Even at 38, I daydream. But not about the sort of stuff you'd think. Compulsory European supercars have been repealed from my office walls only to be restored by more realistic, albeit conjured-up, images of my own classic Honda contrivances. Classic Honda creations that, quite possibly, even Soichiro himself would've been proud of and that are arguably more intriguing than the monotonous builds that so blatantly conform to the predictably predictable status quo of which JDM knick-knacks and relic wheels are the precursors we've become so accustomed to lately. The following are what dreams are made of.
1985-1987 CRX Si: Now is a very good time to be seen in a first-generation CRX. But that wasn't always the case. When introduced, small-car performance fans glorified the hatchback, but by the time the revised 1988 model was revealed, early versions had lost their appeal. Nearly 25 years later, though, what's old is now appropriate and few other cars speak of Honda's sports car beginnings as well as the first-generation CRX Si does. A ZC engine swap is about the only thing really necessary here. And perhaps an era-specific HKS turbo kit with its internal wastegate and primordial additional injector workings. And, of course, a Mugen aero kit with the accompanying CF48 wheels.
1996-1997 Accord EX coupe: If you remember the twin-cam-swapped, Corvette-yellow, DC Sports Accord from the mid-1990s, then you know exactly why the Accord coupe is on my list. When matched with the engine American buyers should've been privy to from the beginning, the DOHC-swapped Accord is just about the perfect intermediary between your niece's Civic and your dad's RL. Throw on some era-specific 17-inch Racing Hart Type Cs for good measure and don't forget the yellow paint.
1990-1991 Integra RS hatchback: I know, the GS-R with its unique 1.7L VTEC engine is the second-generation Integra I'm supposed to want. But it isn't. To me, early '90s Hondas are synonymous with prehistoric valvetrains and pre-OBD electronics. The only thing left to do here is to bolt on a pair of Mikuni carburetors and the lumpiest cams I can find. Go ahead and keep your VTEC conversion. I will, however, take your LSD gearbox.
2000-2006 Insight: First things first, the hybrid powertrain must be promptly discarded and replaced with just about any K-series we can find. A K20A Type R will do. Although the first-generation Insight—North America's first mass-produced hybrid—got away with all of that Earth-loving business without nearly the amount of pretension that, for example, the Prius did, the K-series just feels oh so right here. As for the body, the interior, the wheels—leave all of it alone.
1996-2000 Civic CX hatchback: When I think of sixth-generation Civic hatchbacks, the namesake's first Type R comes to mind. I'm too lazy to import anything and have no interest in shifting with my left hand, but for me, the CTR's accompanying B16B engine isn't optional. Don't forget the CTR gearbox and ECU. Do what you will with wheels and aero, for they're but mere afterthoughts to the sweet ring of the short-stroke, high-revving B-series.
1994-2001 Integra GS-R: Two generations of sound Integras led to what was arguably the company's finest: the 1994-2001 model. Although the GS-R tips the scales on the wrong side, there's no substitute for its 1.8L VTEC engine, close-ratio transmission, bigger brakes, and thicker anti-sway bars of which I have no interest of swapping into a lighter-weight RS. A classically appropriate DRAG or Rev Hard turbo kit will pair along nicely with the equally iconic chassis.
1993-1996 Prelude VTEC: Like the GS-R, the Prelude VTEC's rotund condition doesn't bother me. The 2.2L engine block is too easy to swap out for the Si's 2.3L version, as is the Japanese-only, limited-slip gearbox for me to not do both. Naturally aspirated persuasion is fine here.
1964-1966 S600: The S600 speaks volumes about Honda's sports car message in its purest form and is exactly what Soichiro thought a proper roadster ought to be like. Rear-wheel drive. No V6. Twin-cam. Independent suspension. In the mid-1960s, mind you. Modify one of these at your own peril.