In just about every community, there's always a group that seems to set new trends without really even trying. Whether it be a concentrated effort or a general lackadaisical "whatever" attitude that seems to magically jibe with onlookers, these groups are almost always noted in conversation, often compared to and almost forced to act as representatives of a certain style or movement.
The Five Mart / Osaka JDM guys know exactly what they're doing with their late '80s/early '90s Honda creations in terms of mechanical and technical terms, though we're not so sure they realize just how many people pull inspiration from the types of cars they build.
To some, the thought of just a basic swap with an intake and exhaust is taking shortcuts, but with builders like this trio from Japan, the hunt for a proper balance far outweighs the search for all out, raw power. Call it a throwback mentality or simply honoring the glory days of Honda building when the brand could do absolutely no wrong in the eager eyes of the average enthusiast and enjoy the timeless style that this group brings to the table.
1984 Ballade Sports CR-X
Owner: Hoshi Kaoru
You just don't see them very often these days. Honda's original CR-X, introduced in the mid-'80s, coincided with Honda's very popular third-generation Civic hatchback, which at the time had just been blessed with the Si designation - a move that would help birth an entire community of car-crazy import enthusiasts. Hoshi Kaoru was so smitten with the tiny two-seater that he chose to build a first-gen. CR-X and has managed to shape it into one of the nicest examples we've seen in quite some time.
The original 1.5L is long gone, replaced by the do-it-all B18C-R that rests in place via Hasport mounts. To get the power to the pavement through the classic Loop5 and Toyo R888R rubber, an Integra DA6 YS1 transmission is in place and houses an Exedy clutch, Toda flywheel, and 4.785:1 final drive. A little extra grunt comes by way of a Skunk2 header and Osaka JDM exhaust system.
Before the incoming second-generation and its heralded double-wishbone suspension setup, the first-gen. chassis relied on a torsion bar setup. To remedy the inherent shortcomings, Hoshi installed Honda Twin Cam's torsion bar and supplemented it with Osaka JDM dampers, pillowball upper mounts, and lateral rod and camber kits both front and rear. The combination helps take advantage of the featherweight Honda. And helping to bring everything to a screeching halt are NSX front calipers with Dixel rotors and Seido pads.
The factory seats and carpet are history, replaced by Buddy Club P1 buckets and a set of Checkerd Sports aluminum foot plates, while a rollbar with door bar extensions fills the rest of the cabin.
From the two-tone paint only slightly interrupted by a streak of red trim to the perfectly sized wheels and Number7 Racing carbon mirrors, Hoshi's CR-X defies specific eras and fills a void that you didn't even know needed attention. Long live the first-gen.!
1990 CR-X SiR
Owner: Harada Yuji
If you don't remember seeing multiple CR-X roaming the streets with this style aero kit on the regular, then you haven't been involved in the Honda world long enough. The most duplicated and popular kit to ever lay its knockoff fibers against the second-generation CR-X body, it was an extremely common sight in the '90s. The difference with Harada's version is that his is an authentic Mugen Pro. 2 kit that fits like an OEM Honda glove and looks so damn good that it all but forces a nostalgic experience every time a set of eyes is laid upon its white surface.
Comprised of six pieces, the Pro. 2 kit adds a bit of bulk to the slim lines of the second-generation CR-X and incorporates wraparound turn signals like that of the original SiR bumper. Out back, mesh inserts fill the rear bumper opening and just above, hanging off of the rear hatch is a Mugen-style carbon fiber wing that's been painted on top with the carbon exposed on the bottom, blending in discreetly with the CR-X's dark mid-window.
To further fulfill your Mugen Monday fantasy, a set of MR5 wheels were reworked, shedding their rather "safe" factory barrels, width, and offset for something more aggressive, now measuring 16x8-in. with a healthy sized polished lip to contrast the black spokes.
The interior has been mildly modded, with a set of Recaro SR3 seats replacing the factory SiR Recaro combo. The most modern piece to this CR-X puzzle is the recently released Hybrid Racing adjustable short shifter topped with a Dimes Performance knob.
Harada is content with Honda's native performance, and under the hood you'll find a factory-issued B16A, supplemented by a Fujitsu header and exhaust combo. That's it. The wire-tuck and shaved bay that you've grown accustomed to has no place on this build that pays homage to the golden era without sacrificing even an ounce of style.
The common theme between this trio of Honda builders is their faith in OEM performance. The search for high horsepower, peak number bragging rights never got underway for this group. Instead, they focus on a balance of suspension and mild power and take advantage of the lightweight chassis each one pilots. From an outside perspective, this EF9 is by far the wildest of the group.
Striking red, grey, and black graphics overpower the car's white paint for an N1 look and feel. Hiding under some of the lines of the livery are Osaka JDM's wider front fenders that house 15x8-in. +28 Enkei RPF1 with 7 in.-wide versions in the rear for a FWD stagger that pays off on track days with a hand from the Zeal suspension. The kicked up rear wing is courtesy of Zero Fighter and the stout aero mirrors come from Osaka JDM.
To spice things up a bit, the factory-issued 1.6 was replaced by an ITR swap that plays nice with a Y1 transmission. The only performance changes are an aftermarket header and Zero Fighter Racing ECU extension.
Step inside and it's the red hot Recaro SPG buckets perched atop a stripped interior that catch your attention first, before you notice the Cusco rollcage. Face forward and take note of the Craft Garage carbon dashboard that houses a factory cluster but aftermarket everything else, from the gauges to the active switch panel.
As trends come and go in the Honda world, there are certainly some time-proven constants. We're not so sure the Five Mart/Osaka JDM group realizes their reach and influence or if they even care. What we do know is that builds like these are so necessary, serving as a reminder of just how good things can be with well thought out parts and a bit of one-offsmanship.