The phrase "droppin' dimes" was popular during the heydays of mobsters, when ratting fellow gangsters out to the Feds was an increasingly fashionable trend, especially among those who didn't want to get raped in jail. It referred to the act of actually dropping a dime into the public payphone, which is what it cost to make a call back then. The phrase eventually manifested from its origins of snitching to the more positive example of enlightening; providing an assist, if you will, especially about things that everyone needs to know. Enter Fred Chapman and his '96 EK Honda Civic hatchback, this year's foremost Droppin' Dimes candidate.
The EK Civic has been a mainstay in the tuning culture since it debuted in 1996. Since then, almost every conceivable act of modification has been done to it, from Lamborghini-inspired doors to Toyota Supra taillights to hydraulic springs. It's endured various engine swaps from other Honda engines and beyond, and it's experienced all types of racing, from Super Lap Battles and drag racing to Gymkhana and autocrossing. It has become the proverbial whore walking the proverbial streets that is the aftermarket industry; choked out and pimped, slapped into tuning hell and back. So when an EK Civic manages to turn the heads of media professionals and seasoned tuners more than 10 years after it released, it's worth a detailed look. It's like finding an Indian head one-cent in a sea of Abraham Lincoln pennies.
"My wife Julie bought me this EK as a Valentine's Day gift in 2006," Fred explains, "I got started modifying as soon as I got it and finished the build a year and six months later." His first major change was the installation of a K20-A2 motor built by RedZone Peformance in Fremont, California. This once rare engine swap was a first for Fred, who was more familiar with swapping in B-series engines. He experienced problems like the cutting of the shifter tunnel, to the removal of the stock steering rack, to the search of the correct mount kit and, subsequently, finding the right hardware for it.
But since he's a certified Honda technician, these were all minor problems against the overall setback of the needless time consumption required to finish the swap. Once it was dropped into the engine bay, Fred and RedZone installed a set of Skunk2 Stage II camshafts and adjustable cam gears, which help move air and fuel through the combustion chambers, sucking in air from the RedZone 70mm port-matched intake manifold and spitting them out to the Six Sigma 4-to-1 headers. The fuel is transferred throughout the system by a Walbro fuel pump, Golden Eagle fuel rail, 410cc OEM injectors, and regulated by an Aeromotive fuel regulator. This collection of parts is managed by a Hondata K-Pro EMS with a Mugen ECU race mount, which is modified with a smoked ECU cover. The JDM parts headlining the engine bay include a Carbing cooling plate, coolant overflow tank and oil catch can with a K&N breather filter. Naturally, none of these parts, nor the engine for that matter, would stay put in the bay if it wasn't for the Hasport v2 EK mount kit, helping the motor ride out smoothly using all of its estimated 240 horsepower.
The most impressive feature under the hood is its attention to detail. Each visible bolt was switched with polished chrome replacements and custom colored washers, while the valve cover is custom powder coated a Candy Blue by West Coast Powder Coating. Stainless steel lines shine beautifully throughout the engine, connecting at one point to a Koyo aluminum radiator core with Cusco radiator cap. But it's really the outside of the car that represents how well the engine is tuned. Forgoing the typical hanging passenger-side exhaust system, Fred and RedZone custom made a center-exit dual-exhaust system, going straight through his rear bumper. This one-off setup features Blox mini mufflers situated under the custom battery bracket, which was also relocated in the rear bumper.
This rear-center exhaust exit is only supplanted by the flurry of JDM products spotlighting the exterior. The body consists of an EK4 Si-R JDM front lip, bumper covers with moldings, side moldings, fenders, mud guards and door visors. Fred added on a Seibon carbon-fiber hood and hatch with FAL rear Lexan glass. In the rear sits a Seibon carbon fiber duckbill rear wing, looking down on a set of EK4 Si-R JDM taillights which match perfectly with the Si-R headlamps and side markers on the front side. The EK chassis was painted a Nimbus Grey Pearl which was taken from the '01 Audi TT roadster.
In his hometown of Hayward, CA, Fred dips through the streets using a set of Function & Form Type II coilovers, dropping the Civic three inches on all four corners. The Cusco six-point roll cage and Function & Form rear lower control arms help the chassis stay stiff around the bends, while BLOX Racing antiroll bars with adjustable end links keep the Civic stable. Under the JDM-inspired chassis rolls a set of Watanabe RS-8 wheels, measuring 16 inches in diameter and seven inches wide. They're surrounded by sticky Yokohama Parada Spec II tires and stopped by front and rear Powerstop cross-drilled rotors with OEM brakes.
Naturally, the EK's interior also serves to please the JDM gods with a Key's Racing leather 350mm deep dish steering wheel and complementary shifter knob. This hard-to-find steering wheel sits in front of a JDM Honda EK4 Si-R gauge cluster, attached to a very rare JDM steering column light. Among the other rare parts a JDM fanatic would drool for is the JDM-optional large roof console EDM center clock, and if you haven't already noticed, a set of Recaro SRD seats with confetti print.
