GarageLove: Restoring the Sport Compact Generation




Klokkerholm offers a variety of patch panels for Hondas, Mazdas and even some Subarus. 

Companies are developing quarter panel and rocker panel patch kits made for frequently rusted areas. Klokkerholm has a decent selection for the 80s imports. Their patch panels are made so that a body shop or a DIY enthusiast could properly repair that typical corrosion spot behind the rear wheel on a Honda Civic or the rocker panel of a Miata without resorting to cutting up donor sheetmetal.


Scott wound up using a wrap to both give the autocrosser an urban camo look and to help protect the brittle plastic fenders and side skirts Which are nearly 30 years old. Photo courtesy of Perry Bennett.  

Trim and Interior

Plastic interior and exterior panels will become an issue quickly. Using the CRX example again, Scott Giles remarks that finding all of the plastic exterior bits, including the front fenders, has become a pain. “All of the plastic body bits get brittle over time and Honda quit making them years ago with the aftermarket following suit shortly after that. I've been hoping someone with the skills and equipment would produce and sell reasonably priced fiberglass copies of the originals, but that hasn't happened yet.

Keith at Flyin’ Miata notes that some of the commonly-broken plastic items for the Miata have become available. Folks are also replicating the Miata R-package front and rear lip spoilers—the rear has become NLA from Mazda so the aftermarket has stepped up to the plate. Keith adds, “I don’t think many people are looking at them as classics yet. They just don’t view a 90s car as something that might need restoration. But overall, we see much more interest in mechanical freshening such as new suspension bushings.”

The Dunlop Direzza ZII is one of the few performance tires recently available in a 14-inch size, in this case, a 185/60R14—perfect for an original GTI or that mint 1988 CRX Si.  Photo courtesy of Tire Rack.

Oddly enough, one general issue that all of these older sport compact cars will face is tires. There are not many good performance tires available in the smaller 13- and 14-inch sizes. Woody Rogers of the Tire Rack notes, “So far, there are no balls rolling on the smaller sizes. Closest continues to be Dunlop ZII Star Spec, which has a single 14-inch size. Every year we make the case with several manufacturers, and they all say ‘Hmm, sounds interesting’ They nod their collective heads that they have something on the shelf in other markets—but nothing ever materializes. We’ll keep at it.”

The appreciation of any classic car would appear to follow the same general curve, spiking when the folks who lusted after these cars when they were in high school start gaining discretionary income later in life. That’s why you’re seeing early Porsche 911 values peaking now—There are plenty of healthy and wealthy guys with memories of first dates, first loves and first cardreams with the 911 as the centerpiece.


This Scirocco was drug out of a garage after nearly 10 years and required extensive recomissioning—but when was the last time you saw a mint 16-valver? 

We aren’t expecting someone to show up at Pebble Beach in a spectacularly mint-condition 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V anytime soon, but there are people investing the time and effort to make these 1980s and 1990s icons shine again. There will be plenty of money and enthusiasts coming to this market in the coming years. The secret to success will be to predict and stay ahead of that curve—and we’re well on our way already.

Of course, there’s a fine line between visionary and that weird guy with a field full of Isuzu Impulses.

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