Jomon's CRX-R. Part 4 - Creating the CRX-R Interior.
Whilst working on the mechanicals, whenever I could, I mulled the interior and so using inspiration from having restored the seats of the Integra Type R, my vision continued to form.
I’d wanted to avoid re-trimming the original CRX SiR seats, since doing so would ruin their originality (They were in excellent condition with none of the usual holes resulting from bolster wear).
I already knew from the experience of Integra Type R’s that original Recaro SR-3’s would be hard to beat for comfort and holding the driver firm, where access to the rear seats is also required.
I searched & eventually came across a set of Recaro original -EF fitment seat rails for sale.
This was a golden find, already knowing from previous painful experience that Japanese shaken would be a problem to pass, if I’d use any other brand of rails.
I stripped out the back seats, to go together with a pair of DC2 Type R seats, plus a spare set of door panels, together with new Recaro seat foam to replace old disintegrated parts and sent everything for re-trimming to Masa at Robson Leather in Tokyo.
For those who don’t know of Robson Leather, Masa the owner, is a kind Japanese man whose staff consistently produce excellent quality workmanship. We’ve sent much work their way over the years, in particular for Skyline GT-R's, but he's restored seats of other cars too.
I called Masa. We discussed materials & settled on genuine “Alcantara”, rather than inferior quality copy Alcantara material. I explained what I wanted, right down to stitching and embroidery, then left them to it, whilst I'd continue on with the rest of the work yet to be done inside the car, so it would all be ready by the time the seats returned.
Sound deadening was never anything of substance on CRX’s, nor for that matter the original carpet.
The original “CR-X” floor mats had seen better days too, so I sent the originals to Alastair at Hamilton Classics in the U.K. and asked for two sets of mats. One with the original “CR-X” logo in the correct size and original font and another set with a “Type R” logo.
In hindsight, I should have had them make a similar to original “CRX-R” set, but that’s something for next time, when I send then a pattern of the luggage floor mat I’d like made to match. Its good to know that many CRX-UK club members have benefited from the design and had identical sets made. Sharing is what it's all about.
Most of the remaining interior trim was duly removed and any damaged or scratched panels repaired by Sanaka San, who runs a small business called Total Repair.
I removed all the original soundproofing, before properly insulating the entire floor, including as far as I could get behind the dash without actually removing it. I also insulated inside the doors and over the rear arches using acoustic foam underlay from Second Skin Audio from the U.S.
Sound deadening was placed beneath the carpet, with foil-backed sticky sound deadening, also from the same supplier, plus leftovers from a previous installation, to sound deaden the door panels, etc.
4-gauge copper speaker wires were neatly routed to the original 4-speaker locations. Infinity Kappa 225w coaxial speakers offer a good compromise between cost and performance. They're equipped with reassuringly heavy magnets. Heavier than say, most Alpine or Kenwood speakers that are available locally in Japan, cheaper too - even with shipping from Amazon.com (U.S. site).
Whilst there, I also bought a 10” Pioneer shallow-mount Sub Woofer, designed to be placed upside down when necessary (to maximise space for carrying luggage), as well as a 5-channel Pioneer amplifier rated at 1,200 Watts (peak).
The amp was mounted on the rear seat’s back-rest portion, in such a way that the wiring wouldn’t be visible even with the seat-back folded forward. The above picture shows wiring before it was wrapped in black sheathing.
Signal and power wires had been laid along opposite sides of the car beneath the insulation, so as to avoid undesirable signal noise from interference. Shielded coaxial cables were also employed and a hidden reversing camera, with power signal coming from the wiring of one of the reverse lights, was added.
A pair of original option replica FRP Bass tubes were ordered from Tegiwa ,to go in at the rear, providing a home for Infiniti speakers. All the speakers were of similar size to originals and would be concealed perfectly once grilles were put back into place.
