thanks all. i'm supposed to get pics and more info on the car this evening, but i think that you've just about put me off the foolish notion of trying to bring this thing back as a daily driver. i've had cars that needed constant attention. i must've forgotten what that was like. and perhaps i've been deluded by all of the good hype about VX (along with my own positive civic hatch experience) into thinking that this thing is an amazing bargain. you get what yo pay for. and a lot of people are starting to realize what these are worth.
so if anyone knows of a VX in good shape for under $3000 within a couple hours of Portland, OR, let me know. thanks a bunch all. i'll stay tuned in. this is a great forum.
The beater I just picked up is a 95 Civic DX hatch w/ a 98k mile d16z6 swap (Civic EX motor) as well as suspension and brake mods.
Granted, I knew its history (it was a friend's aborted track car project), but it's solid. It's hard to screw up a Honda. The only things that kill 'em are lack of oil/fluid changes and overheating. Otherwise, they run forever.
Bolt-ons aren't really mods. They don't affect longevity at all.
As for emissions, RI has VERY strict emissions laws, but they don't do a visual (underhood) inspection like they do in Cali.
My car needed a new 02 sensor and PCV valve to pass, (I also did Bosch Iridium plugs and "Guaranteed to Pass" fuel system cleaner, for good measure). It passed w/ flying colors after that.
Generally, a basic tune-up will help your car's sniffer results BIGTIME.