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1997 Honda Civic Type R - Arcade To CTR

Chris Parker’s ’97 Honda Civic Type R brings a video game dream to reality

Damon Young
Aug 15, 2013
Photographer: Faiz Rahman

It's safe to say that the majority of us spent a good chunk of our childhoods glued to a PlayStation controller, pretending to jump behind the wheel of our favorite Japanese dream machines. Though we always wanted to experience that one awesome car in real life, there seemed to be a never-ending list of reasons why we would never get that opportunity-a lack of funds, strict U.S. importation laws, and maybe the fact that we weren't even old enough to drive legally. Whatever the reason, most of us came to accept that we would probably never get the chance to own or drive one of these cars.

For Chris Parker, that digital dream ride was the EK9 Honda Civic Type R. No matter how much time he spent playing Gran Turismo, he never seemed to grow tired of the wail of the B16 screaming through his television speakers. Though it seemed impossible, Chris continued to dream of someday owning and building his very own Championship White CTR.

As it often does, the journey began when Chris turned 16 and got his license. With the help of his close friends James and Mike, Chris was able to buy, sell, and trade his way up the Honda food chain. What followed was a natural progression that takes place among many diehard Honda-heads: a slew of different U.S. market Civics, an Integra Type R, and even an RHD-converted EG hatchback.

After owning and working on several different platforms, Chris began to think he would never be able to find a genuine CTR stateside. He settled for an EG coupe and began to get pretty serious about a more involved build. Unfortunately, after taking his coupe to only two car shows, he was caught up in a bad accident that totaled the EG. It was at this point that Chris contemplated giving up on the car scene altogether.

As fate would have it, the car bug came back to bite even harder than it had before. Chris began to search once more for a mint condition Honda canvas to build from. Much to his surprise, the very car he had piloted so many times before in video games was for sale: a genuine Championship White '97 Honda Civic Type R. Less than 24 hours later, Chris came home with the Honda he had been dreaming of for years.

Unfortunately, turning a 14-year-old chassis into the high-quality car you see before you isn't as easy as tapping the X button a few times in the virtual tuning shop. When the car arrived at its new home in Virginia, it was in pretty rough shape. The exterior of the aging hatchback was riddled with dents and dings. The once sparkling Championship White paint was dingy and yellow.

Before long, all the basics were covered. The CTR was a decent street performer and was presentable enough to make an appearance at a car show or two during the summer months. Though it wasn't perfect, Chris was more or less happy with the mildly modified state of the car. But as we all know, most of us can only be content for so long.

1997 honda civic type r MOMO mod 8 suede steering wheel Photo 5/11   |   1997 Honda Civic Type R - Arcade To CTR

One day, while his Type R was parked at work, a contractor backed into the front end with his truck, damaging the front bumper and lip. Just days before a major local car meet, Chris was beyond bummed. He decided it was time to completely build the car from the ground up exactly how he had envisioned it from the start.

In November 2011, Chris stripped and gutted the Civic down to a completely bare shell. Nearly all of his aftermarket parts were sold to ensure a fresh, clean start from scratch. The first item that needed to be addressed was the paint. The car was trailered to Four Seasons Auto Body to have the engine bay and exterior completely reconditioned. A fresh coat of paint was sprayed in the engine bay to freshen things up and remove years of grime. But being the purist that he is, Chris wanted to maintain the OEM original exterior paint. The body was treated to a full restoration to remove the dings and bring back the snow-white appearance and shine it had when it rolled off the assembly line in Japan.

With the car back home, it was time to drop the engine into the freshly painted bay. It was around this time that the "this item is currently on back order" emails began to flood Chris' inbox. His dedication to building a true CTR just like one you might see lapping Tsukuba Circuit in Japan meant he would strive to only install parts from the best Japanese manufacturers, hence enduring long wait times to get the quality pieces he wanted.

By today's standards, no Honda build would be complete without a spotless engine bay. Chris spared no expense to ensure his Civic's bay was just as spotless as his exterior. The first thing you'll notice when you pop the hood is a burning sensation in your retinas. This bay is shiny! More than a dozen different OEM and aftermarket components in the bay have been polished, including the valve cover and custom intake manifold. Don't be fooled by the bling-bling appearance, though; this Civic is still packing plenty of scoot. A genuine Feels header is mated to a Buddy Club Spec II straight pipe exhaust for some good flow and a rather menacing exhaust note. Inside the B16, Eagle connecting rods and pistons ensure that the internals are up to the task of cranking out a few more ponies than when the engine was stock.

