The 1988 CRX Si – The Car I Should Have Bought

Thomas Kreutzer
by Thomas Kreutzer
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the 1988 crx si the car i should have bought

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.

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.

Thomas Kreutzer
Thomas Kreutzer

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  • Qa Qa on Mar 17, 2013

    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 I settled for a vintage E30. Cheers.

  • Msquare Msquare on May 08, 2013

    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.

  • Lou_BC Full sized sort of autonomous RC's. Cute.
  • Art_Vandelay Autonomous capabilities are being deployed (or planned anyway) in multiple combat vehicles. Should be fun from my perspective
  • Drew8MR Interior is trivial now you can get repro everything in various levels of quality. Getting the top sorted will be a couple grand, but I'd drive it as it. I drove a $1500 67 GTO convertible for 20 years, not every old car needs to be like new.
  • John Not everyone pays that much for power. Mine is 10 cents per kw…..
  • TheEndlessEnigma I didn't need another reason to stay away from NYC, and yet I was handed another reason.