Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Lasting Impression

Red Pepper Racing member Rich's CRX story started back in 1985 as a senior in college.  He was flipping through a magazine when he came upon a two-page ad featuring the one and only, CRX Si.  With his attention sparked, he went on to read a review of the car in the April issue of Car and Driver.  The review was very positive, stating that, "...The Honda Civic CRX is one of our favorite cars."  It was all Rich needed to get himself down to the dealer to check out the car.  With gainful employment, and a graduation date near at hand, he had the means and need to indulge himself with an affordable sports car.  After a thorough going over at the dealer, he purchased his first CRX, a red and gray, 1985 Si.

Photo courtesy of
Not long after purchasing his two-tone Si, Honda introduced the updated version of the Si in 1986, with full body color.  The full body color was too much for Rich to resist, so he promptly traded his '85 in for a black '87 Si.  Rich enjoyed his '87 Si for 12 long years, until it was totaled from a rear end collision.

Fast forward to present day.  As a recent retiree, and with his two children freshly off to college, Rich realized that he was going to have a lot of time on his hands.  The first thing that came to mind was, "How nice it would be to have my old black '87 CRX Si to drive."  What began as a 'fun thought' quickly turned into a reality, after coming across an ad on craigslist.  He had been doing research on, and to see what others had done with their cars, when he decided to find a project car.  It did not take long before he came across a red '87 Si in California.  After a little more research into the car and a couple phones calls, the car was on its way across the country to his home in Illinois.  The car turned out to be in fantastic condition, which we all know is a rare thing.  Since the car was in such good shape, Rich struggled with the idea of restoring it in the preferred black instead of the factory color.  "If I do a full restore to black, am I bastardizing an original?"  Then, while sharing the dilemma with his daughter, she reminded him that it would be very unlikely that he would ever sell the car, and that he needed to 'just make it his'.  That was all he needed to hear.  The project had officially started.

Completing a restoration on a car is not for everyone.  It's grueling, costly, time consuming, and requires a lot of patience.  Thankfully, Rich was no stranger to working on his own cars and he knew what he was getting into from the start.  The car was completely disassembled, and the engine, body and interior sent to their respective specialists.  The body was placed on a rotisserie for the duration of the restoration that included minor rust repair, and a very well done, 'better than factory' black paint job.  The same shop that repaired the body also restored all the exterior trim pieces and interior panels.  The engine was already running well, so all that needed to be done was a simple tear-down, and replacement of gaskets and rubber parts.  In addition to the rebuild, Rich sourced a DC Sports header, Magnaflow cat, and a Monza exhaust system to be installed.  The interior of the car received new carpet, repaired headliner, and seats and door panels that were reupholstered in leather, with embroidered red CRX logos.  The shift boot was also redone with the same leather and stitching.  Lastly, all four corners of the car received new brakes and struts, and Ground Control coil-over sleeves were added to the rear.

After 8 months of work, the car was complete, and what a result.  This was a complete restoration.  There were no short-cuts made with this car.  In fact, the foam in the sun visors was even replaced.  Needless to say, the attention to detail and extra effort put into this car shows.  It is one of the best restorations I've seen done on a 1G.  I never get tired of hearing how the 1G CRX has left such a lasting impression on their owners, and this story is the perfect example.  Congratulations on making your dreams a reality Rich.  May your future drives be filled with smiles.

Photos by Rich Chang


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