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1986 Honda Civic Si - Second To None

New age tech meets old school chassis in this one-of-a-kind Si

Joey Lee
Nov 15, 2013
Photographer: Rodrez

There's always a bit of skepticism whenever innovation occurs. It just comes with the territory. Any time there is something that has never been seen, heard of, or experienced previously, you approach with some doubts. You are human after all, so it's only natural to do so; otherwise you'd just believe everything-the act of a fool. Along with this inherit human condition, you are also responsible to learn and understand things. If for some reason you choose not to, once again, you are the fool.

1986 honda civic si headlight 18 Photo 2/25   |   1986 Honda Civic Si Headlight 18

In the Honda community, innovation has been the driving force in keeping our love of the Japanese automaker alive. The ability to swap engines into different platforms wasn't a common practice at one point, but development and experimentation helped to change the landscape of the entire tuner movement. It's hard to believe, but there were doubters in the early days that couldn't fathom the thought of transplanting an engine with any level of success-until someone tried. Things have evolved so much in just the last five years that what was once considered impossible, is now the standard.

2018 Honda Civic
$18,940 Base Model (MSRP) 28/40 MPG Fuel Economy

Ryan Basseri of Rywire Motorsport Electronics has done his fair share to contribute to the growth of the Honda community. He was one of the first to really attack customized engine harnesses from a retail standpoint. A niche market, it's transformed what was once a home-operated business into a very successful company now based in Southern California. Rywire has been a major player in helping to establish the new standard in fully customized engine bays and wiring, but Basseri's latest idea might just be the next big wave of innovation that rocks the foundation of our community.

Before we get to that, however, we should give you a little background on the '86 Civic pictured because those who aren't in the know have already cast doubt as to what is so ground breaking about a nearly 30-year-old chassis. The exterior has been carefully restored to near showroom condition, the pristine interior looks like it had traveled through time, and the aftermarket exterior add-ons are just about as rare as it gets for a car of this age. It should also be noted that this vehicle is a true right-hand-drive E-AT Civic that was transported to the states direct from Japan some years ago.

"The (Civic) originally belonged to my friend John Nguyen." Ryan says. "He had two of these at the time and just felt that he didn't have the time [or the resources] to dedicate to both. I loved the condition of the car and all the rare stuff he had for it. He wanted my '88 CR-X so we decided to swap shells. I had some ideas floating around in my head that I really wanted to bring to life and I thought it'd be really cool to add the latest in motorsports technology into what is a classic Honda chassis."

1986 honda civic si custom JDM B18C 07 Photo 6/25   |  
The JDM B18C fits snugly between the fenders of the E-AT chassis.

The exterior of Ryan's E-AT has been carefully restored and repainted by 5Fifteen Autobody. A rare Purple Speed front lip and OsakaJDM rear spoiler help to add a touch of style to the boxy '80s design cues, but it is what you don't see that makes this Civic exceptional. Master fabricator Jared Seganti was brought in to create a series of custom components that allowed for each panel of the front-end to essentially be removed piece-by-piece if necessary. Bolted to the custom engine support brackets are Hasport mounts cuddling a JDM B18C on a strict diet of PurOl oil and of course, Rywire harness equipped. At a glance, two things immediately leap out at you; the first being the 55mm Kinsler individual throttle bodies. The second, for those well versed in Honda engine bays, has to do with that groundbreaking idea we mentioned earlier. As you can see, there's no throttle cable in sight. Conventional wisdom tells you that some sort of cabling system is required to open and close the throttles, and most would assume that cable is tucked away neatly. In actuality, it's non-existent. For the first time ever, an ITB-equipped B-series motor is operated under an electronic drive-by-wire (DBW) system. Ryan has come up with a way to control the butterflies on his Kinsler ITBs using an electric servo that drives a pushrod that controls throttle pressure via a custom onboard accelerator pedal. DBW is nothing new in today's generation of vehicles. Furthermore, engine swaps in '80s Hondas have been done many times before. But this is the first time someone has combined the two.

1986 honda civic si purplespeed front lip 17 Photo 7/25   |   1986 Honda Civic Si Purplespeed Front Lip 17

"The Rywire DBW system was created based on the same principles as a factory system, albeit with some important changes. We used AEM's new Infinity engine management system to make this possible. It gives us the ability to use any pedal with a potentiometer onboard or any throttle body with an electric servo. The Infinity's Set-Up Wizard does the rest. The most difficult part was trying to find a throttle body that had the servo that we could retrofit properly. It had to be able to spin the proper direction and also have ease when it came to mounting it. I had a vision as to how it should be done and my fabricator, Jared, executed it perfectly."

Every creation comes with its fair share of trial and error. Any time you attempt to do something that hasn't been done before you're likely to run into some issues. Luckily for Basseri, he had a helping hand in Bisi Ezerioha of Bisimoto Engineering. He had been working on a DBW system himself on various older model Porsches he was building, so he had experience with the AEM Infinity unit. The man that was called upon to wire up Bisi's cars was Ryan, so it was a trade-off in one another's fields of expertise. Another distinctive Rywire upgrade was this E-AT's lack of any electrical relays. Instead of using dated electrical components from decades ago, Ryan has opted to run everything through a Racepak SmartWire PDM unit. The SmartWire is a fully programmable power distribution module that eliminates the necessity for any relays. Switching of inputs, controlling current flow, along with all on-off switching functions can now be manipulated through the DatalinkII software.

1986 honda civic si racepak IQ3 digital display 11 Photo 8/25   |  
Vitals are relayed through a Racepak IQ3 display.

