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35 years later... a "stock" 88 Si restoration

1652 Views 22 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Django88
So I picked up a car that's got a decade on me and now I wanna be cool so here's my plan for my "new" car as well as a general summary of where it stands as of this post.

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The car is a 1988 Hoonda CRX Si. 200k miles. Body is a little beat up and the rear quarter panels are rusting. I received it without an interior and the classic broken ac panel, mystery exhaust, no brakes, no radio (not the factory option), three speakers, no drivers interior door handle, busted light housings, aaaaaaand a slough of other issues. HOWEVER despite the rusty QPs the underside is relatively free of rust. my guess is the factory sprayed this one twice or someone had the thought of getting it done. Either way I'm grateful. The Stock D16A6 runs. it needed a valve adjustment but otherwise was fine.

Plans for this car is to be a daily so I will be focusing on repairing things and while I will be modifying this car, I do not intend on anything crazy like AWD or say a k swap..... anyway, I will be making a conceded effort to improve the already great handling. Primary objective is smiles per mile. Suspension will be where I throw the most money. Since this purchase I have started to fall in love with the mini me builds and am contemplating buying another engine and building it myself. Im on the fence on which is more reliable, forced induction, or high compression. Idk, im new so get ready to see mistakes.

THE BODY & Paint is a high priority but I do not possess the skill to weld steel yet so I am leaning towards a resto shop I know of. it would be stupid expensive but it would yield a better result.
Checklist (organized by priority. subject to change)
Valve Adjustment
Timing Belt
Fuel leaks
Master Cylinder

Seats - DA9 Integra
Interior Trim*
Climate Control Faceplate
Rear Triangles install
Front Lip reinstall
Sunroof Repair
Rims & Tires
Theft Deterrents
Power locks
EF sedan rear door handle swap
Steering Wheel & QR Hub
Coilovers - PG 350/350
Sway Bars - PG
Control arms - S1 Built
camber kit - Megan Racing
RUBBER bushings
Rear disc conversion
Shock Tower Braces
New seat belts
Hidden Subwoofer
Wire tuck? - still on the fence about this one.


While I am new to honda I have been lurking this site for about 3 ,months and have a general idea of what I want out of this thing. Now the suspension components are expensive and rather high end and while i have beer pockets I retain my wine taste. Cosmetic changes are not a concern of mine with the exception of doing a wire tuck and a bit of engine bay dress up. Im hoping the whole car looks stock from a distance and it wont be until you take a good long look at it that you see those very subtle touches. right now those touches are rust but who knows what the future holds?

I dont want to hear creaks and feel every gravel i touch so Im going with rubber rather than poly or spherical bushings.

Any suggestions are welcome!
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Well I drove it yesterday and she's running pretty good. I could stand to play with the valve clearances more as the lifters are still making a little noise but its a definite improvement from when i first got it. The Walbro is doing fine, and it wasn't running rich so I think my regulator is still working fine and is handling the new pump. idk if thats something I need to worry about but im watching it nonetheless. During the drive, between my excited giggles, I noticed the front passenger brake caliper was dragging or not fully disengaging. I'll bleed it, then see from there. if its the caliper, autozone sells em for around 50 bucks. if its a warped rotor, i have fresh spares. That was also the first time i ever drove it. my review: The weight (or lack there of) is NOTICEABLE. This is such a fun car and I can't wait to make memories in it!

Just remember that more fuel does not equal more power. You need more air, and then you need to mix it with the correct amount of fuel, to get more power. If you switch over to bigger injectors that flow more fuel, and don't improve airflow at all, you will probably be making less power and certainly will be making more emissions and worse fuel economy.

To flow more air (than the stock EFI can handle), you will need fairly significant modifications. Something like a turbo setup, or a supercharger, or a more aggressive cam grind that allows you to run higher RPM, and so on. The engine is a system, and just changing out one part of the system is unlikely to improve the performance of the system.

Yeah, you're right. Injectors wouldn't do any good for this motor right now. A regulator however, those tend to be made better than stock. I could run it at stock psi, and not worry about it going out because of the bigger fuel pump. No change to the mixture, ecu is happy and so is my mpg.

That rot is pretty significant and will probably be worse once the trim and bumper covers are removed.
With all that body rot, I have a hard time believing the underbody isn't crusty.
I did too honestly. I almost didn't get it because of those holes. I was able to crawl under it and low and behold, darn thing was undercoated and thiccc too. Trust me though, the body isnt unrepairable. Ive got a special fund for the bodywork and its getting fixed soon.
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Nice! Another save from the rust pile!

