Subies and Evos are awesome. Yeah, I said it, and I’m not taking it back. You can argue with me until you’re blue in the face, but all-wheel drive, a snarling turbo, aggressive styling, and an incredible aftermarket support system all rolled into a warranty-clad chassis is awesome. It’s as if Subaru and Mitsubishi went to a massive Internet automotive forum and said, “Hey guys, post up what you want in a car, and we’ll make it for you.” A far cry from the offerings you’ll currently find in a Honda showroom at your local dealership. Now before you occupy the streets surrounding the Honda Tuning office, I haven’t switched sides, nor have I lost my mind. I’m not going to trade in any of my beloved Hondas for one of “those.” I admire a number of different cars from import to domestic, old and new, but the reason I’m still motivated and drawn to Hondas today is the same reason I was enamored with them years ago—simplicity and results.
The idea that someone would stay loyal to a brand that doesn’t really recognize the wants and needs of an entire generation of performance enthusiasts is insane to some; I get it. However, I’ve never really looked at Honda as this performance powerhouse, unleashing monster performers to the masses. In fact, my first few Hondas, both chassis from the ’88–’91 families, were neither fast nor menacing in stock form, what with their spunky, efficient powerplants and peashooter exhaust systems. No, it was the nimble handling and lightweight chassis that really stood out in those first few cars of mine.
“Yeah, But It’s Still Just A Honda”
I must admit, I chuckle a bit every time I hear that one. They say that building a Honda is a pure waste of money. Well then, let’s do the math on the average enthusiast. He picks up a used mid-’90s Civic for about $3,000, then spends the weekend installing $10,000 worth of swap and upgrades to get around 220ish at the wheels. With that setup, he has a completely streetable car that, depending on suspension and tires, can turn a decent lap time on a road course and more than hold its own on an auto-x weekend. If the driver is up to par, he’ll break into the 12s on the dragstrip with a set of slicks and a decent launch—all motor, all day. That’s all for about $13K. “Yeah, but even with all that, it’s still just a Honda.” You’re damn right it is. That means that once he’s grown bored of being naturally aspirated, he’ll slap on a turbo kit (stock motor) that he pieced together for less than $4,000, and easily make over 400 at the wheels. And yeah, it’ll still be a Honda after that.
Sports Car Wannabe?
The Honda enthusiast community sees a large number of “dislikers” who lean on the front-wheel drive versus rear-wheel drive argument regularly. Their point is that rear-wheel drive was intended for a real sports car, not front-wheel drive. They run down the benefits of rear-wheel drive like a well-versed script, stopping only for brief moments to inhale and tell you how inferior your front-wheel-drive Honda really is. Well, they do have a point—most Hondas were never marketed or intended to be sports cars. They’ve never claimed anything remotely close to that. Let’s be honest, they’re not fooling anyone into thinking a del Sol is the same thing as a Lotus, nor do they fancy the notion that an M3 might be confused with an RSX. These are front-wheel drive econoboxes that the owners have built into contenders through efficiency and engineering. The funny thing is, 90 percent of those spouting off about their rear-wheel-drive gems are doing nothing more than driving their car to and from work everyday, never actually taking advantage of their “sports car” prowess. I know, I know, they tell you they’re getting into drifting soon so they need a “real car” to do that. Got it.
And what about the guys who are constantly bitching and moaning about how Honda should have offered the Civic as a turbocharged, rear- or all-wheel-drive super car killer. They go on and on about how they feel cheated and how they’ve lost faith in Honda for not stepping up. I would feel sorry for this crowd, but they obviously failed to do any type of research on Honda’s previous offerings. The more poignant ones preach about how they’re planning to transform their Integra into an AWD platform, but they never do. They go on and on about how they’ve got it all worked out in their head, and they’re just waiting on a few more parts, and not surprisingly, those parts never arrive.
The moral of the story is: Pick your spots. Choose the car that best suits your wants and needs at the time. That might mean more than one car over the course of a few years, and it might mean that you’ll never touch another Honda again. So be it. I’m fortunate enough to have found my automotive soul mate early on, and rely on no one but myself to get it to the performance level I desire. No finger pointing, no crying, I know exactly what I got myself into, and I’m quite comfortable. You should try it sometime…