Body and Exterior


JDM JDM JDM, body kits, body kits, body kits. One must admit, the JDM styling is better than the USDM but it can get really expensive to do it right. And, body kits provide a nice way to put some originality in your car and perhaps make it look more modern or extreme. But as we looked at more and more pictures we decided that 1) The JDM look is not all that different and the USDM is not all that bad and 2) the body kits can get pretty tacky. And besides, USDM CRX's are probably more rare than either JDM or Body kit/customized CRX's now a days. What we did not particularly care for was how the USDM car was finished with the unpainted black stripe around the bumpers and side moldings, the black unpainted mirrors, door handles, and lower body panels. It just looked a bit "cheap".

So we went a different route. First, we liked blue as a color for the car but the OEM Celestial Blue Pearl is not a pretty blue, more of a turquoise blue, don't like that green tinge in there. So let's make it better and one of our favorite blues is on the Subaru WRX, Subaru WR Blue Pearl. A bright blue containing pearl to give it an iridescent sheen. Seemed like the perfect blue for a cute little car like the CRX. Next was getting rid of the ugly unpainted black highlights on the plastic body parts. The idea was it would be a totally stock USDM exterior with fully matching painted body parts. This would give the car, we feel, a cleaner, more modern look. We stripped the exterior and disassembled all exterior parts except the rear and hatch windows (the front windshield was replaced at the body shop) and purchased some new, unpainted plastic fenders, panels, and trim pieces direct from Honda (about the same or less than buying a body kit). Some parts were salvageable such as the mirrors and door handles which were taken apart cleaned and refurbished. One other issue was the hood. Don't care what you read, the USDM hood will not fit over the K20 even with an alternator relocate and trimming all the webbing. It just doesn't. We opted to go with a Fiber Images hood which is JDM style and clears (and just barely) the motor (one the USDM hood the center section drops down, on the JDM style it rises up and gives a bit more clearance). When the hood arrived from Fiber Images it was so pretty we could not bare to paint it, so that is the one other distinguishing feature on the car, the carbon fiber hood. To get an idea of what the heck I am talking about you can see the Before and After pic's below.

WARNING!!! Many blogs on the internet point to this site claiming "this guy knows how to get a USDM hood to fit in a CRX K20 swap" THIS IS NOT TRUE! THE USDM HOOD WILL NOT CLEAR THE K20, I don't care what you read elsewhere, it doesn't work. The Fiber Images hood is designed for the USDM front end, but, instead of the center of the hood dropping down, it bumps up, like a JDM hood. Hence "JDM style" hood. They also made a JDM CF hood and I believe a USDM style hood, although I may be wrong on that.

NOTE: I believe Fiber Images is no longer in business. That is a shame, as the quality was top notch and some of the other brands of CF hoods for hondas look like crap.


Before After

Off to the Body Shop

Once we got the K20A engine installed and running (no exhaust, wow was it loud) and the brakes and suspension installed and working, we put the wheels on (we would have put the old ones on to send to the body shop, but they no longer fit over the new larger brakes) and then we called the tow truck (thank you AAA) and had the car taken to the body shop along with a few boxes of plastic parts for painting. This is the one thing we did not do ourselves, the bodywork and paint, with the exception of the engine compartment. We painted the engine compartment ourselves, with the help of Cousin John, after removing the old motor and cleaning, prepping and masking. Of course it is not as nice as the exterior, but it came out pretty good and looks clean. If you really want to do it right, you would strip the entire car interior and exterior and send it out and then do the build. But this really was not necessary and our approach is considerably less expensive. One other advantage of this approach is your newly painted care is less likely to get dinged up in the build process since much of the work was done before paint.

We sprayed the engine compartment ourselves in the garage after welding in the Hasport mount, stripping everything out, cleaning and prepping. This allowed us to install the engine and suspension before sending it off to the body shop.

Jack at Automotive Custom & Collision in Derry NH came highly recommended to us for doing "quality" work. Jack started in the custom paint business but after a few years the reality of making a living drove him to the more conventional auto body collision and repair business. So most of his jobs are pretty standard, so when we proposed my project to him, we think he perked up a bit behind his calm demeanor. Seeing Jack's 1965 all motor drag Corvette in the corner of the shop gave us hope that this was the right guy. Sure enough, Jack and his team took to the CRX and went above and beyond. Below is a brief pictorial.

After the car was towed over to Jack's, all the minor bumps and bruises were carefully taken out and the entire body was block sanded smooth and wrinkle free. Don't worry, the wheels and engine were all bagged off throughout the process. Here we are close to hitting the primer. Doors and hatch were removed so the jams and the inside of hatch could be sprayed too. The front windshield was also removed and replace but the rear windows were not removed.

All bright and shiny blue the CRX comes back from the body shop on the tow truck. The paint job is as smooth as glass, no orange peel finish here. You can see our friendly tow truck guy in the picture above asking why we didn't put a turbo in it :-)

In addition to the car, the bumpers, side panels and rub rails, mirror housing, all came back bright blue. Even the mirror assemblies and headlight assemblies were completely disassembled, cleaned, rust proofed and painted black and then reassembled and lubricated as necessary.






Final product, you can see the Hasport motor mount on the left
Cousin John did the actual shoot in the engine compartment