Honda Tuning: You mention on your tech sheet that the coupe chassis was purchased in 2004 from a neighbor, a vehicle that seemingly never moved from the yard.
David Andrade: The guy who lived next door kept the car in front of his house, and every time I'd come home, I'd always see it there. I had another car at the time, but I'd always wanted a '95 coupe and no one ever had coupes to sell, only hatchbacks.
HT: And it sounds like the former owner tried to rice out the Civic.
DA: It had a body kit, white interior, 18's, a spoiler-I saw the car and knew I could turn it around.
HT: What was the goal at that early stage?
DA: I've never liked body kits. My whole thing is, aftermarket parts aren't meant to be on the car. I basically wanted to take the car back to OEM, make it look really clean and make it a little faster.
HT: Which is why you chose the B16, correct?
DA: Yeah. So I got the car, and at the time I had some friends who had just put a Type R front end on an Integra, and they both kind of introduced me to JDM.
HT: You indicate that the '05 Eibach meet was also an eye-opening experience.
DA: The Eibach meet is what made me want to build a show car. I was done at that meet; to me, my car was nice and I liked how it looked. But then I realized that, when people saw my car, they really liked the way it looked. It made me think my car is actually good, and I started to feel like I could take it to the next level, basically a really clean OEM/JDM ride.
HT: Which doesn't seem like it would be too hard, given how minimalist JDM is.
DA: I actually made the car simpler and cleaner in between the Eibach meet and the [HT] photo shoot. The main thing I wanted [from the car] was basically, if I walked onto a dealership in '95 and got every option for the Civic that I could get, that's what I have on my car, down to the upgraded rear disc brakes.
HT: So how did money-or lack thereof-influence the build? Were you sponsored for anything? Or did you buy when you could afford to buy?
DA: I haven't had a single sponsor for my car. I want to find out about sponsors now because I want to do a K-series swap, but so far it's been all out of pocket. I worked to make my car better.
My girlfriend was a really big help, too; she's been behind me the entire way. Having a girlfriend, most want to go out, want you to buy them stuff, but she knew we couldn't go out every weekend because I was trying to save up for parts or whatever. She's been at my side the entire time. Luckily, the car was my only [financial] expense, besides a cell phone bill and insurance. All my money went to my car.
HT: How do earn a living?
DA: I sell professional audio equipment, like for club installs and stuff like that.
HT: Did you do any of the project work yourself? If so, in which areas?
DA: I've done the smaller things myself, and originally I was doing all of the work. I changed all the body parts and did some of the body work myself. This last time, though, I had the fuel setup, paint, and wire tuck done professionally. As far as the little stuff, like changing the header or pulling out the A/C system, I did most of that.
HT: Did doing the work yourself help save any money?
DA: Yeah, a little, but most of the money is for parts, not for labor. Rims and seats can be pretty expensive.
HT: When would you say the project work began?
DA: I was driving the single-cam motor around for a while and it felt nice; single-cam VTEC was cool before I ever felt a B-series motor. At first, I just wanted to make the car fast, so I put the B in and I left it there for a year. After that year, I just wanted to get it painted one color. By the time I took it to Eibach, the coupe had only the swapped motor and custom paint. The Eibach meet helped me decide to build a new car, so it's basically been a year and a half.
HT: You said you had a bad experience with the shop that did the engine swap, Diabolik-was it that they were shady? Were they trying to screw you over?
DA: They were real shady. The first transmission they tried to give me was all jacked up-no third gear or reverse. So I took the Civic back to them and said something's wrong with my car, and they tried to tell me that nothing was wrong with it. I said, I can't put it in third gear-how can there not be anything wrong with my car? I wound up getting a new transmission, but I had to pay for it. I never got anything done there again.
HT: This is a JDM B16, correct? You list compression as 10.4:1, which is from the stock USDM B16, but the CTR slugs you use actually should raise compression to 10.8:1.
DA: Yeah. The main reason I went with the B16 is because I wanted the motor that came with my chassis in Japan. At the time, everyone was telling me to do a GSR swap, and I thought the GSR is cool, but it's not the motor that was meant for my car. I wanted to build my coupe like it was from Japan.