Having gotten used to the relative luxury of having Apple CarPlay in our other cars, I ordered the same Pioneer AVH-2300 NEX 1DIN sized head unit. Pioneer has since revised these units to newer AVH-4300 models, but having both types, I can’t find any significant difference.
A lot of cool features are on these. I don't know how much more they can improve them, but they're the best 1 DIN Apple CarPlay head units I've found to date.
They fit well with most cars that only have the smaller 1-DIN sized head-unit space.
Their software doesn’t crash, unlike Parrott head units that I used to have in all of our cars.
I appreciate being able to make hands free calls or choose music from my iPhone or stream. Simple Siri voice commands with Google, Apple or Waze maps for navigation. All these mod cons in a 30-year-old car, whilst also being able to close the screen whilst the unit continues working, to provide a period retro-styled look, is a dream come true for 90's car fans that many of us are. Not least, if it ever gets outdated, I can replace it. Should be some years before that happens.
I paid particular attention to making sure all sources of vibration such as door lock steel rods, etc. were well scrutinised & foam tape used to avoid any vibrations from them. The end result, is a system that provides nice sound quality, a necessity when the engine & gearbox like to sing rich harmony tunes of their own.
The Auto Aircon control fascia on the CR-X is notorious for being brittle with age and breaking at the slightest hint of disturbance. Mine sadly was no exception. I used Semi-Rigid 3M plastic repair 2-pack compound, to glue it all back together before spraying with black plastic paint to try & hide telltale cracks.
This 3M bond is stronger than original, with only very thin cracks giving away that there has been some pretty substantial repair work, now.
I’d fitted Defi sensors and routed their wiring into the cabin during the engine, gearbox & harness installation work and so now was the opportune time to connect the Defi 3-gauge pod.
Usually, I’d prefer Defi Advance gauges with their user-set audible & visible warnings, but this being a Honda with almost every component replaced, I saw little justification for going overboard, especially bearing in mind I was intent on creating a tidy “OEM” look. 3 x 52mm gauges crammed into a 1 DIN space would've looked less tidy & I'm not really a fan of gauges stuck to the top of the dash. Less is more.
The rearview mirror also received attention, as the original glass had delaminated and new replacement parts have been long discontinued.
Nothing ground-breaking, just a modern, generic self-dimming replacement. The difficulty I found, was attaching it to the windscreen. At first I tried several times to bond a small metal shoe on, but found it kept falling off. Eventually, I screwed the smaller metal mounting pad to a carefully shaped piece of 2mm thick carbon-fibre and bonded the rougher side onto the glass, to create a reliably rigid solution with a larger bonding surface area.
Whilst there, I also fitted a dashcam & a Japanese ETC (electronic toll collection) system.
I'd sourced a used S2000 dual-range gauge cluster from the U.K.
As the engine, drivetrain, suspension, brakes, interior, etc. were all replaced, rebuilt and as new now, I started by sending this cluster to the U.S. to have the odometer reset to zero.
I bought another used JDM one inexpensively, meantime to work out the wiring and fitment.
I also ordered a custom LED instrument backlighting kit from www.Qube-engineering.com, a U.S. supplier, where I specified white and red colours. I addition I had them make a yellow zone between 8,000-9,000, just to remind me this would be the riskiest zone in which to be using air conditioning during very hot weather.
See, in extremely hot cases, refrigerant can freeze as it expands, hydro-locking the pump and subsequently breaking the electromagnetic clutch. I had it happen many years ago, on my AE86 with similarly high rev-limit. Fortunately, so far since completing the CRX-R's build, I’ve had no issues with the A/C.
I'd fortunately been able to find said U.K. cluster complete with an S2000’s original pigtails. Despite being a digital display, the LED’s and Speedo on an S2000 are of a conventional 12V system rather than Canbus, so it was easy enough to use a simple test light to identify each wire, then solder and shrink wrap a parallel adaptor pigtail harness, without cutting off the original CRX connectors (meaning I could revert to standard in future if ever desired).
