The relationship between man and machine can oftentimes be a tumultuous one. If the ends justify the means, then all the bad experiences are worth the struggle. Like every relationship, you’ll oftentimes experience as many highs as you will lows. Whether the roller coaster of emotions is worth it is all up to the individual. Your build is supposed to be the best car you’ve ever seen or driven. There’s really no point in building anything less. We’ve all heard about the “blood, sweat, and tears”; it comes with every automotive build and story. The question you have to ask yourself whenever you encounter a roadblock is whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze. For Jason Powers, the answer still remains unclear. He’s created what many would consider to be the ultimate CRX build, but he has yet to reach any level of personal satisfaction—and it’s been over a decade.
“I definitely have a love/hate relationship with this (CRX),” Jason says. “It’s the first Honda I’ve ever owned, but in the years that I’ve had it, it has had its share of hassles. In fact, it’s still sitting in my garage, and I’m not sure what I want to do with it in the future.”
You’re probably asking yourself what bad this beautifully built CRX could do to make the owner not want to hold on to it. A decade is a long time to have any car in the enthusiast community. If anything, Jason should hold on to it based on sentimental value alone. People always regret selling their first Honda, but Jason doesn’t seem too inclined to keep it. From the very beginning he had already had problems with it—and we’re not talking about the “beginning” when he first started the build; it was bad from the moment he purchased the car. Some would argue the validity of such things as “bad omens,” but after hearing Powers’ story, you may just chalk this up to bad luck.
“My wife and I picked up this car back in 2000 down in San Diego, California, after seeing an ad for it in Autotrader. The car looked good in the ad, and it was owned by a younger girl who seemed honest and nice over the phone. We decided to pick it up and drove all the way down from Northern California. When we got there, we soon realized the car looked far from its condition in the ad.”
Jason and his wife Lisa arrived to a CRX with faded paint, cigarette burns in the seats, and coffee stains everywhere. It was far from the condition as was stated in the advertisement, and the couple was not happy by any means. They’d traveled over seven hours only to be disappointed. If that wasn’t bad enough, Jason soon found the clutch was slipping and the rear main seal was broken, allowing oil to leak all over the clutch. He didn’t want to go home empty-handed, so he talked the girl down to selling him the CRX for just $1,100. She obliged, and Jason made the trek home in his first Honda. Though he was left with a bad taste in his mouth after his purchase, the trouble was still worthwhile because Jason had his hands on a chassis that he had longed for. “I always liked CRXs because of the size and the overall body style. One day I was searching online for parts and stumbled upon a CRX SiR from Japan. I thought it was the coolest CRX I had ever seen! After that I had my mind set on doing the Japanese (CRX) SiR conversion. I’m from a small town, so I wanted to be the first one in my town to do it,” Jay states. “Believe it or not, back then, there were only a couple of places that carried these parts, and they were all in the SoCal/Los Angeles area. I didn’t want to have to drive down there again, so I started looking on eBay and, sure enough, there were sellers online that had everything I needed.”
You may be skeptical about Jason’s eBay purchases, but there were actually quite a few legitimate sellers back in yesteryear. There wasn’t a flood of generic, universal, faux-JDM products, yet you could get real-deal parts, oftentimes direct from Japan. It took him about two years to finish auction-hunting, but he soon had his version of a U.S. SiR. He sent the car off for paint, and all seemed well until he got the car back from the body shop. Jason left his CRX in his apartment complex’s carport one night, and someone decided to break in. The thief was able to take not only the CD player and CDs, they also managed to locate Jason’s wallet and walked away with an entire month’s rent from it. He took it as a hard lesson learned and moved into another place where he had a garage to protect his pride and joy.
A mix of brand-new OEM and aftermarket make up the interior of this restomod.
With a safe haven for his CRX, Jason spent ’04–’07 completely restoring his car. He sourced a B18C5 long-block engine, and tore the entire motor down only to rebuild it from the ground up. Original intentions weren’t to do so, but he bought the motor thinking it was in good condition, when in reality it was not. The seller had pulled a fast one on him and sold him an engine with bad piston rings. Everything inside the block as well as the cylinder head was replaced with brand-new components. The engine bay has been neatly tucked-away and is now void of any unnecessary wiring via a Rywire mil-spec engine harness and custom relocation of the brake lines. The main draw beyond the empty bay, once the hood is popped, is no doubt the gorgeous set of Toda ITBs and an SMSP exhaust manifold. Inside the confines of the interior, you’ll find everything you would inside of a JDM SiR CRX, except that the Vertex 10th Anniversary steering wheel is on the left side and, rather than opt for Japanese-spec buckets, a set of lightweight Recaros are bolted in.
The entire build was coming together very well, as he not only restored his once tattered CRX, but restored it to near-Japanese SiR-specifications. The rest of the issues he had with his car could be seen as bad luck, but many others may argue that he had problems merely because he tried to finish his project with haste to meet deadlines for events. His CRX had been under wraps for years, but he had grown anxious in anticipation of debuting it to the masses. On a trip to Los Angeles, he failed to lock the steering wheel on his CRX while it was mounted to a two-wheel dolly trailer and almost lost the entire car when it began to come unhinged on the highway. A few years later, Jason called upon a tow truck with a rather unsavory driver who attempted to take the car back to his yard to strip the car down!
Powers’ CRX looks mint as can be, but it has given him and his wife their fair share of problems. It’s recently fallen on hard times once again, and the rebuilt motor began giving him problems a few months after the photo shoot. “I’m not sure what my plans are with the CRX anymore,” Jason explains. “I have another baby on the way and two other projects that need to be finished. I’ve just had too many bad experiences with this car in all the years since I’ve owned it. Only time will tell, but it’s back in the garage on the back burner again until I can sort it all out.”
Sad considering just how immaculate this CRX is, inside and out. It’s most certainly a love/hate relationship, though. We love everything about it—it’s Jason who has grown weary of his own masterpiece. When talking to Jason and his wife, you get the idea that their frustration exists on the surface, but pride and sentimental value are going to keep this classic in the Powers’ stable.