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Budget Performance-Car Value -- Honda CRX

Looking for sports-car kicks, but with the abundance of speed parts and vast modification potential of a Civic? Look no further than Honda's feisty little CRX.

These pocket-size coupes made their debut for 1984. Essentially a two-seat version of the redesigned Civic also introduced that year, the CRX was initially aimed at people who sought frugal commuting (base 1.3-liter versions had EPA fuel economy ratings of 51 mpg city, 67 highway).

But the real news for enthusiasts came the following year when Honda gave the CRX its sporty Si version, which included upgraded suspension, performance-oriented tires, and a hotter 91-hp version of its 1.5-liter engine -- good for sub-nine-second 0-60 mph times in the featherweight car.

For 1988, an all-new CRX bowed, based again on a new Civic platform. CRX's wheelbase increased, and this second-generation design was somewhat heavier and bigger overall. Fortunately, performance remained in the same league, with the Si's horsepower rating increasing to 105, then 108 the following year. For 1990, CRX got four-wheel-disc brakes.

As sweet of a car as it was, this generation of CRX was destined to be the last -- Honda discontinued the line after 1991, replacing it with the similar but open-roofed Del Sol several years later.

Today, used CRXs are pretty easy to find, but it can sometimes be hard to gauge their true value -- completely stock ones are showing up less and less since these cars became immensely popular with sport-compact fans. The price of a particular CRX can often depend on the various upgrades it's received.

Popular mods include body kits, custom paint, aftermarket wheels, and hotter VTEC engine swaps. As with any modified car, look closely at how well upgrades are executed. In most cases, the work will have been done by the car's owner, whose talent, budget, and experience are unknowns.

Most CRXs now sell for less than $5000, with many of them below $3000. Those sub-$3k CRXs tend to be unmodified. And unmodified CRXs also tend to be unrestored.

That can be an important point, because all CRXs are at least 14 years old -- a lot them are pretty tired. You aren't likely to find a CRX with less than 100,000 miles at this point. Therefore buyers who want a completely stock example to start with will need to carefully consider how much money and patience they're willing to devote to basic mechanical repairs.

First-generation CRXs are getting kind of scarce, but if you have your heart set on their lighter weight and trimmer dimensions, those cars can be found with a little patience. And one plus is that they tend to show up in the lower end of the price range.

Regardless of what generation or level of modification, Honda's little CRXs can offer big-time fun. They're good performers to start with, there's plenty of aftermarket stuff available, and prices are about as low as performance cars go. Check 'em out.

For more on affordable performance cars, along with drive-test articles on today's hottest sports cars, sport compacts, and muscle cars, go to http://www.autiv.com/
About the Author

David Bellm is a seasoned test driver and automotive writer. His work has been featured in a wide variety of online and print publications.

Written by: David Bellm

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