FEATURE: Austin Chercha's 1991 Honda CRX DX - Raising The Bar

Austin Chercha CRX Skyline

Every generation of gearhead has their selection of "it" cars that they add to the annals of automotive history, in the 1950s all the cool guys had hot rods and kustoms, the 1970s brought muscle cars and lowriders, then in the 1990s Sport Compacts took hold. In the 1990s and 2000s well executed import builds were popping up left and right, and, if you looked at the world through the filter of print media, all the cars back then were awesome. Of course, that's because, short of having MySpace and forums as outlets, half baked builds would never get the time of day since the main form of automotive media was print. To feature a car it took huge amounts of resources, they had to get the car photographed, then have an article written, then they would have to print the magazine and finally send it to a newsstand shelf. Features had better be worth the magazine's effort otherwise those resources went out the window. Today, with the rise of social media, it seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry can take pictures of the rust free half of their car, filter it until it looks cool and get thousands of Instagram likes.

Although we're over-exposed with crappy cars today, That isn't everyone, There are still guys out there with a vision who don't settle for cool on a 4" screen. They build their cars to push the boundaries and try to bring the whole culture to the next level. Enter Austin Chercha, he's a normal car guy who does bodywork by trade and a self proclaimed "Honda Guy". He's not some 1% hedge fund manager or industry insider with a six figure budget, he's just a normal guy who knows what he wants. Over the years, Austin has amassed a pretty solid stable of cars that just about everyone would want, including an Acura NSX and a Toyota MR2. Despite owning some of the most iconic Japanese cars ever, there was one thing that Austin always wanted but never seemed to have the time to attain, it was a K series swapped CRX.

Austin Chercha CRX Rear Overpass

The Minnesota market for CRXs is a nightmare to say the least ranging from crusty daily drivers to primered up Black Widow widebodied cars. Once decided on the project, Austin knew he didn't want to spend the next 5 years fixing rust. So he looked south to Texas where he found a rust free rolling shell complete with 20 year old sun-faded paint. The important part was the body looked straight as an arrow, so onto the trailer it went.

Upon arrival to Minnesota, Austin immediately got to work stripping the car down. The USDM spec front end came off and the decision was immediately made for a JDM SiR front end complimented by a J's style lip to go on in it's place. Of course, a dope JDM front end would be lost if it was sprayed with a Maaco paint job, so a complete professional respray was required, Luckily this is Austin's niche.

What would Austin do? Stock paint wouldn't cut it and he decided to go wild, after all it's his dream car. As an ode to Spoon's bright blue and yellow livery, a color off the Ford palate was chosen, the Mustang's Grabber Blue.  Out came all of the plastics, trim, interior and glass, you didn't think Austin would just paint the easy parts would you?

Before he laid down the paint though, all of those seams and empty bolt holes in the engine bay would need to be addressed by shaving the bay to perfection. Once the paint dried, a chassis wire tuck and brake line tuck were required to complete a clean look under the hood to match the exterior.

With the paint dry, the old warped body molding stuck out more than ever, so it was time to tackle that. Austin hunted down every piece of NOS body side molding for the car and replacements for all the window trim were acquired. Prior to installation of the window trim though, he had some fresh glass inserted for both safety and aesthetics.

All show and no go wouldn't cut it for Austin, so an adjustment in the horsepower department was needed. The weapon of choice for the powerplant? A K20A2 from an 04 Acura RSX Type S. Austin dressed the K20A2 in a Rywire tucked engine harness and polished RBC Intake manifold before he mated it to the 6 speed manual transmission with LSD from an '06 Civic Si. Finally, exhaust was routed through a DC Sports header into a Thermal R&D exhaust system. 

That brings us to the interior, what a waste it would be to have a boring stock interior on such a slick car. Austin had just the solution, Bride seats would be the perfect compliment to the exterior. Once he had the seats in he didn't stop there, a rare OEM CRX armrest was added in conjunction with Bride fabric wrapping a selection of interior panels. A call to WIREWORK was made for an S2000 digital dashboard conversion harness to monitor the vitals.

Austin Chercha Work Meisters

The tiny wheel wells of the CRX make the 15" x 8" Work Meisters look massive. With such a tight squeeze, Austin had to insure that the wheel/tire combo didn't rub on the fender so he stretched a set of 195/45R15 Toyo Proxes T1R tires to fit. Fitment like this can't be trusted to just anyone, too soft of suspension and the tires rub, too stiff and Austin's spine will turn into rubble. Austin gave KSport the responsibility of keeping the car level with a set of their fully adjustable coilovers. Since Austin isn't on a first name basis with his chiropractor, we can assume they're working great. Braking is handled by a set of Brembo rotors up front and in the back, a set of Integra GS-R rear disc brakes replace the tired old drums. A K-Tuned front traction bar plays with a host of aftermarket arms and bushings to keep the alignment straight. 

All said and done, Austin has completed what is quite possibly the perfect CRX show car. What are his next plans? This year, forced induction is planned to make it's way onto the car along with some more aggressive aero work. In the long run, Austin has no plans to sell this car and will add it to his collection next to his NSX and MR2. For his next project, he's thinking either an R35 GTR or a Mk4 Supra will be next. After seeing what he did with a CRX, we can't wait for what he would do with one of those brutes.

Engine/Drivetrain:

2004 Acura RS-X type S K20A2 engine, 2006 Honda Civic SI 6Speed LSD transmission, Hush performance Hydro clutch conversion, Polished Hasport engine mount kit, Polished RBC Intake Manifold, DC sport header, 3" Thermal exhaust system, Blox velocity stack intake, HydridRacing fuel rail and tucked fuel regulator kit, All-In Fabrication tuck radiator.

Electronics:

Hondata KPRO ecu, Rywire custom tucked engine wire harness, Rywire ground wire kit, Rywire EF conversion harness, Honda S2000 AP1 gauge cluster with WIREWORK custom plug and play harness, Honda S2000 push button start.

Exterior/ Interior:

JDM Sir front bumper, hood, fenders and headlights, Carbon Kevlar brake ducts, Origin lab CF front splitter, Custom mixed Ford Grabber Blue paint, All brand new body moulding and glass seal mouldings, Shaved engine bay, J's racing Replica front lip, EF8 flush mount wing, Solar roof spoiler, Bride seats, Custom Bride door panels, storage bins, back panel, OEM CRX armrest, Mugen floor mats.

Suspension/brake/wheels:

KSport coilovers, Work Meister S1 15X8.5 +15 offset, Toyo Proxes T1R Tires 195/45R15, Skunk2 front camber kit, HardRace TA bushings, Beaks tie bar, ASR rear subframe brace, ASR rear sway bar, DME Lower control arms, ST front sway bar, K-Tuned Front Traction bar, Brembo brake rotors, GSR disc rear brakes conversion, EX knuckle conversion, Chasebays tucked brake lines.