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 |   |  1990 Honda CRX Si - Bargain Building 101
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1990 Honda CRX Si - Bargain Building 101

With proper planning, 10 grand can go a long, long way

Sep 26, 2013

The bottom end of engine A will work with the top end of engine B, and will benefit from using pistons from engine C and the intake manifold of engine D. The transmission from engine E can be used to work in conjunction with the A/B/C/D engine combo. And what about the brains behind all of this? Well, there are multiple options in that category as well, both OEM and aftermarket. Sure, it sounds a little confusing in those terms, but when you put things into perspective, all of the different engine families and parts that have trickled down from Honda engineers over the last 20 years are like a Godsend to those who love to build. Furthermore, with all of the options available, the avenue you choose is in no way limited. As a result, just about every conceivable swap and Frankenstein creation has been tried and comfortably (sometimes not so comfortably) made its way between the fenders of a number of popular Hondas.

Over the last 10 years, Son Nguyen has seen his fair share of engine transplants and "wow" moments from within the Honda community's do-it-yourself crowd. With so much knowledge being accumulated and openly shared, he was dead set on building something that would incorporate a multifaceted powerplant, one that would take advantage of the strong points offered by a number of Honda mills. The foundation for Son's build is a '90 CRX Si that he'd successfully tracked down after combing the web for a good deal. His close friend, China Rath, knew Son wanted to build something Honda-related and helped encourage him to go with the early '90s two-seater. He adds, "The family around me inspired me to build this car. It basically started as nothing more than a shell that I'd found on Craigslist for $1,500. When funds started building, I began ordering every little part that I needed. By the end of the year, the total cost was around $10,000." If you're asking yourself where he came up with that money, Son reminds us that you can still acquire funds for your hobby the old-fashioned way. "I worked for it. And believe me, working 60-plus hours per week is no joke," he states proudly.

1990 honda CRX si password JDM carbon fiber lip 02 Photo 2/9   |   1990 Honda CRX Si Password JDM Carbon Fiber Lip 02

A portion of that money went toward freshening up the car's exterior. The original front end was removed and replaced with the more aggressive JDM front cap along with a Password:JDM carbon-fiber lip. A sleeker look was achieved by adding an OEM SiR rear wing and optional window visors, as well as Civic sedan rear door handles that eliminate the factory keyholes. Lightweight BBR Competition wheels and Falken Azenis rubber add an aggressive and functional look and feel to the Si, and just behind the old-school rollers are '93 Integra front and rear calipers and spindles. While working on the braking upgrades, Rath stepped in to help reroute the brake lines under the hood for a cleaner look.

Although the exterior of Son's car is clean and classic and certainly draws its fair share of the spotlight, it's what resides in the engine bay that garners the most attention. For starters, a 2.3L F-series block complete with K20 Type S pistons and a polished crank was mated to an H22 head stuffed with Skunk2 Pro 2 cams and Crower valvesprings and retainers. Replacing the original H-series intake manifold is a K20 RBC unit with QSD adapter plate and Blox 70mm throttle body. In search of better gearing from a factory transmission, a B16 gearbox armed with OEM LSD is utilized thanks to QSD's H2B kit. Spearheading the Frankenstein powerplant is a reprogrammed P28 ECU. Take a moment to look back over the last paragraph and you'll find major parts from no less than five separate Honda engine families working in conjunction to produce over 250 whp.

1990 honda CRX si CRX SiR wing 04 Photo 3/9   |   1990 Honda CRX Si CRX Sir Wing 04

The cult classic H2B--or as some have chosen to term it, the "G" swap (F series + H series)-has gained quite a bit of notoriety as of late, but when dealing with an '88-'91 Civic/CRX chassis, Son admits it can be a test of patience. "The biggest problem with this car was doing the actual swap. The H2B/G swaps never quite fit right in an '88-'91 body." On the flip side, the payoff has proven to completely overshadow any headaches involved with the swap process. "The best part about the build is just driving it! If you really get into it, it will spin all day long! Traction problems here, my friend, lol!"

When asked about any future plans for the car, other than enjoying the battle with traction, Son explains, "I might pick up some Speed Choppys, new seats, maybe a steering wheel and '00 Si cluster." With a purchase price of a mere $1,500, Son was able to put the majority of his project's funds toward making the car look, feel, stop, and go better than the factory had ever intended some 20-plus years ago. For less than half the price of current popular imports, Son's CRX Si can hold its own while maintaining the classic Honda hot-hatch appeal that helped spark a generation of import fanatics. Now that's bargain building done right.

1990 honda CRX si JDM window visors 09 Photo 4/9   |   1990 Honda CRX Si - Bargain Building 101

Bolts & Washers

F23 block
H22 head
Custom chipped P28 ECU
QSD H2B kit
Innovative motor mounts
Polished crank
86mm K20 Type S pistons
Skunk2 Pro 2 cams
Crower dual valvesprings
Crower retainers
Ported polished head
K20 RBC intake manifold
QSD intake manifold kit
Blox 70mm throttle body
Custom H2B header
Custom 3-inch exhaust
B16 transmission
Clutch Masters Stage 3
Custom lightweight flywheel
Rywire tucked radiator

1990 honda CRX si F23 block 07 Photo 5/9   |  
A K-series intake manifold adds yet another engine series to the Frankenstein conversion.

253 whp

D2 32-way coilovers
ASR subframe brace
Blox LCAs
Beaks lower tie-bar

'93 Integra front/rear calipers
'93 Integra spindles
China Rath brake line tuck

Wheels & Tires
15-inch BBR Comp
Falken Azenis 205/50-15

JDM front end conversion
Password:JDM carbon lip
JDM window visors
CRX SiR wing
Civic sedan rear door handles (no keyholes)

DC2 Recaro seats
JDM CRX rear seats
JDM Type R steering wheel

China Rath, Quyen Tran, Westlane Dyno Tune, both Hais, Chen, Team 1320 Stockton Racing, HD Towing. My family, especially my Mom to put up with me, my girl Reny, and Trang for understanding my hobby, Dereck, and a shout-out to all of Stockton City

Owner Specs

Daily Grind
Assistant manager at Safeway

Favorite Sites
Facebook, Craigslist, Worldstarhiphop, YouTube

Screen name

Building Hondas
10 years

Dream car
'90 supercharged Mustang notchback

Inspiration for this Build
China Rath

Parts-Bin Dipping

The melding of various engine heads and blocks has been around for a number of years. Most relate the process to the LS/VTEC boom that occurred in the '90s that took the torque of the 1.8L or 2.0L non-VTEC engine and boosted its performance with a VTEC head. Mini-me/D-series enthusiasts also experimented and refined their swap options, while the H2B combo came along and opened the door to transmission adapter plate production, offering yet another option for those in search of improved performance. Some of the other combinations include:

  • F2K/F20C or F22C from the S2000 converted to FWD using a K-series transmission usually swapped into a Civic chassis
  • K2F/K20 or K24 in an S2000 using the RWD F-series transmission
  • H2D/H-series engine with D-series transmission

1990 honda CRX si BBR comp wheel 06 Photo 9/9   |   1990 Honda CRX Si - Bargain Building 101


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