All of which, from the K-series swap to the JDM exterior and interior, were primary reasons why we immediately noticed Fred's EK at the 2007 Nisei Week Showoff in Los Angeles, the car show known for bringing in the best from all of California. Despite owning a car known for having been modified a thousands times over, a car that everyone in the industry flooded with every aftermarket part possible, Fred managed to rise above it all and made an EK Civic so unique that we had to take a closer look. And if something like that catches our eyes, we have no choice but to drop dimes.
Owner Fred Chapman
Hometown Hayward, California
Daily Grind Honda Technician
Power Est. 240 hp
Under The Hood USDM K20-A2 RSX Type-S 2.0L engine swap with 6-speed transmission; JDM K20-A Integra Type-R PRC ECU, DC-2 ITR 1-inch brake booster/master cylinder, DC-5 ITR oil dip stick and EK4 Civic Si-R vin plate; Hondata K-Pro programmable ECU unit with RedZone Peformance race program; Hasport EKK2 Version II billet K-swap mount kit and K-swap axles; R-Crew K-swap engine sub-harness; OEM EG rear subframe, EP-3 idler pulley conversion, Acura RDX 410cc fuel injectors and RBC intake manifold (RedZone Performance 70mm port matched); non-power steering rack; front LCAs; Karcepts RBC throttle body adapter, K-swap shifter box adapter plate and K-swap aluminum radiator bracket; BDL 70mm billet throttle body; DTR/SSR K-swap 4-2-1 stainless steel headers; Skunk2 Stage II cams and adjustable exhaust gear; Supertech titanium valve spring retainers and dual valve springs; RedZone Performance custom center-exit dual exhaust system with Lobx prototype compact race mufflers and custom exhaust heatshield plate; custom 3-inch cold air intake system with BPi velocity stack and K&N stack air filter; low-temp intake manifold gasket; Aeromotive canister fuel filter; adjustable fuel pressure regulator; fuel gauge; Golden Eagle fuel rail; Walbro 255-LPH hi-flow fuel pump; Koyo half-size aluminum radiator with slimfit 12-inch slim fant; Stylin Motors silicone radiator/heater core hoses; Carbing aluminum cooling plate; West Coast Powder custom Candy Blue powder coated valve cover; Questoyz by Randy Gagan sourced red anodized washers with chrome bolts; Cusco radiator cap; master cylinder brace; Vision oil cap and carbon-fiber valve cover insert
Rollers RS Watanabe 16x7 8-spoke wheels in 40 offset; Yokohama Parada Spec II 205/40-16 tires; KICS R40 Neo Chro extended lug nuts with wheel locks; ARP extended wheel studs
Stoppers SX2 Integra GSR 4x100 front/rear disc brake conversion; Powerstop front/rear cross drilled and slotted rotors
Stiff Stuff Blox 21mm rear sway bar; adjustable sway bar end links; ASR rear subframe brace; Function-7 version 3 billet rear lower control arms; Function & Form Type II 18-way adjustable coilovers; Next Miracle rear X-brace with 4-piece optional bar set; Cusco 6-point rollcage with optional bar and Type-OS front strut tower bar
Outside Audi TT Roadster Nimbus Grey Pearl paint; OEM EK sedan front grille and Honda optional antenna delete plate; rear door handles; optional frone/rear mud guards; JDM Honda Access optional door visors, EK thin side moldings and EK4 Si-R front and rear bumpers with moldings; front fenders with side marker lights; front headlights; rear taillights; DOHC VTEC side body decals; Benen Industries front/rear two hooks; ARC Magic front splitter winglets; Vision Type DC carbon-fiber side view mirrors; Seibon carbon-fiber front hood; carbon-fiber rear wing and rear hatch; FAL rear hatch Lexan glass
Inside Recaro SRD seats with confetti pattern; splash billet extended steering wheel hub; FET first-gen quick release steering wheel adapter; Key's Racing 350mm deep dish leather steering wheel with blue stitching and leather shift knob with blue stitching; Cusco handbrake button; Mugen pedals and race ECU mounting plate; custom-smoked ECU cover; JDM EK4 Si-R gauge cluster and Honda access optional steering wheel column light; optional cup holders; optional large roof console (sunglass holder and storage area); optional road flare; EDM passenger side air bag delete tray and clock; OEM Honda optional ashtray/lighter panel; optional arm rest; Pioneer CD/DVD/mp3 touch screen audio unit
Props Jeremy, Wayne at RedZone Performance, Adam and Colin at Weksos Industries, Geoff and Junior at JDM Theory, Preston at Function and Form Suspension, Dave at MemoryFab, Dave at BLOX Racing, EK Squad, PlusOne, Paksiw, JSJ Brothers, DPK, AM7, Son and HBK, Phaze 2, People's Choice, NWP4Life, John Nguyen, Matt Rodrez; RIP Vince Pascua, Randy Gagan, father-in-law Zosimo Tabimina