Day Zero: Project Costa Rica X
It is me, your friend and editor, Drew. It has come to my attention that your desire to purchase a Honda CRX has, perchance, been realized. I would like to acquire more information regarding this purchase to inform both myself and the readers of our awesome internet blog about cars. My questions are enumerated below. Please, if you see fit, answer at your convenience.
Thank you and Sochiro bless,
With regards to the car’s particulars, please fill out the blanks:
Model: CRX 1.5
Color: Blue on gray
Interior Color: Blue but painted with rattle can black
General Vibe: 400,000mi on an economy Honda. Bring gloves.
How did you find this car OR how did this car find you?
I have what I would charitably describe as a great friend or uncharitably call a terrible influence in Seattle. He constantly sends me Craigslist links to ratty-but-rust free JDM treasures buried in all the gorgeous splendor of the PNW, and he sent this to me, and I needed it. He was already headed out with a friend to buy a scrap W123 for parts, so he swung by to check this thing out for me, and now it’s sitting at his house to wait for me to make it to Seattle.
In one paragraph, describe your initial emotions when you sent the green light for your friend to purchase the vehicle:
There’s this really magical feeling of buying any car at all for me, just pure excitement at the untold fun that could lay ahead, but buying an all-time dream car for $700 has been really bad for my ADHD. I just immediately started thinking: Okay, what’s next. Parts? Plan? How do I get it? What do I need to buy first?
What, if any, detailed plans do you have specifically regarding your physical acquisition of the vehicle given the current icky virus circumstances and our policy to follow all public health rules, regulations, and general guidelines?
So all of the following is possible because my friend is replacing the distributor for me, as it currently doesn’t move since the one in the car is busted. Plan A) at the moment is to drive up in an old Mercedes-Benz with a friend of ours, drop off the Benz to the buyer in Seattle, and drive home in the CRX. Plan B) is to book a one-way Spirit flight and then drive home solo, which I have done before, but will be made even more interesting with the dubious heritage of this specific car. A) is possible when Texas numbers calm down a bit, I think, B) will most likely take years.
What, if any, detailed plans do you have specifically regarding weaving this car into a part of your soul vis-à-vis a project build?
It’s a CRX, I was basically born with it in my soul. I drove a CRX once (2G Si, Barbados Yellow Y49) and I immediately needed it. Getting one this cheap in this sort of shape does open up some interesting paths, though. For example, the 1.5 carby motor is not staying in. It’s got 400,000 miles on the clock so if it’s putting down 50 HP I’d be impressed. I don’t mind slow cars - all I’ve ever owned is slow cars - but the unique position of having a genius friend in Costa Rica with D series expertise, arcane swap knowledge, and parts stockpiles has made me consider performing a swap just because I’m in an amazing spot to do so. Additionally, the hard top 1.5 CRX weighs 1,700 lbs. It does not take much to make a 1,700 lb car absolutely terrifying, and it can be done pretty cheap. The very short version is: 4.40 LSD five speed, twin cam D16, and forced induction.
Finally: If you had to ascribe an origin story for this project using only the power of your imagination (as you have taught me in years’ wistfully past), what narrative arc would this build carry for the audience at large?
It’s 2001. The markets have crashed (again), permanently ending a decade and a half of Japanese bubble economy sports coupes; the 90s days of innocence are either at a close, or very close to it. A new Mustang GT breaks the 300 HP barrier, as the modern lust for horsepower starts to take hold. A 1985 CRX is probably worth $10 and you have a little more pocket change on top of that, but B series motors are still terrifyingly expensive. It is time to bust out the OG, the most storied swap in the history of the Honda: The D series. Turbo tech is new but by the 00s it was at least accessible - you’d spend a decent amount trying to get your AFRs set and sourcing your unit of spoolin’, but the power was well worth it. In 2001 this car was as fast as the tires you could afford for it were. In 2020, it’s still pretty terrifying.
Have you ever watched Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift? (Editor: Of course. Our editorial handbook mandates this as a prerequisite to have a byline on the site; besides, it stands out as the clear front-runner and strongest cinematic effort of the storied franchise.) There’s a scene at the beginning of the film when that main character no one remembers the name of, races his decrepit-looking ‘71 Monte Carlo against the school jock’s Viper SRT-10. That crusty, home-built, frankly terrible condition muscle car blasts through a house and through sideroads and beats the Viper. This is the CRX version of that car. This is the Japanese honey badger to the American Viper.
By the by, y'all go check out the photographer's Instagram at @rusty_speednut.