Seriously I love these cars so much I'll spend hours and days and months painstakingly removing any and all rust by hand, replacing panels, fenders, window seals and trim, etc...

My hands and fingernails are stained permanently BLACK from all the scrubbing of that thick velvet black grime that you only get with a30yo Honda. Basically every old Honda I've bought had over 300k miles and seemed like the owner never replaced ANYTHING! Bulbs in brake light sockets still say made in Japan lol and everything still runs great minus some lost gas mileage and maybe some "minor"leaks..

But after a few months in the garage things start to change and all the black grime and rust gets washed away to show all the different colored metals and different badges/ info charts underneath. The grime actually ends up protecting everything and once finally cleaned and all the gaskets and belts and bolt on things are rebuilt or replaced, the 30yo motor looks almost brand new!

Its It's a labor of love. It separates the men from the boys when a person chooses to take on a rusted grime bucket of a Honda. Were different breeds of tuners that go for the nostalgia and can't stand to see an old Si go to waste. Like in high school back in the early/ mid 1990s. I used to go through the newspaper "recycler" every Thursday (basically craigslist in paper form) and go check out 63 impalas, 65 Malibu's, 67 VW bugs, etc... every week! I bought a 67 bug for 500$ in 1996 running GREAT. It had 1992 Honda accord front seats and black on black with tinted windows. It was so sweet! Long story short it was wrecked so I bought a 66 bug for 300$ lol it even had pop out rear side windows. Bought a 2 door 65 Malibu in 1997 for 2500 running. Almost bought a 2 door 63 impala for 5500$ but didn't have the cash.

Anyways what im saying is people like us go for the less than perfect autos. For me anyways I hate seeing something go to waste and I love seeing the work I've done make the car come to life. Money be damned! Mark my words in the next 10 years you aren't going to find late 80s/ early 90s Hondas lying around like we do now. I've been hunting them for 20 years almost now and compared to 10 years prior you could find over 75% and more of OEM Honda parts for these older Hondas. But not now. Hardly anything can be found. Roughly 10-12 years ago I had several Honda dismantlers in my area and now there's ZERO! The newer Hondas and almost every other auto manufacturer basically use ****tier parts and the cars they make are almost throw aways. A3rd gen prelude uses serious high end steel and has multiple areas of reinforcements. Let's just say I've never snapped a bolt by accident working on my 3rd gen. Now my 2002 ep3? You look at it mean and it breaks lol

Once they're gone they're gone forever. I just watched two 4WS 1988 ludes get smashed into little cubes just because they were at the end of the junk yard isle. Still had almost everything and both still had their entire 4WS systems in tact. Dying breed for sure
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Aight so yall probably aren't going to like this but i haven't gotten to the rust yet. I'm almost ready to buy the patches though. I have them sitting in a cart, just saving up to buy them.

Now that the bad news is out of the way, you'll see my list has changed a little bit as my tastes and knowledge have grown a little. I got the climate control unit fixed up and it only took an atrocious amount of glue. how i managed to make it look as good as it does, is beyond me. it works too, hot blows hot (and dusty lol) and cold blows hot (no ac lol), and all the buttons work. imma call it a win.

On the note of AC, mine is completely gone so I am working on building a new one.

The problem I'm running into on building an AC system is my hoses. I can find only 2 of the hoses I need. Honda doesn't make them anymore and I don't think any distros are going to have any in reserve. I found a website that specializes in custom (diy) systems for the American V8s: they have the materials I would need to build the hoses. However, to build them, i also need a special tool that crimps the fittings. Not to mention i will likely have to make or modify some of the fittings to make it work or fit correctly. I know of a shop that could help me assemble the hoses so i wont have to give up an arm for that tool, just a 12 pack, and some pizza. I am confident I can make it work as the big parts (i.e. compressor, condenser, and evap can) are still in stock from most places on the internet that I've found.

I know this seems like a scary issue but I'm not going to be deterred, ive spent too many summers soaking the seats of previous cars to let myself do it again. I'm also 99% sure the Si came with AC so it'd be kind of not a restoration if I ignored it.

I got a new handbrake printed out of ABS plastic, looks aight, might play with the design to make it look cleaner.
Also idc what anyone says the Mcguires back to black works wonders for the exterior plastics.
Inserted a pic of the polished valve cover. I discovered some bolts were loose on the exhaust and intake manifolds. im sure to the point of a previous owner. I cleaned it up and torqued em back into spec and now i have no leaks. kind of makes me afraid for the studs tho.
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