Pictures from the Summer '97 Autocross
at the Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore Campus

A MkII CRX Si about to be unleashed among the cones 

Honda CRXes were out in force, both generations and in various stages of modification.  The '85 DX and Si weighs only 1800 - 1900 lbs.  An '85 HF weighs only 1720 lbs., and has a quicker steering rack.  Even a well-driven 60hp HF can return good times around the cones, and a supposedly 130hp 1.6L tuned port multi-point EFI ZC motor and MkI Integra transaxle will fit without any major mechanical custom work, as will MkI Integra suspension components.  With hood, electrical and drivetrain mount reinforcement work, an Integra Type-R's 195hp VTEC drivetrain will even fit and run.  Few modifications add significant weight.  Adapting EFI to the works successfully and dealing with corrosion-locked bolts are usually the main challenges.

What my car would look like!
...without any anti-sway improvements
An '85 Si driven by the Tech Inspection guy 

Notice that due to use of a simple floating beam rear axle with sufficient suspension travel, while the car's body appears to be about to roll away into another county, the rear tires' tread are still in full contact with the asphalt.  The tires have neither been lifted off the pavement VW-style, nor been tilted by the body's tilting.  The (torsion beam & strut) front suspension has been set up well enough to keep the front tires mostly perpendicular to the asphalt under even severe lateral loading and the resultant (in this case) massive sway.


Something's definitely not right here... 

VW's (Rabbit-based) Scirocco had the same rear suspension design as MkI Honda CRXes, but VWs have always had a tendency to lift the inside back wheel in a hard corner.  I suspect something was wrong with how the driver/owner set up the rear suspension of his Scirocco.  Way too stiff an rear anti-sway bar?  It's too stiff a front anti-sway bar that you want to err towards!

This is a Honda's equivalent of spending retirement in Key Largo...

This CRX was set up well and ran a good time. 

Notice that the car was cornering hard enough to partly tuck under the outside front sidewalls.  This and a '86 Si, a highly turbocharged one which is so far the fastest custom drag race Honda (car) ever made, are possibly the ultimate modified-for-speed MkI CRXes.

Honda's CRX has remained great for all sorts of fun! 
Exiting past the Tech Inspection stand 
CRX List attendees 

CRX List (contact members and their cars, from foreground to background: Jim Charles in his '86 Civic Si (his CRX was temporarily out of service), my '85 DX, Laura Tennant & her '90 DX, Chris Kunselman behind his '91 Si, and Nick Pasterno in his previous car, an '84 DX which is still in the CRX List family.  The black, lowered MkII CRX Si driving away on the street is piloted by some guy with his girlfriend(?) who was apparently just too superior to us to bother associating with us, let alone park next to us.  To heck with him & his s/o!

It was great meeting those other CRX List members in person.  Their cars were immaculate, and things like Laura's excellent job of repainting her valvetrain cover a to pleasing, color-coordinated shade of blue (original black paint all stripped off first, of course) showed just how much loved these wonderful cars are.

There was also a pair of well-prepped black Hondas there, one a moderately modified (with roll cage among other goodies) MkII Si, the other a same-generation Civic Si with more serious sway bars, strut tower braces and even a 1.8L VTEC mill from an Integra!  The installation was neat and well done in appearance, and the car ran and idled fine.  Why couldn't Honda have offered a setup like that for a '92 CRX, instead of just cancelling the CRX hatchback entirely?!?

One clean, probably awesome daily driver 

Notice how while the wider, lower aspect ratio shape of the car, along with its taller wheels and tires allows for less sway vs. a stock MkI, the multilink independent rear suspension does not keep the (inside, at least) tire truly perpendicular to the ground for maximum tread contact.  But also note that the MkII CRX also will still not pull up the inside rear wheel VW-style.

