The “track car” motif has sure become popular over the last couple of years. It seems to be that these days, you either fully “stance” out your ride or go with the race look. Gone are the days of simple modifications. Purists still appreciate the clean and classic Japanese-inspired builds but if you want to be recognized by the masses, it seems that going to the extreme is where you need to be if you aren’t there already. Everything seems to be done in a really avant-garde manner in 2013 so it may be hard for the current generation of tuners to understand that things were very different just a few years ago. Track cars (or race-styled) are the new Honda “street” cars and with the stance craze oversaturating our community, people are going for a more functional theme. What is interesting to note is that many of these cars never see the light of day on the track; they just want the look.
Back in the mid-2000s, you wouldn’t find many of these builds on the streets because the Japanese OEM-era reigned supreme just as we left the wild body kit stuff behind. Anything you added to your car that wasn’t a factory JDM part or modest in appearance was considered “rice.” The faux track cars you see today would most certainly be shunned because it would appear as if parts were added that served absolutely no function. As with all aspects of life, there are guys like Rainier Deleon who cares very little for what people think and just does what he wants. Rainier, known to his friends simply as “Toto,” is the owner of this 2000 Honda Civic DX. What appears as a very modern Honda build is in reality quite the opposite; it’s actually kind of dated. As you’re reading this, his Honda is probably deep in the processes of a complete rebuild. Other than some aero components that have been taken off and various sets of wheels being swapped, this Civic build has stood almost exactly this way since 2006. To say that it was ahead of its time would be a gross understatement. It’s just remarkable how relevant it remains in the Honda community as we’re approaching 2014. That’s an eight-year span of time in which a plethora of trends have come and gone. Some would have already been on their third or fourth builds within that time, not their first like Deleon.
“This is my very first car, I am the only owner of this Civic, and I have been with it since day one,” Toto explains. “I built my car this way because I’ve always loved the aggressive nature of Japanese time attack vehicles. At that time (around 2005-2006), I knew that it was a style that people would be afraid to dive into because it was considered ‘ricey.’ It was what I liked so I built it that way. Acceptance with my peers didn’t really matter. I believed that it was possible to build a car that not only looked aggressive, but was still fun to drive on the streets.”
In the years that Toto has had this Civic, it had not only seen a ton of fun on the streets, it also spent a chunk of time doing what its aggressive appearance suggests. He would save up to continue to add quality products on his build and then take it on a road course and beat on it. Though it isn’t anywhere in the realm of being a true time attack champion by today’s standards, it was quite capable on the track. When it wasn’t exiting turns at high speed, the Civic spent its time as a daily cruiser. Toto has done a lot of growing up over the years, including starting a family, so he now has other cars to commute in. Priorities helped to put things into perspective for Toto but his Civic has and continues to remain by his side.
A man who has embarked on this long of a journey with one project car probably has more stories to tell than most have parts on their cars. We could easily sit here and detail every component that attributed to the final product you see today but it is more important to understand the mindset of a guy who continues to tinker with his first car 13 years later. It’s much easier to let go of a car that has been built by a shop or by multiple people because you lack that real connection from wrenching on your own car. With Toto, he’s done everything on his own; from the bare essentials to the K20A swap, all the way down to the paint and body itself.
“This was the car that I learned to paint on so it has been repainted about two times prior to what you see in the photos. It was all trial and error. The original color was a mistake, as the paint shop mixed the wrong hue of gray but I didn’t realize it until the entire interior had already been sprayed along with the base coat on the outside. Then I had to come out of pocket even more for the right color and who knows how much more time was spent redoing everything. It was just a nightmare,” Toto says.
Being self-taught in paint and body also helped when it came time to figuring out his current wheel set-up. The 16-inch, front-staggered Volk Racing CE28Ns look ultra form-fitting on the body of the hatchback but it didn’t start out that way. He wanted to squeeze a meaty Toyo R888 on the Volk wheel so he massaged the fenders, rolled them flat and flared them so he would have adequate turning clearance. The problem that followed was getting the wheel to mount onto the hub. Reason for that was his custom-fitted Project Mu brake kit, which was also a trial/error affair. The teal-coated brakes were originally meant for a DC5 Integra/RSX chassis so the center bore is slightly smaller than that of his Civic, so a Dremel was used to bore out the centers by hand until everything seated correctly on the hubs.
