2020 Hagerty Bull Market selection: 1988–91 Honda CRX Si
The 2020 Hagerty Bull Market list showcases the top vehicles that our valuation experts project will appreciate in the coming year. For the full list of 10 vehicles (and one motorcycle!) click here.
The first-generation Honda Civic CRX was in U.S. dealerships from 1984 through 1987 and was never intended to be a performance car. Quite the opposite, in fact. Honda intended the CRX to be a sporty commuter car that was fuel efficient and practical. Although its two-seater configuration might have hinted at “sports car,” Honda’s jettisoning of additional seats was simply a weight-saving move. And it worked. These diminutive commuters, with their 86-inch wheelbase and 1900-pound curb weight, could easily achieve 40-plus mpg from their miserly 1.3-liter engines. People loved the CRX, including Motor Trend, which named the CRX its Import Car of the Year in 1984.
But then Honda did a very Honda thing. It introduced a performance version of this perfectly fine commuter for the 1985 model year. It was the CRX Si, featuring a 1.5-liter engine with EFI and 91 horsepower, as well as a host of improvements throughout. It quickly became a motorsports phenomenon by dominating the SCCA GT4 class in 1985 and 1986. For 1988, an all-new, second-generation CRX arrived, again available in Si trim. Gone were the front torsion bars and rear beam axle of the first gen, replaced by an advanced unequal-length control-arm suspension at all four corners, which greatly improved ride and handling.
The Si now had 105 horses from a 1.6-liter, but its magic was still in its curb weight of 2100 pounds. The CRX’s low hoodline, tremendous greenhouse, thin A-pillars, wonderful ergonomics, and surprisingly spacious cabin represent an enjoyable place to be; they also show us how much crash standards and airbags, among other “advancements,” have truly cost us in the years since. But merely sitting in Hagerty member Rich Carruba’s one-owner second-gen CRX Si hardly tells the story—you need to drive one. Tight, torquey, eminently tossable, and with a feeling of quality that oozes from every piece, from the switchgear to the seat fabric, it is amazing to think these were $10,000 cars when new.
[+] Grassroots motorsports legend; came before the depths of crash and emissions standards’ weight and complexity made “lightweight” a thing of the past; good ones still available for about their original price.
[–] Si spec doesn’t completely disguise economy-car roots; many modified or driven to death; tendency to rust in the Rust Belt.
1989 HONDA CRX Si
Engine: inline-4, 1590 cc
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power: 105 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 98 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
Weight: 2100 lb
Power-to-weight: 19.0 lb/hp
Brakes F/R: disc/drum
Price when new: $10,195
Hagerty value: $11,200–$15,300
THE HAGERTY VALUATION TEAM SAYS:
These filled every high-school parking lot in the 1990s, and millennials are now 60 percent of the quotes. One of the first front-wheel-drive sporting Japanese cars to get widespread recognition from enthusiasts, it is symbolic of the golden age of Honda, quick and go-kart-like and able to make any drive fun.