In 2003 when her old Celica was falling apart, Starla Arnold knew her next car would be a Honda. "I actually fell in love with Mugen products before I even bought my car." A girl who knows what she wants and how she wants it is a rare find.
After owning a 2002 Civic, Starla knew Civics were reliable and great on gas mileage. She set her sights on finding a '99-00 Civic Si. Shortly afterwards she located a Milano Red Civic Si at a local dealer saying "everything about this car fit my taste and personality to a tee".
It took her only three days to lower the car and start on her long road of Honda madness. It has come a long way since 2003 and she admits there's still more work to be done. "My car hasn't stepped on the track since 2005, and has yet to see any major motor work. I have had all the plans for my engine worked out for quite some time, but haven't had a chance to act on them. This is due mainly to the fact that it's hard to drive a car everyday when the engine is torn apart, and coming up with a few grand at one time. That's the reason everything else was started first. But it's getting to the point where all that's left is motor work." Starla's car is the true definition of a `daily driver'. With an 80-mile daily commute, this is driven rain or shine.
Unlike some guys even, she did most of the work herself. "Most of the work was done in my garage (when I had one), or on my driveway, lying on the ground with a ratchet set. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in this car. I don't find the point in building a car when a shop or someone else builds it for you. So what I didn't already know how to do, I had my friends teach me. Guess it's handy when half your friends are Honda technicians." But like any build she ran into problems "like a bolt not wanting to come out, or running into a fitment problem, or having a friend melt the rear lip (it was a replica at the time, thank God)" she tells us. "It's nice to know what has been worked on and how it was done. That's the beauty of working on your own car." With the exception of the rear seats, she even did the upholstery herself along with all the other interior mods.
Like most Honda enthusiasts these days, she had to have rare discontinued parts. "My wing has to be the most unique feature on my car, and happens to be one of my favorite parts as well." About four years ago she happened to get lucky and ended up getting the last Mugen Type SS EK spoiler from King Motorsports (the North American Mugen distributor). "I can't count how many times people have offered to buy it, and all the messages and compliments I have received about it as well. Sorry guys, it's not going anywhere". She admits chasing down rare parts can prolong a project and make it frustrating. Not just money, but planning and patience is vital.
After putting thousands of dollars into her car, she knows it's worth more than any number Kelly Blue Book could possibly come up with for it. "I would probably end up parting out the whole car if I was to sell it, but that won't be happening".