Terminology plays a huge role in our tuning community. What we do as a hobby is based heavily on what we see, but information is usually spread through word of mouth and what we read on the Internet. There are those who are very picky with the words they use and some who just seem to toss terms around with little care of whether or not they are spreading misinformation. Like the cars themselves, there are the purists who follow the unwritten handbook of how to say and do things, and those who just don’t seem to care at all. In this “handbook”, one of the words most often misused and overly verbalized is the acronym JDM. For the past decade, enthusiasts young and old have taken the term JDM and butchered it. What was once a very underground term is now as mainstream as it gets. People toss it around, believing that it describes a car or a particular way of building it, when its original definition has nothing to do with either. JDM, of course, stands for Japanese Domestic Market, indicating that a particular vehicle or part is from Japan’s own sales and trade market. Today, the term is used everywhere to describe anything. You see a part you’ve never heard of? It’s JDM. The car is lowered on wheels? It’s JDM. Some have even gone as far as to label their cars as JDM when they don’t even possess anything remotely from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Another popular expression that has essentially lost any and all meaning in our import-tuning dictionary is the term clean. What was once a highly touted compliment has now become the generic response for anyone who is asked how they feel about a car build that they may or may not like. You yourself have most likely encountered a situation where someone has asked you what you think, and fearing the backlash of expressing your true feelings, you deliver the universally accepted response, “It’s clean.” Telling someone that his car is clean is now a polite, diplomatic way of not saying anything at all. It shouldn’t be like that though. Clean used to mean something; it meant that you built your car right. It wasn’t overly modded and consisted of parts that left your build with a timeless quality about it.
If there was a way to wipe the slate clean (pun totally intended) and reintroduce the terminology to our community correctly, this Milano Red Civic hatchback would be a great visual interpretation of what clean is. The owner, Jorge Ortiz, is no stranger to Hondas. In fact, this is his fifth Honda endeavor. Though we weren’t familiar with his previous builds, we knew right away that this was possibly one of the cleanest Hondas we had ever seen. He tells us that autobody and paint are a hobby of his, and it shows; the attention to detail and his skill with the paint gun are very evident.
“Every vehicle that I’ve ever owned has been a Honda,” Jorge says. “I’ve wanted one ever since high school and bought my first Honda in 2004. A couple of years ago, I needed to find a new daily driver, but none of the newer-model Hondas appealed to me—so I just decided to build my own. The goal was to have the reliability of an older-model Honda with the power of a new one, and it all just came together.”
It took some searching, but Jorge was able to acquire this ’92 Honda Civic Si that was well maintained, and more importantly, had a clean title. The body needed some minor work due to its old age, but he was well versed in paint and body so it wasn’t a problem. To achieve the power of a newer Honda, Jorge procured a low-mileage K20Z3 motor from an eighth-generation Civic Si. Being that his intentions were to maintain a street-able daily cruiser, there aren’t many modifications performed on the motor itself. He’s added an R-Crew header and bolt-on Password:JDM intake, but it is otherwise as stock as a K-swapped Honda can be. All of the factory engine covers from a K-motor have been retained to make the swap look as OEM as possible. To the untrained eye, one could imagine this being completely factory-built. He has even added an OEM Civic Type R muffler to preserve that stock-ish appearance. Living in California, the last thing you want to do is get caught up with a K-swapped Honda, so it is vital for Jorge’s Civic to look unassuming and very nonchalant.
The interior matches his casual theme. A Next Miracle X-bar and bolt-in rollcage might draw some unwanted attention, but for the most part, it matches the execution of the engine bay. Additions come in the form of factory Honda optional components mixed with a limited number of aftermarket products. A Personal steering wheel, NRG quick release, and Skunk2 shift knob blend well with the 25th Anniversary interior. A JL Audio subwoofer has also been seamlessly integrated into the trunk to eliminate the need for a bulky sub box.
Visually, the exterior of Jorge’s Civic is a Honda purist’s dream. The entire shell has been massaged, eliminating all body flaws before applying fresh coats of Honda’s signature red hue, R81 Milano Red. The classic tone is offset with carbon Kevlar pieces from Backyard Special. Bringing the overall ride height down a couple of inches is a set of Tein SS dampers. Seated in each wheelwell are timeless Mugen MF10s paired with twin-block stoppers up front from Spoon Sports. As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details,” so Jorge has gone far to source the proper Mugen valve stems and lug nuts to match his wheels.
These days, it is almost cliché to say that a build is “clean”. The word lacks the impact that it once did and it’s a shame because there really isn’t a better word to describe Jorge’s Civic. The overall build is remarkably simple but the execution is what makes this Honda special. To the unwise, it’s just another Honda that is trying to be JDM (whatever that means). For the privileged enthusiasts who understand the nuances and appreciate everything that comes with building a timeless Honda, there is only one word that accurately defines this Civic—and well, you already know what that is.
Behind The Build
Plumber/autobody and paint
To build a reliable and clean daily driver
Autobody and paint, working on cars
1992 Honda Civic Si (EH3)
Output: 217 whp/148 lb-ft of torque
Engine 2.0L Honda K20Z3; Hasport engine mounts; Password:JDM carbon Kevlar air intake; Honda RBC intake manifold; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Fuel Lab fuel pressure regulator; R-Crew Racing fuel rail, exhaust manifold; polished OEM EK9 CTR muffler; Earl’s inline fuel filter and custom fuel lines; Mishimoto radiator, radiator fans; K-Tuned radiator hoses; Spoon Sports thermostat; Karcepts radiator stays, grounding kit
Drivetrain ’06 Civic Si manual transmission; Hasport transmission mount, axles; MFactory differential; Spec clutch and flywheel; OEM Honda MTF
Suspension Tein SS coilovers; Ingalls front camber kit; Hardrace rear camber kit, suspension bushing kit; OEM Integra Type R rear sway bar; Blox endlinks; Password: JDM front strut bar; Next Miracle X-bar; Function7 rear lower control arms, subframe brace; Godspeed rollcage
Brakes Spoon Sports Twin-Block front brake calipers; OEM Integra Type R brake pads; Goodridge front/rear brake lines; Honda Civic Si brake booster, 7⁄8-inch brake master cylinder
Wheels/Tires 15x6.5 +43 Mugen MF10; 205/50-15 Bridgestone Potenza RE11; Mugen lug nuts, valve stems; ARP wheel studs
Exterior BackYard Special front lip, rear spoiler; R81 Honda Milano Red paint; JDM OEM Stanley headlights, signal lights, taillights, bronze glass, window visors, sunroof visor, power folding mirrors, thin side moldings; PIAA headlight bulbs
Interior OEM 25th Anniversary front, rear seats, interior panels; Personal steering wheel; NRG steering hub, quick release; Skunk2 shift knob; JDM OEM Civic SiR instrument cluster, center console
Electronics Hondata K-Pro; Eclipse head unit; JDM OEM Gathers front/rear speakers; JL Audio 10-inch subwoofer; Eclipse amplifier; Stinger stereo wiring
Gratitude “My wife Aracele Ortiz Salgado, my brother Ben Ortiz, and the rest of my family; Fidel and Gustavo Ortiz, Sergio “2fast4u831” Rocha; Jerry Hernandez, Jesus Martinez, and the rest of Group 1; Dan Phan from R-Crew Racing; Kenny “Turbogixxer” Sampson; and Patrick Lauder.”