daily-drive one? Probably not, but as a weekend toy it’s a blast. My main car is a W124 E420 and every time I drive a W211 or W212 I’m struck by how mushy, bland and un-Mercedeslike the newer car is.

    On the other hand, whenever I drive a 1990s-era GM or Ford product, I’m reminded of how far they’ve come and how horrible their old cars were.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I purchased a 1986 GTI with 30k mi in 1988. I didn’t even consider a CRX, I was never a big Honda fan. I’m still not, having never owned a Honda. I did test drive a Ridgeline when I moved to Texas however, glad I didn’t buy it.

    I do wish I still had that GTI, however. :)

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Drive the NSX. When you do drive it, just imagine the market at the time.

    I enjoy ratty, crappy cars. Its how I can love my project car. I can romanticize anything, which gets me into trouble with ex girl friends. Doug is right – just get rid of the 20/20 hindsight, cleanse your pallet, and hop into the car like you were 8 years old.

    If you don’t drive the NSX, you will regret this missed opportunity the rest of your life.

    The CRX is a piece of crap because it was a piece of crap. Cars from the 80′s better float, have a choked V8, come out of Flint or fall apart from crap build quality or they are the equivalent of vanilla. No sarcasm, here.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    You drove the wrong CRX, first off. The first-gen Si is not lauded as one of the best performance Hondas of all time. That is the second-gen model… 88-91 CRX Si. Completely different car for the most part. Would you be impressed with a stock one? Not likely, as you are too young and your youth was spent driving the even better Honda products that came after it, and they did keep getting better and better. But you would find it world’s better than the 87.

    My best friend in high school had an 87 CRX Si, we tore up the town in that thing, had a blast in it because it was a very fun car for the times, and better than anything else that even remotely competed with it. I then dated a girl who got a new 90 CRX Si, and wow, now THAT car was much more fun, tighter, faster, handled better, better quality interior, etc. The 87 was still based on the 84 Civic, which really came out in 83, was designed in 81/82, and, while being the most modern Civic at the time, was still pretty old in 87. I briefly owned an 86 Civic Si after that and even then I was disappointed by it compared to my ex-gfs car. And to make it worse, I had dated a girl who had a new Prelude Si that was glorious, and another girl with a new Acura Integra that was really nice too.

    As for the NSX, same best friend had one, so did his brother and that was and is by far my favorite car ever. I think you will still find it enjoyable, if a bit down on power compared to what you are used to.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    When I graduated HS in the mid 90′s, my car loving uncle let me drive his 56 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery as a present. It was restored by him in the 80′s and I remember it having a three on the tree initially, which he changed to 4 on the floor at some point. Either a 265 or 283 with a mild tune.

    Maybe it’s the smell of the exhaust and oil, the sound of the carbureted, glass-packed and uncatalyzed small block Chevy. Maybe it was the way people look at you when you’re driving an old car. Maybe because you’re driving a piece of your automotive ancestry.

    Whatever it was(and is) it made me not worry that a crash could kill you.That the brakes were horribly inadequate for stopping such a beast. That the unsynchonized 4 spd took a bit of concentration to drive. And that I was 18 and driving my uncles prized possession! Was it youth or are old cars fun, if you remember their limits and put them in their context?

    A few years ago, a friend of mine bought a 60′s Porsche 912 Targa. He let me drive it for a short spin. Though vastly different from my uncle’s 56 Chevy, you still couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. Maybe it was the gas and oil smell, the sound of the flat six….

    I visited Graceland two years ago. The people around me raised on McMansions and rap video excess remarked “Wow, the place is so much smaller than I thought” Initially, I had the same thought, perhaps because so much hype surrounds the place. Then you learn the house( and quite a few acres of land) cost Elvis $100k in 1955. The interweb tells me that’s about 2 million in today’s money. Elvis was in his early 20′s and had 100,000 to spend on a house. No different than our celebrities of today, but in the context of 1950′s America, that was a huge house and big money.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Thank you Derek – the tastiest hamburgers are made from sacred cows.

    Next drive a well preserved BMW E30 3 series and you will find much the same thing: Not only does the benefit of hindsight improve all cars but the cult of a million Internet fanbois can elevate any car (that most of them have never driven) to cult status.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      So wait not only do you like Hondas – you like the dull modern ones? At least you know yourself. Not everyone likes cars..

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        Not quite – I have owned every series 3 series coupe since the E30 and the E46 and E92 are simply better cars than the E30. The F30 on the other hand really is a step back.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The E30 gets its rep from being the base for the original M3, and for being lighter, more robust, and easier to work on than later 3ers. Pretty much the same for the E28.

      • 0 avatar
        glwillia

        Having owned both an E30 and an E46, the E30 is a lot more fun to drive than the E46. The later car is a better car in every way, to be sure, but the E30 is much more rewarding to flog. As an added bonus, it’s easy to work on, and parts and modifications are readily available.

