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 |   |  1988 Honda CRX Si - A Thin Line Between Love & Hate
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1988 Honda CRX Si - A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

A decade now behind him, this artist is still at war with his masterpiece.

Joey Lee
May 25, 2012
Photographers: Quickworks Photography, Matt “Rodrez” Rodriguez
Htup 1206 01+1988 honda CRX si+JDM_CRX SiR front end Photo 1/10   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

The relationship between man and machine can oftentimes be a tumultuous one. If the ends justify the means, then all the bad experiences are worth the struggle. Like every relationship, you’ll oftentimes experience as many highs as you will lows. Whether the roller coaster of emotions is worth it is all 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, the answer 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.”

Htup 1206 03+1988 honda CRX si+toda racing individual throttle bodies Photo 2/10   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

You’re probably asking yourself what 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 on to 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 had 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, California, 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 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 as 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 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 CRX for just $1,100. She obliged, and Jason made the trek home in his first Honda. Though he 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 CRXs because of the size and the overall body style. One day I was searching online for parts and stumbled upon a CRX SiR from Japan. I thought it was the coolest CRX I had ever seen! After that I had my mind set on doing the Japanese (CRX) 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 SoCal/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.”

You may 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 you could get real-deal parts, oftentimes 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 the car back from the body shop. Jason left his CRX in his apartment complex’s carport one night, and 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 walked away with 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 CRX, Jason spent ’04–’07 completely restoring his car. He sourced a B18C5 long-block engine, and tore the entire motor 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 was replaced with brand-new components. The engine bay has been neatly tucked-away and is now void of any unnecessary wiring via a Rywire mil-spec engine harness and custom relocation of the brake lines. The main draw beyond the empty bay, once the hood is popped, is no doubt the gorgeous set of Toda ITBs and an SMSP exhaust manifold. Inside the confines of the interior, you’ll find everything you would inside of a JDM SiR CRX, except that the Vertex 10th Anniversary steering wheel is on the left side and, rather than opt for Japanese-spec buckets, a set of lightweight Recaros are bolted in.

Htup 1206 08+1988 honda CRX si+center console Photo 6/10   |   A mix of brand-new OEM and aftermarket make up the interior of this restomod.

The entire build was coming together very well, as he not only restored his once tattered CRX, 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 CRX had been under wraps for years, but he had grown anxious in anticipation of debuting it to the masses. On a trip to Los Angeles, he failed to lock the steering wheel on his CRX while it was mounted to a two-wheel dolly trailer and almost lost the entire car when it began 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 strip the car down!

Powers’ CRX looks 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 problems a few months after the photo shoot. “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.”

Htup 1206 09+1988 honda CRX si+recaro pole position seat Photo 7/10   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

Sad considering just how immaculate this CRX is, 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 classic in the Powers’ stable.

Bolts & Washers

Polished HaSport engine mounts
Blox B Stage 2 camshaft
Port and polished cylinder head
3-angle valve job
Blox flat valves
Supertech valvesprings
Supertech valve retainers
Block bored/honed .25 over
.25-over B16 pistons
Vibrant Performance engine timing belt tensioner
Toda Racing 48mm individual throttle bodies
SMSP header
High-flow catalytic converter
RC Engineering 440cc fuel injectors
Rywire inside-cabin fuel line tuck
Earl’s black anodized -AN fuel fittings
Earl’s black braided fuel hoses
Trick Flow fuel filter
AEM fuel pressure regulator
Rywire custom fuel hard line
NGK iridium spark plugs
AEM EPM module
OEM Honda K-series ignition coil packs
Rywire coil conversion harness
Rywire coil plate
Mizu full-size radiator
S1 cable transmission
Polyurethane shifter bushings
ACT 6-puck spring clutch
ACT heavy-duty pressure plate
Fidanza flywheel
CTR Helical limited-slip differential
Integra GS-R midshaft

Htup 1206 02+1988 honda CRX si+rear end Photo 8/10   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

D2 Racing 36-way coilovers
Suspension Techniques front sway bar
Suspension Techniques rear sway bar
Polyurethane suspension bushings
ASR subframe brace
Innovative traction bar
Function7 lower control arms
Completely overhauled suspension with new OEM components

Htup 1206 04+1988 honda CRX si+B18C5 Photo 9/10   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

Wilwood 11-inch 2-piece front brake rotors
Wilwood front brake pads
Wilwood Dynalite 4-piston brake calipers
Wilwood brake lines
Wilwood 5/8-inch brake master cylinder with brake booster delete setup
QSD delete plate
Rywire custom stainless steel brake hard line
Rywire custom in-cabin brake line tuck
Fastbrakes 11-inch rear brake conversion kit

Wheels and Tires
16x7 +45 Spoon Sports SW388
215/45-16 Falken Azenis RT615K

Shaved engine bay
CRX SiR glass top
J’s Racing front lip
JDM CRX SiR front end conversion with supports
Clear EF/DA side markers

Recaro Pole Position seats
Complete JDM CRX SiR interior
JDM Gathers double DIN head unit
Honda Access “Honda Super Sound” speaker grilles
Crow 4-pt safety harnesses
Vertex 330mm 10th Anniversary steering wheel
Skunk2 shift knob
Skunk2 short shifter
S2000 engine start button
Custom kill switch
Relocated battery
Custom carbon-fiber climate control delete
Custom carbon-fiber shift gate

AEM Ver. 2 engine management system
EK9 CTR Spoon Sports instrument cluster
Rywire mil-spec engine harness

I’d love to thank my wife for everything! I’d have nothing if it were not for her! She helped my with everything since the day we got the car until now. I’d like to thank my ATS Garage family and all my friends, especially Fred, Ryan, Bisi Ezerioha, Jeremy, and David! They all helped me in a lot of ways when I really needed it! Thanks homies! I’d like to give shout-outs to Adam, Ken, James, and Mike Jones at Wek’Sos Industries! Ryan and David at Rywire, Matt at ICB, Junior at FFTech, Joey Lee from The Chronicles, Rodrez, and big props shout-out to Bisimoto Engineering, thank you Bisi and Hedi!!

Htup 1206 10+1988 honda CRX si+side view Photo 10/10   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

Owner Specs

Daily grind
393 Union pipe-fitter (yeah, I lay pipe for a living!)

Favorite sites
NWP4LIFE and The Chronicles

Screen name

Building Hondas
12 years

Dream car

Inspiration for this build
My first Honda

Future builds
My EK Civic hatchback coming back next month and another secret project

A Family Affair

If the name Jason Powers sounds familiar to you, it’s because this isn’t Jason’s first go-round on the pages of Honda Tuning. Just two years ago, we did a double feature on Jason’s K20-swapped 1998 Honda Civic CX hatchback and his wife Lisa’s 1994 Acura Integra GS-R. It’s easy to understand why Jason has second thoughts about keeping his CRX because he’s constantly looking to improve these two builds. The Integra continues to look better at every event, and we hear the Civic hatchback is once again under the knife for major renovations. Jason is very good about multi-tasking with his builds, and word on the street is he’s got a completely new project to debut shortly!


Blox Racing
Fremont, CA 94538
Wilwood Engineering
Camarillo, CA 93012
Mizu Cooling Systems
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
Garden Grove, CA 92843
By Joey Lee
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