Junkyard Find: 1986 Honda CRX

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1986 honda crx

The Honda CRX is one of my all-time favorite cars, especially the first-generation 1984-87 models. I have owned quite a few of them and found that the CRX’s combination of reliability (if you didn’t overheat and blow the head gasket), driving enjoyment, fuel economy, and cheap purchase price was impossible to beat for a daily driver in the 1990s. CRXs are rare in self-service junkyards now, most of them having been used up and discarded decades ago, and the few that I see get stripped to nothingness within days of hitting the yard.

Here’s an unusually complete ’86 that I found in a Denver yard last week.

Just 151,903.8 miles on the clock; no rust that I could find.

The interior is a bit worn, but this is mint condition by the standards of 30-year-old cars in U-Wrench-It junkyards.

Of course, the Powerade bottle full of what I fear is crank piss reminds us that this is the wrecking yard.

Just 76 factory horsepower lay in wait under the CRX’s hood — but this was a fun 76 horsepower!

The “map of the universe” Vacuum Hose Routing Diagram, shows why 1984-1987 Civics and CRXs fell out of favor in states with strict emissions testing by the early 2000s. In California, where I owned all my CRXs, if any one of those hundreds of hoses, solenoids, sensors, switches, or relays failed, you’d probably fail the tailpipe test. Attempting to chase down the flaw was a certain one-way ticket to Crazy Town (though I managed the feat a couple of times, thanks to endless hours of work and love of my CRXs).

I managed 50 highway miles per gallon in my (non- HF) CRXs without even trying very hard. The cargo area was surprisingly capacious and you could haul 8-foot 2x4s inside (left rear to right front, between the seats) with nothing sticking out of a window. The driver’s seat offered plenty of leg and headroom. Yes, it was noisy and bouncy and slow by 21st-century standards, but I still consider the early CRX to be one of the greatest cars ever sold in the United States. And this one is getting crushed before its time.

It was known as the “Ballade Sports CR-X” in its homeland.


In the United States, advertising for the first-year CRX focused on the nutso gas mileage.

The Prius is an Earth-destroying pig compared to the CRX HF!

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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2 of 86 comments
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Nopiho Kovaon GOOGLE
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.