The cars we loved.
The 80’s was a great time for small fun to drive cars. The best of these was arguably Honda’s CR-X sport coupe. A decade ago, Americans associated the small two seat sport coupe with fussy, but spirited European cars. Reliability problems eventually forced most of the European makes from the marketplace by the early 80’s. The void that was left was filled by cars like the CRX ,MR2 and Fiero.
The CR-X was based on the Civic family of cars that by now had become a full car line all in to its self. From a design perspective, the CR-X was a two door Civic with a fastback hatch design and accommodations for only two. Well engineered and with a typical Honda attention to detail, the CR-X became an instant hit.
The CR-X was offered in three versions. The HF (High Fuel Economy) that came with a 1.3 and later a 62 hp 1.5 L 4, the DX with it’s 92 hp 1.5 L 4 and finally the Si with a SOHC version of the 1.5 making 108 hp. The HF and DX versions had torson bar front/semi-independent rear suspensions up to 1987. That year they got the same double wishbone fully independent setup of the Si. Si’s featured sliding sunroofs, foglights, disc brakes all around and a slightly sportier two toned interior. More power versions of the Si were offered in Europe and Asia, although they resembled closely the North American cars.
The light and nimble CR-X (all versions weighing less than 2000lbs.) was both economy and sports car. Because it was a Civic, insurance rates were a bit more forgiving, making it an attractive car for younger buyers. Interestingly the competition for the CR-X (MR2, Fiero and Nissan’s Pulsar) all seemed to appear and fade out around the same time. Dispite being similar conceptually, the CR-X was drastically different from the Pontaic Fiero, a car it was often compared to, although it technically had more in common with Toyota’s MR2. The Fiero started life as a small economical commuter car that gradually recived band aid attempt to make it an all-out sports coupe. The CR-X had a similar mission, except all versions of it were endowed with sports car like handling from the beginning. Even the HF was noted for its sporting abilities. The sportier version, the Si offered similar performance to the V6 powered Ferio, but with considerably less displacement and much better fuel efficiency.
Honda had both ends of the market covered, offering 49 mpg in the HF, while the Si became the speed champ doing 0-60 in 8.5 seconds. Sales were good and even increased as the second generation CR-X was introduced in 1988. Slightly larger and now with a fully independent double wishbone suspension on all models, the CR-X became an even better value. The final years of the CR-X were it’s best from an aesthetic point of view, but sales were declining. As the 90’s emerged, sales overall of small two seat coupes had been declining, with the Pulsar, then the Fiero being one of the first causalities. The CR-X was no different.
Instead of canceling the car out right, the decision was made to continue the name in Europe, but introduce a totally new car with the coming of the fifth generation Civic. The new car called the del Sol was an odd looking two seater with even less practicality than the CR-X. It had seemed that Honda had finally made a mistake, as sales were poor and eventually the car was discontinued. Now rumors are circulating that a new CR-X may be just around the horizon. In 2007 Honda showed the beautiful and sleek CR-Z at the Tokyo Auto Show. The CR-Z’s lines suggested a modern update to the CR-X and maintained the same fastback/hatchback styling. We can only hope Honda intends to produce the CR-Z or X if you will, in the future.