SS Work's 1989 CR-X EF7
"I'm a bit afraid of the expensive cars behind me, Driver Shunei Kawasaki said in a 2004 volume of Best Motoring. The "Roaring VTEC: Battle at 10,000 RPM" DVD featured some of the fastest Japanese-tuned imports of that time, including the SS Work's CR-X-a Honda that still holds the title of the fastest naturally-aspirated front-wheel drive car on the legendary Tsukuba Circuit. Kawasaki might have said that quote thinking that he was going to be over-powered that day. With the Esprit NSX and Spoon Sports Super Taikyu S2000 in Kawasaki's rearview mirror, a sense of fear was understandable. Either that or he spoke sarcastically, knowing that he was piloting the unstoppable SS Work's CR-X. His quiet confidence may have been lost in translation, because the CR-X not only won the battle that day; it never lost the lead once Kawasaki gained position.
The end result had other drivers baffled and amazed. This was a CR-X right? How could this old, awkward-looking EF7 dominate, making a little over 200hp? One of the other drivers had to ask, "Why was there such a gap there at the end?" Kawasaki smiled and took a deep breath. "It's the lightness!" Shunei says in excitement. "The car is simply very light! I mean, I could pass the (Spoon) S2000 from the outside at the hairpin with no problems. The CR-X was faster in any situation." A CR-X is not exactly considered a heavy vehicle by any means, and when someone off camera mentions that the car weighed-in at a mere 720kg (Just under 1,600lbs.), the competitors were shocked. "I had to pray before going into corners," Kawasaki says jokingly.
Even with DVDs like Best Motoring and Japanese publications readily available to us Americans, six years later we still have little knowledge of the famed CR-X from SS Work's. Its reputation definitely precedes itself, but the masses just don't understand why. When they get a rare glimpse of this light blue pearl-emblazoned powerhouse, many just scoff at it and point out the racing stripes or the incredibly aggressive aero enhancements. While it is questionable whether or not the racing stripes add any power, the aero is pure function. That, in conjunction with the reduced weight, helped propel this CR-X to a 59.1-second lap time at Tsukuba, an FF N/A record that it still proudly holds today. This CR-X is a true automotive marvel, so when we had a chance to get a hold of it, we jumped at the opportunity.
While many mysteries still exist in regards to SS Work's (like the owner's name), we've extracted as much information about the CR-X as possible. There has been much misinformation on the internet about the exact specifications, so SS Work's was kind enough to pass along the info. Translating it was the interesting part.
"I originally bought this CR-X brand new," The owner of SS Work's explains. "I thought the styling of it was cool. I started racing at local race tracks and was starting up SS Work's at the time, so I began to modify it heavily. I started in 1989 and have been making changes to it ever since."
Though the original ZC engine may have been competitive in its heyday, power became a priority as the years passed. A B-series swap was the upgrade of choice as it trumped the older ZC in every way. "I tried to swap to a (B-series) to get more power, but the engine position was so different. The new engine and transmission was so much heavier than the ZC, so I knew I would lose maneuverability after the conversion. To fix this, I made a new engine mount, and in the process, made the CR-X front mid-ship. It made the weight balance much better, and therefore the maneuverability was better."