Back to Basics: Driving A Stock Honda CR-X SiR
The Simple Take

I really don’t know how to describe this. There are two possible options here: either I’m getting too old and can’t help but reminisce about the time cars were far simpler and more fun, or the latest cars just aren’t cutting it.

But really, what other explanation could I come up with for how a completely stock 1989 Honda CR-X put such a huge smile on my face? So basic, so communicative – it’s almost like you’re wearing the car as opposed to driving it. Very few cars on the market today manage to do that. They can’t anymore; there’s too much stuff in the way – electronics, safety, over-complication. Yes, modern cars are fast, easy to drive, and are able to pack a real punch, but most lack what the little EF8 provided me with – a raw, unfiltered driving experience.


So how did I end up behind the wheel? Recently I was contacted by Miguel of Newera Imports, a well-established exporter working out of Japan. He told me that he’d just put the finishing touches on a special Honda CR-X SiR, but that before I drove that car I should get a feel for what a stock EF8 is like by getting behind the wheel of another one he’d just completed for a collector client in the UK.


I liked the idea; having something to compare a tuned car against makes the experience far more complete. Plus, I had never actually driven a standard EF8.


The JDM CR-X SiR was a little more special than the same model that Honda sold in other markets, starting with the engine which we’ll get to in a moment. There were also a nicer selection of options that could make your car that little bit cooler. That’s why Miguel took his time to select the perfect car with the right balance of options, and this particular EF8 really is a collector’s piece.


Finding these cars in good condition when they’re coming up on 30 years old is not easy, and that task is made even harder when you’re specifically looking for an unmodified example.


Once Miguel found a suitable candidate in this 1989 example, the first thing he did was strip it down so it could be repainted in its factory black hue.


Miguel then had to source original exterior window seals and other trim and detail pieces, including the ‘DOHC VTEC’ stickers that run along the lower sections of the doors. With much of Honda’s spares inventory for this model depleted, there’s a lot of competition for NOS (new old stock) parts when they surface on places like Yahoo! Auctions, and owners will pay premium prices for the hardest-to-find stuff.


As I walked around the CR-X, I found its size almost comically small.

This particular car has a fixed glass roof which was only available in Japan, as well as a dealer option ‘CR-X’ decal for the rear hatch glass. In total ’80s style there’s also a manual pull-out antenna that extends from the driver’s side A-pillar.


The truncated rear end is what makes the CR-X one of Honda’s most easily recognizable modern classics, with the clear secondary glass aiding in rear visibility. It was a design trait that was integrated into more recent models, including the first generation Insight as well as the electrified spiritual successor of CR-X, the CR-Z.


And in SiR guise with the hatch spoiler, it looks even more purposeful.

After attempting to digest the new FK8 Civic Type R for a good year now, it’s obvious where Honda needs to look for inspiration. It’s right there in front of them in the Honda Collection Hall at Motegi.

Enough Power

Right, so the performance.


The US-market CR-X never got the SiR’s DOHC VTEC B16A engine, but Europe did in the 1.6i-VT variant, albeit 10hp down on power compared to the 158hp (160PS, so 100PS per liter) JDM machine.


Everything in the engine bay is stock; the only thing that was addressed was the aged crackle paint finish on the engine cover which Miguel brought back to its former glory.


I was impressed with just how pristine and complete the car is, right down to the engine/emissions sticker on the underside of the hood. It’s interesting to note that it only had to conform to 1978 emission standards.


The exhaust’s back box is the only part that isn’t stock, but the design of the twin pea-shooter tail pipes is a lot like what the car came with from factory, so it made sense to retain this minor alteration.


Out on the open road the SiR brought me right back to the legendary hot hatches of ’80s that my generation grew up drooling over. To that it adds the unique feel of a high-revving Honda four-port engine and the cool on/off way in which the secondary intake cam lobes engage on the VTEC system.

I walked away from this car refreshed; it confirmed all my suspicions about modern cars, the main one being that satisfaction has been replaced by effectiveness. Technology has helped refine and hone sports cars into potent weapons, but it’s come at the expense of driver involvement.


I’m still trying to work out if this is the best sentiment to take away from it all. There’s a quality here that makes you feel like you are 18 again, and with that all the memories of having fun in cars at a young age come flooding back.

Getting Down To Basics

While we ponder that, let’s take a look at the SiR’s interior.


The Japanese variant of the car sported these half leather seats with velour center inserts.

These were one step down from the leather seats found in the European 1.6i-VT models, but since leather tends to age and degrade quite visibly these remain the more sought after option. Plus, when you actually drive seriously I’d argue the center fabric holds you in tighter and doesn’t make you slide around as much.