    • 0 avatar

      Not only have I driven an E30, I raced one. On ice. But it was a true POS and not the standard to judge other E30s by.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    I believe you are missing the forest for the trees, mate. 10 minutes is hardly time enough to accurate gage a car’s true performance. Also, you may not have been alive to realize just how BAD some of the cars of the ’80s were. The Honda felt lithe and quick in comparison to the poop the dung beetles at the American car companies were rolling out. The Cavalier? Gawd-awful. The Escort? Good runner and efficient, but honestly couldn’t call it anything but a penalty box. Don’t get me started on the Omni (not withstanding the top o’ the line GLH) which was so bad Chrysler had to create the equally terrible Shadow/Sundance.

    I love the original Honda’s. I love the innovation that the Japanese brought to the car world like radioes that didn’t suck, transmissions that were near bullet-proof and didn’t feel like a broomstick shoved into a box of dry spaghetti, and options like intermittent wipers and cruise control and A/C that I didn’t have to pawn my first born child to afford. Even the greatly vaunted Ferrari California is considered near appaling by today’s standards, but WGaF! It’s RED! and its PURTY! Sometimes the simple is amazing on its own.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      My first car was an 81 Buick Regal. The second was an 84 Eldorado. I was 16 and 18 with both cars in the mid 90′s.

      After the rebuilt engine in the Caddy began dying again, I searched for another car. I looked at more Cadillacs and other American iron.

      A digression: I wasn’t raised to love Japanese cars, my grandfather and by turn my uncle (the one with the 56 Chevy in my above post) hated “Jap Scrap”. My folks had bought a 92 Camry V6 which was loved, but they were currently driving a CPO 94 Deville with a Northstar. The last new domestic they had purchase was a 90 Lumina Euro 2 door. I didn’t know what I wanted.

      So when I saw this 89 Acura Legend on a car lot ( next to an 90 Lexus ES250 with a stick!) I was intrigued. It was an L, had leather and moonroof, had the funky Japanese EQ for the stereo. Only 55k on the clock and was generally well cared for. I drove it and was smitten with it. Same luxury as my Cadillac, yet it rode and drove so much better. I bought it and the only regret I have is that I wrecked it two months later by being stupid.

      That Legend was so much better than anything else I could have bought at the time for what I could afford. Just like it had been in 89 when it was new, when that owner was probably mocked for buying “a what?”.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I would love to own a Legend, but I’ve never seen one that wasn’t thoroughly used up. People buy them, put thousands of miles on them, and then sell them to other people who put thousands of miles on them, until what you’re left with is a thousand dollar somewhat rusted 200k mile Legend that probably is about at the end of its usable life.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          I had this 89, then a 95 Mecury Cougar V8 with every option(preceded for 24 hours by a 95 Contour V6 5spd, but that’s on the SVT Contour thread).

          I couldn’t afford (and wasn’t loving the Mercury) three years later, thought it had been trouble free. Sold it and bought an 88 Legend with a 5spd. It had 115k and ran absurdly well with that 5 spd. Really woke the car up.

          The 88 car also had a storied past (this was before CarFax) as I found out 2 years later when I went to trade it. I was owner number 7. It lasted until 145k when the dash lights stopped working and other things that needed fixed.

          I never had a 2nd gen car. But as you said, they are all getting really hard to find, especially unmolested examples and especially in my Rust Belt home.

          There was a 2nd gen GS coupe for sale near me that looked great. No rust, no Folgers muffler, no slammed suspension. It was for sale all of a day and gone. Not like I could afford it, but they are out there.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Yeah, I live in the Northeast, where even early 2000s Tauruses are starting to rust because of this awful brine crap that PennDOT keeps spraying all over the roads in the winter. It eats metal, it ruins paint, and heaven help you if you drive something with stainless brake lines.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            What part of PA, NoGoYo?

  • avatar
    campocaceres

    I had a similar experience driving my dad’s old Triumph TR6. As a kid I used to hear him start up the motor and take a cruise late in the evening, and I’d hear the exhaust as he left and then hear him pulling back into the neighborhood. By the time I was able to drive it wasn’t in driving condition anymore so I didn’t get the take it out. Years later he’d gotten it running again, and since I now knew how to row my own gears, I took it out for a spin. Same kinda thing, steering felt fragile, the gas was heavy but unresponsive, the clutch had no linearity, and the brakes were nonexistent. It was kinda scary and disappointing, but it still sounded damn nice.

    I never asked to take it out again, but it did really open me up to the idea that associations and context can play such a big part in our perception of things. No doubt my dad was reliving his youth every time he went out for a spin.

