Unearthed: 1991 Honda CRX Si

A completely original example of one of the best models Honda has ever built is now up for sale.

There was a time when Honda was considered a rebel in the automotive industry. It didn’t always play by the rules established by larger automakers. Those companies often felt that when it came to cars, bigger was always better. Instead, Honda designed small and medium-sized cars that were very reliable, had solid power outputs from smaller engines, and were a hoot to drive. Today it is claimed, and rightly so, that Honda has lost some of its former magic in its quest to go more mainstream.

While we hope Honda one day manages to rediscover its roots, there was a time when it built one of the best all-around small hatches on the market. It needs little to no introduction but the Honda CRX is unquestionably one of the Japanese marque's finest models. First launched in the US in 1983, the CRX was powered by a 1.3-liter inline-four with just 58 horsepower, which was soon upgraded to 1.5-liters with around 75 hp. But what was truly incredible was its fuel economy numbers. The US-spec CRX HF (High Fuel economy) returned 41 mpg city and 50 mpg highway – and this was more than a decade before the first hybrids began to appear.

On top of this, the CRX was still wicked fun to drive thanks to that peppy engine and five-speed manual gearbox. The second-gen model launched in 1988 and while its exterior design wasn’t all that dramatically different, Honda made some major changes under the skin. For starters, the CRX switched to a full independent wishbone suspension and fuel injection engines, which ranged from 1.5 to 1.6 liters. Outside of the US, however, Honda offered buyers an optional 1.6-liter VTEC inline-four that was good for 150 hp. The CRX was only the second Honda model to receive a VTEC engine; the Acura Integra came first.

The very fact Honda had the balls to put such an advanced and powerful engine in a small and unfriendly family car, even if it was overseas, says a lot about its rebelliousness. Try to picture an American automaker at that time, take Chevy for example, putting a state-of-the-art, fuel efficient high-output four-pot in the old Cavalier three-door hatchback: That car had a choice of two thirsty and uninspiring four-cylinders and a V6 option. US buyers could also opt for the CRX Si, which came with a 1.6-liter unit that eventually produced up to 108 horsepower and was mated to a five-speed manual.

A third-generation CRX came in 1992, but it was officially called the Civic del Sol. Silly name aside, it featured a targa top roof and wasn’t met with the same enthusiasm amongst fans as the first two gen models were. In 1997 however, the del Sol was discontinued, thereby ending the CRX lineage. Honda tried to pass off the current CRZ hybrid as the spiritual successor to the old CRX but that car simply failed to capture the spirit of the original, despite it being the first hybrid to offer a manual gearbox. Today, the CRX still has a loyal following with many owners driving their cars with minimal mechanical problems.

This 1991 CRX Si that’s currently up for sale on eBay has just 39,000 miles on the clock and is completely original with no modifications. Power comes from that wonderful naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter inline-four mated to a five-speed manual. The car’s second and current owner bought it from its original eighty-year-old owner around a year ago and has kept it in pristine shape. It comes with the original owner’s and service manuals as well as an unused jack, spare and toolkit. As of writing, the top bid was $12,100 so it’s clear that people are willing to pay a solid amount for an all-original CRX in top condition.

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