I really liked the Japanese writing on the door trim which translates to ‘let’s lock.’ It’s so Japanese, politely reminding occupants to be safe, and really fits in with the era of the car too.


The good thing about not going overboard on interior design is that three decades after it was conceived (the first EF-series CR-Xs appeared in 1987) you’ve got a cabin that still looks decent enough in the current day and age. This car even has the manual A/C (there was an optional climate control version available) and the original JVC/Gathers tape/radio head unit.

There are also a pair of rare JDM options on this car, including Honda’s ‘Personal Box,’ a replacement felt-lined tray if you opted for the non-smoker pack. In 1989 everyone smoked in Japan so this is quite a rare item. And then there’s the map reading light mounted on the A-piller. Man, the ’80s were so great!


The rear seat is nothing more than extra space which you can use as additional storage; there’s no way any adult would be able to sit back there for any extended period of time.

Under the parcel tray there’s a decent amount of trunk space, and if you fold the rear seat back down I’m sure you’d have no issues fitting four spare track wheels and tires for a day at Honjo or Mobara.


I’m very glad I got the chance to not only drive a stock CR-X, but an SiR, as it’s a car I’ve always liked, but for one reason or another never had the opportunity to experience from the driver’s seat before.


But most of all, it was a little taste of what was to come.


Miguel’s own CR-X builds on the original base to create something special with a little more power and a little more involvement. It wears a red Honda badge because it’s as close to what a Type R model would have been if Honda had ever made one with this chassis.

I seriously cannot wait to pick it up.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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I totally feel you. I also have a strong "want" for those boxes and a couple of years back almost went for one.
But crazy insurance fees at my place purged the deal.
I feel a little regret.

Cool car, tho!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Get one now, prices are still ok-ish


Insurance is still sky high. :(


If you want steering feel you need a mini. Only other car that got close was the lotus Elise, that I have driven. Everything else feels numb!


just remove your powersteering belt, and you'll get all the 'feel' you need.

seriously, i do it to all my cars. so much better at speed. light cars don't need powersteering anyway.


For driving feel only an Elise has come close to my mini. Everything else feels numb!

Brooke Whiting

NA chassis MX5s are amazing too


Have you ever tried a Daihatsu Copen? Such a tiny, nimble fwd roadster should be on everyone’s wish list! ;)


Yes, I totally agree. Always loved em and could ride it again last weekend.
Still a blast to drive, totally direct and nimble. IF you can fit in, that is! :D

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Copen, I found it pretty crap haha


Like the Beat, Cappuccino, AZ1 etc... it’s the sort of slow car you can enjoy at any speed. You should try a 1300 one or a nicely tuned one, you won’t regret it


I haven't but I'd love to!


boooM and this is why speedhunters is the Best.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thank you Sir! Or should I say SiR hahaha


YES!!! Speedhunters needs more Hondas. I was literally pondering the lack of Hondas earlier today and boom we got a Honda now. I understand cambered out, wide wheeled stance boy cars arent a speedhunters choice of feature car, and I'm totally fine with that, but we could all benefit from clean, simple , tastefully modified Hondas from the 80s and 90s. No late model tsx or accords on bags, but Kanjo inspired efs and tasteful clean Da integras. This is the recipe !


I don't understand the lack of Hondas either.


I would love to see some clean late 80's early 90's Hondas and Acuras on here.

I daily my 91 DA and love driving it. Such a fun car! I dropped in a high compression B18 with some cams and tuned it myself. Nimble, quick (not fast), comfy and still has that 90's Honda smell.


Man this makes me miss my 92. It was and will always be my favourite car. I regret selling it every day.


That is a bummer you sold it. In high school I drove a 1985 Prelude, was my first Honda and though it wasn't up to snuff like my friend's CRX's and 4WS Preludes it still made me smile and give me an appreciation for Honda's simplicity in their engineering.

Once I sold that I have owned eveything from a right hand drive Saturn station wagon to a cammed 1/2 ton Sierra. Once I purchased this DA and got back in the seat of another 90s Honda it was a breath of fresh air.

Nothing compares to the handling of these cars. My FC3S is very agile BUT it still doesn't compare.

Any of you younger readers (born in 2000+) I highly recommend you go find one...even if it is horribly modified. Return to somewhat stock and enjoy.


Our winters here are brutal so more than likely, you wont find a horribly modified one, but a horribly rusted one. Mine has a shit paint job when I got it, rusted the first winter.