    Regarding the CRX, I’m not too familiar with Hondas of that era, but when was the last time you drove a Civic of the same generation? I am skeptical that it could be that much different. Are you sure you’re not wearing your own rose-colored glasses?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    You can still ruin a perfectly nice car by putting plus-2 aftermarket wheels on it. This car would have steered and rode entirely differently on its original lightweight 13 inch wheels and tires. Its suspension bushings and wheel bearings would have held up better too. The brakes and engine would have had less work to do. None of this should be news to anyone, making the value of articles like Zhong’s useful mainly for illustrating how much he brings to the table when he asserts his opinion on cars.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I have a little list of cars in my head that I’d want to sit in/feel and drive in their original or excellent maintained condition.

    XJ-S V12 HSC
    Top-spec SVX
    Bentley Azure or Eight
    944 S2

    I have a feeling I’d be let down mostly though.

  • avatar
    beefmalone

    So you drove a 25+yr old import that had been sitting around in a museum for god knows how long and weren’t impressed? Color me shocked.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Agreed. The museum piece probably has old tires, worn out shocks, bad alignment, etc. It’s hardly a good example. You need to drive one that’s been maintained by an enthusiast.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Interesting, isn’t it, how memories can be so wrong. I realized in 1968 that the Volvo 544 I loved so much was a piker compared to a ’68 Barracuda 340 I drove, even with its one finger tip light steering. And I preferred that ’65 Volvo to my pal’s MGB at the time. The MGB seemed devoid of suspension travel, and and the engine was an old stonker compared to a B18. Both cars had far too heavy steering.

    Moving forward, my ’82 Audi Coupe was in another universe compared to the second gen Accord, and I much preferred it to my employee’s ’86 GTI, because its manual steering was just too damn heavy. Nicer engine, though.

    A friend had an ’86 CRX Si, little bag of crap I thought. High point, the clutch and shifter. The ’88 was a hoot to boot though, but like you I worried about losing my legs in a smash. ’89 Prelude, the most anodyne car I’ve ever driven, no life whatsoever. Could not understand why people bought Hondas, the original Legend didn’t match an Audi 5000 turbo. It was lionized by people used to driving Accords but who never drove anything better.The Acura Vigor – had none.

    That’s why I bit the bullet and kept on buying Audis despite the repairs. They drove better. A lot better. Couldn’t believe the turdiness of the Celica dynamically – Car and Driver agreed in ’86, suddenly “discovering” the Audi Coupe. I mean, in those days, we all used to say “when the Japanese discover how to tune suspension, they’ll take over the world”. They were boringly pedestrian to drive, like Hyundais and Kias today.

    1990 changed all that. The Miata came out, the NSX arrived, and the Mitsu Eclipse turbo AWD came out, as did the new 300ZX. Drove the latter two, much preferred the Mits (Eagle Talon), compared it to a used 944 and UR Quattro for the same $25K, and bought the Talon. Was a great car for me.

    The ’94 Audi 90 I leased did not drive as well as my ’87 4000 quattro. All the fun was gone. A few years later, cue Subaru.

    Worst modern car driven? 1996 Olds Cutlass Ciera. Just s bag of bolts, rattles and squeaks, a bounding, rearing underdamped suspension, and no coordination in the controls. A truly awful dreadful car, should not have been in production. Absolute utter rubbish, just a collection of parts moving in the same general direction.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    As the son of poor immigrants, we owned our share of import s***boxes, only by the time we bought our Civics, they were being imported from Canadia. 91-106 hp seems about right for the late 80s, early 90s Civics, both in sedan and hatchback form. Not very comfortable, double digit 0-60 times that stretch as you add passengers and cargo, tires that lost grip in any adverse weather conditions and “double wishbone” suspension that made the cars neurotic and jumpy but in no way helped handling like the Honda dealers attested.

    My Wife’s 2012 WRX would be a rocketship compared to any of the 80s era “hot hatches,” hell, it would dust most supercars of the time–but today such a machine doesn’t even get a second look.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    As other’s have said, you drove the wrong CRX. Would the second gen have made a better impression? I believe so, but still, compared even to an Integra GS-R it’s going to be kind of a slug.

    I would like to drive my ’93 Sentra SE-R again, I think it would still be a blast to drive.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    “Hot hatch”…you keep using these words…I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

    The CRX was never supposed to be a performance car. It was colorful, small, light, and most immportantly, CHEAP…cheap to build, cheap to buy, and cheap to own…which made it the automotive equivalent of another ’80′s-era fashion icon, the Swatch watch.

    But it WAS supposed to be a commuter car, more like an updated version of the old Nash Metropolitan. Honda would update this concept some 20 years later with the two-seater Insight hybrid, though obviously that car was even less likely to be considered to be performance-oriented than the original CRX.

    Any performance traits that car exhibited would have been strictly residual in nature. It also had the benefit of being pretty much the only design in its class. How many two-seat hatchbacks were there (other than the C4 Corvette, of course -BAZINGA) to compare it to? It was always going to feel faster than it was for the same reason that taking the top off of even a N/A 2.0 New Beetle makes it seem faster than it is; your brain and your senses conspire to tell you that what you feel belies what the speedometer tells you. A two-seater that small, that light, it just HAD to be fast and fun to drive, right?