When you put everything into perspective, the DBW system is not something that everyone will easily understand right away. Ryan could take his time explaining the entire concept in detail to a large group people and most of them may end up just marveling at the floating engine in the E-AT's bay. Never mind the technological advancements, they are too busy wondering if the car even runs. His detractors will likely respond to their lack of understanding by saying that the DBW system is pointless or too slow. Skepticism reigns supreme to blind eyes. The goal now is to work with experts like Bisi to truly fine-tune and perfect the use of this modern technology. Everything up to this point has been very organic but the groundwork has been laid for future success. Those that don't understand can still appreciate the mixture of new age technology with classic Honda design. In the broad spectrum of the entire Honda community, Ryan's '86 Si stands alone, as there just isn't anything quite like it. It's a completely new consciousness that lives in the ghost of Honda's past.

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
JDM B18C
Hasport engine mounts
Kinsler 55mm individual throttle bodies
Rywire custom drive-by-wire retrofit system
DTR custom exhaust manifold
Rywire coil-over-plug modification
AEM Engine Position Module
OEM Acura RDX fuel injectors
AEM fuel filter
AEM fuel pressure regulator
Kinsler fuel rail
C&R custom radiator
XRP HS579 cooling hoses
XRP fuel lines
KTuned shifter
Custom drive-by-wire servo
Rywire custom engine harness w/Autosport connector
AEM Infinity 8 Engine Management System
Racepak Smartwire PDM
AEM ECT sensor
AEM IAT sensor
AEM Lambda sensor
AEM barometric pressure sensor
AEM fuel pressure sensor
AEM oil pressure sensor
PurOl engine fluids

1986 honda civic si JDM B18C 02 Photo 12/25   |   1986 Honda Civic Si - Second To None

Suspension
Medieval Pro coilover kit
Energy Suspension master bushing kit
Custom camber adjustment plates
Adjustable panhard bar

Resistance
Custom Tilton pedal set w/remote brake reservoirs
Rywire custom brake lines

Wheels And Tires
15x7 Mugen MF10L
205/50-15 Falken RT615K
Muteki lug nuts

Exterior
Honda Grand Prix White by 5Fifteen Auto Body
Custom radiator mount
Custom engine mount brackets
Custom chassis reinforcement
Custom bumper fasteners
Custom bumper quick release tabs
Custom hood release fasteners
Custom rear spoiler insert
Custom sheet metal wiper cowl
OsakaJDM rear spoiler
Purplespeed/Doobie Inc. front lip
EC Works side mirrors

Interior
Nardi steering wheel
Mugen Boss hub
Racepak IQ3 digital display
Rywire custom accelerator pedal
Custom Tilton pedal mounts
Honda Access floor mats
Honda optional dash tray

1986 honda civic si AEM electronics engine position module 23 Photo 16/25   |   1986 Honda Civic Si AEM Electronics Engine Position Module 23

Props
Sunny from 5Fifteen Auto Body
Lawson and the crew from AEM Electronics
The Racepak staff
Bisi from Bisimoto Engineering
Jared Seganti of Seganti Metal Works
Marcus from Heeltoe Auto
Joey from Stickydiljoe.com
Robert and Steve at Falken Tire
Aaron and Alex at Ballade Sports
John "Supertwinz" Nguyen
David Andrade and Ryan Der from Rywire
Rodrez from Honda Tuning
All the guys from ATSxDPK
All my customers and supporters!

1986 honda civic si purplespeed front lip 15 Photo 17/25   |   1986 Honda Civic Si Purplespeed Front Lip 15

Owner Specs

Daily Grind
Owner of Rywire.com

Favorite Website
Rywire.com

Screen Name OR Nick Name
Rywire

Building Hondas for How Long
10+ years

Dream Car
Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Inspiration For This Build
Work with the latest in motorsports electronics

Future Projects
Honda Integra Type R (already underway)

DBW Technology

At this point, you may be wondering what exactly the true advantages of having a drive-by-wire system are. It isn't something simple that you can just bolt on, and from what you've heard, DBW lags in terms of throttle response. The reality of why the minor lag exists in factory-built vehicles is because it serves as a safety precaution to the average driver. DBW is actually very precise in response and has pinpoint, surgical precision. It is night and day when fine-tuned in comparison to old cable systems. For the Rywire E-AT, the AEM Infinity EMS is the key to maximizing the DBW's potential. Infinity gives Ryan the ability to adjust traction control, fine-tune idle control onboard, has three-step control, allows for no-lift shifting, rev-matched downshift control, and much more. It is the next big thing in tuning and opens the floodgate to new possibilities.

1986 honda civic si kinsler individual throttle bodies 05 Photo 21/25   |  
Kinsler 55mm individual throttle bodies.
1986 honda civic si osakaJDM rear spoiler 13 Photo 25/25   |   1986 Honda Civic Si - Second To None

Sources

Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
800-723-2553
http://www.falkentire.com
Bisimoto
Ontario, CA 91761
888-922-6686
http://www.bisimoto.com
Rywire
Garden Grove, CA 92843
240-479-9473
http://www.rywire.com
AEM Electronics
Hawthorne, CA 90250
310-484-2322
www.aemelectronics.com
Heeltoe Automotive
www.heeltoeauto.com
5Fifteen Autobody
www.5fifteenautobody.com
Purol Lubricants
Ontario, CA 91761
909-256-0477
http://www.pur-ol.com
By Joey Lee
243 Articles

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