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1989 Honda CRX Si - RWD Experimental

The Honda engine swap the Internet can't tell you how to do

Aaron Bonk
Jul 29, 2016
Photographer: Jofel Tolosa

You don't want a rear-wheel-drive-converted CRX with an F22C engine underneath its hood. That's what the S2000's for—a car that'll get you all of that for less money, do so more reliably, and is something you can have by this afternoon. You also don't want a RWD-converted CRX with an F22C because you don't know how in the blazes to make it all work.

1989 honda crx si weirtech front splitter mounts Photo 2/18   |   1989 Honda Crx Si Weirtech Front Splitter Mounts

Aaron Weir, on the other hand, knows exactly how to make it all come together. He is fully aware of the availability of Honda's anniversary roadster, and doesn't care at all about whether or not you think this whole conversion makes any sense or not. "I wanted to do something different," Weir, a former machinist by trade, says about the engine swap and drivetrain conversion that delivers the '89 hatchback into the 21st century and hands over torque distribution to its other end. "I saw it as an opportunity to challenge myself and to learn by doing."

1989 honda crx si custom cantilever rear suspension Photo 3/18   |   1989 Honda Crx Si Custom Cantilever Rear Suspension

It's a sentiment that pays homage to the pioneers of Honda performance who sorted out things like B-series engine transplants and Integra brake swaps without so much as a Google search or a forum scroll simply because Google searches and forum scrolling had yet to exist, as had B-series engine transplants and Integra brake swaps. Want to test your Honda engine swapping acumen? Put down the laptop and see whether or not you've got the wherewithal to figure yours out.

As it turns out, Weir's got the ability to sort out a swap like this, but it's been a long time coming. "I wanted an affordable, sporty two-seater, and was considering the MR2 [and] the CRX," he says about the RWD seed that was planted in his head some 20 years ago when, for practicality's sake, he sided with the Honda. "I've always liked the shape and look of the CRX," Weir says. "It was sporty, but [it] still had utility. I once stuffed a king-size bed frame from Ikea [in it] and drove it home with my roommate."

1989 honda crx si c3 custom carbon composites front splitter Photo 7/18   |   1989 Honda Crx Si C3 Custom Carbon Composites Front Splitter

But you don't care about how well a box full of particleboard furniture made by a bunch of Swedes fits in the back. How exactly that longitudinally mounted F-series made its way into that '80s-era engine bay is a whole lot more exciting. And intimidating.

"The first cut in the firewall with the plasma [cutter] was the hardest," Weir says about the irreversible changes he'd begun to make, changes that led to a now turbocharged 2.2L mill that's good for 330 hp by way of the S2000's gearbox that transmits most of the 230 lb.-ft. of torque through a custom driveshaft and past a Nissan rear end. It's all very much in stark contrast to the car's initial mods—a short-ram intake, header, and bolt-on exhaust—made some 19 years back that Weir commissioned his brother to install for him. Today, with the exception of a bit of machining help from his father-in-law and wiring and tuning assistance from friends, Weir's done most of the work himself.

1989 honda crx si momo steering wheel Photo 8/18   |   1989 Honda Crx Si Momo Steering Wheel

"I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning," Weir admits without shame about the conversion that he says was initially supposed to promote his former online business, Weirtech, that specialized in more than 150 different automotive flanges he'd machine himself. Weir's father-in-law and business partner, Frank, was according to Weir, his constant motivator, continually asking him: "Will it ever run?"

It finally did run, but it didn't happen overnight. Weir started the project in earnest in 2007, finished it some five years later, drove it into a ditch, rebuilt it, and today is continuing to make tweaks to finesse things you'd never think about, like bump steer variances that occur when relocating the CRX's steering rack and rear suspension geometry that Weir says "was really just an exercise in trial and error."

"I didn't know much about cars in 1996," says the guy who, 20 years later, is in the process of developing his own one-off camber-compensating anti-roll bar for the CRX's rear end that'll maximize the tires' contact patch during suspension travel. "I like to try different things," Weir says. "[Now] I just need to find some time."