    The bottom line is that the ’80′s was a lost decade for cars as far as performance is considered. It was manufacturers feeling their way out of the malaise era in as cautious a manner as possible. The cars looked bold and new on the outside, but on the inside they were still pretty timid.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      All those Hondas are not purpose built sports cars sure, but the Si models were considered great performaing cars in their day. A Civic Si was definitely considered a hot hatch it was usually a match for the GTI. The CRX was a little different product, a 2 seater stubby hatch, and a fair match for the 1st gen MR2 or Fiero.

      I’d say the 70s was the lost decade for performance, there were a lot of decent performance cars in the 80s. An LX 5.0 could run with pretty much any 60s muscle car and handle pretty decent. But I grew up in the 80s I like SVOs and Turbocoupes and C4 Vettes, and F-bodies, and lets not forget those slow lost decade 959 and 288 GTO, and F40…I call shenanigans.

      • 0 avatar
        Cubista

        “But I grew up in the 80s I like SVOs and Turbocoupes and C4 Vettes, and F-bodies, and lets not forget those slow lost decade 959 and 288 GTO, and F40…I call shenanigans.”

        I grew up in the ’80′s also, so I know what jokes those cars actually were. We think the Toyobaru twins are underpowered at 200hp today…having to explain to those not fortunate enough to have been old enough to have seen “Miami Vice” and “Magnum P.I.” as first-run, prime-time series that the L81 and L82 V8s sold in Corvettes during the first half of that decade were similarly powered is not at all a point of pride.

        And seriously, you’re citing six-figure supercars as being evidence that the ’80′s was a boom for a wide range of performance automobiles? They were mutations, no more indicative of the general population than Usain Bolt is of his countrymen in Jamaica.

        They were better in most ways than anything made after say, 1972, to be certain…and by a wide margin. But that’s like saying Usain Bolt is faster than you and me. It is a fact, sure, but it’s far from an impressive one.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          You’re missing the point….200 HP today is nothing. But if today’s BRZ/FR-S came out in the 80s, it would have been considered a great-performing car simply because 200 HP was a decent amount of power back then compared to other cars of the era. Hell, back then a 225-HP V8 Mustang was among the fastest cars on the roads. Today, that same car would be crushed by an old lady in a V6 Camry.

          • 0 avatar
            Cubista

            200hp was nothing during the ’80′s, either. The time period separating the late ’60′s/early ’70′s from the early-to-mid ’80′s was a lot shorter than the time period separating the mid-’80′s to now; that means there were still plenty of very serviceable (and very fast) vehicles from the muscle car era being driven and maintained (in some cases by people as young as I was then) to remind us all of just how badly neutered the cars had become.

            Now, a Japanese import w/ 200hp in the ’80′s? That would’ve been maximum badassery. Probably would’ve sold at Porsche 944-level pricing, but it would SO have been worth it.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Actually, 200 HP in the late 80s was quite good. Like I said, a Mustang (or even Corvette, for that matter) was in the 200 HP range. And for the record, the only “classic” muscle cars that had any kind of speed at all were from the late 60s to very early 70s. By 1973, pretty much everything was choked by smog regulations and HP dropped significantly. Don’t kid yourself….very few of those older musclecars were roaming the streets by the late 80s.

            Either way, it doesn’t really matter. Today you can buy a factory Mustang with more than 600 HP (and that’s NET HP, not the overinflated GROSS HP from the old musclecar era). That’s why I said that 200 HP is nothing today. But take that same 200 HP FR-S or BRZ and put it on the streets in 1987 and you’d have yourself a car that would run with the big performers of that era.

          • 0 avatar
            Cubista

            \\Actually, 200 HP in the late 80s was quite good. Like I said, a Mustang (or even Corvette, for that matter) was in the 200 HP range.//

            “Quite good” for the ’80′s does not equate to “quite good” in general. It’s like claiming to be the tallest “little person”; sure, that’s great for you on a personal level, but you’re still not getting drafted into the NBA anytime soon.

            \\And for the record, the only “classic” muscle cars that had any kind of speed at all were from the late 60s to very early 70s. By 1973, pretty much everything was choked by smog regulations and HP dropped significantly.//

            Yes, I know that.

            \\Don’t kid yourself….very few of those older musclecars were roaming the streets by the late 80s.//

            Maybe you’re under the impression that I’m talking about 426 Hemis, 429 Cobra Jets, and 427 Rats. I’m not. Your basic late ’60′s/early ’70′s MoPar 383, FoMoCo 302 or 351C, and Chevy small-block 350 were still going to have more power than anything new in the ’80′s. And they may not have been all that common where you grew up, but you could find them in the parking lots of high schools and cruising the main drags all throughout the suburbs of Atlanta when I was a pup (graduated high school in 1985).

