What I wanted from my ’87 CRX Si was hardly complicated. It needed to make more power than my previous car—a ’78 Toyota Celica—and it needed to handle better than the first car I’d ever driven—a late-’80s minivan. What it did not need to do, however, was to remain street-legal, to ride smoothly, to have any semblance of a color-coordinated engine bay, or to achieve any sort of government-affirmed environmental watchdog’s pat on the back. I wasn’t the only simpleton with such uncomplicated aspirations, either. Honda fans of the ’80s and ’90s cared about going fast. Technicalities like road-unworthiness or compromised creature comforts were but afterthoughts.
Priorities have changed, though. The number of engine-swapped Civics with factory intake pipes and OEM peashooter exhausts will tell you as much. So will the number of showstoppers with stand-alone engine management boxes and high-dollar induction systems paired with stock bottom ends and factory clutches. So will the number of consumers crying out for adjustable coilovers that are every bit as soft as they are track-capable. Such oxymorons would’ve been the stuff of punch lines 15 years ago, but have somehow managed themselves among the generally accepted vernacular of today. Those who piece together their cars to satisfy bureaucratic checklists or plush ride characteristics at the expense of performance are no longer few.
I can’t blame them entirely. Modifying a Honda in 2012 isn’t easy. After all, everyone’s out to get you: the cops, the EPA, the thieves, whomever it is sitting in your passenger seat bitching for a softer ride. They’ve all got their demands, and they all tug against everything that has to do with you making your car perform the best that it can. The die-hard enthusiasts will never fade away entirely, but they’ve since been overshadowed by the Weenie Generation.
The Weenie Generation is a nonpartisan one. It’s made up of no specific age group, no specific gender, no specific race, social class, or religion. They align themselves with no particular make, model, or engine. The Weenie Generation knows no stereotypes other than the one in which performance is sacrificed for being a weenie. The Weenie Generation hails from its own imaginary time zone where builds last forever and racing is never actually done. The Weenie Generation fools itself into believing that after that next purchase, that next perfect part, that final color-matched bit, then and only then will their weenie ride be ready for use. It never is.
Shortly after purchasing that first CRX, I experienced my first drag race. I lost. Badly. Of course, to beat the cars that I was up against, I’d need more power than what the factory 1.5L delivered. Trouble was, parts were scarce, second only to the amount of money that I had. Instead of mapping out my build on an Internet that was yet to exist, I made do with simple suspension tweaks, a lower ride height, and a fart can exhaust. I raced it again. A pattern began to emerge—one where I’d make single modifications to the car followed by multiple trips to the dragstrip. A well-rounded and thorough “build” as you know it this most certainly was not.
The Weenie Generation could never do what I did, though. Their cars have got to be at their heights of perfection before conversations of racing can even transpire, before they can leave the depths of their garages, their shelters. Burnouts cannot be made until their turbos are as big as thy neighbor’s. Apexes cannot be crested until valve covers and fender hardware match in glorified displays of eye-catching saturations and hues. Never mind the fact that, all the while, the non-weenies are tearing up streets and tracks, breaking records with half as many and half-as-good parts, some even with non-color-coordinated valve covers. As it turns out, the Weenie Generation’s got it all wrong.
Life’s short. Racing’s fun. Get out there. Don’t be a weenie.