What should have been offered in '92 

This is the more developed / modified of those two black MkIIs, actually a Civic Si... notice the near-total lack of sway as the driver leans hard into the corner to counter-act the lateral g-forces.  I don't remember the owner saying the struts and shocks were cockpit-adjustable, but given that generation's low unsprung weight and center of gravity relative to the axle height, use of well-valved, low-pressure nitrogen-charged cockpit-adjustable shocks and struts would allow one comfortable and viciously fast back road dancer with minimal bump jarring and mistracking.  To change the anti-sway bar effectiveness, if the original rubber bushings are still in place, simply tightening or loosening the bushings as desired is all that's needed.  Once stronger bars replace the stock ones, shock / strut adjustment and turning those four bolts will adjust the ride and reflexes from go-kart grade the whole way to comfortably mellow (if a bit busy) with no tracking problems over bumpy corners.

Some other worthwhile cars there...

A 130hp Neon 

Chrysler / Plymouth / Dodge Neons, which have the same simple front strut / rear floating beam suspension as the MkI CRX, have proven to be the only true sedan-class competition the CRX has seen.  Neon engines are rated for 130 to 150hp, while CRX engines are rated (at the wheels) 60 to 108hp while pulling around about 65 to 80% of a Neon's rated weight.  Neons have proven to have the acceleration and handling to match CRXes on the racecourse, but can't match the CRXes' smoothness, ergonomics, reliability and economy of operation (and they lack the CRX's excellent interior acoustics).

Porsche 911 Targa 

The 911 started out in the beginning of its first run using its prodigious engine output, but it wasn't long before the engine rpm was kept well in check, probably to keep excess output or engine braking from combining with the extreme aft center of gravity to swing out the tail.  (btw: I've been told by my dad, a former 356 owner with an extensive understanding of the German language, that the e in Porsche is silent.)

Mazda Miata 

The Miata is an excellent sports coupe, more than comparable to the CRX, starting with a good multilink suspension and CRX-level low weight.  It also has an extra-rigid driveshaft tunnel for the rear wheel drive drivetrain to minimize unibody shake over bumps, an ultra-precise gearshift linkage (CRX owners take great pride in the precision of their cars' rod-linked shift linkages) and for a design with a catalytic convertor, it has a surprisingly fine exhaust burble based on the MGB.  My '85 CRX DX has both a true roof and a factory-spec resonator-assisted exhaust rumble / note of surprising quality, amplitude and bass depth, but not with that directness an MGB's has.  The Miata, however, is a true, pure sports car while the CRX is an unusually versatile, generally competent at anything sporty coupe.  On dry pavement, a light, rigid, well balanced and suspended rear driver like the Miata (and certainly the Lotus Elise) will usually be faster, more benign and predictable through corners than the slightly torque-steer prone, tail-light CRX.  Notice how in the picture, both front and rear outside tires are actually leaning into the turn.  In adverse weather however, any front-driver is preferable over the suddenly squirrelly Miata, which can't pull itself around some funky corner like a front-driver can.  That's the advantage front-drivers have over rear-drivers: it's a crude technique to put it mildly, but with enough power a front-driver car can pull itself around a corner on engine power alone, burning rubber if need be, while rear drivers can use power only to change the car's balance and attitude.  When accelerating at 10/10ths of the available traction, many a front driver's varying torque steer will continuously clearly tell the driver when there is traction and when there isn't, more clearly and safer than a rear driver will.

Others entries that the pictures are lost for:
There was a Caterham Super 7 there (which ran a very quick time), a highly twin-turbocharged (pop-off valves, not normal wastegates) RX-7 and Supra, and a Turbo R? Bentley that had its horn button placed in such a way that the driver blared it out for a half second on his first run, and for a split second on the second run in the same place in the same corner.  There was a worn-seeming Laser / Eclipse with skinny tires which all screamed / slid throughout nearly the whole course, and someone showed up in some K-car or something that caused us all to agree that the driver needed to get a real car.  There was a late-model Camaro that ran a good time, and some modified-for-looks Supra (I think) driven by someone who evidently hadn't studied the course well because they ended up driving a whole different path through the cones which they alone followed, and slowly at that (and then slowly followed a new unique path for the second run).  There were many others, such as the clean, quick older RX-7 shown in the top photo.

Did we run the cones ourselves, the mighty CRX warriors?  Umm, no.  None of us had run on an autocross course before, and I for one was afraid of inventing my own course among the cones due to the seemingly large distance between them (a fear also voiced by others).  Of course, that's why you walk the course ahead of time like all the participants (and often their family) did.

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