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          First, let me say that I graduated in ’86, so you’re only a year older than me. Now lets be honest. By the time we graduated high school, a ’70 Chevelle or ’70 Mustang was a 15-year-old car (which is just 10 years away from granting it “classic car” status) and there weren’t “a lot” of them roaming the streets. An ’85 5.0 Mustang is a classic car today and you don’t see lots of ’85 Mustangs on the streets, do you? I haven’t seen an ’85 Mustang on the street for at least the last 10 years.

          In the late 80s, the fastest cars on the roads (late model cars, not classic cars) were all under 300 HP. The Corvette, Mustang, Grand National, etc…they all had well less than 300 HP. But HP ratings don’t mean much anyway. Performance numbers are what really counts. And for that, I’ll go back to your late 60s & early 70s muscle cars. The fastest of the fast muscle cars from that era were capable of high 13s. Something like a Boss 429 could run high 13s all day long. Most others were low 14-second cars at best. So please don’t be one of those guys who remembers the “good old days” or the “golden age” of muscle cars as something that it was not. Big blocks and open headers were cool, but the fact of the matter is that we had cars in the 90s that could match or exceed the fastest muscle cars from the late 60s/early 70s. And today, it’s not contest at all. A garden variety 5.0L Mustang will dip into the 12s with ease, right off the showroom floor. Hell, a new V6 Mustang would run neck and neck with the old Boss 429 Mustang. Think about that.

          • 0 avatar
            Cubista

            \\By the time we graduated high school, a ’70 Chevelle or ’70 Mustang was a 15-year-old car (which is just 10 years away from granting it “classic car” status) and there weren’t “a lot” of them roaming the streets.//

            My original statement stands. Chevelles, Mustangs, Cougars, Torinos, Novas, Cutlasses, Camaros, Firebirds, GTO’s, Roadrunners, GTX’s, Chargers, Barracudas and Challengers…yes, I knew people who owned these cars and kept them well-tuned and running. They were not the original owners, to be sure. And judging by the number of ads popping up in the local Auto Traders of the time, there were plenty of them to go around for (obviously) a good deal less than you’d pay for anything new off the showroom floor. And any of them would have had more power than the early-to-mid ’80′s rated 5.0L V8s.

            \\An ’85 5.0 Mustang is a classic car today and you don’t see lots of ’85 Mustangs on the streets, do you? I haven’t seen an ’85 Mustang on the street for at least the last 10 years.//

            Two reasons jump out for that. One, honestly they just weren’t worth preserving. There is nothing timeless about early-to-mid ’80′s Detroit iron. The best thing you can say about a C4 Corvette is that they are now cheap, entry-level enthusiast cars that even college drop-outs on the fringe of the LMC can afford to keep as “second cars”. Me, I just tell myself that if Gretzky or Jordan wanted a Corvette in 1985, they’d be stuck with the same lame 230hp C4 that I can buy for less than $9k today. Second reason? They just weren’t built to last the way cars from the earlier era were. Planned obsolescence, cheaper materials, what have you. Cars became more disposable to the point where the manufacturers considered a lifetime customer as someone who repeatedly bought and traded in their models for new every few years as opposed to someone who purchased a new car from them and kept it running and maintained by the same dealer they bought it from for a decade or more.

            \\In the late 80s, the fastest cars on the roads (late model cars, not classic cars) were all under 300 HP. The Corvette, Mustang, Grand National, etc…they all had well less than 300 HP. But HP ratings don’t mean much anyway. Performance numbers are what really counts. And for that, I’ll go back to your late 60s & early 70s muscle cars.//

            Which is precisely what I have been doing.

            \\the fact of the matter is that we had cars in the 90s that could match or exceed the fastest muscle cars from the late 60s/early 70s.//

            Which doesn’t have a lot to do with the topic I was discussing, i.e., cars of the ’80′s.

            \\And today, it’s not contest at all. A garden variety 5.0L Mustang will dip into the 12s with ease, right off the showroom floor. Hell, a new V6 Mustang would run neck and neck with the old Boss 429 Mustang. Think about that.//

            Right. Today’s performance cars are indeed worthy of the name; that is also another point I was not disputing. That can’t be said for “performance” cars of the ’80′s. Quantify it all you like, those cars were dogs.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          It’s really a shame that you have no respect for the late 80s cars. They represent the beginning of the return towards performance. The 70s was a lost decade for performance cars. Like anything in life, the return towards performance became a progression. This whole debate started when I said that a 200-hp BRZ/FR-S would have fit right in with the performance cars of the late 80s. And that’s 100% true. But lets dive a bit deeper. You love to sing the praises of the late 60s/early 70s muscle cars. But the fact of the matter is that they weren’t all that fast in the first place. Most of them were 14 second cars at best. A few of the big boys could dip into the 13s. However, there’s more to performance than just 1/4 mile times. Those old cars couldn’t handle or stop worth a damn. Put any of your favorite old muscle cars on a twisty road course with a 200-hp BRZ and they would get their asses handed to them. That’s a fact. Hell, even a late 80′s Mustang GT could out-handle and out-brake your favorite old musclecars from 20 years earlier, while still running neck-and-neck with it in acceleration. That golden age of musclecars wasn’t as great as you’d like to remember. Back when I owned my 87 Mustang, I used to run it at Englishtown’s Raceway Park against quite a few old musclecars. And yeah, stock versus stock, I was right there. Won some and lost some.

