Feeling a bit nostalgic lately, I decided to embark on a new build. I know, I already have a few underway and adding another to the stable is just going to add to the stress, but builds are fun...and addictive. Already in deep waters with the Project S2K that went from a few bolt-ons, suspension and mild exterior upgrades to completely tearing down the engine for major surgery, as well as the daily driver Project Si sedan that will be bulking up over the next few months, I was still missing something.
Don't get me wrong, the S2000 is a blast to drive and it will be that much better once all of it is back together in one-piece. It's hard to not have fun in a RWD, topless two-seater that loves to be tossed around; especially after some more torque finds its way to the rear wheels. The Si was to be nothing more than a people mover to rack up miles with and provide a little fun here and there. The 4dr grew on me rather quickly and before I knew it, I became a true eighth-gen fan. I didn't see the fascination before, but after a year or two behind the wheel, I can honestly say that now I get it.
Flipping through some very old photos (real photos, that you can actually hold) I came across my first Honda, a mildly modified '91 Civic Si in Tahitian Green. While I enjoyed the car, my goal was a CRX, and eventually I found myself in a bright red '90 CRX Si somewhere around 1994. That car would see a few paint jobs, multiple engine swaps, eventually a custom stroker kit, far too many tickets, and almost earned me a little jail time--great times nonetheless. A few photos beyond my CRX is where I see my best friend's '93 Integra LS Special. Lowered on 5Zigen Div.3 N1R wheels, and sporting the appropriate Fuba antenna and PIAA 959s, a must have during the early '90s; it brought back a ton of memories. A daily driver, the car was kept ridiculously clean, and I can recall him spending just about every Saturday, like myself, washing and polishing the paint, carefully cleaning the wheels, and applying tire shine for that "just detailed" look. It was no slouch either. Armed with the original B18A, a heavily milled and ported/polished head, large custom cams, custom cold-air intake (before they were the rage), cam gears, and one of the lumpiest idles I've ever heard from a Honda engine; the non-VTEC mill spit out over 160 whp which for that time, was pretty remarkable. I won't incriminate him or myself, but the Integra saw its fair share of "encounters" and never had any issues holding its own. Some of you are cracking a smile while reading this because you were around at that time, taking part in the movement. You understand the Fuba/PIAA comment and the how 160 whp meant something special at that time.
The walk down memory lane all but forced me to look for an early '90s Integra to bring back to life. With some serious online searching, I eventually found one. The car is rough, real rough. Dents, dings, and 20 years of hard living have certainly taken their toll. In all honesty, I hadn't even sat inside of a second-gen Integra for at least 15 years when I plopped down into the driver seat and took a look around. Hand on the steering wheel and the stirring of the shifter, it just felt so familiar, so right--I couldn't pass it up. "Shut up and take my money," rang in my head and I wanted to get the car home ASAP.
Terrible brakes that required careful distancing to avoid disaster, mismatched balloon tires mounted to OEM black steel wheels, a clunky transmission that grinds Second and Third at just about any RPM, and an aftermarket deck and amp that powers but one rear deck speaker were all part of my latest purchase. Funny part is, I couldn't have been any happier on my hour and a half drive home. The large front windshield and angled hood lend to unparalleled road vision, the sporty dash, although outdated to the masses, is perfect in my eyes. I even looked past the annoying motorized shoulder belts that only serve one purpose: to annoy owners.
"There's just something about those '90s Hondas." You've read it online a million times and heard that phrase tumble out of the mouths of Honda fans that you run across at every track, show, and meet you've ever been to. I tend to agree. To say that cars back then had more character is rather cliche as it was a different time, a different atmosphere entirely, and I don't expect everyone will share my sentiments. Still, there is truly something very special about these cars that were produced during an era that essentially built the community that many take for granted nowadays. I'm glad to be back.