There are certain types of cars that immediately stand out to us. Even though we’ve been in this business for what seems like an eternity now, we still manage to be captivated by those special one-offs that are seemingly undeniable. That’s what keeps this job so interesting; we continue to have moments where a Honda build sparks something inside of us and captures our undivided attention. After all, variety is the spice of life and we love seeing all the different builds that make up this great community. The ones that do succeed in capturing our eyes simply have that unique “it” factor—whatever “it” may be.
Additional rare trinkets to go with the almost non-existent interior.
We first encountered this 1990 CRX at this year’s annual Eibach Honda Meet in Irwindale, California. It was parked in the entrance of the event where cars were being staged before entering the lot, with many other Hondas surrounding it. Aesthetically, it wasn’t too different from what you would normally see at an event of this nature. It was white, like so many other cars that day; it retained its OEM two-tone appearance with subtle modifications like a Japanese-spec front-end conversion and Xenon side skirts. However, it was the tan leather interior that had the two-seater sticking out like a sore thumb. Allowing the harsh sun to shine into the unique interior is a Japanese-only glass top conversion. What was interesting was that we overheard a fellow enthusiasts in a neighboring Honda ask the owner of this CRX how much his right-hand drive conversion cost, totally ignoring the rest of the interior. You see, tan leather on a white CRX was never an option offered by Honda from the factory—no matter what the country of origin. Not only that, but tan leather itself is pretty unique, and one would assume this was nothing more than a reupholstered setup. We wouldn’t reunite with the CRX for a few hours, but when we did, we were stunned by what we saw; the words “CRX Exclusive” embroidered on the front seats indicated that this interior was the stuff of EF legend. Not only was it not reupholstered, it was the original factory option—a very rare, or exclusive, factory option. Though the car isn’t a true CRX Exclusive model, the entire interior most certainly did originate from one of only 350 ever produced.
The Exclusive trim level was a rare option available outside of the U.S. market during the CRX’s production run. To actually see one in person here in the States is something that we thought would never happen in our lifetime. The world is a huge place, and you would be hard-pressed to find anything now that was made only 350 times two decades ago. To say this interior was a rare gem would truly be an understatement. The steering wheel and shift knob have been replaced with aftermarket pieces, but to see this interior as intact as it was made it a mind-blowing experience.
It didn’t stop there, as a look under the hood revealed much more. The stock motor was long gone, and the bay now housed a K20A2. This particular swap was unlike most K swaps because it still retained the factory airbox and intake arm from the RSX Type S that the motor came from. The OEM intake setup was either kept as a novelty item or actually served a specific purpose. We had our assumptions, but it wasn’t until a couple of months later when we finally met the owner, Jaime Galvez, when he confirmed our beliefs.
“I kept the whole intake setup because I needed it to have the K20 swap BAR’d in the state of California,” Galvez explains. “That’s why the motor is basically stock with the OEM (RSX) ignition and fuel system. I even have the RSX gas tank mounted to my CRX. It was a pain to have to make it all work, but my swap is completely road legal in California. I also took the proper steps to register my right-hand drive conversion and have paperwork that proves that everything is legit.”
Although it may be a terribly tasking operation, it makes sense for Jaime to legitimize his project car. Many would just take the chance and do it the more conventional way, putting their money pits in risk of being taken away, but not Galvez—especially with that rare interior. His K may be stock, but the Type S motor in this lightweight chassis packs plenty of punch in factory form. There are no aftermarket power-adders, other than a DC Sports header and Mugen exhaust, but he has made the K his own by dressing it up with gold-plated accents. Maintaining his Honda’s legitimacy is important to Galvez because this car holds quite a bit of sentimental value. He explains, “I love this car because it literally helped keep food on my table for many years while I was on the road as a field service engineer. I used to drive this car an average of 150 to 200 miles per day. It never gave me any problems, and it never let me down. I only had two flat tires the entire time I’ve had it. I’m just spending money on it now because it helped save me so much money in the past—it deserves it.”
Jaime’s CRX is just one of those “it” cars because there is so much more lying beneath its surface. The rare interior is the draw, but everything else about it is what really makes this project special. Practically everything about it is unconventional compared to other, more typical CRX builds, placing Jaime’s car in that “exclusive” club.