All Richard Martinez wanted was a beater with a bike rack. A basic build featuring a B16 head and B20 block with just enough jump to make it fun. Fresh out of the Marines, he bought a bucket of a Honda CRX for $600 for nostalgia's sake, not knowing that the people he hung out with would prompt a build bigger than anything he could have imagined.
At the time, Richard had dropped the motor for a quick bay respray at his dad's shop, and while there a buddy was able to cajole him into semi-shaving the bay—a decision that required the car to make its way to a different garage. While there, the same guy kept stressing the significance of a K-swap, but being that Richard had just come out of a bank-account-crippling DSM build, the thought of spending any large sum of money on a car just wasn't in the cards.
But the prodding continued and eventually the CRX owner began looking into the K-series, a move that revealed initial financial numbers weren't nearly as imposing as previously predicted. Richard's rationale was that if he could do most of the work himself and gather used parts willy-nilly when available, expenses wouldn't amass as quickly. So that night a set of Hasport mounts were ordered from Rob Reinen at Prayoonto Racing, and the build began.
With the mounts welded in and the engine bay smoothed out, it was time to get Daniel Stoicescu to tackle a complete color change. But right away there was a problem. Richard was suffering from a debilitating bout of color indecision anxiety, and being that his sister's TSX had recently faded to a repulsive shade of pink, the thought of respraying the shell in its original coat of Rio Red presented more problems than solutions.
Although black was the preferred first choice, its delicate nature was anything but inspiring. So Richard started looking at other dark colors, eventually coming across an EG hatch that had been coated with Spruce Mica Green. Although thoughts of seeing this dark shade on a CRX remained questionable at best, he ultimately opted to go all in and sprayed the bay himself, a decision that helped with progress considerably.
Unfortunately the rest of the car was still in pretty rough shape, and with dents and dings galore demanding attention and Richard's limited bodywork skills presenting obvious problems, contacting Joshua Talburt over at PUDS Paint/Fab & Collision proved to be a wise decision.
After receiving a summer's worth of attention, and amassing an armada of K-swap goodies, Richard was finally able to pick up the car and trailer it home, complete with one of the nicest paint jobs he had ever owned. Upon arrival back home, the minty-fresh CRX owner immediately took to installing suspension parts, wheels, and a wide array of OEM rubber seals, weather stripping, and finishing trim. Being that many of these parts had been discontinued, there were some notable gaps in the factory-spec lineup, but at least the most important pieces were accounted for and in place.
By this point, Richard had everything but the motor, and when his sister's TSX tranny shit the bed one afternoon, he was quick to offer her $1,500 for the entire car. Dropping the engine and selling the shell for some spending dough soon gave way to refreshing the motor without opening it up. This move may have saved some headaches, but the manual tranny he had procured had a chipped final gear, a fix that was looking quite expensive. Luckily, a close friend who was a former tech at Honda and a CRX enthusiast himself, offered to help out, and before long Richard found refreshed internals and an OBX limited slip sitting inside the six-speed. Painstakingly slow may have been the process to date, but it was all coming together. Finally, as the wiring from CJs Wiring arrived, good friend Marvin Rodezno came to the aid for final assembly.
Completed and cruising in style, the unboosted 'Rex was a blast to drive, but things kicked into high gear following an insurance settlement after an inebriated broad pulled out in front of Richard's daily-driven Jeep one fateful day. With additional funding in hand, it seemed time to go balls-deep with forced induction, which proved to be more of a headache than expected.
After a string of sleepless nights rifled with creative cursing, along with a moment's notion of burning the entire car down, Daniel Stoicescu was brought in to tackle intercooler piping woes prior to the CRX's debut at Wekfest Chicago '17. Reactions proved to be nothing short of spectacular, and to this day Richard still can't believe he took home second place for Best Civic. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before, and with the show wrapped up, finishing touches seemed inexplicably close.
The car still needed a few basics, like getting more than just a base map onboard the ECU. Calibrating it properly and putting some additional intercooler clamps in key places while visiting Alex Pagan at Humble Performance helped significantly. After swapping a few reversed boost lines, Richard was rewarded with a healthy 410 hp and 318 twists of torque.
Once tuned, it became obvious that controlling a rampant CRX was completely different than handling a 500-whp DSM. Thus the traction battle began, with G4 Composites' first set of American CRX flares spearheading the attack, followed by wider 949 wheels and Toyo R888R tires all around.
There are few things left to do to the car other than cruise around and appreciate what the last two years have rewarded Richard with in exchange for all of the headaches. Fortunately for the supportive community, a passenger seat was placed in the car as well, so rewards could be shared equally amongst all. A wise move if you ask us, considering that the little Honda two-seater was intended to be enjoyed with friends and family, and used as a beater with a bike rack in the first place.