I ended up having the exterior overhauled, rusted removed, shaved emblems, antenna, painted the mouldings, cut the grill out of the front bumper and put in some black mesh. CF hood, aftermarket one-piece headlights, aftermarket taillights, a nice wheel/tire/suspension set up, intake, exhaust, short-throw shifter and that's about it. I spent a lot on old-age maintenance instead of mods but you know had enough power and agility for me. I wasn't out to prove anything.

This was during the whole JDM is everything time. Some of the purists would scoff at what I did but it was clean and not riced out. Any other DA in my city was a total ricer. I certainly grabbed inspiration from the JDM scene but I did what I wanted to. Customizing is all about doing your own thing and I loved it. Damn I miss that car. I was trying to find a picture of it to share but sadly I didn't actually take that many when it was all done. and as Dino had said in his throwback post from Top Secret, I had a MEAN JDM tilt going on, you can't even make out the damn car haha.


Hard pass on the "Kanjo inspired" cars... Let's leave the whole Kanjo scene for the Japanese. Any time I've ever seen a "Kanjo inspire" Honda/Acura, it never ends up looking like nothing but a poor imitation and you can tell that it wasn't built by someone who actually is a part of the Osaka Kanjo culture in any way, shape or form.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well... the way I see it, Kanjo style or whatever you want to call it is cool. It's something unique and visibly different. It's when people copy it and get inspiration from it that in most cases the execution is, well... let's just say it leaves a lot to be desired.


I've never been able to understand why people go for hatchbacks. Sure they're light, but at the cost of their appearance.

Hatchbacks have the silhouette of a running shoe, and they're not aspirational cars like coupes. Frankly, they look kind of silly, and people openly admit that they buy a hatchback because it's practical, or easy to park, or fuel-efficient.


For some people, the weight of the car matters more than how it looks, and while hatches might not have that classic "sports car" coupe silhouette, they can still be great looking cars, and this is coming from a guy who owns a classically-proportioned two-door. The current model Audi RS3 comes to mind as an example, as well as the Alfa Brera, which in particular would look all kinds of wrong as a coupe.

On your last point, why would you have to "openly admit", like it's an embarrassing habit, that one of the reasons you bought a car is because it's easy to park or fuel-efficient? Owning a car based purely on the way it looks, everything else be damned, is great if you're treating it as an art installation or an investment, but if you'll be spending a lot of time driving it (i.e. not looking at it)... I can't understand that.


Your comment is so ignorant, that I almost can't come up with a response.. Since when is a hatchback (think AE86 or EK9 Type-R) not "aspirational"? I've personally known people and have read about countless others, that have genuinely aspired to own something like an AE86 or EK9 Type-R. In addition to both being great platforms on which to build on, they are practical, easy to park and fuel-efficient. What's wrong with having a fun car that's both practical and fuel-efficient? And if you want to get technical, the S13 was offered in a hatchback, along with the entire Nissan Z-car lineup, being hatchbacks as well (Yes obviously the Z32, Z33 and Z34 all have convertible models in their respective lineups as well).

I owned a Z32 for 5 years, had to tell it and I have aspired to own another one ever since then.


I always though the hatch Civics looked better than the coupes. Although the new "hatch" just looks like a lumpy sedan.


The new Civic Type R is the single ugliest thing Honda has ever produced.

That statement includes cars, bikes, snowmobiles, ATVs, outboard motors and the paychecks for some of their lower-end Southeast Asian employees.


See, an AE86 would be an acceptable hatchback - in the same way as the third-gen Trans Am and Fox Mustang, mainly because it looks like a coupe - but the EK9 is pretty much the worst of the lot aesthetically, and a perfect example of what I'm saying.

The coupe and Si versions of that car look good, but the hatchback is frankly ridiculous aesthetically - too short of a rear overhang, rear window slanted in too much...

It just doesn't look right. The proportions are all wrong.


so dont buy 1
what a dumb comment

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Must be to do where you grew up I guess. I find them totally acceptable and normal and in a lot of cases cool. They don't look like shoes, those would be shooting brakes lol


Yeah, I strongly disagree with hatches looking bad. I think it's one of the best body styles.


When talking about the Honda hatchbacks, I totally agree. But I only like them up until the late 90s. I didn't like that EP hatchback.
Actually any time I think of a hot hatch, I think of an EG tuner car as the ultimate example. It might be due to my age, and due to seeing so many awesome examples in the late 90s though.


It might be sacrilegious to modify a car as pristine as this, but if this were mine, it'd have a full Mugen aero kit, reasonably lowered on a set of bronze Mugen MF10's, with a Mugen active gate brake system behind them. I'd also lightly modify the engine, with a Mugen header & manifold, intake and exhaust, with a Mugen valve cover. To top the whole package off, i'd steer it with a Mugen SW3 steering wheel.