K-Tuned used to make a neat module to enable fine adjustment of the water temp & speedometer readings. I was especially impressed with the wide range of speedometer adjustment possible, all the way down to increments of 0.1%.
I found it possible to calibrate accurately with a GPS app on my iPhone, meaning the range of adjustment would allow this sort of conversion into any car, not just Hondas. Good to know...
More challenging was to successfully make the hood for mounting the S2000 cluster.
To begin with, I bought a used bezel from an S2000. I cut off what wasn’t needed, then bonded It into place on a spare CR-X instrument hood. This gave the location & curvature needed. Afterwards, I built up with aluminium tape to form a mould onto which I applied 3M semi-rigid bond, before adding body-filler and finely sanding, priming and painting.
All this took several evenings, but the result came out well and achieved the overall look I was after. The lighting intensity is adjustable in the same way as original and the white/red colours mimic the original colours, all whilst giving the unique CRX-R flavour I was looking for, with an OEM flavour.
I must admit, I did think of putting on the S2000's red "Engine Start" button, which I now had, but I've always found it a bit pointless, since It adds tasks in order to start the engine, so I did without. A simple "Kill Switch" cigar lighter, that'll never be used, was employed to add a bit more sports flavour.
Genuine Mugen pedal covers, already having been experienced on the Integra, were recruited to offer an abrasive surface for good grip & control.
The original hard plastic e-brake handle or button looked dated and would've let the interior feel down. Removal of the discoloured plastic handle necessitated cutting & breakage, but I was confident the BMW replica handle I’d had specially made with red stitching would work.
3M’s semi-rigid plastic bond again came in useful and an aluminium release knob interference-fitted directly over the original plastic one. I added a red-stitched leather e-brake gaiter whilst I was at it.
As a final little detail, I added a replica of a rare original option rubber dashboard tray I’d also sourced from Tegiwa.
Around 8 weeks hence, I got a mail Robson’s Tokyo workshop to let me know the seats, door panels & matching Alcantara shift boot with red stitching and logo embroidery were finally ready for collection. The time had finally come to refit, stand back and admire the finished product.
The donor driver’s seat I’d had retrimmed, came with an integrated pneumatic lumbar support, operated by a simple rugby-ball shaped air-pump, with integrated valve.
To finish off, I replaced the originally planned DC2 Type-R titanium shift knob with a Hybrid Racing item which I preferred the design & feel off. If I squint, it looks a little like the NSX's original titanium one.
I also fitted a modified adjustable shift lever set to 25% less travel, which I felt would be the best compromise between faster shifting & risking gates being so close in position, that I would reduce running the risk mechanical damage if selecting the wrong gear when driving faster.
It buzzed annoyingly at higher revs, so I took it off and returned to the standard shift lever.
I prefer the design of quick-release FET QRS II short steering boss to all others on the market. Amazingly, rarely appearing on the Japanese market, as used items - when they rarely come up. these fetch double, compared to the latest and most expensive Works Bell Rapfix or FET QRS III designs.
Once you’ve seen the ingenuity of the QRS II, you may not want to use the spring-loaded newer types any more (I’ve had an NRG one rattle annoyingly over bumpy roads). These QRS II mount very solidly & are easy to remove too, just hard to get a hold of.
A short FET boss adaptor combined to give the correct reach to the steering column and therefore positioning for the stalks. If you didn’t know already know the steering wheel is so easily removable, you’d never have guessed. The look is OEM.
Can you recall which Type-R Honda this Momo (Tuner 350mm) Steering wheel red “H” horn button and bezel were fitted to by the factory?
Answer: On the very rare NA1 & NA2 NSX-R’s. I finished the effect with titanium countersunk M6 bolts.
I feel the attention to all the finer details combined above, is worth the effort. In my eyes, it all adds up to a greater sum total, whilst avoiding as much as possible anything that detracts.
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Author: Miguel Varella-Cid
Founder & Director of JOMON CAR RENTAL.