John’s (purpose built) CRX

John’s (purpose built) CRX

A 1991 CRX isn’t the most popular choice now-a-days among enthusiasts but 20+ years ago it was a completely different story. The non SI models were among the lightest chassis that Honda had to offer and because of that it was a great candidate for a motor swap. Another reason it was a great candidate for a swap was because in Japan it actually came with a B16 so it wasn’t too difficult to cram a GSR/TypeR swap into it. Not only was the CRX a cult classic among most import tuners in the mid 90’s, but the second generation CRX (88-91) also received such accolades as:

  • It landed on the Road & Track “10 Best Cars of All Time” list in 1988
  • It won the Motor Trend “Import Car of the Year” award again in 1990

With the introduction of the K series motor in the early 2000’s, and the fact that the CRX had some “older technology,” it seemed as if the CRX faded out. With the amount of power you could get from a K20 there was no reason to hunt for the lightest chassis around anymore. Other things that outdated the CRX (like all EF chassis) were the fact that it came with a cable actuated clutch, tension rods and a cross member that made aftermarket B series headers a challenge to fit, and the CRX’s OBD0 wiring was somewhat a pain to deal with when it came to swapping OBD1-2 motors into it. Obviously now there are more options on the market to make a swap easier but whats the point when you can just pick yourself up an EG/EK chassis for most likely cheaper than you could find any CRX now.

At the height of its popularity, the Honda CRX was in such high demand that people had to be careful about where they parked their cars. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many car thieves specifically targeted those who drove the Honda CRX. But at the start of the 1990s, sales for the Honda CRX started to slump, which eventually led to Honda going in another direction. They did away with the CRX in 1992 (91 in the U.S.) and replaced it with the Honda del Sol. Some people still considered the del Sol to be a CRX at heart and even referred to it as a third-generation CRX. But it slowly morphed into a much different kind of car than the CRX until it too was discontinued in 1998 (97 in the U.S.)

So then why does one choose to modify and track a CRX now. Well according to John, his acquisition of the CRX wasn’t really sought after, but more just a good deal. A few years back John’s good friend Patrick had actually purchased the CRX from someone in California, and John had actually accompanied Patrick on the journey to California to purchases the CRX. The car ended up being plagued with small issues of which Patrick didn’t want to deal with, so he made John an offer he couldn’t refuse. This CRX already had most of the stuff converted on it when Patrick originally purchased the car (hydro clutch conversion, aftermarket front cross member, OBD1 conversion, and some cool race parts already installed)

Again though lets ask the question why? Why did john want a 1991 Honda CRX? Johns got quite an interesting history when it comes to the cars he has tracked. Almost 10 years ago you could find him on the track in his 1991 Turbo MR2 (98 engine trans), unfortunately this car was more set up for being all around fast as opposed to tracking but it was all he needed to get bit by the track bug. The MR2 was not only too much power for the track, it was also not the most reliable car. This meant it was time for John to pick up a new car, his car of choice this time was a Fiesta ST. The Fiesta ended up not only being his daily but his dedicated track car as well and after upgrading the car too much, it too, became unreliable. Now on to Johns third car, a C6 Z06 Corvette. We actually featured his car more than a year ago here on the blog, and you can read all about that by clicking the link below.

Ok, let’s finally get on to why the CRX. The Corvette was just too powerful and john wasn’t able to maximize it to its fullest potential when on track. Sure it was fun, and he was able to lay down some quick lap times with it, but at the end of the day the high horsepower, heaviness, and speed all attributed with the Corvette would cause him to go through consumables (tires, brakes, fluids) at a very high rate. The CRX on the other hand, was a very low horsepower car, sub 2000 lbs, and only used a 15 inch 205 tire (the Corvette was running 18 inch 315’s all around) which meant that John could do lap after lap, event after event without having to replace much. This keeps the cost down and allows for you to afford more track days. Plus the CRX’s FF platform, while not the fastest around a track (compared to a true FR chassis) is definitely is a lot of fun. Being able to go too fast into a turn, get oversteer, and not feel like you’re going to die is what a FF chassis is all about.

Since purchasing the CRX from Patrick, John has only done a handful of events in it. The same issues that plagued the car while Patrick owned it kept rearing their ugly heads, and inevitably lead john to completely redoing much of the car. Below is a link to one of John’s laps at SMMR that he did on the old setup a little while back. 2:53.9 was the time of the lap in the video but he ended up getting a PB that day of 2:52 that we didn’t film. In the description of the video, be sure to read the basic list of parts that propelled him to a 2:52! Things like 15×7’s, d15b2 engine, and no roll bar make that lap time all the more impressive.

