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Silver-Tongued Devil

K20A-Powered EK Civic

Al Mamoon
Mar 15, 2005 SHARE

If you are going to merely breathe the words "Power Swap" you have to look to the big H. Hondas started the swap rage and as the available engines have gotten better the trend has evolved with the times. The current golden child is the K20; the destination however remains the same--the Civic; either the EG series (1992 to 1995) or the EK series (1996 to 2000). This is one of the many instances where import enthusiasts have torn a page from the old-school hot rod coalition--sticking a big motor in a light car. The old dudes would cringe at the thought that it's a four cylinder for four cylinder swap (no V8), a gain of a scant few cubic inches and some doodad called Vee-TECH. The doors that open from ditching a Civic's pedestrian D-series engine for a K20 go light years beyond a mere 0.3 liters. Stock power numbers tell a telling tale. Stock Civic: 106 hp; RSX Type-S: 200 hp. So this swap adds 96 hp or a whopping 88 percent to the good side.

If you are going to merely breathe the words "Power Swap" you have to look to the big H. Hondas started the swap rage and as the available engines have gotten better the trend has evolved with the times. The current golden child is the K20; the destination however remains the same--the Civic; either the EG series (1992 to 1995) or the EK series (1996 to 2000). This is one of the many instances where import enthusiasts have torn a page from the old-school hot rod coalition--sticking a big motor in a light car. The old dudes would cringe at the thought that it's a four cylinder for four cylinder swap (no V8), a gain of a scant few cubic inches and some doodad called Vee-TECH. The doors that open from ditching a Civic's pedestrian D-series engine for a K20 go light years beyond a mere 0.3 liters. Stock power numbers tell a telling tale. Stock Civic: 106 hp; RSX Type-S: 200 hp. So this swap adds 96 hp or a whopping 88 percent to the good side.

The example seen here is a K20A scavenged from a Japan-spec RSX Type R transplanted into a 1999 Civic. The man behind the mission is none other than Honda all-motor drag racer Shawn Hillier. Hillier drove the purple Skunk2 Integra and is slated to get back in the driver's seat this year in the Skunk2 RSX. So it was of little surprise that this project is an all-natural affair.

When it comes to motor swaps one of the keys to pulling it off is motor mounts; and when it comes to Honda swaps Hasport has just about every base covered. B18C Integra engines into Civics, Prelude 2.2-liter engines into Civics, B16s into Honda lawn mowers you get the idea.

Hillier's motor was hopped up with Toda High Power cams and a Prototype Racing aluminum cold air intake addressing incoming air. On the far side of the combustion process we find a Prototype Racing stainless steel 4-2-1 header, a three-inch custom Pitcrew Motorsports full stainless exhaust with V-band clamps, a Borla straight-through muffler and custom tips.

In all-motor applications the name of the game is efficiency. But while most think about valve train or exhaust flow mods; to make the big number you need to think beyond the box. Power is all about burning fuel and all-natural tuners will tell you precise fuel tuning is the dealmaker. That is why the O.E. ECU was drop-kicked in favor of a Hondata fully programmable ECU wired up with a custom Pitcrew wiring harness. The Hondata ECU oversees a fuel system consisting of a BBK in-tank pump, SX adjustable regulator and a high-flow AEM fuel rail. Tuned by the gurus at Hondata, the 2.0-liter pounded out 256 whp and 184 lb-ft of torque on Church Automotive Testing's Dynapack chassis dyno.

The K20 was dressed to thrill with a Spoon Sports carbon Kevlar valve cover insert, Prototype Racing magnesium battery hold down, Carbing tri-point strut tower bar, Carbing oil catch can, Carbing front radiator dam and detailed installation of said parts which gives the swap an OE look.

Hillier also made all the right moves in the cabin, bolting in a Spoon Sports carbon Kevlar bucket seat, Spoon gauge cluster, Spoon shift knob and Pitcrew custom short shifter combo, Honda Access pedal kit and GReddy gauges. The final touch is a Sparco steering wheel with the company's trick quick-release adapter.

For footwork, the Honda has been outfitted with JIC Magic FLT-A2 coil-overs, thick anti-sway bars and additional bracing. The Civic rolls Kumho rubber and Spoon Sports 15-inch wheels that have an urban-esque blackout treatment.

Hillier rolls the Civic like a pair of dice at a hot Vegas table; long, fast and off the cushion, or in this case off the rev limiter. There is little doubt that he pulls some serious power shifting antics to keep in shape for strip duty. Any way you break it down this Civic is a great way to fly.

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By Al Mamoon
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