Twenty-five years (give or take) have passed since the introduction the chassis that made arguably the most significant impact on Honda performance as we know it. The CRX chassis, specifically the '88-'91 era that now enters double decade territory, represents a number of milestones etched into the Honda history books. Not just minor notes, but major events-like breaking the ten second quarter mile barrier when the doubters said it could never happen with a front wheel drive vehicle. The short, abrupt, rear-end combined with almost cartoonish curves has seen every possible incarnation, from low-rider show stoppers to dominating track-only monsters. It's the unique versatility that's kept enthusiasts enthralled with all things CRX since the late '80s. However, reaching the double decade mark has no doubt taken its toll on the pint-sized workhorse. If you're in the market for a CRX, you've probably come across more than your fair share of rusted and beat-down examples.
Those who are lucky enough to find one in decent condition have a choice to make; restore the car back to factory condition through a traditional restoration, or perhaps choose the restomod route. While restorations typically focus on adhering to all things OEM from the seats to the engine, a restomod build uses modern upgrades along the way to improve a car's performance and safety. There's a bold line drawn between the two, and muscle car enthusiasts have been debating it for years.
Reynard Mauricio of Winnipeg, Canada had been searching high and low for a new project car after giving up on local offerings. "I always wanted a brand new CRX and I just got tired of trying to work with local winter-driven rust buckets," he said. Knowing that he'd have to look outside of Canada in order to find a suitable starting point, Mauricio contacted Marv at Coyote Cars, a local importer. After a few months and countless back and forth emails, a '90 SiR glass-top was sourced in the fall of 2007. Just three weeks after picking up his new car, Mauricio started tearing it apart, piece by piece. The way he explains it, the goal was simple. "I wanted to make the car as close to new as possible, but with a few aftermarket upgrades to make it that much better."
The choice to treat his new right-hand drive to a complete restomod started first by pulling out the factory motor. In its day, the stock power-plant would have been more than enough to satisfy Mauricio's appetite for speed. But with 20 years of development now behind Honda, he was more than confident that his project would be better off using a newer form of motivation. With the OEM engine removed and sold, the stripped shell was sent to the body shop for a fresh coat of "Pepper White" from of all cars, a Mini Cooper. "I originally wanted to paint it championship white, but I'd seen that done a few times already. I was looking for something a little different, and to this day, I haven't seen another CRX painted Pepper White," he says thankfully.
Wish a fresh coat of paint also came new OEM moldings, driver and passenger glass, and front windshield. Out back, a set of FAL Lexan windows were chosen to shave a few pounds. To clean up the engine bay, Mauricio took it upon himself to rip out all of the car's wiring and delete any unnecessary plugs, then added braided nylon sleeves and performed a brake line tuck.
When it finally came time to drop the K20 into its new home, a problem reared its ugly head. Due to differences between the Japanese and U.S. CRX frame rails, his HaSport mounts weren't going to sit flush. The solution was a re-machined EK rear transmission mount, custom sub-frame bracket, and aluminum spacer to fill the passenger side mount. Once that was taken care of, another situation popped up. Due to space constraints, the power-steering pump was removed for hood clearance. This would mean a properly closing hood, but it also meant not being able to use the OEM power-steering rack. Mauricio decided to place an order through Honda Primo of Japan, and received a brand new OEM manual rack. While he had the credit card out, he also opted for a brand new five-lug conversion to mount a set of 17-inch Dunlop Formula CP-Rs; a wheel and size rarely seen on CRX builds.
In most instances, adding bolt-on power parts is one of the easiest upgrades to tackle. However, with the custom positioning of the motor, that was out of the question. Custom fabrication was needed to securely mount the Full Race traction bar and aluminum ARC intake. A free-flowing exhaust system would also have to be a custom affair. He says, "I didn't want to drop a ton of money on an exhaust system and header that would have to be hacked up to fit. I contacted Dougie at Garage Blitz and he built me a custom 'pie-cut' header and exhaust piping that leads to a Legalis R muffler." Well known locally for his custom-built turbo manifolds, Mauricio's CRX would be Dougie's first attempt at creating an N/A exhaust manifold. After the ordeal, Dougie assured Mauricio that it will in fact be his last.
