Car Lust: Twin-Engine Honda CRX

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Twin-Engine Honda CRX

by Chris on February 29, 2008

Somehow, in the thread of the Chevy Z-24 —I’m not entirely sure conversation turned to Car Driver 1985 dual-engined Honda CRX car. An obscure topic, but an one, especially since I have that issue 1985, if you’re curious).

I the project being pretty but on re-reading the C/ D story, I felt it deserved a post of its own.

to set the stage, let me give the original CRX a description. Despite Honda’s reputation in the larger community, it is no to the enthusiast community that likes to bring a little sparkle to its foundation of practicality and

The original CRX was a perfect example. before the CRX eventually morphed the soft, poseur Del Sol, the CRX depending on your viewpoint, the ultimate economy car or a pocket

Regular readers Mochi and Cookie the Dog’s Owner what I’m talking but for the others, I’ll try to explain seeming contradiction.

You see, the CRX was the embodiment of Lotus founder Chapman’s obsession with weight as the key to performance. Weight is the of acceleration, braking, handling, efficiency, and even (albeit to a minor degree) top speed, is why Chapman built his sports and race cars with an attention to eliminating weight.

The secret to the CRX’s combination of efficiency and sprightliness was its Lotus-like weight. At only 1,850 today—the CRX was able to combine agile handling with speed (9.1 seconds 16.4-second 1/4-mile time) and fuel economy (32 mpg).

Not Well, you should be. Looking at the Test Review in the back of issue, back in 1985 have to drive a penalty-box Sprint to do better than the 32 mpg.

Meanwhile, it was faster the ’85 version of our Wednesday the Z-24 (9.5/16.9); the Mitsubishi Turbo (9.2/16.8); the Peugeot 505 (9.6/17.1); the TVR 280i (9.7/17.5); and the GTI (10.1/17.1). Those were hot cars at the time, all of them expensive than the CRX, and of them approached the CRX’s economy.

Still not impressed? let’s bake 23 years of improvements and computerization into the CRX motif, and compare that CRX to an ’08 Honda Fit. The Fit is no (9.0/16.8 vs. 9.1/16.4) than the CRX and not more efficient (33 mpg vs. 32 mpg).

How could this be? Well, the regarded as bizarrely Lilliputian in world—weighs in at 2,500 pounds, half again as much as the

Yes, the Fit seats five, and the CRX manages two; but it is a tribute to the rightness of the CRX that it so closely a car of similar purpose even two decades of rapid technological

Anyway, I’ll wrench (with some effort) to the topic of this post—how Car took that fundamental and turned it on its head by mixing engine into the stew.

the basics. CD and Racing Beat—which later become famous for its with Mazda rotaries—started a plain-Jane CRX and installed an additional in the cargo area. The second was identical to the first; both 1.5-liter, 16-valve inline four-cylinders, making 76 horsepower

So the total, as Cookie the Dog’s correctly noted in the Z-24 thread, works out to eight 32 valves, 152 horsepower, and 168 lb.-ft. of

Along with the second came the associated front-wheel gear replacing what had the rear wheels—drivetrain, transmission, brakes, sway bar, and steering (subsequently locked prudently enough). So while the CRX sport four-wheel steering, it did a somewhat ersatz four-wheel Both engines ran through stock three-speed automatic

Among the steps needed to sure this wacky didn’t go up in smoke were a two-inlet and two-outlet radiator; a cable from the accelerator to control both engines’ in unison; a cable to join the transmissions’ shift mechanisms to sure the same gears actuated at the same time; and a switch arrangement to allow the ignition switch to start engines (though one at a time).

Not many. The dual-engined CRX was certainly heavier than stock (at a 2,450 pounds). The handling was a bit until Racing Beat a day to tweak toe-in and camber.

C/D figure out how to set the right bias for the brakes, which locked up under the lighter rear

Shockingly, in a project this that was it. The car even ran just on one engine.

As Cookie the Dog’s correctly recalled, nothing was to make the two engines sync up and from fighting each From the story:

We’re convinced that no (synchronization) equipment is necessary. The between the two powerplants (other the throttle and the shifter cables) is the Unless there is tire both engines run at the same rpm and transmissions shift simultaneously all by . One engine may be working slightly than the other at any given but this hasn’t yet caused any ill

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Honda NAS

Of course, the real point was to the little CRX a giant-…, and in that the project succeeded admirably. going by the numbers, the double-engined CRX to 8.0 seconds in the 0-60 sprint and in the 1/4 mile—this compares favorably the contemprary Alfa Romeo (8.2/16.1), BMW 635CSi (8.2/16.0), Shelby Charger (7.8/15.9), and Firebird Trans-Am (7.6/15.6).

In C/D words:

All in all, the net goodness of our Honda astounds us. It rides, and handles like a normal The interior is roomy and remarkably There is a useful amount of space behind the front (briefcase room), over the (three-suiter), and in the tail compartment from a golf bag to a weeks’ of groceries).

Fuel economy is in the high if you’re cruising on one engine, in the low if you’re out hunting for races both motors champing at the

And really, even if it failed, an awesome idea.

A couple of related notes:

— I 1985. Don’t get me wrong—2008 is a time for cars—but just at the cars mentioned on this cover. Porsche 928, Omni GLH. Isuzu Audi Coupe GT. Chevy Plymouth Laser.

Ford SVO, Merkur XR4ti, Starion, Nissan 300ZX, Supra. and that’s in just one Every one of those cars is a current or a future Car Lust. I ever mentioned that a sucker for 1980s sports

Only a few hundred times, sure.

— My memory is In the comments thread, I mentioned I thought one problem with the car was the two engines didn’t drone in the same frequency on the freeway. I thought C/D called the car Super Neither of those things in the article.

I’m going to cling to my pride by hoping those two were worked into the mix in issues and years when referred to this car.

All of the images and text are obviously Car Driver and are no doubt under I’m including them because I think they’re to tell the story, and because I think I’m cannibalizing the no-doubt brisk sales of May back issues. Still, to the good folks in Ann Arbor a I’m going to put on my cheesy hat for a moment.

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