          • 0 avatar
            Cubista

            \\This whole debate started when I said that a 200-hp BRZ/FR-S would have fit right in with the performance cars of the late 80s.//

            No, this whole debate started when I pointed out (correctly) that the cars in the ’80′s were badly underpowered. This is actually not debatable, and I don’t understand the insistance on believing otherwise. The specific examples I gave were from the FIRST half of the decade, where V8 engines in the last years of the C3 and first year of the C4 Corvettes were rated at similar horsepower figures to today’s 4-cylinder FR-S/BRZ coupes.

            We both seem to agree that 200hp is not a significant amount of power for a car that markets itself as being performance-oriented.

            Where we disagree is in regards to relative values versus absolute values. You want me to believe that 200hp is indeed a good number for performance as long as we focus only on cars in the decade of the ’80′s. I don’t find that to be a particularly intellectually honest thing to do as there were a number of cars still running during that decade that were built years before whose performance figures exceeded those of the contemporary cars.
            And let’s be honest, 200hp for a V8 engine displacing 301/302/305 cubic inches made after 1965 is just astonishingly bad. This was a time when Pontiac engineered (if that term even applies in this case) a turbocharged 4.9L V8 for the final two years of the Second Gen Trans-Am rated at 205-210hp.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          Cars in the late 80s were not badly underpowered. In fact, they were infinitely overpowered compared to the cars from a decade before. Again, you focus only on the late 60s musclecars without considering the decade after. Like I said, a V8 Mustang from the late 80s would run neck and neck with most of the 60s musclecars and would certainly handle & brake much better than them. That’s a fact.

          And I never said that 200 HP is a good amount of power relative to anything other than the 70s or the 80s. And again, it’s not so much the HP numbers that are important as it is the overall performance of the car. A 200-HP FR-S would smoke just about anything on the road from 1973 up to 1982, HP numbers notwithstanding.

          As for your comment about 200-HP V8 engines, you seem to forget that car manufacturers were dealing with increasing stringent emissions controls, which was something that they never had to deal with before. That’s what killed the HP numbers, not anything else. There was also a gas crunch to deal with as well, which further led manufacturers to build cars that didn’t get 8 mpg. So yeah, 200 HP V8 engines don’t seem so pathetic when you step back and look at the big picture instead of trying to remember the past thru rose-colored glasses.

          • 0 avatar
            Cubista

            We’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. For me (and of course this is a subjective value, your milage may vary, etc.), the standard for “reasonable” horsepower for a performance-oriented V8 engine is 300. If you’re talking about something within a 5.0 to 5.7L range, we didn’t start to see that until the ’90′s.

            \\Like I said, a V8 Mustang from the late 80s would run neck and neck with most of the 60s musclecars and would certainly handle & brake much better than them. That’s a fact.//

            Handling is the argument people use when they can’t go fast. We’re seeing it now with the FR-S/BRZ set, we saw it in the ’80′s with the Porsche 944 and the Corvette C4. It’s cool if that’s what you’re into. I’m just enough of a knucklehead that I can be happy with stoplight-to-stoplight, straight-line power. Something you didn’t see with cars from the ’80′s.

            \\As for your comment about 200-HP V8 engines, you seem to forget that car manufacturers were dealing with increasing stringent emissions controls, which was something that they never had to deal with before. That’s what killed the HP numbers, not anything else. There was also a gas crunch to deal with as well, which further led manufacturers to build cars that didn’t get 8 mpg. So yeah, 200 HP V8 engines don’t seem so pathetic when you step back and look at the big picture instead of trying to remember the past thru rose-colored glasses.//

            No, it’s not that I forgot…It’s just that I don’t care. And I’m sorry, but a 200hp V8 is always going to seem pathetic. You can quantify it and explain the reasons why it is pathetic if it makes you feel better, but it’s still pathetic.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          You sound like a magazine racer. You focus on nothing but 0-60 mph and/or 1/4 mile acceleration and HP numbers. The ironic thing there is that it is torque, not HP that matters for straight line speed. So for you to throw out an arbitrary “300 HP” as a minimum number is beyond retarded. As someone who grew up around all that old Detroit iron, you should know that torque is much more significant than HP when it comes to straight line speed. And FWIW, I love drag racing too, but there is more to any performance car than straight line speed. Those old muscle cars were one-trick ponies and they couldn’t handle or brake worth a damn. Sorry if you think that’s making excuse, but the fact of the matter is that my old Mustang, complete with 225 HP (and more importantly, 300 lb ft of torque) would run circles around those old 60s muscle cars on anything other than a drag strip.

