Coachbuilt Oddball: 1986 Honda CRX Straman

We have all seen and remember the Honda CRX as a small and short wheelbase hatchback. Fun, with a charming character, and often a thrill on back roads and tracks, the Honda CRX is a Legendary Japanese classic. But how many of you have seen a Straman CRX? Built by Richard Straman Coachworks in the 1980’s, Straman offered a few convertible conversions for other vehicles. Only 300 or so CRX convertibles were built, and this car is # 73. Scarce, rare, and in nice condition this oddball is offered for $6,000. Check out this neat convertible here on craigslist out of San Francisco, California.

The interior of the first generation CRX is simple, and has a lot of plastic. The simplistic interior is actually very charming and very well laid out with the climate controls within quick reach. Overall the interior looks good but there are a few things to point out. The dash cubby is faded, but is easily replaceable. The seats are likely beat up and need a recover, but there are some seat options available that would look great, and offer comfort. There is a radio delete plate, but there is apparently a blue tooth enabled radio mounted somewhere inside. The ash tray is faded, but again a quick thing to replace. One thing in particular that catches my eye is the gauge cluster. The owner mentions this CRX is an “HF” model which is a High Fuel economy car. The gauge cluster that is installed is a standard DX cluster. There are no photos of the engine, but I am guessing this is either an HF or a DX car. The HF engine is a 1.5l 8 valve CVCC engine that has little in the way of power but offers excellent fuel economy. An engine conversion is quite simple as there are loads of options available thanks to a few mainstream companies.

First Generation CRXs have become rather scarce along with other Hondas of this vintage. Sadly many parts are no longer available for the 84-87 civic, and the aftermarket has dwindled as well. One thing that always seems to surprise people unfamiliar with these cars is that the front fenders, nose panel, side skirts, and lower door caps are a composite plastic. Once flexible when new, this OEM plastic seldom survives without cracking or disintegrating. Looking over this car reveals no cracked plastics, and an excellent paint finish. The only item that stands out is that someone has either added, or removed a rare Honda optional Aero kit. The Aero kit front and rear bumper additions can be seen in some of the photos and some without. The appropriate Aero kit side skirts are not seen in any of the photos, but they are standard 86-87 CRX SI side skirts. Although this Honda doesn’t have a tremendous amount of power, anyone who has ever driven one of these cars will tell you that it is an experience worth exploring. Have you ever seen one of these rare coach built Honda CRXs?

Fast Finds


  1. RayT Member

    I’ve seen — and driven — a Straman CRX, Brian. Aside from being a neat piece just because it had a flip-top, it was a well-done conversion, free of the shakes and rattles that bedeviled a lot of cars from that era that lost their lids. Best of all, it was a CRX, which was pretty nifty even in tin-top form.

    If it has the HF engine, it’s going to be pretty slow, though.

  2. Squad41

    Wow. I remember back when Road & Track did a piece on these Straman CRX convertibles, and thinking that they were cool. This one seems like a nice, straight, honest one. Good luck to the seller!

  3. ulm210

    I’m not saying Straman was the best at this, but you will be hard pressed to find a better coachbuilder to lop off your top. They did an excellent job of concealing the top when collapsed. One of the flaws with most aftermarket convertibles is the top rides so high when folded down; here it is very well concealed which really accents the lines of the car. This looks like a really fun sun chaser. I’d be curious to see if he gets $6k for it though as there are a lot of little flaws and with 182k on the clock, other than it’s limited production, it really does not have anything to justify the ask.

  4. tigerll

    so. i have lusted after one of these for years. since when i lived in denver colorado. we had 3 in town (that i knew about). i have looked off and on when i thought i had a couple spare dollars. the tiger (i’ve owned about 20) take all my time and money. 2 of the ones in denver were like this or dx’s. but one was a red si. that’s the one i wanted. lost track of it, and moved to florida. only to find out a few years ago, that they rust terribly. not only do you have the typical crx rust, but where they welded in supports along the rocker panels, had no protection. and the same with the trunk areas that were fabricated. i still would like to have one, but i would inspect it very carefully. the closest thing to a honda beat you can find.

    • AMCFAN

      Honda Beats are now being brought into the US and are not all that expensive. However I think this CRX would be more rare then a Beat and a better car. Most JDM cars like the Beat are not designed for tall people and the engines tend to rev higher at highway speeds on our roads. They were designed on shorter roads in the homeland.

  5. Car Guy

    This car has a much nice profile than the factory hatchback version!

  6. joe

    It would fit right in sitting beside my dual Accord engined same car. Built by Racing Beat for Car & Driver magazine. 2,700#, 3.6 liters, 2 automatics and 147 top end. Even the same colors inside & out. Let’s see…….. how could I sneak yet another car buy past my wife?

    • Rev Rory

      Wondered where that thing ended up.

      • Joe

        It’s sitting in my 6 car garage 55 miles north of Orlando – out in the country. I happened upon it yrs. ago at the Zephyrhills, Fl. auto auction. Many current buzz-bombs are quicker now, but few will pull 147 mph. Gets 11 mpg when you are fully on it. (who cares…..) It only has 50K miles on it, and less on the engines – which are dead stock and running perfectly It’s probably more fun than 600 HP exotics.

  7. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Buy. Re-engine if necessary. Drive. Smile (a lot!).

  8. Jeffrey Wells

    Yes I have one I think number 86 red good shape I’m the second owner bought from a dealer in San Diego new never wrecked red and black even has a Steve McQueen tipe single person flat cover where only the drivers head is exposed 13 inch rims HAVE to deck it out have new red and black racing seats floor mats geer shift knob….. Bastrop Texas

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