Occasionally I used to see this Red Mk2 CRX being driven around locally, usually going very slowly. It was owned by a local Primary school teacher, and was actually a friend of my mums. I loved the car, the look of the bright red paint, the little alloys, the sporty silhouette of the body and the simple black spoiler on the back. It was the kind of car that most people wouldn’t notice, an underdog if you will. It wasn’t flashy or loud, in fact, it looked just like a little old ladies Honda Civic Coupe – which is of course basically what it was.
Whenever it came up in conversation, or when we passed it I said I wanted that car. Sounded silly and was greeted with mirth when I was not much older than 10. However, as the years passed and my feelings remained unchanged, my intentions were taken slightly more seriously. It was mentioned to the family friend in passing, that if ever she sold it, to please let us know. At first this was not taken seriously either, however one day the call came – the car was for sale and would we like to go and look at it?
Yes, yes we would.
A few days later, arriving at the house it was clear the car was in need of a little TLC, which of course was perfect. The rear arches had a little rust, the paint was a flat orangey pink colour and one of the CV joints was hanging out of the thing, clicking and clocking like crazy. However under all of this the car was clean, original and tidy – even down to the standard stereo. We secured a test drive, and off we went with the old man at the wheel. After the car was warmed up, he suggested we see what it had to offer, and nailed it. It revved up, went all flat, dad shouted “oh shit” and immediately backed off. We looked at each other with concern, behind us we had left the most almighty cloud of black soot and dust, I mean it literally covered the entire road. After driving a little further and confirming the car wasn’t overheating or the like, we tried again – this time it revved a little sweeter and the black smoke was less.
We rapidly concluded that the poor little thing had probably not been revved past 3k rpm in its entire life, and whilst the car had only covered around 40k miles, it was about 12 years old. The only kind thing to do was waken the old girl up, this time with a full sweep of the rev counter up to the magical and almost unheard of 7500rpm redline. 7500rpm from a little shopping car, this might not sound much today, but at the time we were comparing this to Mk3 Ford Escorts that would run out of what little puff they had at 5k, it was like a totally different world. It was covered in gadgets too, electric windows, roof and mirrors the works. If only this teacher had plumped for the Vtec model at the time of purchase, that offered variable valve timing and a staggering 9000rpm red line! A figure that could hardly be believed at the time, and something that is rarely beaten today from a production vehicle – let alone reliably.
Anyway, the beans were given and the car came alive, woken from over a decade of slumber and my god did it thank us. As the rev’s climbed the note hardened, and when it got to around 5k it really came alive smashing though the last part of its rev range, a certain sweet spot.
A deal was struck and we picked the car up a week or so later. I think I paid £1500 if I remember correctly, which was quite strong money on the face of it, but after some TLC, a bit of paint and a mop, it was back to being bright red and ready for action.
Driving it was the next step up, it was a quick thing once the revs were up, and it handled so well you could keep them up if fairly easily.
I didn’t modify this one, I just enjoyed it. It went so well, and I was no able to overtake cars who went too slowly, something that was a challenge in a straight line with a 35bhp mini.
Much fun was had, and it was around this time I did my first track day, well it was an airfield day in Oxford. We had great fun and caused a few red faces without taking any of it particularly seriously. This would set the tone for many a track day to come. The key ingredients for me to get the best from track days are:
• Be much faster than you should be, in the car you have turned up in.
• Have a laugh with friends old and new.
• Be respectful of slower drivers – sometimes this is can be hard.
• Bring it home in one piece – sometimes this can be harder.
So that set the tone really, having a laugh in performance cars, the freedom they offer, the places they take you and the people they help you meet.
Over the years they have taken me to some pretty amazing places, and I have met some great friends. Some of which are total tossers.