As a ritual among many Honda enthusiasts, Jorge Hernandez of Gilbert, Ariz., took a minimal initial investment and parlayed it into something special. In 2003 he dropped $5,000 on a slightly worn 10-year-old EG Civic CX with a B18C1 swap, and in the span of 14 months added a high degree of form and function to the hatchback.
The opening act consisted of fixing the suspension to make the car more tossable and a complete tune-up so it would pass smog. Once officially part of the family, the 3-door also received a thorough detailing, and Hernandez replaced a cracked bumper cover and dinged fenders with Honda OE hardware. The interior was pulled, and the Civic was delivered to M.O.B. Works Autobody to be gold-dipped from stem to stern, along with a carbon-fiber duckbill spoiler, Vision mirrors, JDM headlights, JDM taillights and an OEM front lip.
Once back in his possession, Hernandez installed a fresh interior: a new dash with '95 Si gauges, an H.O.P. center console/arm rest, ITR seats front and rear, and OE floor mats. On the performance front, the car was fitted with 5Zigen wheels, an RS*R exhaust system, and a Skunk2 shift knob.
Then somewhere mid-process, in 2004, Hernandez lost his way. "The 'scene' out here in Arizona, up until then, was crappy," he explains. "I couldn't meet anybody who was interested in Hondas. I needed to meet some wrench heads to give me advice or to help out. I needed some Honda friends. Everyone I had talked to was either too immature or too cocky. I had lost faith. I had no inspiration or motivation, so I decided to sell my beloved hatch. I guess I felt I was too old for it, but it turned out to be the best thing I ever did."
In scouting the local classifieds in his efforts to sell the whip, Hernandez came across the address for a website called AZHT.net. At the time he didn't know much about online car forums, so he browsed the site out of curiosity. There were guys on it that seemed pretty cool and loved their cars. Hernandez didn't think to ask them anything, though; he just wanted to sell his car.
He posted some pics of the Civic and guys on the site went nuts. "I must have had 20 comments on the first day, comments like, 'Where the hell has that thing been hiding?' and 'I'll give you 20 bucks just to come over and hump it.' These guys made me feel like I knew what I was doing."
Hernandez had also posted a set of Mugen RNR's to sell. This is when he first met Jason Buell (Jay), who saw the car and suggested he keep it. "But I was still in my 'Screw it - I'm selling' state of mind." A couple of weeks later the car sold, and as he watched it drive off, he thought to himself, "What the hell did I just do?" The onset of severe buyer's remorse almost compelled Hernandez to cry, but it was too little too late.
He stayed on the AZHT website and started to meet like-minded people. Then ironically, without trying, or a car even, Hernandez started to get back the old inspiration. He decided to try his hand with another Civic, if he could find one.
Hernandez found another clean hatch with the same set up as his previous gold EG. He checked out the car and arranged a payoff/pickup for the following Monday. Alas another guy zoomed him with cash in hand and took the car.
Devastated, he returned to Arizona pissed off, but came to learn his missed opportunity may have been fate. The kid who purchased Hernandez' car decided to sell it because he wanted to buy a Euro. Hernandez jumped all over the opening. "I was the happiest guy in the world to get my gold hatch back! I couldn't believe it!"
Selling it in February '05 for $7000, he got his ride back one year later for $6,500, minus the ITR bucket seats. He then set off on a tuning binge that would take his ride to the next level. In order to show it at an upcoming Hot Import Nights, though, he had to move quickly.
He added Hasport mounts to ensure the B18C1 powerplant was secure. The stock B-Series was then pelted with bolt-ons to add power and style under the hood, gear from Skunk2 Racing and DC Sports, and JDM fare in the form of ARC and RS*R product. Low Cash Racing re-programmed the ECU to pick up the performance slack in the system. A high-capacity Fluidyne radiator with Slim Fan and Samco hoses keep things cool during full-throttle wallops, and the finishing touch on the B18 is an OEM red valve cover.
From this point the Civic was shod with Mugen RN-R wheels that sported black faces and red lips and Buddy Club extended lugs. One Mugen front strut bar later and the car was polished and rolling to HIN. The evening made for some interesting storytelling.
"A judge came around to my car not once but three times!" recalls Hernandez. "I actually got a little excited, but I thought there would be no way I could win." Ultimately the time came to announce the winners of each class, and Buell and Hernandez almost couldn't wait to hear the news. It was revealed that Hernandez did indeed take 1st in the JDM/OEM category, but not without some initial confusion.
"Jay knows me as 'George' (the English equivalent of Jorge), so when he heard my name pronounced HOR-hey he screamed incredulously, 'Who the f**k is Jorge?!' I calmly raised my hand and said, 'That's me.' I was so happy. I could hear my wife screaming back by the car."
Since the HIN victory Hernandez has focused his tuning efforts on the Civic's footwork, enhancing its suspension, stiffness, and braking. With all the attention being given to the car's underside, Hernandez figured fresh rolling stock was in order. He selected mirror-polished 16-inch 5Zigen Div3s that tip the scales at a miniscule 14 pounds and change, and BFGoodrich G-Force Sports.
"It took me a long time to find a clean set of 16-inch Div3s," says Hernandez. "These were my favorite wheels back in the day and I couldn't afford them then. To most people they're just 5Zigen wheels, but to me they remind me of the good ol' days when it was just all about fun."
This golden Civic is still riding off into the sunset, triumphant in its JDM glory and fully rejuvenated. Hernandez himself is back at full throttle looking for that next J-spec gem to further evolve the car. Rest assured a "For Sale" sign is not in the cards. Second chances only happen once.
Bolts & Washers
Jorge Hernandez' 1993 Civic
Jorge's gold JDM emblazoned Civic relies on a B18C1 swap for motivation. The engine is internally stock from the reciprocating mass to the cylinder head. Performance has been addressed with a number of bolt-ons in the mix, namely an ARC air box, DC Sports header, Skunk2 Racing intake manifold and RS*R exhaust system. The B-Series has been pimped to thrill with an OEM red valve cover fitted with a carbon fiber Visions plug cover.
Rims & Rubber
Gleaming like chrome, Jorge's 16-inch 5Zigen N1-Rs wheels are actually polished propositions. The wheels weigh in at about 14 pounds a piece, reducing un-sprung weight, which is always a good thing. The 5Zigen's are wrapped with 205/40-16 BFGoodrich G-Force Sports.
Thanks to K-Sport coilovers, the Civic is effectively crouched, ready to pounce on unsuspecting V8s. Jorge also added Skunk2 lower control arms and an ASR rear sub-frame brace to further stiffen the chassis.
Stopping power has been improved with slotted and drilled Brembo rotors, PBR pads and Russell's stainless-steel brake lines. The system features stock Civic calipers up front and upgraded Integra calipers in the rear.
Outside: The Civic's body mods are JDM inspired. The car runs JDM headlights, taillights and side markers, a VIS carbon fiber duck bill spoilers, OEM lip spoiler, Vision carbon fiber mirrors and JDM fog lights. MOB Works is responsible for prepping the body and laying the gold paint on the EG.
Inside: The dominant interior features include a carbon Kevlar Vision Imus racing and a Mugen FG-360 steering wheel. The rear seats are scavenged from an ITR.
Audio-wise the plan was kept simple with a Pioneer DEH-P650 head unit firing Infinity Reference Series co-axials