Honda Civic and CRX: Really as reliable as we remember?

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Feb 1, 2024 | Honda, Civic, honda civic, crx, honda crx | Posted in Features | From the May 2023 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: David S. Wallens

We lived through the ’80s and ’90s and spent a lot of time with the era’s greatest hits–drove them, raced them, even knew them when they still had that new car smell. We fondly remember shopping for Kamei air dams, Hella lamps and 14-inch tires.

But were the cars of those times really that rad? 

We wondered that ourselves, so we ditched the rose-colored glasses for a few to take a look back. Were they all winners, or did a few duds get released? Let’s slip on some Vans, break out the vinyl and take a trip back in time.

This week, we're looking back at the ever-popular Honda Civic and CRX.

[Project Car: 2019 Honda Civic Si Coupe]

Everything you’ve heard about wishbone Civics is true: tons of interior room, Lego-like interchangeability and terrific handling. They’re built to last and easy to wrench on. In the ’90s, at least, the aftermarket was on fire. 

My wife and I owned the full wishbone Civic and CRX run–EF, EG and EK–so we’re talking 1988 through 2000. Aside from a B16A-powered CRX HF, all wore an Si badge on the rear. 

The faults were few, but one possibility always loomed: Will it get stolen? Fortunately, none of ours got nicked, although someone once vandalized my wife’s 2000 Civic Si. 

We really only sold them because they’d run their course as magazine projects. At the time, we figured we could always go back, but the pool of good cars has totally dried up. My wife still dailies a Civic Si–now a 2014 sedan–but there was something magical about that B16A. 

Verdict: If I could go back in time and grab one car, it would be a wishbone Honda. In today’s market, a JDM Integra Type R might have to scratch that itch.

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BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/11/23 8:42 a.m.

Doesn't have to be a JDM Integra Type R for me, a glassroof CRX SiR would do nicely.

Placemotorsports GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/11/23 8:58 a.m.

Love to have my old '88 si back

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
5/11/23 9:14 a.m.

My first car was a '94 Integra–base model with the automatic.

As much fun as that thing was, I can only imagine how much more fun a Civic Si or Integra Type R is.

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/11/23 9:52 a.m.

I've said this many times before: The greatest car that I've ever owned was the 1989 Civic Si that I bought new and drove for twelve years and 300k+ miles.

Even after a bunch of autocrossing, I didn't replace the clutch until 212k, and it hadn't even failed yet, but I had gotten a new job and changed it just as a precaution. 

So, Yes -> reliable as a stone. And lots and lots of fun. 

If Honda was still building them, I'd still be buying them. 

MrJoshua UltimaDork
5/11/23 10:27 a.m.

I bought my '88 CRX in the early 90's with a broken transmission and well over 200k miles. I replaced the transmission with a junkyard piece an proceeded to beat on the car for a couple of years. I then sold it to my sister who delivered pizza in it for a couple more years. At that point she had my buddy who was a mechanic do a tune up. He called me laughing saying the car had the original plug wires on it. He said-if they are still working at 250k miles I'm leaving them! I think my sister drove it for another year before selling it. 

wspohn SuperDork
5/11/23 10:39 a.m.

The original Civic was not a bad package.  While everyone else was running around buying up wheels, tires, and various unnecessary adornments, a friend and I took a pair of HS2 SUs from a Midget or a Sprite and made an intake manifold for the Honda with before and after test runs.  Added 10 mph to top end.

Another Honda fan took us to task for that but I just said that the carbs were Hitachis and they should look them up in the Japanese hop-up lit.


jimbob_racing SuperDork
5/11/23 10:52 a.m.

The one car that I regret selling the most was the former GRM supercharged CRX. That car was the best Honda that I've ever owned.

IKR New Reader
5/11/23 12:43 p.m.


My new cars stay in the driveway under covers but my affinity to 1990s-2000 wishbone Hondas would never let me part with my DA Integra that stays in the garage.. I just need to send out the tranny for final drive and lsd installation along with replacement of any worn synchros. Fully built B17a is ready to go in the place of the JDM B16A smog officials didn't like. 

mblommel GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/11/23 12:49 p.m.

Still miss both of my CRX's. Such a great little car.

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/11/23 1:55 p.m.

Always a lot of fun. Just sold my Integra sedan but was a great car for the time and place. There may be a replacement at some time in the future after the current mirage has run it's course in my garage. 

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