1997 honda civic type r status hockenheim ultrasuede seats Photo 6/11   |   1997 Honda Civic Type R - Arcade To CTR

The polished theme continues into the infamous black and red CTR interior with a polished Circuit Hero shifter extender and shift knob. Though the standard Type R interior is a masterpiece in itself, Chris took things one step further with the addition of a pair of classy ultrasuede Status Hockenheim bucket seats and a Status four-point cam-lock harness. The factory steering wheel has been replaced with something even more comfortable than a PS2 controller: a MOMO Mod 8 suede steering wheel.

This CTR's aggressive stance is made possible by a set of Function and Form Type 1 coilovers. A host of both functional and blinged out braces have been added to the chassis to stiffen things up a bit. Once again, Chris' love of polished parts shines through in his choice of rolling stock for his Civic. A set of Work Meister S1 16x7 wheels wrapped in Falken Ziex 912 rubber make for a great combo and provide the CTR with a unique look.

Chris Parker has managed to do something few car enthusiasts will ever get the chance to accomplish by not only purchasing his go-to JDM video-game car of choice, but by building every aspect of it to the highest standards. Though it took him years of searching and a few different iterations to reach the state it's in now, Chris has built himself something not even $1M credits in Gran Turismo can buy.


Specs & Details

'97 Honda Civic Type R

Engine Honda B16B 1.8L I4

Engine Modifications Eagle connecting rods, pistons; Wire-Worx Raychem engine harness; Mishimoto hoses, slim fan, fan shroud; Feels header, radiator, radiator cap; Buddy Club Spec II exhaust; K-Tuned fuel fittings, water-filled fuel gauge, fuel lines, inline fuel filter; Spoon oil cap, thermostat, reservoir sweat bands, radiator stay, drain plug; Dress Up Bolts burnt titanium engine dress-up kit; Circuit Hero velocity stack; Carbing cooler plate; RyWire coolant reservoir; NRG hood dampers; Skunk2 spark plug cover; Golden Eagle fuel rail, polished valve cover, custom intake, intake manifold, throttle-body, distributor, VTEC solenoid, torque mounts, hood latch, battery adapters; battery relocation

Drivetrain Hasport engine mounts; Downstar x Bolt Boys RHD clutch line, polished S2000 clutch cylinder, clutch adapter

1997 honda civic type r honda b16B 18L engine Photo 10/11   |   1997 Honda Civic Type R - Arcade To CTR

Suspension Function and Form Type 1 coilovers; Function 7 lower control arms, lower tie bar; Spoon front strut tower brace; Rook Industries M-brace; Energy Suspension rear trailing arm bushings, lower control arm bushings

Exterior Shine rear diffuser, custom carbon fiber side skirt diffuser; ARC Magic front splitters; Mr. Alex wing brackets; OEM window visors, power folding mirrors; HID kit; LED license plate lights

Interior Status Hockenheim ultrasuede seats, four-point cam lock harness; Bride low-down seat rails; OEM Type R floor mats; Circuit Hero polished shifter extension, polished shift knob; NRG steering wheel hub, flip up hub adapter; MOMO Mod 8 suede steering wheel; Sony head unit; Orion speakers

Wheels, Tires & Brakes Work Meister S1 16x7 +32 (f/r); Falken Ziex 912 tires (f/r); ARP extended wheel studs; Project Kics 10mm spacers; R48 lug nuts; D2 6-pot calipers, brake pads, slotted two piece rotors; All In Fab booster-delete plate; polished Wilwood brake master cylinder, stainless steel brake lines

Special Thanks Justin Nunnally; Forbes Auto Body; Mike Young aka @the_detailer; Chris at DressUpBolts.com; Wire-worx.com; my neighbors for never calling the cops and instead lending me a hand along the way; my best friend, James Braner, who is no longer with us-if it weren't for him I wouldn't even know how to work on Hondas; and most of all, my loving fiancee, who always hops in the car to ride for hours just to sit around at car meets

1997 honda civic type r work meister s1 Photo 11/11   |   1997 Honda Civic Type R - Arcade To CTR
By Damon Young
22 Articles

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