HT: What's special about the EG6 chassis that you used so many components from it (front end, rear brakes)?
DA: The EG6 is basically the hatchback version of this car in Japan. In Japan, EG Civic coupes are rare. They were manufactured in the U.S. only, so if you were in Japan and wanted a coupe, you'd have to get it sent from the U.S. Similarly, American EJ1 chassis owners have to get JDM parts designed for the hatchback, which makes it a little harder, too, because only the front end is a direct fit.
HT: Not everything matches up?
DA: No. Some stuff I'd have to get from a four-door. It just depends on what I'm looking for. Like the glass-there's almost no way to get JDM glass for a coupe because coupes are so rare and the glass for the hatch and sedan is nothing like the coupe's.
HT: So what's been the biggest challenge in the build-up? Was it tracking down JDM parts?
DA: That wasn't really that hard. One thing this process made me realize is that in the beginning, you're always looking to save a buck, but then the project usually gets to a point where you're willing to pay whatever it takes just to get it done. Then it seems like the other party always winds up lagging. Shops always assume I'm not going to have the money, and then when I have it, there's always a pause as they try to explain just how long it's going to take to receive the part. Basically, just getting everything done right the first time and quickly has been the most frustrating part.
HT: What's next on the agenda? Still interested in setting the chassis up to road race, like you mentioned on your tech sheet?
DA: Yeah, that's why I want the K, for more torque. Right now it's the motor and suspension that I'm working on.
HT: Cool. Well, best of luck, David. We'll see you at the track.
David Andrade's 1995 Civic EX coupe
Go: Once powered by the SOHC 1.6-liter D-series engine that was native to the car, this two-door now flosses a swapped Japanese B16A mill outfitted with Civic Type R slugs and held in with Hasport mounts. CTR cams matched to the higher compression pistons improve an otherwise factory valvetrain, while head efficiency is optimized with a K&N filter in the stock intake, a custom 4-to-1 header, and a GReddy/Trust exhaust.
Fuel delivery is augmented with the installation of steel-braided lines and an inline filter, both by Earl's. Via the lines, fuel makes its way to a BDL rail rigged with a B&M pressure regulator. Using juice from a Buddy Club battery, Nology plug wires carry the energy it takes to fire off the NGK platinum Iridium spark plugs, while a P28 ECU with a Mugen chip makes sure the spark, air, and fuel all play nice to make power. That power proceeds out of the bottom end to a 5-speed S80 gearbox via an ACT flywheel and 6-puck clutch. The engine bay is kept clutter free with a wire tuck from Sportcar Motion.
The EJ1 coupe chassis is lowered with a set of D2 coil-overs and stiffened with an EM Racing C-pillar bar. For the right amount of negative camber, Andrade went with Skunk2's camber kits.
The EX's rear drum brakes have been converted to JDM EG6 SiR II discs. An EG6 master cylinder and proportioning valve complete the swap and push fluid through steel-braided lines to all four corners.
Rims & rubber
Andrade rips through the streets of Lakewood, Calif., on 15x7-inch Mugen MF10L wheels shod in 205/50 Falken Azenis RT615 rubber. He gets bonus points for the spare, the same tire wrapped around a Desmond Reganmaster Evo.
Shine Street took care of shaving the front and rear badges, and then sprayed the coupe body a custom green inside and out. Other changes include an RS front lip, JDM headlights and corners, JDM thin side moldings, OEM mudguards, and new window moldings.
The Civic's interior is a melting pot of international influences, Andrade employing a JDM armrest and audio console and an EG6 gauge cluster from the Euro Civic VTi. The cabin is further spruced with a pair of discontinued Recaro SRD seats sporting confetti pattern centers, a Nardi steering wheel, and a Spoon shift knob.
The receiver from a USDM '99-00 Si belts out jams through a complement of Kenwood speakers.
Andrade sends it to his girlfriend Jaclyn, his mom, Rudy, Marco, Kevin, Palindrome, JP at Shine Street, Eugene at Inline Four, and Loi and Josh of Sportcar Motion.