So you’re cruising down the road heading to work or a show or a meet or something, and you hear this nasty sound like you’re about to be overtaken by a swarm of angry bees, and a few seconds later this mis-colored, rusty Honda Civic does a classic ricer flyby before weaving a few lanes and taking the next exit.
You roll your eyes and a familiar thought comes into your head “God, I hate Civics. All the drivers are ricers, that car is a piece of crap why do I always see so many?”
So since you’ve seen a few hornet’s nest Civics in your day, and you yourself drive a nice big 5.0 V8 Mustang, that means that all Civics are crap and all their drivers are ricers, right?
The Honda Civic at this point is a staple in car culture, and that’s for several different reasons. Yes, there will always be those groups of 16-17 year old’s who just got their first car and drop is on $50 ebay coil sleeves and run a ridiculous glasspack muffler setup, but Civics are also widely popular in the tuning scene.
Now, I’m not sure how the demographic is for everyone else, but at least in my local area of Maryland Hondas are very popular, in fact there is a local shop near me that specializes in Hondas, and he does them right.
What makes Hondas a nice choice for tuner cars is because they are cheap to buy, easy to maintain, and have such a widespread following for parts to make your Civic unique, and not in a bad way.
I mean shoot, I used to have a 2000 Civic EX coupe, not the fanciest thing in the world but I’ll be damned if that sucker wasn’t a cheap car to mod and maintain. You can go online to Craigslist or something equivalent, I personally like to do my Honda searching on a local Facebook page called “Honda Motor Heads of Maryland”, and you can pick up an old EG or EK civic for around $1000-$2000.
Not a bad start, considering those cars usually already are being delivered to you with some form of modification. Mine for example already had the big part of the work done, and for Hondas that usually means a motor swap. There are less Hondas in this area that actually still have the original motor, as most owners do a swap to another type of Honda motor before they do anything else.
Let’s talk modding though, that’s why you’re likely here after all. If you haven’t had a Civic before then let me tell you there are a lot of ways to mod the car and still stay under a nice budget. For example, you don’t really need to spend a thousand bucks on a ridiculous coil-over setup that costs more than you paid for your Civic, but you also don’t have to go super cheap and get some of those $50 ebay sleeves.
You can find a nice middle of the road option, like grabbing a set of Raceland Coil-overs for around $400 new, or if you search around I’m sure you can find some used. Couple those with a set of Rotiform, XXR, or F1R wheels, and there you have an acceptable suspension setup with a clean set of cheap wheels and you’re still under $1000 right there.
Now you can move on to power. Now, most civic’s all do come with different variants of the same motor. For example, the 6th generation Civic AKA the EK civic had 2 motor options, but one of the motors had 3 variants.
If you had a CX, DX, or LX trim, then you had the Single Overhead Cam (SOHC) D16Y7 Engine which made about 106hp from factory.
If you had an HX then you had the D16Y5 lean-burn engine with V-TEC that made 115hp
If you had the top standard trim the EX, then you had a D16Y8 SOHC with V-Tec that made 127hp.
And finally, for 1999-2000 if you picked up the fancier Si Trim, then you were given the other motor which was a B16A2 Engine with V-Tec that made 160hp.
Now, as I said most people don’t keep the stock engines in hondas, the most common swaps I see are B20 swaps from old CR-V’s and B18 engines from Acura Integras.
It doesn’t matter whether you intend to keep your stock motor or do a swap because guess what? Most Honda parts are pretty interchangeable. Now I know a lot of people don’t advocate eBay parts and most of the time I would agree, but with Hondas eBay parts can be your friend.
You can pick up a full Exhaust from eBay for like $150 and then spend another $100-200 on a nice header and bam, now you’ve got a full exhaust. Another hundred bucks and you could grab yourself a decent intake as well, or spend less and make one yourself from piping you can pick up from Pep-Boys. And for those of you who are going to complain about the swarm of bees that comes out being ricey, well most of the time that is a side effect of the V-TEC. My Civic for example had a B20 which did not have V-TEC and it didn’t sound all that bad and I was running an eBay exhaust so HA!
Now, if you are like me then that little Honda motor, even with your full exhaust and intake won’t be enough to keep you happy for long, so it’s time to take the next step. Grab yourself a Chipped ECU for the car so you can have it tuned by a professional in your area. Now, you’re still Naturally Aspirated at this point so basic bolt-ons won’t net you much in the way of power but it’s still the first step you need to take before you rip that motor apart and build it, or go with a forced induction setup. They usually run somewhere between that $100-$250 range plus whatever your tuner charges.
Now speaking of Forced Induction, the next logical step is slapping a turbo on that bad boy. If you’re not looking to make too much power then this will be well within your budget. Again I’m going to advocate eBay parts because you can get a little turbo kit for your EK for like 500 bucks. The goal here is to get all the parts themselves cheap, then make adjustments yourself. Personally I would route all my inter-cooler piping and have most of the points actually welded together so you aren’t running around with those cheap silicone couplers you’ll get from the kit.
But you will now have your turbo, your blow-off, a manifold, all your inter-cooler piping plus the core, and your oil feed and return lines, and a downpipe. Spend another $1000-$2000 and you’ll have a nice little turbo setup, never mind the fact that the tiny T3 turbo you’ll likely get won’t push a lot of boost, its your daily driver and you’ve only put a few thousand into it.
Now If you’re feeling really crazy you could really drop a ton of money and do a full motor build with a big turbo setup, and people really do this. There are plenty of Honda Civics in the 9 and 10 second category believe me. Granted most people can’t afford to do that but the fact that it is possible with these little cars is pretty awesome.
The Civic is at this point a staple in the car scene, and for most enthusiasts, you can appreciate the work that goes into one regardless of the actual amount. I know people that have Hondas that have put about a thousand into the car, and I also know people that have sunk in almost 10, and guess what? Both cars can look good, sound good, and run good.
That’s the beauty of the Civic, really.