First introduced in late 1983, the CRX is a small two seater based on the Civic hatchback. Although briefly offered with a 1.3 liter engine, most North American cars came from the factory with a 1.5 liter D-series engine. Buyers had three trim level choices. The HF is a lightweight version with a detuned engine that could achieve an astonishing 42 mpg city / 51 mpg highway as measured by the current EPA system. The top-of-the-line Si was fitted with a 108 hp engine giving it respectable performance for its day, while including most of the car's optional equipment. The DX sat between these two trims, offering a balance between power and fuel economy. It was the only version offered with an automatic.
The second generation reached the market as an '88 model. The biggest change was a fully independent wishbone suspension on the front and rear, a setup usually reserved for sports cars. The Si got a new 1.6 liter producing up to 108 hp, while the base and HF engines were updated with new fuel injection systems. The CRX was replaced in 1993 by the targa top Del Sol, while today's CRZ hybrid was designed as a spiritual successor.
In its time, the CRX was extremely popular, being named Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year twice and making Car and Driver's 10 Best list twice during its production run. As prices of used cars dropped, it quickly became a favorite of tuners thanks to platform engineering. Although only sold with D-series engines in North America, B-series motors, including the VTEC-equipped B16A, were sold overseas. This makes it easy to swap the stock motor with almost any related engine, while aftermarket support allows later K-series and even V6s to be installed in the engine bay. The 2nd gen's suspension also lends itself to modification, making the CRX a good starting point for building a car for anything from drag racing to autocross.