Famed American author Ray Bradbury penned the classic "Something Wicked This Way Comes" in 1962. The book chronicles the desperate actions of two teenage boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, as they struggle to save the fate of their hometown from the evil Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, a carnival that threatens to steal the souls of the citizenry by granting their deepest secret wishes.
When properly prodded Hugh Le's 1997 Honda Civic can be just as menacing as a Cooger & Dark sideshow. The pristine indy yellow EK reminds us that sometimes it's good to be bad.
Since this Honda is representing on the cover of our 20th Anniversary issue it is quite telling that our Senior Tech Editor, Robert Choo, built the long block of this beast. The Civic relies on a B20B block fitted with Benson's Full Metal Jacket ductile iron sleeves with copper o-rings to withstand the torturous stress of big boost. At the inner core of the block a shaped and lightened LS crank swings JE 9.0:1 slugs on beefy Crower con rods. A Mugen baffled oil pan, Toda oil pump gear, Toda timing chain setup and Honda CTR N1 crank pulley round out the block build.
The engine was completed at Raceline Development where a Type-R cylinder head was affixed to the bustling B-series bullet. Tom Fujita of Portflow sculpted 84mm combustion chambers, port matched the unit and assembled the head with stainless steel oversized valves, titanium retainers and dual valve springs. The head was fitted with Top Fuel Japan turbo-spec cams and JUN cam gears. A JG Edelbrock intake manifold was secured to the head via a Hondata insulated gasket designed to reduce heat transfer to the intake charge.
Fuel and ignition are addressed with a hard-hitting array of components. Big, 1000cc Blitz injectors are fed by Aeromotive SX gear: high-flow pump, filter and regulator by way of Earl's -8 Pro Light lines and a trick custom fuel rail from ADF. The spark side is an all-MSD affair with a Digital 6 Plus ignition box, Blaster coil and Pro Cap putting the zap to NGK V-Power plugs.
Raceline then installed the engine and an Integra LS transmission using Mugen mounts. The gearbox features a GS-R fifth gear and final drive, an OS Giken twin-plate clutch and lightened flywheel, KAAZ LSD and The Driveshaft Shop 36mm Stage 5 axles.
The next stop on the Civic's power tour was TSR Fabrication where Datsun 510 fanatic Mario Lozano flexed his considerable fabrication muscle in creating the turbo manifold and three-inch downpipe, which are masterpieces in their own right. The medium was stainless steel and Mario related that not all turbo manifolds are created equal. "People don't realize that the turbo accessories they choose have a big impact on how I go about fabbing a manifold," says Mario. "In this case, special buttressing for the TiAL wastegate they were running was essential because that thing is an anchor. I fabricated the manifold to position the turbo and wastegate in a comfortable position as far as access to work on it and how it looks when you pop the hood."Hondas are tough customers. I have built turbo manifolds that last 12 years without a whimper but there is something about the harmonics of high-revving Honda engines that can vibrate apart tubular manifolds so you have to go overboard on the buttressing and other strengthening strategies."
Mario's downpipe leads to a trick Top Fuel Japan 3.25-inch exhaust system that allows the turbo to spool freely while delivering a mean snarl when the B20 hits full song.
From TSR's Torrance locale the Honda migrated to City of Industry, Calif., and the friendly confines of SP Engineering. Since this is where Hugh works he was able to keep tabs on the project as it neared completion. SP attacked with an HKS GT3240 turbo and then swapped the TiAL unit for a lighter HKS GT-II wastegate with 60mm valve assembly. A Blitz SBC-ID boost controller was wired up as was an HKS F-CON V-Pro 3.2 tuning computer. SP's Hiro Kondo fabbed all the intercooler piping, installed an HKS Type-II blow-off valve and a Blitz three-row FMIC kit with special anodized bracing fabbed by TSR.
After a few break-in sessions on the Dynojet it was time for SP's Lead Technician, Jason Reinholdt, to get serious. Jason sealed the deal in only 14 runs with the B20 topping out at a sick 675.3 whp and 455.4 lb-ft of torque. Max boost was 30 psi. The fuel used was C-16 race gas.
When it comes to Honda tuning you need to have a seamless tuning strategy with total control to ensure a proper air/fuel ratio to avoid damaging detonation. At 675 whp being a bit off can be catastrophically bad. The Civic produced an air/fuel curve that was predictably stable and held a 11.8:1 AFR from 6500 rpm to redline.
Also of importance is having a bottom end built to handle the high cylinder pressures, added heat and kinetic demands of big boost and big power. To this end Rob Choo stresses three points, "Clearances, clearances and clearances. When it comes to building a high-performance engine," says Rob, "there is nothing more important than checking the clearances on everything. You need to check the clearance on the rings, bearing, cylinders, etc ... everything.
"Any engine builder will tell you the longest part of an engine build is checking the clearances and not the actual hands-on assembly. A properly trained monkey can assemble an engine, not everyone can actually build one."
Style wise there should be a familiar ring at work here as Hugh`s car was on the cover of the March 2001 issue. It only made 347 whp back then but retains a similar look. The car kept its Civic Type-R front end conversion, C-West body kit, and Civic Type-R headlamp conversion.
20/20 Autobody traded the championship white hue for an indy yellow color, swapped the previous Type-R wing for a Spoon Sports carbon fiber example and added a Backyard Special carbon rear hatch and Sunny Styling carbon hood.
Footwork consists of all new stuff. Top Fuel Japan Drag coil-overs, Cusco front and rear strut tower bars Civic Type-R sway bars, Z-10 front traction bars, Top Fuel Japan rear lower control arms and a JDM Type R 5-lug hub conversion. The hubs are home to golden-hued 17-inch Advan RG aluminum wheels and Falken 215/40-17 GRB rubber.
Stopping power is enhanced by a Mugen braking system with slotted rotors, Mugen calipers and pads and braided stainless lines.
Hugh also has a set of drag-oriented rolling stock and he plans to really put the whip to this Civic on the road, on the strip and around the road course. After all, what good is having ripped, bulging muscles if you're not willing to flex them?