You've probably heard the term "old school" far too many times in your life. Usually overused by most, those two words are applied to everything from classic '90s hip-hop to the "mature" gentleman in a velvet jumpsuit, hair plugs, and requisite Bluetooth earpiece at the club. And while the Honda enthusiast community is still considered wet behind the ears in the big scheme of things, with a few decades now comfortably behind us, the late '80s/early '90s Honda models proudly carry the old school moniker.
In the case of Roger Young, the late '80s weren't quite old enough for his next build. Having created a number of high-powered, competitive drag cars, he had the idea to build something completely different, something that he hadn't previously seen attempted--a K20 swap into a '70s era Civic!
Before we dig into this unique restomod, separate yourself from the mind-blowing swap and engine bay setup for a moment. Take note of the immaculate interior, the factory bits and pieces scattered about that seem to defy logic, looking better than new after more than three decades. Obviously, restoration played a role in some of the car's revamp, but not as much as you might think. Young searched high and low, eventually finding his prey in the woods of Florida. "I drove down this trail (not a road) with a trailer in tow and I thought to myself, 'What am I doing here?' Nothing but rust and overgrown trees, weeds, and bushes. We find our way to a rundown trailer with a '90s Geo Storm off to the side, and then, there it was, gleaming." The gleam came from a pristine 1979 Civic 1200 with just 50,000 miles on the clock. The owner had purchased the car from an estate sale, drove it to California and back to Florida, and after the journey, wasn't too happy about owning a car without air conditioning. He then turned his attention toward the Geo and up for sale went the little Honda. That was five years ago, and Young has been wrenching on the car ever since, though admittedly, he's really only concentrated on it over the past few years. He adds, "I stopped drag racing two years ago and wanted to take the time to finish this car up. I've had my ups and downs with the car, but I stuck it out to [build] what you see today."
It's hard enough to find OEM essentials for early '90s Hondas these days. Add another decade on top of that and your demand runs into some serious supply problems. Young states, "It was an online search, no one particular place has everything you need for these cars. I was lucky and found a great car so I didn't need much but the side mirrors, new rubber door, and window seals; and I picked up some small parts. I had a build on K20a.org and ran across a lot of key people in the old-school Honda game." Having spent countless hours online and on the phone, Young managed to source parts from all over the world and credits Danny at NW Classic Honda, a guy he refers to as "hardcore about getting old-school parts for people," as lending a helping hand in the search.
Destined for a big jump forward in performance with the new powerplant, the Civic's frontend saw an increase in strength by way of tubular reinforcements. Now the chest cavity of the 1200 is somewhat deep, but the distance between the shock towers is quite limited compared to more modern Civic engine bays. The real estate between the firewall and front core support brings about thoughts of claustrophobia. Using Hasport engine mounts and custom-mounted anchor points, the engine was positioned properly after extended trial and error. While the engine fits snuggly in the bay, a major issue with the transplant is the lack of space left for any type of exhaust path. Young adds, "One of the main things with this build was the header. We made three or four before I came up with a log style manifold." The custom piece snakes down sharply from the K-series head, and connects to an RYR custom exhaust system before exiting via a Burns Stainless muffler. Once happy with the placement, the engine was then pulled, welds finalized and cleaned up, engine bay carefully shaved, and the car was sent to paint. A custom silver hue with an additional heaping of clear was chosen to revitalize the 1200.
As if a factory K-series swap wasn't lethal enough for the tiny people mover, Young fitted his K20 top end with Supertech valves and valvesprings, while the bottom end was treated to a CP Piston and Manley rod combo. A set of OBX individual throttle bodies are perched at the front of the mill with just enough breathing room to squeeze behind the top of the core support. The sum of these modifications is a very respectable 240 whp, but far more interesting is the fact that a stock Civic 1200 tips the scales at just over 1,500 lbs--meaning an amazing power-to-weight ratio!
With all of the power packed into this lightweight chassis, the 35-year-old suspension and brakes were nowhere near being up to par. Young replaced the front hubs with EP3 versions, then added a set of custom-built coilovers to help handle the increase in weight; and Wilwood discs, calipers, and pads are responsible for bringing the car to a halt.
As the import performance market continues to grow older, restomod projects have begun to surface all over the world. Roger Young embarked on what anyone would agree is a tough build both in functionality and restoration, and after five years, unleashed one of the most intricate and complete restomod Honda creations anyone has ever witnessed.
Bolts & Washers
Hondata K-Pro managment
Hasport engine mounts
RYR custom header
RYR custom exhaust
Burns Stainless muffler
Bosch fuel pump
OBX individual throttle bodies
K-Tuned pulley kit
Driveshaft Shop 2.9 axles
Custom EP3 front hubs
Wilwood brake lines
Wilwood pedal assembly
Wheels And Tires
XXR 513 15x7, 0 offset
Toyo Proxes T1R 195/45-15
Custom paint (extra clear coat)
RS fender mirrors
Tube frame frontend
Stock seats re-wrapped in leather
RS wood grain steering wheel
K-Tuned shift knob
Thanks to all of the people with positive feedback that I've received over the span of this build. K-Tuned for having faith in my builds, my wife for dealing with my craziness, all the friends that lay their hands on this car-it's what we do! RYR, Quality Chassis, Omar at Tampa Bay Tuned, and Fernando at Kings Performance.
Screen name or nickname
Katch24/K first gen civic
Building Hondas for how long
That's a moving target for me, some kind of Honda-powered Pro drag car
Lack of inspiration was my inspiration
Young explains that RYR was his race team and shop. Though it's no longer open to the public, he, along with Dave New, Randy Young, and Will Torres, still build engines and cars for select clients. The group is very selective about the jobs they accept, and all work is performed in the RYR 8-bay shop.