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Turbocharged Honda Civic Hatchback - Pint-Sized Predator

Pushing The Limits Of The Ultimate Honda Street Cruiser.

Robert Choo
Sep 1, 2000
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper
0009_turp_01_z+honda_civic_hatchback_b18_turbo+left Photo 1/19   |   Turbocharged Honda Civic Hatchback - Pint-Sized Predator

Everyone has roots, experiences that they can trace back to the beginning of their love affair with cars. We all remember our first car, some may be ashamed to admit the heritage of their very first beater, while others can brag. For Scott Grueber, of Augoura Hills, Calif., backtracking turns up a 1974 Pontiac Ventura with a direct-port nitrous system. The Pontiac was fairly competitive, taking out vehicles higher on the food chain until a Silver Civic hatchback with a GReddy turbo kit made Grueber see the light. Thinking it would be an easy romp and stomp, they raced. To his surprise, the pint-size Civic screamed passed the Pontiac like a bat out of hell. Grueber was puzzled, "how could a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine beat my bottle-fed V8?" Taking an interest in the Civic, he later sold his Pontiac and bought the very same Civic that spanked him. It only took Grueber a few weeks before he started to tinker with the Honda in search of even more thrust.

After a careful investigation by Grueber, he elected to go with an engine transplant. However, he knew by just swapping the 1.6-liter single-cam engine for a GSR-powerplant would not satisfy his speed hunger. Prior to installation the B18C engine was sent to JG Engine Dynamics for some massaging. The engine was fully disassembled and cleaned prior to any work being performed. The block was given the company's Pro Series treatment, which included fortifying the floating cylinder walls of the B-series engine. A CNC-machined guard is pressed into the factory water jackets and welded in place to prevent cracking of the cylinder sleeves under boosted operation. With the guard welded in place and resurfaced, the factory sleeves were bored out and replaced with stronger ductile iron units. The block was then stuffed with turbo friendly 81.5mm 9.0:1 compression Lightspeed custom pistons with Total Seal rings. Swinging on a high-speed balanced and micro-polished factory crankshaft are custom Lightspeed connecting rods. Finishing off the bottom-end is a modified oil pump and factory oil pan.

2017 Honda Civic
$21,500 Base Model (MSRP) 31/40 MPG Fuel Economy

The head was also given the Pro Series treatment, which included porting and polishing, adding high-rev valve springs, titanium retainers and JG CNC-machined intake and exhaust valves. A pair of JG 296/300 camshafts conduct valvetrain orchestration, while a pair of JG Lightspeed cam gears fine tune the powerband. Sealing the bottom-end and head were handled by a factory head gasket and ARP head studs. Ensuring that the engine stays fully lubricated, Redline oil and additives were used exclusively.

With the engine fortified, building the turbo system was next in line. A custom XS Engineering T4 turbocharger is fed a steady stream of exhaust fumes via a JG Lightspeed turbo manifold. The pressurized air is then fed into a GTR-sized intercooler from XS. The front-mount air-to-air intercooler utilizes the ambient air to cool the charge air before it pressurizes the intake tract. Channeling the charge air into the port-matched intake manifold is a JG big-bore throttle body.

Four 750cc MSD squirters ensure that the turbocharged powerplant is fully fueled. A steady supply of high-octane juice is fed into the Climax fuel rail by a Paxton fuel pump and Essex regulator. On the ignition end a MSD 6AL box and Blaster 3 coil amplifies the spark energy before feeding it through NGK plug wires. Denso Iridium Power spark plugs ignite the highly volatile air/fuel mixture. Engine management chores were left to an Accel DFI computer. Javier of JG brushed his magic fingers over the laptop to the tune of 503.0 hp and 378.1 lbs-ft of torque at only 20 psi of boost pressure. The 500-plus hp was ample enough to propel the 2350-pound Civic down the strip for a sizzling 10.91-second quarter mile at 134 mph.

With so much power available at the wheels, traction issues had to be addressed. Tokico five-way adjustable shocks are combined with Ground Control coilovers. To keep the Civic from planting the rear wheels into the asphalt at the track, 1000-psi springs were placed out back and 750-psi springs were installed up front. At the strip, the Civic runs 25x8.5x13 M&H slicks with Bogart drag wheels up front, while the rear runs a pair of 15x4 Bogart skinnies. On the streets, the Honda rolls Dazz Motorsports CP8 RH Evolution aluminum wrapped with Pirelli rubber. Bringing the Honda to a halt are Power Slot rotors and Metal Matrix pads.

Surprisingly enough, Grueber's Civic still sees street duty on a fairly regular basis as the Honda is both registered and insured. Grueber has plans to finish the project, as the Honda is still not up to his standards. He plans on adding a one-piece front end, fiberglass doors and fiberglass hatch to further reduce the Civic's curb weight, making attacks on the 1320 a quicker experience. Boosting the B18C for more power and adding wheelie bars are also in the works which may take the Civic off the street-but you never know with Grueber.

Once a prey and now a predator, Grueber prowls the streets, looking for his next victim-the once rumpity thump V8 owner has become a pint-size Honda-wielding assassin.


XS Engineering
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Simi Valley, CA 93065
Xtreme Graphics
Villa Park, IL 60181
JG Engine Dynamics
Alhambra, CA 91801
DAZZ Motorsport
Baldwin Park, CA 91706
Advanced Clutch Technologies (ACT)
Palmdale, CA 93590-3425
Class Color Autobody
Canoga Park, CA 91304
Creative Metal Fabrication
Chatsworth, CA 91311
By Robert Choo
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