Eighteen months was all it took to create a CRX masterpiece that flirts with the title of restoration, yet stands proudly under the restomod banner.The one-of-kind custom fabrication and impeccable attention to detail serve as the fountain of youth for this two-seater classic.
Bolts & Washers
K20A transmission w/LSD
Hasport motor mounts
ARC super induction box
ARC suction pipe
Hondata intake manifold gasket
GarageBlitz header built with Burns stainless-steel GarageBlitz 3inch collector
Fujitsubo Legalis R muffler with Cusco exhaust hangers
Vibrant Performance 3inch resonator
GarageBlitz radiator, overflow, and water neck
Samco radiator hoses
BDL fuel rail
Earl's lines and fittings
Aeromotive fuel regulator
B&M fuel pressure gauge
Wilwood clutch master cylinder
Full hydraulic clutch conversion
DSS stage 2.9 axles
Karcepts A/C and PS removal kit
K-tuned coolant plugs
R Crew Racing IACV delete
J's Racing valve cover
ARC titanium plug cover
ARC radiator caps
Techflex braided wires sleeving
PIC select adjustable coilovers (10K front, 8K rear)
ASR rear sub-frame brace, rear sway bar, and end links
Skunk2 rear camber kit
EM Racing bars
SRR rear lower control arms
Brand new OEM '98 spec ITR 5-lug conversion
DA knuckles and wheel bearings
OEM RHD manual rack conversion
Full Race traction bar
Brembo cross drilled rotors
EBC "green stuff" brake pads
Spoon 4-pot calipers
Motul brake fluid
Goodridge steel braided lines
Brake line tuck using all AN fittings
ARP extended studs
Project Kics lug nuts
Rims & Rubber
Dunlop Formula CP-R
15x7 +35 front, 15x7.5 +27 rear
Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 195/50-15
J's racing front lip
GT Solarwing rear visor
Honda Access window visors
VIS carbon fiber hood
FAL lexan rear quarter windows
FAL lexan rear window
Shaved rear wiper, spoiler, and antenna Shaved engine bay
Mini Cooper "pepper white" paint
Brand new OEM windshield, door glass
and all moldings
Bride carbon kevlar Gias bucket seats
Bride low-max seat rails
Custom Bride material door inserts, window visors, and floor mats
Takata memory foam pads
Nardi 350mm deep corn steering wheel
Mugen sport pedals
JDM ITR 6-speed shift knob
Honda Access glass roof cover
Honda Access snake light
Kanji climate control
All unnecessary plugs removed
All harnesses re-sleeved in braided nylon
My Mom & Dad, My girlfriend Michelle for always being there for me while I spent so many hours on this project, Randell, Richie, Nate, Eddie, Donnell, Jhorick, G106 Family, Fleet Auto body Crew, Dougie at GarageBiitz, Matt and John at SpeedFactor, Dave at EvoGarage, Lee at DSS, Rywire, Marv at CoyoteCars, Speedtech, Teknotik, and the Honda/Acura Family in the Peg!
NWP4life.com, Honda-tech.com, Winnipegheights.com
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Always wanted a brand new CR-X
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Civic Renaissance Experimental
In the early '80s, Honda Executive Vice President Yoshihide Munekuni had visions of a marketing opportunity like no other. Residing near Riverside during the gas crisis, he noted young couples who were forced to buy overpriced gas to fuel their long commutes to work, while struggling to pay their house note and various bills. His idea was simple, build a Honda automobile hat would hit an unprecedented 50mpg. Honda R&D of Japan said the idea was impossible, so Munekuni turned to Honda Research America (HRA) in Torrance, CA, to assist in the project's development. Relying on a lightweight chassis and cutting edge aerodynamics, the HRA team utilized the styling they'd been developing for the third generation Civic that would debut in 1984. This also helped name the new project after it had been referred to a sort of "Civic Renaissance." Eventually, the name Civic Renaissance Experimental, or CRX, managed to crush the 50mpg goal with a 1.3L HF (High Fuel economy) model that squeezed an EPA rated 51mpg city/67mpg highway!
In late 1982, during an 11pm road test of the CRX project, the city Sheriff pulled the car over. The reason; the early prototype was geared so tall that the car couldn't maintain its speed up a hill on Crenshaw blvd into Palos Verdes. The officer issued a citation for lack of a VIN number and let the test pilots go.