I want to buy this car. But I don’t. It’s a psychic Tug of War.

It may not have been the fastest or sexiest or even most expensive car I’ve driven, but it is my favorite. I bought it in 1988 right out of college. It was a black Honda CRX Si. If I remember correctly, it only had 105 horsepower but the thing about the car was not it’s speed or acceleration or top speed…it was the nimbleness of the car which was light as a feather, by automotive standards. 105 horsepower never felt so powerful since it was mated to a car that weighed only about a ton and a slick responsive Honda transmission which took full advantage of the high-revving 4-banger. I’ve never driven a car that handled so well. I used to drive it to the precarious curves of Sunset Boulevard in Bel Air and Westwood. I was able to keep up with cars that could eat me up in straightaways. Here on the twisty road however, I could keep up with Porsche’s and Corvettes in my feathery rocket.

My CRX was black and it looked exactly like this. I didn’t add any bling or aftermarket power boosters, I was completely stock.

This was my first Japanese car after a long succession of Fords and it was an addictive driving experience. There was no American car in existence that could match the supple ergonomics of the CRX. I loved that car, even after my drunken friend Joe fucked up the chassis by driving over a concrete block (or something, because I was Joe’s drunken friend and I don’t remember a thing). I think I slammed the car against a curb as well. Soon, the CRX was tracking unsteadily, the victim of obvious frame damage. I finally traded it back in to a willing Honda dealer who happily looked the other way when examining the car so he could finagle maximum trade-in value.

Now the reason I’m recalling all this is because Honda has released a new generation CRX (so to speak). Wearing a body that is remarkably identical to what the 1980 version wore, the new incarnation is dubbed the “CRZ” and appears to be aimed directly at the same market segment the old CRX was. All the same key words at play here: nimble, economic, light, crisp. The new CRZ has been updated with modern 2011 keyword amenities (Bluetooth connectivity, hybrid fuel system, 6-speed manual transmission). I saw one this morning on the way to work, a small white model. The car is tiny. Every car I’ve driven has had manual transmission except my first and my current. I hate automatic transmissions. They interrupt the mindful flow that I believe is so important to driving. Driving automatics decreases your kinship with the road, your immersion in the driving experience. With an automatic transmission, you may as well not be driving. In today’s half-assed world of incomplete sensations, it’s what people like, I suppose. I’ll take a manual transmission any day, especially if it’s one of those splendid Honda shifters that leaves you with the sensation you are slicing butter with a hot knife.

Look at this beauty, in all white, probably the best shade that captures its allure.

Supposedly, this is retailing for about $20,000 which is highly doubtful for a youthful Honda in urban Los Angeles. I doubt I can drive off any lot around here paying less than $22,000 for the CRZ. I’m interested in the lowest-priced model which is the 6-speed manual transmission (everyone wants automatic). The “top of the line” EZ’s list at $23,000 I believe, but who needs 300 watts of sound or Bluetooth crap or really bright headlights?

I’m a incurable miser and I’ve basked in the freedom from enslaving car payments for almost 6 years and I can’t imagine being saddled with monthly bills again. It’s nothing I look forward to but the prospect of dirving a car that looks like this and gets over 30mpg is damned tantalizing. No back seat? Oh the-fuck well! My CRX had no back seat either. It was a great way to get out of driving the entire world around. Now that I have no friends, it might be very practical for groceries. I will save a lot in the gas department…

Buying a new car is never a pleasant option or experience. I hate talking to sales people, they bore me and their motives are so plainly obvious as to be despicable and pandering.

New cars are money pits. When is buying a new car preferable? Or justifiable?

If I have enough in my savings to pay the full price of the car, do I buy it, or finance it? Do I keep driving my 1998 pile of dusty bolts?