As I was pulling up to the tire shop I got my first thumbs up. A guy who looked to be in his mid 40’s cracked a smile and gave me a huge thumbs up, and as I got out he remarked ‘Man, I haven’t seen one of those in forever! Those are fun little cars!’
Little did I know this would be the first of many similar encounters. When I bought my 1990 Honda CRX Si I knew it would be popular with the quirky ‘brown diesel manual wagon’ crowd of Jalopnik, but I never expected it to resonate with the public. Honda did something right with their funky 3 door compact, because despite being a 25 year old economy car it seems everyone has their own story to tell about the little Japanese car.
After I bought my CRX back in January I found it hard to not blab to everyone that I had it. Not that the CRX is remarkable in anyway, but like every other car guy I love to talk about my cars and this is certainly the most unique car I’ve ever owned. In the 24 years since production stopped on the CRX it seems like all of them have disappeared. They’re shockingly rare little cars, and despite having no personal experience with them I’ve always had them in the back of my mind as a neat old car. I mostly blame Grand Theft Auto: I loved to steal the Blista Compact back in the day, so the real life counterpart has always made me smile.
My expectations of what would happen if I brought it up in conversation were completely wrong though. I expected responses of ‘what is a CRX?’ from most, or ‘why would you buy one of those?’ from those who knew what it was.
I could not have been more wrong. Telling people I own a CRX has been the best part of owning a CRX.
“Really? I used to have one of those!” my former boss remarked as I mentioned it to him after running into him at breakfast one day. “That was a fun little car. Got great gas mileage and ran reliably with 150,000 miles on the clock” he went on to tell me.
“My uncle had one of those! I remember riding around in it, that thing was fun” said my fellow AIAA board member the other night as we talked about the potential for hail damaging our cars.
“I had one of those when I lived in San Francisco for a while” another board member remarked later that evening. “I loved that little car, it was so easy to parallel park! The only problem was it had no cup holders”
Just this morning at Cars and Coffee I was talking to someone I autocross with and mentioned how everyone seems to have a CRX story. He smirked and said “Mine was an ‘85. It was my first foray into front wheel drive. That thing was a blast, taught me lift-throttle oversteer. I wish I had waited until ‘86 for the SI though”
Then just hours later I pulled into a Lowes parking lot and as I rolled up a window a random stranger yelled out “what year is that? I had one of those in the 80’s. Got great gas mileage! I wish my Fusion Hybrid did as well as that thing did on gas”
People with exotics often warn others about the attention they get when they drive their cars. If I had bought a super car I would have been prepared for 20 minute delays at every gas station and seemingly endless discussions about my car. When I bought a CRX I didn’t expect a second glance from most people, but I was completely wrong. I’m glad I was, the stories people tell and the smiles the car puts on their faces as been one of the best parts of owning a 1990 CRX SI.
I’d say more, but I think I’m going to go out for a drive and create some memories of my own with the quirky little Honda hatchback...like seeing an odometer roll 4 digits for the first time