The Honda del Sol is yet another car that was universally maligned by enthusiasts in its time, but is now endearing and legit. What octane-blooded driver today wouldn’t sacrifice a finger or two to have a car like the del Sol back on the market? It revs, is quick, handles well, is packed with clever touches that immerse you with the open road, and doesn’t require a second mortgage to own. If Honda sold something like this today, we’d be singing its praises from the mountaintops. Sadly, it was mostly panned because Honda marketed it as a replacement for the beloved CRX.
To be clear, the CRX is the superior driver’s car. But we wouldn’t kick a del Sol out of bed for leaving brake dust in the sheets. In 1993 the Si trim’s 1.6-liter D16Z6 made 125 horsepower when Motorweek conducted their review. That was good enough, when paired with a 5-speed manual, to hustle up to 60 mph in just 8 seconds and cross the quarter-mile marker in 16.3 seconds at 84 mph.
As we all know, 0-60 was never a Honda’s raison d’etre. That would be handling, and in that department the del Sol just wasn’t as razor sharp as the CRX. That was owed to its 300 pound heavier curb weight working in conjunction with a softer suspension. However, These differences are only heightened because the CRX was so brilliant. By reading contemporary reviews one would think the del Sol is some kind of land yacht, but that’s not even close to the real story. In the grand scheme of things del Sols are far closer to the Miata end of the handling spectrum than an Oldsmobile.
Plus, when you take advantage of all its features it can be quite the blast. The aluminum targa top is easy to remove and store. The trunk even has an ingenious compartment for it, which folds away to reveal a larger cargo space. The rear glass can roll down like a Toyota SUV, providing fresh air and a party trick.
Best of all, the del Sol was a bargain, starting at just $13,700 for the base model and $15,000 for Si. The easiness on your wallet extended into ownership as well, with an estimated 22 city mpg and 33 highway (Motorweek got 32 in real world testing) and Honda durability.
If all this sounds good, the package was made even better in 1994 with the debut of the Honda del So VTEC. Equipped with a 160-horsepower B16A3 engine, it absolutely ripped. Honda should’ve never positioned the del Sol as a CRX successor. Taken on its own, it’s a compelling little sports car. It’s a shame the world was so quick to dismiss the del Sol, but it also means that today del Sols command only a fraction of the price of a Civic Si. That won’t last forever, so if you’ve ever been curious about the del Sol, now’s the time to grab one.