I don't think you missed to much, on that one. I read the description with it and it sounded to me like the guy had grafted the turbo on, but hadn't yet made the ecu changes to handle the boost and stuff. I think it would have been a huge can of worm's.
I'd look for a 92-95 VX, preferably, because of the lean burn and because it has a 2 stage VTEC, so that you get both economy and some power. Overall they seem to be the best bang, stock.
I have an 89 Wagovan, which they quit making in 91. I got it because I needed space for 4 people, occasionally and I use the space in the back, a lot, to haul miscellanious stuff around. It also has higher head room than the sedan's, in both the front and back seat's. Additionally, I wanted something I could pay for and not have payment's. I got mine because the guy who had it, had broken a spark plug off in the head and to get it out you had to pull the head. I was able to buy it, refurbish the engine with rings, bearings, pumps, timing belt and I had the head completely rebuilt, in cluding new valve guides, for about $1100, out of pocket.
I've considered puting in a VTEC engine, a VX or transmission and a upgraded ecu, but it's running and I don't have to, so I may not do those things until I get around to it, if I ever do.
I've rebuilt two different Honda engine's and theve both had about 200,000 miles on them. In both cases, the crankshafts were still as tight as an american manufactured car, after I replaced the bearing insert's, which was just mind boggling, to me. Honda part's are a bit pricey, but once it's running, generally it seems like all you do is get in and go.
Just to clarify, the Civic VX had two versions, as krousdb mentioned.
They both actually had a EGR setup. The only physical difference between the california and non-california are two things:
1) Five wire o2 sensor vs four wire o2 sensor
The easiest way to see if your VX is a california model (aside from a carfax) is to see how many wires go to the oxygen sensor. If it is a four wire o2 sensor you have really nothing to worry about. To change it all that you need to do is add one wire to the ECU plugs and run it to the engine bay. You also need to get a used ECU from a non-CA car. since the VX are so popular to chop up and turn into racers you can find these for $30 on various honda sites.
Are you sure it was only the CA VXs that had five wire o2's? Mine has a five wire but I'm pretty sure it came from KY. I'm not positive though, I thought all the VXs had five wires. It's a '95, built in Canada. Also, it didn't come with A/C - I didn't think any of them did. It's also missing: clock, intermittent wipers, rear wiper, and rear speakers.
"Ain't nobody that can sing like me..." Woody Guthrie