With 600 miles and three mountain passes behind me I still had 400 miles to go, yet I found myself benched on the side of the freeway with smoke pouring out of my front brakes. Most sane people don’t leave their wife and two kids at home to travel to a place where temperatures rise over 115 degrees, just to buy a 22-year-old piece of Japanese faded glory. Some people might do it for 69′ Yenko or COPO Camaro. Maybe even an old Mustang of the right vintage would warrant the trip. Even then, the method of choice to bring it home is on a trailer, riding in air-conditioned cab.
I chose the “road less traveled” and bought a Honda CRX with nearly 200,000 miles on the clock, sun bleached paint, and a rusty sunroof. Did I mention the lack of cruise control and air conditioning? Oh, that’s right, I drove it home too. It turns out my brake booster went bad and was applying my brakes, conveniently at 80 MPH and in a rain storm. It took me longer than expected but I did make it home, with a stick wrapped in cellophane jammed in the vacuum hose to the brake booster to get me by.
Some might ask the question, ”what would posses a bright young man like me to go through so much trouble, just for a clunky old Honda?” The question that should be asked is “where can I get one of those?” While some may laugh when I say that the Honda CRX is a classic and future collectible. I have to check their age before I can take them seriously. The average 60-year-old will tell you the best cars came from the 1950’s to early 1970’s. Those were the days of the classy chromed behemoths with elegant wings, the muscle cars with lumpy idles and wide tires, and the cars that you see bringing three to four times what they sold for brand new. I couldn’t agree more that those cars are classics and collectible. Trust me, I’m the first guy leaving a saliva trail behind the 55’ Chevy that just cruised Main Street.
That being said, the average 30-year-old grew up with the 1800-pound Honda CRX. A car that that still to this day holds the record for the most fuel-efficient car sold in America. Not only did the CRX save big money at the pump but it also put big smiles on the lucky occupants to fill its two seats, and it did it without expensive hybrid systems. The CRX is arguably the car responsible for Honda’s weighty reputation in the motorsports world, or at least got it started. From 1984 to 1991, the Honda CRX barely tipped a ton as it grew heavier into its second generation but Honda kept adding power to keep the power to weight ratio down.
The CRX was light, tossable, and fuel-efficient. Certain models, sold only in Japan and the UK, came with VTEC. The B16a found under the hood of my CRX is period correct, redlines at 8100 RPM, and produces roughly 160 HP. Hooked up to notchy & nicely weighted 5-speed, my little Japanese 4-banger can hang with many of today’s more expensive and powerful sports cars.
Motor Trend Classic compares the original CRX to the original I-pod. Most people have forgotten about the original in the torrent of current offerings. Yet the original started it all. Honda pioneered technologies like VTEC (Variable Valve Timing& Electronic Lift Control) and like the I-Pod the CRX set the groundwork for a near cult following. All those Honda’s driving around in movies like Fast & the Furious and the countless Si & SiR stickers you see people slapping on their trunks. For that you can thank the CRX.
Fast-forward another twenty years and the classics that are popular today will be twice as popular, but what will be classic from the 80’s and 90’s? You can bet the CRX will be one. If you don’t believe me just talk to someone who’s owned one, they’ll tell you what’s up. The CRX may not be bringing big money yet, but a few examples have. The example shown here brought thousands more than it was worth brand new. Many automotive journalists bought them new after driving them for their article reviews. They fell in love with the little tin can from Japan. Car & Driver even listed the CRX as one of the ten best cars ever made. Classics become classics because they were trend setting; they have a timeless design, and most importantly because people loved them. The CRX passes all of those tests. Most current classic car collectors could care less about the CRX, to their discredit. However, there are a whole slew of people in the rising generation that think differently. That makes all the difference.