Ever step on a Lego with your bare foot? Totally debilitating. We don't know how the engineers at Lego did it, but they diabolically programmed each piece to pinpoint intuitively the tenderest nerve at the bottom of your foot and render you temporarily paralyzed. It's kind of a cross between your leg falling asleep and amputation by chainsaw.
And those smart little pieces of plastic have a way of embedding themselves in carpet and hiding until it's late at night, and everyone else in the house is asleep, and you're on your way to the kitchen-without your slippers-to scarf cold pizza. Then, youch! That bumpy little morsel of blue plastic jumps up and stabs itself right into your vulnerable, exposed arch, and you must lurch and hobble your way in the dark to the nearest seating area to rub your wounded sole.
Despite these dangers of late-night discovery, the medium of Lego is a challenging but rewarding one. If you have the patience and foresight, you can engineer astounding works of design from all those individual pieces. You can build whatever you want, as long as you have the right pieces, you have a plan, and you take your time. Sound familiar? It works the same way with modifying an import car. Christopher Kubiak applied the Lego work ethic when he built up his '94 Civic Si, and though he had his setbacks, he was able to build the car he wanted and do almost all the work himself.
He started with a complete 1.6L Pro Series engine from JG Engine Dynamics. The engine was bored 0.020 over and has a ported and polished head and oversized valves. A Garrett T4/T3 hybrid turbo paired with a complete FMAX turbo kit (which Chris installed himself) increases airflow to the engine, while a catalytic converter from Random Technology and exhaust from Thermal Research & Development convert and expel its toxins. To control levels of boost and make sure the engine stays happy, Chris added a PMS fuel management system, A'pex AVC-R boost controller, and a B&M oil cooler.
While waiting for the engine to come in, Christopher took time to focus on the car's exterior. The black and yellow paint scheme grabs your attention right away. The Ferrari Yellow front end seems to dissolve into shreds, while the rear of the car's sleek Ferrari Black is subtly accented with a green pearl. Sleek is the operative word here, considering practically everything that can be has been shaved, including the door handles, the rear license plate area, the emblems, the windshield washer nozzles, the antenna, and the keyholes.
Christopher says there's no substitute for hard work and determination when it comes to building up a car; little plastic space stations don't build themselves, you know. But sometimes it takes a while to get it right. As anyone who has ever built a car knows, parts don't always come in when you expect them, they don't always fit the way they are supposed to, and return policies aren't always as trouble-free as they sound. Like all projects, Christopher's year-long buildup had its rough spots. For example, while attempting to install his new front brakes, Chris ran into some problems. After many tries, he concluded that they didn't fit, so the technicians at Baer told him to take photos of the brakes and send them in, and they would try to figure out what he was doing wrong. The day after Chris developed the photos, someone from Baer called him and confirmed that Chris had been right all along: They had a Civic Si in the shop, and the brakes didn't fit. Baer made up the new pieces and sent them to Christopher a week before he left for the '98 Super Street Tour to the NOPI show in Atlanta.
"The trip to Atlanta was really the first time I had driven the car for any amount of time," Christopher says. "[It was a] great way to break in that new engine." Follow his example and join us this year. It'll be more fun than launching Lego-grenades into your sister's Barbie Dreamhouse.