The Honda CRX is one of my very favorite 1980s cars, hailing from an era when Americans paid well over MSRP and/or waited for months for the privilege of getting a new Honda. Twenty years ago, I owned a few early CRXs (before giving up on the carbureted CVCC examples, which were impossible to get through California’s strict emissions tests due to the “Map of the Universe” tangle of vacuum lines), and I often thought of getting a fuel-injected late CRX.
Such cars were expensive back then, but values have plummeted to the point where I now see 1988-1991 CRXs at U-Wrench-type yards. Here’s one in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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.
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.
After Clueless Racing won the American Irony race, they spent 18 months in the wilderness, leading in race after race… and then their engine would blow another head gasket or throw another rod. They did everything right, but fell afoul of LeMons Rule #11B: Hondas Blow Up. Today, however, the Clueless Racing CRX grabbed the lead early on Saturday and never relinquished it.
So many 24 Hours of LeMons teams have their still-beating hearts torn out by the Civic and Integra, race after race; the little Hondas are very quick around a road course (which is the evil lure that makes teams want to race them), but the B and D engines have this terrible head-gasket-blowing problem. When they’re not losing the head gasket— usually 15 hours into a 20-hour race— then they’re shooting connecting rods in all directions. Who cares? When today’s race session was over, Honda products sat in the top three positions.
There was a time in the late 1990s and early 2000s when I had two 1985 Civic hatchbacks and an ’85 CRX, all at the same time. They were fun to drive, sipped gas, rarely malfunctioned, and Pick-Your-Part in Hayward always had at least a half-dozen compatible parts donors on the yard. Truly, it was Civic Utopia.
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