  • avatar

    It’s like watching Boomerang Channel. More fun to recall than to revisit. But hey, I saw a guy driving a Model A on I-35 not too long ago. He seemed to be enjoying himself. That’s an extreme but makes the point. Point being that it can be fun to savor the old stuff and see how far we have come.

  • avatar
    mik101

    Pointless article… the generation ending in 87 isn’t revered one bit. You are a year early friend. Give me a B-series swap, an EEPROM programmer and an 88-91 CRX and we’ll talk.

    Disclaimer: Del Sol owner. :P

    The CRXs were never monsters before racers got hold of them. Just a great mix of sporty and economy for the average person.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      My thoughts exactly. My dad went to Japan in the 80s and brought me back a stack of car brochures. The CRX in the JDM brochure had a “VTEC” sticker on the side, and something about “150 PS” in the spec sheet, yeehaw.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    A few thoughts:

    First, cars don’t like to sit, and I bet that CRX does a LOT of sitting. The tires are probably old and hard, the brakes probably need to be bled, or worse they have silicone fluid in them for preservation reasons. The steering will stiffen up, and the gas may well have been kinda old and stale. Though that said, I always thought Hondas were cheap tin boxes, and even back in the day I thought any GTI was worth 2 of the CRX.

    MGBs are more of a tourer than a sports car. You can easily fix the brakes, you just need better pads, better lines, and a good bleed. My Spitfire has great brakes, but of course it is much lighter than an MGB. Those do feel like boats in comparison. Unassisted steering does take some getting used too – it is the worst aspect of my Alfa Spider. Brutally heavy, and I am a big strong guy. Though if the MGB had heavy, vague steering, it probably needed new kingpins. My Spitfire has lighter steering than my BMW…

    I can assure you, having owned one, that a GTV-6 is everything you imagine and more. “Like having your soul licked by angels” :-) Hindsight being 20/20, I should have kept is and passed on the Porsche – it wouldn’t have been any cheaper to make right, but it would be a lot sexier when it was done. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

  • avatar

    Cars need the right experience to appreciate. Doubly so when it comes to those that are ostensibly terrible by modern standards.

    Make them fix the suspension, get the right wheels/tires and take it over Ortega Highway while someone (other than Jack) in a same-year Fox body tries to keep up. Such is the experience that earned the CRX its reputation.

    Another context to consider is that in their day, most people didn’t expect much from these cars other than mileage and reliability. That they were fun to wring out was a pleasant surprise. History has flipped those expectations around.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    It’s amazing how much difference a few years can make, even for cars that are ostensibly on the same platform…to whit:

    A friend of mine used to own both a 1966 Mercury Cyclone GT 390 and a 1969 Torino GT fastback with a 428 Cobra Jet. In spite of the fact that the Torino was a manual transmission/steering/brakes car (compared to the automatic, PS/PB Comet), once up to cruising speed the Torino felt like a completely differnt car in so many ways. The Comet feels like a relic from the 1950′s and the Torino felt surprisingly modern and even somewhat refined when factoring out things like exhaust noise. Naturally low speed travel in the Torino was much more of a chore with the manual inputs and controls.

    Something happened to Ford products in the late 1960′s. In spite of using largely carryover platforms and components, they found a way to improve wind and road noise and raise the overall level of refinement that still is evident when comparing similarly old cars with mostly original components save for tires and shocks and the usual maintenance stuff. Both cars described above had under 45,000 original miles on them with original suspension components.

    My observations are borne out by talking to other enthusiasts at car shows who also say that Ford made some significant strides in the late 1960′s in improving their products and their daily liveability despite being similar under the skin to their older bretheren.

    Ultimately my friend ended up selling the Torino and keeping the Comet. Personally I’m a sucker for a nice fastback and would’ve kept the Torino, however I would have converted it to power steering and disc brakes.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @gearhead77: Bucks County. I live in this crappy little town called Quakertown, which is sorta between southern Lehigh County and northern Montgomery County. Our town is basically built around PA Route 309, a fairly major road that lets you go right from Philly to Allentown if you follow it long enough.

    We’re also fairly close to the turnpike, but most people don’t get off the turnpike at the Quakertown/Pottstown exit.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      @NoGoYO I’m from Pittsburgh myself, but I know where Quakertown is. My folks had friends long ago in Quakertown, though I was never there.

      But I DO understand PennDOT and its love of salt and brine!

  • avatar
    Power6

    Pretty sure the 1st gen CRX is not the legend you thought it was, well regarded as any CRX is but the 2nd gen was the stuff. But maybe you wouldn’t like that one either.

    I think you should drive the NSX, don’t be afraid of the truth, if you don’t like it, it is what it is you’ll have a good story to tell.

