As much as it might sicken parents, their children's maturity process involves experimentation. Growing up is about trying stuff, figuring out what does and doesn't work. The same can often be said for Honda enthusiasts and their journeys through Mod Hell. You want to change your whip and make it uniquely yours, in part because everyone else is doing it. But sometimes those initial choices end up in regret.
Josh Stockinger from Oceanside, Calif., knows all about making iffy early choices regarding his '98 EX coupe. Currently part of the sales staff at San Diego's Sportcar Motion, Stockinger bought the car used in 2000, began some mods a year later and admits he really didn't know where he was headed with it.
"I was jumping around for a while until this project began," he says, recalling his first forays with "body kits and lots of rice." With those days behind him, Stockinger now revels in the understated authority of the Civic's current JDM motif. For a while, he kept the factory single-cam, 1.6-liter, augmented with the common induction and exhaust mods, and even a Gude cam.
Once he came across a friend's S2000 loaded with Spoon Sports gear, Stockinger was hooked on the JDM and OEM theme. One of the biggest headaches he's endured involved body kits and aero pieces that don't sit flush. The aftermarket parts he'd been buying, with their loose fit and ugly gaps, didn't measure up to the JDM and O.E. offerings.
"I want things to look factory, like they're meant to be there," he explains. "The JDM stuff, especially the JDM OEM stuff, always fits perfectly."
The last major stage of the coupe project involved swapping in a twin-cam B-series powerplant, something he would have done sooner if he'd had the dough. Picking up work at Sportcar Motion solved that problem and came with the additional benefit of working around experienced import heads.
Every project needs a map, some point(s) to focus on when the vision gets blurry. Throughout the buildup, Stockinger kept his eye on two elements. He was shooting for performance inspired by a more visceral reaction to some familiar intangibles, namely the way his friends' cars sounded and the palpable excitement of street racing. Both elements motivated him to keep building the car, even as several friends were getting out of the scene. As police began to crack down on local street races, Stockinger and other enthusiasts headed to the dragstrip. But even that lost its luster.
"I was limited to running only race weekends when the tracks were open. They've permanently closed [local strip] Carlsbad since then," he laments. "Running at the strip was also looking fairly expensive. Everyone is moving really fast and I'd need to drop some serious coin just to keep up."
Stockinger has passed that stage in his life. He's priming his daily driver for a different motor thrill: autocross. "I never thought [the Civic] would take me this far," he admits. He's experimented, tried, failed and learned. And now he has one cherry, JDM-flavored Civic to show for it.
Josh Stockinger's '98 Civic EX Coupe
The centerpiece of the coupe's engine compartment is a B16A2 motor, rebuilt by the crew at Sportcar Motion with Integra Type R pistons, and sporting 11.3:1 compression. DV/DT Engineering, also in Vista, prepped the VTEC head with a port, polish and five-angle valve job. The head then received Crower Stage 2 camshafts, buffer Crower valve springs and titanium retainers. Timing tweaks are made through a pair of Spoon Sports cam sprockets. The B16 inhales through a Spoon drop-in filter and Direct Flow intake pipes, an ITR throttle body and Skunk2 intake manifold. Once in the chamber, the intake charge mixes with fuel provided by a Walbro 255-lph pump, controlled by a B&M regulator, and sprayed through a quartet of Integra Type R injectors. Ignition is dispensed via NGK spark plug wires to A'PEXi iridium plugs that light the mix. Waste gases exit through a Spoon 4-2-1 header and test pipe before venting out the Spoon exhaust with N1 muffler. An A'PEXi Power FC stand-alone engine management system with Commander gives Stockinger flexibility in perfecting the process.
With the B-series long block, Stockinger also got a previous-gen Si five-speed manual gearbox, which he loaded with a Type R limited slip differential. The engine transmits energy to the transaxle through a Toda lightened flywheel and race clutch. The motor/gearbox combo is secured to the engine bay by DV/DT mounts.
Evidence: Honda rates the B16A2 at 160 horsepower at the crank; Stockinger and Sportcar Motion were able to make 170 horses at the wheels after the rebuild. Stockinger also laid down a personal best of 13.7 seconds at 99 mph at the drags.
Rims & Rubber
The coupe moves with 16-inch Work Emotion CRs secured with Work lugs and shod with 215/45-16 Falken Azenis.
The EJ8 chassis Civic is reinforced with Spoon strut tower bars, front and rear, and Spoon lower tie bars, front and rear, while Suspension Techniques sway bars front and back work to stymie body roll. Forward Skunk2 adjustable upper control arms keep camber in check as the EX floats throughout Oceanside on a full JIC FLT-A2 adjustable coil-over suspension system.
Stock Integra calipers fitted with Project u pads bite down on the Power Slot slotted rotors at all four corners. The brake system was further upgraded with Earl's stainless lines and Project u fluid.
Outside: No mistaking the Japanese influence here. Stockinger beautified his cypress green pearl EJ8 with a mix of Civic Type R and carbon-fiber Spoon. The headlights, wind visor, and side markers all come from the R, while the front lip, race mirrors, and hood all claim Spoon. Stockinger also did the '99 Si tail light swap. Meanwhile, under the hood he dressed things up with a Spoon Kevlar spark plug cover and a JDM ITR aluminum front-mount A/C bracket. He even made a custom carbon-fiber cover for the fuel pump cap in the cabin.
Inside: More JDM as Stockinger pairs one Recaro SPG bucket pro driver seat with an SRD two-piece passenger seat and adorns them both in Takata straps. The compartment is also furnished with a CTR gauge cluster, S2000 pedals, Skunk2 shifter equipped with a Spoon titanium knob, Type One parking brake cover, and an FET Quick Release Spacer for pulling off the Momo Tuner steering wheel in a hurry.
ICE: Stockinger kicks out the jams in his Civic with a Kenwood deck delivering to a foursome of JL Audio speakers.