Starting in high school with a brand new '93 Civic coupe, Chad Castelo has built a small fleet of extensively modified Honda project cars over the past 13 years. Back in '93, the import craze was still in its infancy. Those who built import cars usually slapped on a Wings West kit, some chrome 18s, maybe some nitrous, painted it a ludicrous shade of neon and called it a show car. Castelo had visions of something greater. His coupe had a set of red-face SSR MKIIRs, JDM headlights and an HKS exhaust. A car like this is a dime a dozen nowadays, but at the time, it was a sign of things to come.
After the coupe, Castelo moved onto a turbocharged DC2 Integra and eventually to a JDM'ed out '90 Civic four-door. All three projects were built to completion, but none could hold a candle to the EG hatch that would become his masterpiece. At the Nisei Showoff in 2003, the spotlight was on Castelo's beloved EF while his newly purchased EG hatch anticipated its succession. A year later, the hatch debuted at Nisei.
With the JDM trend in full effect, it was getting harder to build a car that stood out above the rest. Most people were under the impression that doing something unprecedented had become impossible. Turns out that they just weren't looking hard enough. Castelo found his groundbreaking inspiration from an unlikely source: the Volkswagen crowd.
The VW guys were using methods normally reserved for body work to clean up their engine bays. Chad took the idea much further and used it in conjunction with a wire tuck to achieve a bay without its inherent clutter that would showcase the engine itself, instead of just housing it.
For the wire tuck, there was no other choice but JDM_Jon Tanji to undertake the task. It was only fitting that the guy who pioneered the wire tuck worked his magic on the car that brought the shaved engine bay to the Honda scene. And though it was easy to pick JDM_Jon to do the wire tuck, it was exceptionally difficult to find someone to do the shaved bay. Chad found his break with Gabriel Roman from Custom Collision Autobody in La Habra, California. "We didn't know if it was going to work, but we just went for it," Castelo says.
An engine bay that extraordinary obviously necessitates an engine equally worth flaunting. A B18C from an Integra Type R seemed to fit the bill, as Castelo is one of those guys who sees a Honda motor for what it is. He understands that you don't have to reinvent the wheel when building one, and that a carefully chosen set of bolt-ons will awaken the beast boxed up at the factory.
Castelo: "These motors are good out of the box. You don't have to change them much to get what you want out of them."
Some of the parts that made the cut include Skunk2 camshafts, gears, and valvetrain, A'Sport individual throttle bodies, and a Mugen 4-1 header with a twin-loop exhaust. This combination nets 213 wheel hp and 156 lb-ft of torque.
Roman's work didn't end at the engine bay, however. He used the Civic to demonstrate his superb paint and bodywork skills. Much of the "Appearance & Cosmetics" crowd reveres this EG as having the hottest paint around. One would have to see it in person to really appreciate the dark blue finish on the car. The depth of the work makes it appear as if the paint hasn't dried yet.
A Mugen lip, Spoon mirrors, an SiR wing, JDM side moldings, and side skirts were installed before the paint was applied.
"I wanted a color that would give the car great depth in the sun, and from different angles you would be able to see the different blue hues in the paint," Castelo says.
To top off the exterior, Castelo fitted a set of rare 15-inch Mugen M7 wheels, fresh out of the box. But for some, rare is never rare enough, and Castelo set out to hunt for some 15-inch Mugen NR10Rs. To put this in perspective, the street version of the NR10 is uncommon enough, the 14-inch NR10R is really rare, and the 15-inch is just short of impossible to find. With hard-to-get JDM parts like these, sponsors are not an option.
"All the parts were pretty much out of pocket, out of my heart," Castelo expresses. He picked up his set through friend and fellow Honda Tuning feature alumni Leon Casino (see Casino's CRX on our Sept. '05 cover).
For Castelo, it's all about clean, unassuming OEM style with flair. He believes that it's not important whether a part is JDM or not, as long as it doesn't upset the balance of the car's theme.
"Get whatever part you want. Achieve what you want. Don't let people tell you what to put on your car. If it's clean, if it's nice, rock it!"
Chad Castelo's 1993 Civic CX
Propulsion Castelo's EG is powered by an internally stock JDM B18C Type-R motor. The B18 has been outfitted with Skunk 2 stage 2 cams, cam gears, valve springs, and retainers. Directing air traffic on the cold side is a set of A'sport individual throttle bodies. On the hot side, a Mugen 4-1 header lets out into a custom 2.5-inch B-pipe and out a Mugen Twin-Loop axle back. A Walbro 255LPH fuel pump feeds gas through Earl's lines to an STR fuel rail w/an Autolink fuel pressure regulator while a Hondata S200 calls all the shots. The power hits the ground through a 9lb. Aasco flywheel and an ITR LSD.
Chad boasts 213 wheel hp at 156 lb-ft of torque from his B18C, even with the Twin-Loop installed.
The hatch sits on a set of Tein Flex coilovers. Type-R front and rear sway bars have been installed along with a set of EM racing Z-bars to further enhance driving dynamics.
The front and rear brakes have been swapped out in favor of a larger Integra GS-R setup. Chad opted to use Rotora slotted replacement rotors, Axxis ultimate pads, and Earl's stainless steel lines rather than OEM components for the brake swap. An ITR master cylinder and brake booster have also been installed to suit the needs of the new brake system.
Rims & Rubber
Because new, in-the-box M7's just didn't bling hard enough, the EG rocks a set of 15-inch, 4x100, +45 offset Mugen NR10Rs. It doesn't get better than that.
Inside: The interior is just as understated as the rest of the car. A Momo Montecarlo steering wheel complements Castelo's black ITR Recaro seats well. Vitals are kept in check via a JDM EG6 gauge cluster while driver and car interact through a set of Mugen pedals and a Skunk2 shift knob with a CTR boot.
Outside: This EG really illustrates the phrase, "a little goes a long way." The hatch sports a Mugen lip, Spoon mirrors, JDM moldings, an SiR wing, and the sickest paint job known to man.
An Alpine CD deck manages the soundtrack.