  • avatar

    I’m gonna to with you need to drive an 88. My father bought a CRX si about 10 years ago (an 88) I drove it many times and loved it. and I’m a truck guy and a bit of a Honda hater (never owned one). I don’t really fit in it but it is the most go kart like car I have driven. My roommate in college had one as well and despite being driven at red line across Maine many a time it was still quick and could win the late night road races on Route 1 in Washington county(mind you no one in Washington county had rally fast cars)and it lasted to 150,000 miles with that abuse.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Mopar4wd – are you a UMM alum? I was class of ’93, had an ’84 Jetta GLI most of my time in Machias. I know those Washington county roads well – especially Rt182. The Jetta was made for that road. I recall there was a guy at school who had a CRX…

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    Derek, to be honest, your experience makes me a bit nervous too…. and this one you’ve driven yourself and was disappointed with; the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R. That’s what I feel is my ‘ideal’ dream car. The lightest modern GT-R, relatively understated looks (especially compared to the R34 GT-R)and it’s historical importance. Oh and the RB26DETT. That and here in California, well the USA really it’s effectively contraband. I’d still drive it, but would I want to own one. that’s the million dollar question. My heart would say YES! But I know this car has flaws. Some you touched upon; the interior…. OK, not off putting to me but I can see your point. Then there’s what I do indeed know; the R32 had lousy brakes and was underbraked from the factory, it took the V Spec II model to fix that and they did that in ’94. Also the early RB26 oil pumps were prone to failure. Also stock, it’s fast for what it is, but it isn’t that fast relative to new cars. It’s about as fast as my former ’06 Mustang GT, fun but not a big deal. Of course that’s easily fixed……. I hope to someday be in a position to figure it out…..

    Then again, take the Nissan Maxima. My high school ride was an ’88 GXE. Back then it was more car then I should have had at my disposal. Back when I had more hormones then brains. In the 80′s this car was a big deal; 160 hp from an OHC 3.0L V6, Z car derived baby! Fully independent suspension, 4 wheel disc brakes, 15 inch H rated radials. 0-60 under 10 seconds. Doesn’t sound like much does it? This car wouldn’t even rate a ‘meh’ from Murilee on a junkyard visit.

    I know better though. This car was a blast to drive. It was fun but comfortable. It handled great, even with FWD. The way the VG30E screams lustily to it’s redline, how great it’s brakes are, it easily beats out some of the modern ABS actuated brakes of some modern cars. Plus that car just felt fast. It actually wasn’t, but it sure seemed that way. Just wish mine was a stick. Should a clean ’87-’88 SE 5 speed stick cross paths with me, I might have to bite….

    … and some context. I also owned a ’02 Maxima SE 6 speed stick. Though it was a hell of a lot faster then my ’88, it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t as crisp, wasn’t built as well…. at 100k it was tired, save for the VQ35DE, everything rattled or was worn out. While nice and certainly better then a similar vintage Toyota Avalon, it just wasn’t as great as my ’88, though specification wise, it was much better… oh and the rear BEAM axle on a flagship sedan, WHAT THE HELL NISSAN!!??

    Nissan effectively killed the Maxima after ’03, well actually the VQ35DE Altima killed it. Too bad, the Maxima used to really be a ’4 door sports car’.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    In 1987, I purchased my first new car–a 1987 Mustang GT. My brother purchased a new CRX Si the very same year. I drove his car a few times and really couldn’t understand the appeal. It was nothing more than a lightweight economy car in a time when gasoline was $1.00/gallon. The last thing on my mind was fuel economy back in those days. I could fill my Mustang’s tank for about $15.

    FWIW, in 1989 I sold my Mustang GT to my brother (yeah, he dumped the CRX) and purchased a new Mustang LX 5.0, a slightly lighter version of the GT.

  • avatar
    Styles79

    As an owner of an ’82 Celica Supra (with 90,000km/56,000 miles on it) who’s daily cars are always brand new (they get rotated at between 2000-5000km) I have to admit that my Supra takes a bit of getting used to every time I take it out.
    It feels vague, shakes a little, doesn’t brake anywhere near as well etc. etc. etc, but when you’ve got it on the right road, with your foot hard up the gas pedal, induction howling, exhaust roaring, rear tyres squirming, there’s just nothing like it.
    I’ve been spoilt with new cars, they’re just SO good even compared to a car just a couple of years old, but there really is something about my Supra that gets me every time. That said, there’s no way I’d daily something that old, it’d drive you crazy!

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I often think back on a few road test or road trip cars (circa 1993-1995) which I recall being “light and nimble” in some enjoyable way: A 1989 Civic, a 1990 Festiva, a 1991 Camry. Each of these had crank windows, basic styled steel wheels, cold AC, and best of all…a tossable handling quality. Even the finest preserved 1990 Festiva would probably feel and sound like a primative riding lawnmower to my senses today. But oh, memories and context.

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    maybe he should drive ‘younger CRX’ (later model),
    but still these Hondas are quite cool ( new Civic or CRZ are no match in ‘cool_factor department’..)


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