1989 honda crx si custom weirtech rear crossmember Photo 12/18   |   1989 Honda Crx Si Custom Weirtech Rear Crossmember

You think Weir's CRX is subjected to the track or some other modus of high-performance use and you're mostly right. Last year he completed Canada's Ontario 1500. But just as often he unbolts the six-point roll cage he'd fabricated himself, removes it from the car, and buckles his two kids into the European-optional rear seat. " If the sun's out, so is the CRX," he says. "When I'm not making changes to it."

1989 honda crx si weirtech front splitter mounts Photo 13/18   |   1989 Honda Crx Si Weirtech Front Splitter Mounts

"I just wanted a fun car to drive," Weir says about the 27-year-old Honda that's been subjected to everything from bolt ons to nitrous oxide to a boosted B17A1. "It put a smile on my face the first time I drove it home and an even bigger smile each time I get behind the wheel now."

1989 honda crx si momo racing bucket seat Photo 14/18   |   1989 Honda Crx Si Momo Racing Bucket Seat
1989 honda crx si 949 racing front wheel Photo 18/18   |   1989 Honda Crx Si 949 Racing Front Wheel
By Aaron Bonk
389 Articles
1989 Honda CRX Si - RWD Experimental
Tuning Menu
Owner: Aaron Weir
Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Engine: 330hp / 230 lb-ft torque F22C engine and transmission swap; Vibrant Performance air filter and velocity stack; DH Racing 74mm throttle body; Weirtech intake manifold; Garrett GT35R turbo; Vibrant Performance front-mount intercooler, aluminum tubing, and clamps; Precision Turbo and Engine 44mm wastegate; Weirtech / Vibrant Performance exhaust manifold; ARP exhaust manifold studs; Weirtech three-inch downpipe; GESi catalytic converter; Vibrant Performance flexible exhaust bellows, tubing, V-band clamps, and turn-down tip; Weirtech fuel tank and fuel rail; Bosch inline fuel pump; Injector Dynamics 1,000cc/min. fuel injectors; AEM fuel pressure regulator; Vibrant Performance fuel lines and fittings; Meziere Enterprises electric water pump; Speedfactory radiator; Weirtech aluminum thermostat housing; Vibrant Performance coolant tubing, lines, couplers, and clamps; Weirtech coolant expansion tank; Vibrant Performance radiator cap; Weirtech alternator bracket; ATI crankshaft pulley; Weirtech catch can; Roro Designs powder-coated valve cover; AEM Infinity engine management; Weirtech / Vibrant Performance engine wiring harness; Odyssey PC680 battery; Weirtech battery mounting plate; Competition Clutch twin-disc clutch, Hush22 Performance hydraulic clutch conversion kit; custom driveshaft; Nissan S14 rear subframe assembly; Nissan R200 limited-slip differential
Footwork & Chassis: Front: Ground Control coilovers (Koni shocks and Eibach springs); Rear: QA1 coilovers and Weirtech crossmember; Bings adjustable camber/toe links; Energy Suspension bushings
Wheels & Tires: 15x9 949 Racing 6UL wheels; 225/45-15 Hankook RS3 tires; ARP extended studs
Brakes: Front: Accord wagon calipers and Prelude rotors; Rear: Nissan S14 rotors and calipers; Hawk HP+ pads
Exterior: Championship White paint; Anything Customs vinyl wrap; Fiber Images carbon-fiber hood; Carbon Creations carbon-fiber fenders; C3 Custom Carbon Composites front splitter; Weirtech front splitter mounts; Kognition carbon-fiber rear wing; Weirtech rear wing mounting plates and uprights; shaved door handles; smoked corner lenses, bumper signals, and headlights; '90-91 CRX tail lights
Interior: Momo Lesmo One seat and steering wheel; S2000 instrument cluster; OEM digital clock; Vibrant Performance shift knob; Weirtech six-point roll bar; Dynamat flooring; custom floorpan upholstery; UKDM CRX rear seat; Weirtech billet door handle covers; AEM UEGO gauge; AutoMeter shift light, fuel pressure, oil temperature, oil pressure, coolant temperature, fuel level, and voltage gauges

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