Updated 6/4/2020 by Rodrez: Back in 2011, Jason Powers and his 1988 Honda CRX Si were making a name for themselves as images of his picture-perfect '80s icon were floating through every Honda-related forum in existence. The level of restoration that Powers had applied to the car, along with some clever tricks and custom additions throughout the engine bay and interior still maintain their relevance in 2020.
During a weekend in which Powers and his wife traveled to L.A. from their Norcal hometown, I met up with them to shoot the car on its Mag Blue TE37s. Shortly after, Jason would go on to change out those wheels for a set of classic Spoon SW388 and I felt those suited the car better. So, I reached out to Norcal photog Quickworks to re-shoot the car's exterior and I used a mix of his exterior photos on the Spoon wheels and my engine bay and interior shots to round out the cover feature. Since I never released those TE37 photos and they've been sitting on a back-up drive for almost 10 years, I thought they'd be a good way to revisit this incredible feature/cover car.
Original Article from 2012:
The relationship between man and machine can often be a tumultuous one. If the ends justify the means, then all the bad experiences are often worth the struggle. Like every relationship, you'll often experience as many highs as you will lows. Whether or not the rollercoaster of emotions is worth it, is really up to the individual.
Your build is supposed to be the best car you've ever seen or driven—there's really no point in building anything less. We've all heard about the "blood, sweat, and tears"; it comes with every automotive build and story. The question you have to ask yourself whenever you encounter a roadblock is whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze. For Jason Powers, it still remains unclear. He's created what many would consider to be the ultimate CRX build, but he has yet to reach any level of personal satisfaction—and it's been over a decade.
"I definitely have a love/hate relationship with this (CRX)." Jason says. "It's the first Honda I've ever owned but in the years that I've had it, it has had its share of hassles. In fact, it's still sitting in my garage and I'm not sure what I want to do with it in the future."
You're probably asking yourself what sort of bad this beautifully built CRX could do to make the owner not want to hold on to it. A decade is a long time to have any car in the enthusiast community. If anything, Jason should hold onto it based on sentimental value alone. People always regret selling their first Honda but Jason doesn't seem too inclined to keep it. From the very beginning he already had problems with it—and we're not talking about the "beginning" when he first started the build; it was bad from the moment he purchased the car. Some would argue the validity of such things as "bad omens" but after hearing Powers' story, you may just chalk this up to bad luck.
"My wife and I picked-up this car back in 2000 down in San Diego, CA after seeing an ad for it in Autotrader. The car looked good in the ad and it was owned by a younger girl who seemed honest and nice over the phone. We decided to pick it up and drove all the way down from Northern California. When we got there, we soon realized that the car looked far from its condition in the ad."
Jason and his wife, Lisa arrived to a CRX with faded paint, cigarette-burns in the seats and coffee stains everywhere. It was far from the condition it was stated in the advertisement and the couple was not happy by any means. They'd traveled over seven hours only to be disappointed. If that wasn't bad enough, Jason soon found that the clutch was slipping and the rear main seal was broken, allowing oil to leak all over the clutch. He didn't want to go home empty-handed, so he talked the girl down to selling him the CR-X for just $1,100. She obliged and Jason made the trek home in his first Honda.
Though Jason was left with a bad taste in his mouth after his purchase, the trouble was still worthwhile because Jason had his hands on a chassis that he had longed for. "I always liked CR-Xs because of the size and the overall body style. One day I was searching online for parts and stumbled upon a CR-X SiR from Japan. I thought it was the coolest CR-X I had ever seen! After that I had my mind set on doing the Japanese SiR conversion. I'm from a small town so I wanted to be the first one in my town to do it." Jay states. "Believe it or not, back then there were only a couple of places that carried these parts and they were all in the So Cal/Los Angeles area. I didn't want to have to drive down there again, so I started looking on Ebay and sure enough, there were sellers online that had everything I needed."
Some would be skeptical about Jason's eBay purchases, but there were actually quite a few legitimate sellers back in yesteryear. There wasn't a flood of generic, universal, faux-JDM products yet and you could get real deal parts, often times direct from Japan. It took him about two years to finish auction-hunting, but he soon had his version of a U.S. SiR.
He sent the car off for paint and all seemed well until he got it back from the body shop. Jason left it in his apartment complex carport and one night, someone decided to break-in. The thief was able to take not only the CD player and CDs, they also managed to locate Jason's wallet and took an entire month's rent from it. He took it as a hard lesson learned and moved into another place where he had a garage to protect his pride and joy.
With a safe haven for his CR-X, Jason spent '04-'07 completely restoring his car. He sourced a B18C5 long block and tore it down only to rebuild it from the ground-up. Original intentions weren't to do so, but he bought the motor thinking it was in good condition, when in reality it was not. The seller had pulled a fast one on him and sold him an engine with bad piston rings.
Everything inside the block as well as the cylinder head had to be replaced and Jason used all new components for a fresh start. The engine bay has been neatly tucked and now void of any unnecessary wiring via a Rywire mil-spec engine harness, brake booster delete and custom brake and fuel lines.
Once the hood is popped, the main draw beyond the empty space in the bay is no doubt the gorgeous set of Toda ITBs with polished velocity stacks and the SMSP exhaust manifold.
Inside the confines of the interior you'll find everything you would inside of a JDM SiR CR-X, except that the Vertex 10th Anniversary steering wheel is on the left-side, and rather than opting for OEM Japanese-spec buckets, a set of lightweight Recaros were bolted in.
The entire build was coming together very well, as he not only restored his once tattered CR-X, but restored it to near Japanese SiR-specifications. The rest of the issues he had with his car could be seen as bad luck, but many others may argue that he had problems merely because he tried to finish his project with haste to meet deadlines for events.
His build had been under wraps for years but he had grown anxious in anticipation of debuting it to the masses. On a trip down to Los Angeles, he failed to lock the steering wheel on his CR-X while it was mounted to a two-wheel dolly trailer and almost lost the entire car when it started to come unhinged on the highway. A few years later, Jason called upon a tow truck with a rather unsavory driver who attempted to take the car back to his yard to potentially strip it down.
Powers' CRX looks as mint as can be, but it has given him and his wife their fair share of problems. It's recently fallen on hard times once again, and the rebuilt motor began giving him issues a few months after the photoshoot. "I'm not sure what my plans are with the CRX anymore." Jason explains. "I have another baby on the way and two other projects that need to be finished. I've just had too many bad experiences with this car in all the years since I've owned it. Only time will tell but it's back in the garage on the back burner again until I can sort it all out."
Sad considering just how immaculate this CRX is both inside and out. It's most certainly a love/hate relationship though. We love everything about it—it's Jason who has grown weary of his own masterpiece. When talking to Jason and his wife, you get the idea that their frustration exists on the surface but pride and sentimental value are going to keep this chassis in the Powers' stable.