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Never Say Die

My younger brother and I grew up with Hondas. When we were kids, our mother drove a second generation Honda Civic 4-door hatchback which was light blue, but was given a fresh Chili Red paintjob a few years after she got it. We loved that little car. I particularly loved how cozy it felt inside. Everything was so close and intimate. I still remember the little details like the emblem of the two spoke steering wheel and the digital clock on the dash.

My mom drove that red Civic for almost 10 years before she upgraded to her second car, a 1993 Honda Civic hatchback, which I now proudly hold the keys to. My brother and I also did a lot of growing up in this car. This was the car that my mom drove us to school with. This car definitely holds a lot of special memories for me, which is why I’m never going to let it go.

She finally passed the Civic to me (which I so coveted from the day she first brought it home) when she wanted an upgrade. Yes, it was yet another Honda, but this time it was it was a 2003 Honda City, in Ruby Red.

My mom’s owned a string of Hondas but the old second generation Civic is still my favourite. I still have fond memories of being strapped in to the front passenger seat with my feet dangling off the edge of the seat as I looked up at my mom while she drove us around. Whether it was a trip to the supermarket or a day at the zoo, to me, getting a ride in that tiny little red hatchback was always an occasion.

For years I never thought of the 2nd generation Civic as a viable performance prospect. To me, the 2nd generation Civic was the car my mother drove. Then a few highly modified examples started popping up on the roads near where I lived. These little pocket rockets were packing modern day, B-series VTEC engines which gave these aging hatchbacks a power to weight ratio which would give a Ferrari sweaty palms.

This bright yellow example is possibly just about as evolved and extreme a 2nd generation Civic can get. Built to race in the local Classic Car Race series, this charming little hatch was built by Autobaze, the same people who brought you that wild looking, F20C-swapped KP61 Starlet we featured a few issues back.

If their Franken-Starlet was anything to go by, one can be sure that this Civic is something quite special. Cars as old as this need lots of time, work and ingenuity to accept 21st century technology and be reliable.

Stuffing Honda’s beloved B16A engine into this Civic’s cramped engine bay may seem like a match made in heaven, but trying to fit this engine into a 30-year old Civic is most definitely hell. New mountings had to be fabricated and driveshafts had to be custom made. But once it’s all in, the result is well worth the trouble.

The B16A now has 81.5mm pistons from a B16B in its cylinders, which gives the B16A a higher compression ratio. The head was ported, polished and tested on a flow bench by Nasty Port Flow before the Skunk2 Pro3 camshafts, retainers and valve springs were fitted. The engine now inhales through a custom made air intake (which looks pretty nice) and a fat 63mm throttle body.

Once the fresh air has entered the combustion chambers, injectors from a B18C squirt fuel, supplied by 30-litre custom racing fuel cell and external Walbro fuel pumps. With the volatile air and fuel mixture now in the combustion chambers, NGK spark plugs and plug cables handle the task of igniting the fuel mixture. For a bigger and more reliable spark at high revs, an MSD ignition coil replaces the standard one. Finally, poisonous but sweet smelling exhaust gases are taken care of by a replica Mugen header and custom exhaust piping.

The standard YS1 5-speed transmission with a 4.4 final drive ratio is what channels power to the front wheels, but the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th gear ratios have been swapped out with closer ratio gears from M’s Factory for better acceleration. A Kaaz LSD is also fitted because this lightweight hatch is going to need all the traction it can get as it powers itself out of the turns. For quicker shift times, a C’s short shifter replaces the standard one. Finally, an Exedy Hyper Single clutch acts as the medium between flywheel and gearbox.

Finding a new performance suspension kit suitable for racing for a car this old would be next to impossible, so Autobaze turned to ACE suspension for a custom made set. This suspension kit is fully adjustable and comes with pillowball mounts.

Many do not know this, but a 2nd generation’s Civic’s hubs have a 110 PCD. In order for any of the wheels available on the market today to be fitted, the hubs need to be changed. By swapping out the hubs for those from a donor EF Civic, two birds are killed with a single stone, as the brakes from the EF are also used. Bolted to each hub is a replica Advan RG wheel wrapped with a Toyo R888 tyre.

Being a racecar, nothing much of the interior remains. The dashboard is now a custom fabricated item made of sheet aluminium and installed in the dashboard are HKS gauges which display oil pressure, fuel pressure and water temperature. Looking the driver straight in the eyes is a big sized Autometer tachometer with no speedometer in sight. This Civic’s ‘furniture’ includes a 5 Zigen N1 bucket seat with an accompanying Takata harness and a Nardi steering wheel. Lastly a custom made rollcage provides safety and some added rigidity to the chassis.

Finally, the exterior gets a mild makeover with fresh yellow paint, a custom chin spoiler and widened arches, designed by Jub’s.

Whenever I come across old Civic’s like this, it makes me wonder if my mom had passed me the wrong Civic. There’s just something about old cars like this which newer cars don’t have; soul and charisma. It’s just like what the sticker on this Civic’s tight butt says:

“Old Honda’s Never Die, They Just Get Faster.”

Car: Honda Civic
Engine: B16A, 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder DOHC VTEC
Engine modifications: 81.5mm B16B pistons, Nasty Port Flow poted and polished head, Skunk2 Pro3 camshafts, Skunk2 retainers and valve springs, 63mm throttle body, custom radiator, NGK plug cables, NGK spark plugs, MSD ignition coil, B18C injectors, custom air intake, replica Mugen header, Chi Chi Vee exhaust system, custom racing fuel cell, twin Walbro 255lph fuel pumps
Transmission: YS1 5-speed manual, 4.4 final drive ratio, M’s Factory 1st, 3rd, 4th & 5th close gear ratios, Kaaz LSD, Exedy Hyper Single clutch, C’s short shifter
Suspension/Chassis: ACE fully adjustable suspension kit with pillowball mounts
Brakes: EF Civic brake system
Wheels & Tyres: 15 inch Replica Advan RG wheels, Toyo R888 tyres
Electronics: HKS gauges (water temperature, oil pressure, fuel pressure), Autometer tachometer
Interior: Fully stripped interior, custom aluminium dashboard, 5Zigen N1 bucket seat, Nardi steering wheel, Takata harness, custom rollcage
Exterior: Custom chin spoiler and widened arches by Jub’s
Tuner: Autobaze – 016-332 9797 / 016-616 7575 (Yaya)

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