After that event John ended up tearing the car apart and rebuilding/replacing/improving many things. He started by removing the worn out gutless d15b that was mated to a dx (A000) trans and replacing it with a (non vtec) JDM d16 and SI (B000) trans, He added an autopower weld in roll bar, installed spoon calipers, GC/koni yellows, got a Hondata s100, 15×8 949’s, and just overall cleaned up the car.

John has been refreshing the car himself over the last 8 moths in his garage, and has only just recently gotten it back up and running. Even though he is still struggling with getting a proper tune on the S100, the car has been completely aligned by Zenith auto, and is ready to hit the track.

Exterior:

  • Pci side skirts
  • Volvo lip
  • 949 15×8
  • Lexan rear quarters
  • Spoon style mirrors
  • Vibrant muffler

Engine:

  • JDM D16y7 Ohio JDM imports
  • SI trans
  • Bisimoto rep header
  • Custom Vband 2.5 exhaust
  • CT Intake
  • Honed booster delete
  • Hasport mounts
  • XP8 pads front
  • Hush hydro kit
  • Skunk full radiator
  • Spoon hoses
  • AEM fuel rail
  • AEM FPR
  • Hondata S100
  • Moroso catch can with single -10 line from valve cover

Nothing was done to prep the motor, it was just thrown in as is.

Suspension:

  • Full race traction bar
  • GC koni Yellows
  • Front Hard race camber
  • Rear honed camber kit
  • Front Stock sway
  • Rear ST sway bar
  • Skunk rear LCA
  • PCI spherical trailing arm bushing
  • Honed weld on RTA gussets
  • Rear strut brace
  • spoon calipers
  • carbotech xp8 pads
  • custom SS brake lines

Interior:

  • Carbon Kevlar momo corsa
  • Pci seat brackets
  • Stack st8100
  • Autopower weld in roll bar
  • Status 5 point
  • Checker sports hub
  • Hub extension
  • Checkered sports horn delete
  • Whitfield door cards
  • K20 Mart shift knob
  • Fastline shifter

John’s CRX is unique for many reasons and is sure to touch the soul’s of many long time enthusiasts because it’s not to often that you see a CRX anymore, let alone someone ripping one around the track. Despite some features, the car maintains a certain period correctness about it, not straying to far from its roots and only improving on certain things that only help reliability and drive ability. Hopefully it will be doing it’s first shake down within the next month (as tracks start to open back up). John is very pleased with the outcome of the car, he says “this thing is on rails” and “it’s like a go kart.” That is what Honda’s are all about though and it’s no secret that power to weight ratio is what makes a car feel great, and with a car that weighs less than 2000 lbs its no surprise that he’s loving it.

Sure John could have went ahead and swapped a B series in the car, or even a K series. But that would haven taken away from the nostalgia and joy you get from blasting around an under powered car all the while eating car’s up that cost 10-20x more than this modest little CRX. The goal of everyone’s build should be to make their car as fun and as functional as possible, not worry about being flashy on social media and showing off what cool stuff they bought. It’s very easy to get lost in the world of social media and justify your existence and validation in life through likes of other, but remember that it takes no skill or talent to buy cool parts and bolt them on… The real skill is what you can do with those parts and your car.

As always thanks for taking the time to read my aimless ramblings about non flashy cars. Remember to focus more on the fun that building and driving a car gives you rather than the lust for gratification you find on social media. At the end of the day none of that really matters, and the people that are the loudest are usually to first to go. I do this because I truly love motorsports, and the feeling I get from working on my car. Another thing to also keep in mind is… John’s CRX is going to RIP! It may only be a SOHC non vtec, but with how light it is and the amount of grip it has, this thing is bound to lay down some hot lap times. This means, that you don’t necessarily need to spend big money on motor swaps, but focus on building a very well rounded car.

Please feel free to reach reach out to me if you have any questions or comments regarding this post or any other one on here. Email Billy@functiontheory.com, Instagram @Functiontheory, or just comment below. I will reply!

2 thoughts on “John’s (purpose built) CRX

  1. What an awesome blog post! That CRX on track certainly will going to beat supposedly faster, more powerful cars! It has that race look, the wheel fitment is on point! I do wonder why not a 1.6 SOHC Vtec at least! Shouldn’t stray too far from the CRX period and it’s a nice bump in power while still remaining in the low powered bracket. Nevertheless, this build is awesome, so is your EK sedan! Wonder how you’ll improve your times with the bump in power that a B16 provides! Cheers and keep the blog posts going, love to read them and admire the photos 😀

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. Yes a 1.6 vtec might have been a little better but honestly if you look at the power number they are nearly the same. Plus when John was trying to order a motor it was difficult for him to find a sohc vtec motor, so he just ended up going with the non vtec one. I too am very excited to see what my car will do with the b16 and an LSD.

      Thanks again for reading and enjoying what i do.

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