Rediscovered years later, this Honda CRX is reviving a father’s memory for his family
When Anthony Pedatella passed away a decade ago, he left behind a lifetime’s worth of memories for his family and friends. Like the song says, only the good die young, and by all accounts Anthony was a man who put his family first. When he and his wife Marisa started theirs, Anthony sold his beloved 1990 Honda CRX Si for something more suitable to baby-hauling duty.
Anthony bought the black Si in 1996 and immediately began modifying it, as any good Honda enthusiast would, and Marisa was there for all of it. She was just 16 when she met Anthony and fondly recalls driving all over Southern Ontario in his one-of-a-kind, saffron orange CRX.
“I remember us being in the car when it was its original color black,” Marisa says, “and I think he saw a Volvo wagon one day and he just loved the color. He said, ‘That’s it! That’s the color I’m picking for the car!’ I don’t even recall him thinking of any other color. He saw it. He loved it.”
Tastefully modded and painted metallic orange, the CRX became well-known among Anthony’s friends in the Toronto car community. At the time, he was working for his uncle as an apprentice with his best friend, Bruno Lopes.
Anthony and Lopes met at Toronto’s Humber College in a computer programming course and became fast friends.
“I was sitting in that first class,” Lopes recalls, “and I remember that Anthony came in late. There was just something about him, his smile and his free spirit. I thought, he seems like a really nice guy, and I started talking to him and we just clicked. We started hanging out and having lunch together, and we became best buddies. We used to go out together, me with my girlfriend at the time and Anthony with Marisa.”
Both men were car enthusiasts with a talent for wrenching and together they quickly realized they didn’t want to sit behind a desk and fiddle with computers, so they started working for Anthony’s uncle.
“When I started making a little bit more money,” Lopes remembers, “I went out and I bought a red 1990 Honda CRX, and from the first time I let Anthony drive it he loved it so much that he had to buy one. Back then, there was no internet and there was just the Auto Trader [magazine], so he started looking and found a black one in Orangeville, Ontario. He called me and asked me to go see it with him. He drove it, gave the lady a check, and we raced our CRXs back to Toronto all the way down Highway 10.”
Anthony painted his Honda in that distinctive Volvo saffron orange and Lopes chose a pearl yellow shade for his. Working out of the uncle’s shop in their spare time, they installed Eibach lowering springs in their CRXs on a quiet Sunday. As one did in those days, Anthony pulled the Eibach sticker out of the box and pasted it onto the back glass of his Honda.
“They were both done up,” Lopes remembers, “And Anthony really loved that car. He spent a lot of time with it until he started thinking about having a family… I think out of all the cars that he owned, his CRX is the one that he owned the longest and I think it’s the one car that he cared about the most.”
And just like that, the CRX was gone. But life goes on.
Along the way, the friends became unsatisfied with their situation working for Anthony’s uncle, and it wasn’t long before they struck out on their own. B-Line Mechanics was born with a $25,000 loan from Anthony’s parents and, while it started small, the shop grew quickly and the pair repaid Anthony’s parents within a year. B-Line began with three hoists and grew into a full service shop with six bays, an alignment rack, and everything necessary to service thousands of customers.
“Honestly,” Lopes recalls, “I don’t even know how we had that luck and even the drive to do it. We worked really well together and we didn’t even have to speak to each other. He knew what to do, I knew what to do, and we knew how to work as a team. We thought the same way when it came to working on cars and being productive and helping people out and making money.”
Anthony and Marisa started their family and began raising their three girls, but by this time Anthony was driving more sedate Acura sedans, the practical choice for a family man.
A few short years into family life, their lives took a dark turn. In 2011, at the age of 36, Anthony passed away from liver cancer.
Lopes has kept the business and B-Line continues to operate to this day, but he’s moved on to another career, teaching transportation technology at a high school in Waterloo, Ontario. He still gets back to the shop in Mississauga regularly.
A decade can pass in the blink of an eye, but one day in 2020 Anthony’s cousin, Julia Riviglia, reminded Marisa about Anthony’s CRX. The two were seized with a bold idea: Could they find Anthony’s old Honda?
In the age of social media and tight-knit, digitally connected car enthusiast communities, anything is possible, and the two women took on the challenge. They were committed to finding the CRX.
For months, Marisa hit dead end after dead end. She and Julia discovered that the car had gone through various owners and was tuned beyond conventional tastes, even for modified Hondas. At some point, the saffron orange paint had been covered with a shade of blue. Finding similar CRXs in various states of repair wasn’t difficult, but the trail for Anthony’s had gone as cold as a Toronto winter.
After months without any progress, serendipitously, someone pointed out a derelict blue CRX parked behind a shop in Woodbridge, Ontario. Calls were made. Marisa went to the shop, peered around the Honda, and the moment she spotted that Eibach decal, she knew it was Anthony’s car. Everyone, especially Marisa, was emotional that day.
“We all couldn’t believe it when we saw the CRX with the stickers still on it,” Marisa recalls. “I told the girls the stories about Anthony putting the Eibach sticker on his car and it’s still there. I think that was the most emotional thing for me because in my mind I could see the car in its original state when I saw the stickers. It brought me back to a time that I haven’t really thought about in a long time. I think back to the days when we were married and having the kids. The memories come flooding back when I talk to the girls about him.”
Nathan Siva, the owner of the CRX, bought it a couple of years earlier and had been holding it with the idea that it would make a good project car. (We’ve all heard—or told—that story before, haven’t we?)
Upon learning the Pedatellas’ story, Siva didn’t hesitate. He handed Marisa the keys to Anthony’s CRX.
Since then, the Honda has become a massive project for Marisa, Lopes, and Marisa’s new boyfriend, Pat Fiore— Marisa’s Chapter Two, as she calls him. Of course, Fiore’s a car guy and is just as passionate about CRXs as everyone else, but as emotional as finding Anthony’s car was, the restoration of the Honda has become somewhat pragmatic.
“When we first got the car back,” Marisa says, “We brought it back to B-Line to start dismantling the car. It was all hands on deck to dismantle the car down to the shell. From there, we had a few people come and see it just to get an idea if it was salvageable.” After several maybes and nos, they found the right partners to make it happen.
Anthony’s CRX is a few months away from completion and it’s a labor of love for everyone involved in the project. It’s also brought something unexpected to the family. Through the search and the restoration of their father’s car, Marisa has been able to bring Anthony’s memory to life for their daughters.
“It’s painting a picture of their father that I’ve never been able to do,” Marisa reveals. “Having all of these people come back into our lives and telling stories about Anthony. It wasn’t until we were in the B-Line shop where all the guys used to hang out that I realized these were stories that I couldn’t tell. That’s the beautiful thing about this. We’re creating this beautiful story and it’s real.”
For a car guy like Anthony, nothing could honor his memory more than this passionate group of family and friends coming together to find and restore finding the car he loved the most, but this isn’t a story about a CRX. This is a story about a young woman finding a powerful and tangible way for her daughters to understand their father through his passion for the automobile.