Long story short, I'd basically throw a whole Mugen catalog at it. That's if I had a clean CR-X and a small fortune..

Ariel Ramirez

I agree. And Sounds like Jesse temores's mugen CR-X.

Jizzums Mcjefferys

Hey world, just in case you cared about a complete strangers opinion on what I'd do if i owned this car, here's my shopping list of parts I'd buy for it. You know, in case you cared even the slightest bit.


Watch out for the next one to be featured by Dino.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

yes indeed. I think Miguel is way ahead of you on that one lol


Oooo that Red badged Civic in the background, so sinister haha.
What would be the asking price for this car? 2mil yen?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Not sure you'll have to ask Miguel about that, a lot of work when into fining the right car and getting to look this good

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

"Technology has helped refine and hone sports cars into potent weapons, but it’s come at the expense of driver involvement."

Now let's see people disagreeing with this statement. LOL!

Seeing this car has reminded me a lot of my family's old 3rd-gen Civic SB. Good lord I really miss the old girl.


I dunno, I've driven some new cars that were incredibly involving and I used to own an old car that did everything, from mountain runs to, well, grocery runs. I feel like new cars just don't shout about their involvement the way old cars did. Their personality is quieter, more polite, but it's still there. You can't play with the limits of the car every day like you used to be able to, simply because they're so much higher now, and perhaps that's what people miss.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

That's definitely something too, there are some very capable cars out there don't get me wrong, but they are almost too good, to sanitised almost


"Almost too good" - I think that's exactly it. New high performance cars can go fast and corner fast incredibly politely - they just do it, no fuss - so it feels like the relationship between driver and car can be a bit... formal, for lack of a better word. I know what you're getting at.


We definitely need some clean late 80's early 90's Hondas and Acuras.

I daily my 91 DA and I love driving it in all seasons up here in Montana.

Just so fun to drive and really lets you feel what modern cars of today lack.


So nice, I don't mind that you posted it twice!


Well, Toyota guys were inspired from the CR-X and got us the Prius. You think Honda guys can do better or they opted to leave it alone instead of "destroying" the name?
Side story: I have the same wheels, got them for a couple of hundreds $ to replace the factory steel wheels of the daily Chevy Aveo, had to "adjust" the center caps only. Now some guys are searching for them in the Chevrolet catalog.


Absolutely brilliant article Dino, that is some little rocket.
More like this!


God that's clean...

Everyone who hates hondas needs to drive a B-series with VTEC (any model really). One of the best experiences in driving. Super fun and stupidly good on fuel too.


Man, that's a cool article. I LOVE 90s honda's. They were the ones that I drooled over when I was in high school, but I couldn't afford them. I've driven them, and I love how easy they are to work on. So simple, slightly raw, and they have just enough potential to keep them fun for a long time.
I still daydream of picking up a nice EG hatch and using it for daily driving and autocross action.

Matthew Adkins

What a beautiful article and fantastic images! Overflowing with nostalgia man, it was a joy to read.


My favourite car I've ever owned was my 92 Integra. I don't think any car can every replace the feeling that it gave me when I drove it. You felt everything, you heard everything. There was a special connection between you and the car. These new cars just feel dead inside. It's all computers and monitoring and assisting wherever possible. New cars have lost this raw driving experience. All the feeling is gone.

Now having said that, I do agree that the closest you can probably get is to hop in a Lotus Elise. I'm currently driving a 2011 Mazdaspeed3 and I will say that is still provides me with some of that nostalgic feelings from the 90's cars. It's like riding a're in control of it, but not really. I can still feel the road, you can feel the movement in the gearbox and the sound outside the car as you shift and a nice exhaust note. Nowhere near what the 90's cars bring to the table for driving experience but it does a pretty good job of reminding me what it was like.

Ariel Ramirez

Can't wait to see the red-badged CR-X!

Александр Трофименков

I love this type of features. Just swing old cars in such pristine condition is refreshing. I also love that some people actually keep them stock and don’t try to put a massive turbocharger in them


I will say welcome but literally speedhunters has been part of may daily life for going 3 years now. And there are a lot of features you made that always made my day. So Thank you SiR ^ ^ Dino


This article put so much into words that I feel about cars nowadays. Nothing compares to the simplicity of just DRIVING. Although some options are nice, we need a vehicle that gets back to the basics of making driving fun again! Manual transmissions are fun to drive and should always be an option, especially with "sports cars" but with any vehicle in my opinion. Thanks for the read and hitting the nail on the head.


How do we know we are on the right car culture website ?
I keep getting back to the page everyday and it doesn't stop giving me the enthusiasm for cars. = speedhunters ^ ^