Toto’s willingness to experiment is the reason why he’s a source of inspiration for so many other Honda enthusiasts. It is also the reason why he’s been able to build a Honda that was so far ahead of its time. Some of the top-tier, more recognized builds in our community today still pale in comparison to this level of quality and detail. It doesn’t hurt to just “try” either, as Toto tells us; “Anything is possible. Some of the wildest ideas that I had came to life just based on making mistakes and doing research. I think the biggest misconception about our community is that we need to worry about what people think. You should do what you like, not what other people like. It sounds cliché but you can’t build a car for other people. Sometimes you just have to dive off the deep end and swim.”
With an ever-changing import community comes a lot of new technology and products, so it makes sense that he’s gearing up for a major overhaul. We’re not really sure what direction he’s taking with his rebuild but Toto has always been more of a doer than a guy that likes to talk. His track record has been good and we’re overjoyed to see that he’s moving forward with the same chassis he started out with back in 2000. Relationships can get stale after a couple of years, but Deleon’s relationship with his first love is strong. He keeps it fresh by experimenting and constantly trying new things.
2000 Honda Civic DX
Owner Rainier “Toto” Deleon
Hometown Bellevue, WA
Occupation Pill Pusher
Engine JDM 2002 HONDA 2.0L K20A; Hasport EKK2 engine mount kit, hose adapter; Hybrid Racing PnP engine harness; Canton Racing remote fuel filter; Magnafuel fuel pressure regulator; Marshall fuel pressure gauge; Earl’s Ano-Tuff fittings, Prolite 350 braided hoses; Jiffy-Tite quick disconnect fittings; Top Fuel Power Neo; AEM fuel rail; Golden Eagle oil block adapter plate; Honda RBC intake manifold; Karcepts throttle body adapter, shift box mount kit; Visteon/C&R radiator; Samco Sport hoses; Carbing coolant expansion tank, radiator cooling plate; GReddy PCV oil catch can; custom stainless cold-air intake w/K&N air filter; DTR/SSR stainless 4-2-1 exhaust manifold; adjustable stainless test pipe; Fujitsubo RMA-01A exhaust; Spoon Sports radiator stays, titanium bolt; T-bolt radiator and intake pipe clamps; SHG oil dipstick retainer spring
Drivetrain DC5 ITR 6-speed transmission w/LSD, OEM clutch and flywheel
Footwork & Chassis TEIN RE coilovers; Comptech rear lower tie bar; ARP extended studs; SRR rear lower control arms; OEM ’98-spec ITR 5-lug conversion, front subframe, steering rack, sway bar; Carbing Type II aluminum front tower bar; Aeroquip fittings for power rack delete; FEEL’s master cylinder brace
Brakes Project Mu forged 4-POT front brake calipers, SCR-Pro front rotors, B-Force brake pads, front brake lines, wheel lug nuts; Brembo rear slotted rotors; Goodridge rear stainless brake lines; AEM rear brake pads
Wheels & Tires 16x8.5" +30 /16x7.5" +46 Volk Racing CE28N; 225/45R16 Toyo R888
Exterior Dolemite Gray paint; Honda EK9 CTR headlights w/carbon inserts, tail lights w/rear fog light, side moldings, smoked sidemarkers, grille, rear lip spoiler, VIN plate; Honda Access door visors; First Molding carbon front Flugel Plate; J’s Racing rear carbon wing, front/rear tow hooks, Type-S carbon fiber hood; Spoon Sports rear carbon diffuser; Vision Type-MC side mirrors; C-West side skirts, Eyeline; Honda HOP antenna block-off plate; JDM inspection, registration, emissions decals; Type ONE maintenance sticker; Mugen gas cap
Interior OEM EK9 CTR red carpet, manual door panels, armrest delete; JDM road flare; CDM airbag tray; Hondasport E-brake handle; K-Tuned Roboshifter; C’s shift knob; Mugen battery kill switch, pedal set, seat rails, ECU stay, S1 bucket seats, heel adjustment plate; Takata 5-point safey harnesses; dead pedal riser; Honda Access roof console; SARD STACK ST8130 digital display
Electronics Hondata K-Pro
Thanks You My wife, Nikki, and daughter, Chloe, for putting up with the build that’s going on right now; the entire Trikspeed family; OG Dennis Marino and DaTamas for leaving his spray gun at my house; Joey Lee; Terry aka Spriggan for always lending constructive criticism when needed; Tai, Darnell, Steve, Yee, Jeff, Josh, Nick, JD, EKfreebie, Pow, Gussimeng, the LCM family; all my buddies on NWP4Life; Debbie at Powdercoat INC; Mike Shin from Toyo; my parents for letting me dismantle and store my car in their garage; Nino and Stephen, my track buddies; Team:2t0