Y-49 was the Honda paint code for Barbados Yellow, a color option the CRX hatchback had when it was new about 30 years ago. And, if you believe the mythology, it’s cursed.
In this case, by “mythology”, we’re largely referring to forum posts and one particularly wacky Oocities site… which suddenly went offline just as we started asking questions. Coincidence? Probably, yeah, we were amazed the site was up when we first discovered it a few months ago. That, or there really is a three-decade-old conspiracy surrounding a limited color on a modest sport compact car from the ’90s. Either way, we know you’re intrigued.
The legend goes that Y-49’s evil began at the Honda factory. Paint shop workers and Honda engineers are alleged to have fallen ill by the toxicity of the paint which, supposedly, was radioactive. Car Throttle and Drivetribe both repeated this claim in their Y-49 curse rundowns; our contacts at Honda had no idea what the heck we were talking about.
This would be a good time to mention that Honda’s reps seemed to be good sports about asking employees at both Honda North America and Honda Japan who might have been with the company in the ’90s if they knew anything about a yellow CRX curse… however, they were not willing to substantiate even having heard of the idea.
My Car Bibles colleagues were similarly unfamiliar with the Y-49 legend, but our editor Andrew let me run this story after seeing http://www.oocities.org/teamwhy49 — an ancient website dedicated to the claimed curse. Or, it was a live site a few weeks ago. Trying to access it again at the time of this writing just took us to a 404 error. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine doesn’t even have a record of it — we had to drop the URL into a Google search to look at this cached version of the homepage:
When I first dug this up a few months ago, you could click through a little bit and see some stories about allegedly cursed CRXs. Now all I could find is the homepage screenshot above, and this image that used to sit on top of it:
In-period, apparently, owners started reporting that their Y-49 colored CRXs were getting involved in highly unusual and highly frequent incidents with their cars; everything from animals running into the cars, distracted drivers causing closer calls than usual, fender-benders, uncharacteristic mechanical failures, and even car-totaling wrecks where the driver mysteriously survives unscathed but the car is written off. Think James Dean “Little Bastard” vibes, but without any (reported) self-immolation.
Crxcommunity.com (post #6) member 2LTBaca has his own story to recount about a Y-49 he drove and was later wrecked: “To add some fuel to the fire… the first time I ever drove a car I was 14 and my cousin had just bought a yellow CRX. He wanted to teach me to drive and – about 2 blocks from where we started – I almost put into someone’s front yard. Months later he was smacked hard by a Coca-Cola truck. The car was totaled and he received a large settlement…”
The most damning account of the Y-49 curse comes from Honda-Tech.com (post #10) forum member CRXBart: “I’ve never owned a Y-49, nor will I ever. I’ve had friends that have, and have had nothing, but problems. Seven years ago at Niagara 6 we were driving home from the meet, and of the 8 crxes with us. The only Y-49 car blew it’s diff in the middle of Buffalo in the ghetto. The next weekend we towed it to my house with a car dolly, changed the tranny, and got stopped for street racing later that night. He is no longer into CRXes, the curse must have drained him of ambition.”
He continues for a few more paragraphs of strange stories of nearby non-Y-49 CRXs doing strange things in the presence of Y-49s. Though some of it admittedly seems in jest, some of it might just be real.
As I mentioned, both Drivetribe and Car Throttle conducted casual research on “the curse,” but didn’t come up with anything too substantial. explaining the effects of the curse, very similar to much of what I’ve seen on forums. You can check out CT’s video here though, the cute CRX animations are kind of worth watching regardless of whether or not you believe:
The Y-49 curse, though not very well known, has a dedicated following in the CRX community. For decades to come, the Y-49s will only be spoken about in whispers, a hushed huddle amongst other VTEC enthusiasts.
Beware, reader, of the Y-49 curse. Or better yet — let us know if you have more info on it!