How do you feel when someone laughs at you or makes fun of you? If someone scoffs at you and shrugs you off, I think it would be safe to say that it would irritate you—to say the least. The question is, what do you do with that aggravation? Dave Chan of San Bruno, CA, used it as motivation to build the car that you see before you. Rather than just talking back, he let his actions—focused on the car build—speak louder than his words.
For some people it takes a major occurrence to trigger a change, while for others the catalyst can be something quite minor. In this case what flipped the switch in Dave was a simple statement from a friend. Among the numerous vehicles that Dave has had and ended up selling was an Aztec Green '92 GS-R. I know the majority of my fellow Honda enthusiasts are shaking their heads in agreement with the disappointment in having one of those chassis in such a rare color and letting it go, and Dave's friend Jimmy was no exception. "One day we were sitting around and my selling the Integra came up. He laughed and said that I could never finish a project." It was that ordinary day and simple statement that stirred something up inside of Dave, and he decided right then and there to prove his friend wrong.
Everyone has their own way of building their car that they envision, and there really isn't a right or wrong way to go about it. There is, though, interesting ways of going about it. "The next day I picked up a K20A Type S from Dan and R-Crew. It was a complete swap—pretty much everything I needed. Now I just needed a car..." Wait, but what about the '92 Integra that we were just talking about? Apparently, Dave wasn't even thinking about that chassis. "Since I had EFs and EGs, I went out looking for an EK," he says. OK, so it would be that generation of Civic hatchback that would be built rather than the Integra. With the decision made, Dave set out to find a chassis. It didn't take him long to find a deal he was happy with. "I found one for cheap, and I think Jimmy was happier than I was to start." The two of them tore the car apart in a day, excited and gung ho about the new build. Unfortunately, the excitement was stifled by the discovery of a bent framerail. "I ended up trashing that shell and went on the hunt for another chassis," Dave says. Unfortunately, the search this time wasn't an expeditious one and Dave started to get discouraged. "About three months past and I really was going to give up because I couldn't find an EK that I liked. Just when I was about to give up Jimmy called me and said that he found the perfect car," Dave says. It was an unmolested Civic on its second owner, and although those are two rare qualities to be found in a chassis from 1998, it wasn't so much the chassis as it was the circumstances surrounding its purchase that ended up making it the perfect chassis for Dave's build. "Jimmy actually talked to the owner and explained to her my plans and how long we've been looking for a car," he says. She was intrigued and held the car specifically for Dave to purchase and was excited to see what he was going to do and the final product. "Now not only did I have to prove Jimmy wrong, I also had the original owner to impress."
Starting with the powerplant, Dave decided to keep it simple as he planned to track the car quite frequently. Air enters the K20 through a custom intake into a Skunk2 72mm throttle body and into a ported RBC intake manifold. The exit path is comprised of an R-Crew header, custom test pipe, and A'pexi Noir muffler. Tuned on Hondata K-Pro, the simple setup yielded 214 whp, nothing record-breaking but more than enough to power the light hatchback around the track. Dave decided on Koni 3011 shocks mated with Eibach springs with an 800-pound front and 850-pound rear spring rate to take care of suspension duties. The shock/spring combo is complemented by various stiffening bars throughout the chassis, but even more importantly, roll center adjusters as well as camber control arms have been utilized to achieve the optimal suspension geometry and settings so the car can be nimble, predictable, and controllable as it's thrown around the corners. Responsible for slowing the vehicle down is a combination of Spoon mono-block calipers, custom two-piece R-Crew 12-inch front rotors, and Carbotech front brake pads with Hawk pads in the rear. Last but not least, 15x8 Volk Racing TE-37SL in Hyper Blue were mated to Nitto NT01 tires to handle rotation and traction.
For paintwork, Dave entrusted Sunny at 515 Autobody to slather the car in fresh paint. The cement-like color that you see wasn't by any means a random decision. One of the cars that Dave currently has is an M35 that he calls the Gray Whale. "The Gray Whale is a VIP sedan that is big and slow. I always tell people that just like a whale it may not be the best looking but when you see it you can't help but admire it," he says. So to contrast yet complement his perspective on that car, he named this car the Gray Dolphin. Why? "The dolphin is fast and nimble and even though you may see them more often, you are still amazed when you do," Dave explains.
The interesting and extraordinary circumstances surrounding the chassis purchase proved to be the catalysts needed to make for a crisp, clean, and efficient build. Having a friend to inspire you and work next to you is invaluable, and Dave was blessed to not only have that friend, but the mental focus and ability to turn words into action—that says more than anything else ever could.
Behind The Build
San Bruno, CA
Building and racing cars, collecting shoes, eating, playing softball
"My friend jimmy said I would never finish a car. Plus, I wanted to try to build a K-series- powered car and see what this hype was about."
1998 Honda Civic CX
214 whp at 8,000 rpm / 146 whp at 6,200 rpm
Engine K20A2 Type S; ported RBC intake manifold; Skunk2 72mm throttle body; Hasport motor mounts; custom intake and test pipe; A'pexi Noir exhaust; R-Crew fuel rail, K-swap header; Moroso baffled oil pan; Koyo EP3 radiator; K-Tuned fuel pressure regulator, radiator hoses; Mishimoto radiator fans, thermostat; Walbro 255-lph in-tank fuel pump; Hondata K-Pro
Drivetrain '04 RSX-S transmission, axles, shift lever; OEM JDM ITR LSD; Exedy Street Stage 1 clutch, flywheel; Comptech Short Shift Kit; Karcepts 36mm hubs
Suspension Koni 3011 shocks; Eibach springs; JDM ITR 24mm front sway bar; JDM CTR 22mm rear sway bar; Spoon front and rear strut bars; Function 7 rear LCAs; Wicked Tuning front camber control arms, rear toe control arms, roll center adjusters, rear trailing arm bushing; R-Crew rear subframe brace; Z-Speed front subframe brace; Top Fuel B- and C-pillar bars
Wheels/Tires Hyper Blue Volk Racing TE-37SL 15x8 +25mm; Nitto NT01 225/45-15; Project Kics R40 lug nuts
Brakes Spoon Sports mono-block calipers; custom two-piece R-Crew 12-inch rotors, master cylinder brace; Carbotech XP10 front brake pads; Hawk HP Plus rear brake pads; Goodridge brake lines; ATE Blue brake fluid
Exterior Honda PPG Cement Gray by 515 Autobody; JDM SiR front bumper and lip, rear bumper, side skirts; JDM CTR headlights, rear spoiler; Spoon sideview mirrors; Alex Racing wing raisers; JDM 99-00 CTR taillights; JDM window visors; Automation LED H4 5K HIDs
Interior Recaro RS-G driver bucket seat, passenger SR6 recliner; Wedge seat brackets; JDM CTR rear seats; MOMO steering wheel with NSX-S horn button; Works Bell short hub, Rapfix quick release; ARC Titanium shift knob; Mugen pedals; Civic EM1 Si gauge cluster; custom black dash and carpet; Alpine INA-W910 head unit; JL Audio C5 front components, C5 6x9 rear speakers, XD300x1 amplifier; MB Quartz PWD 304 subwoofer
Gratitude "I would like to thank my team Endless Projects; all my friends who kept pushing me to finish this car; Sunny and Kris at 515 Autobody; Dan at R-Crew for all his help; Roy and Jeff over at Launch Distribution; Mary and Adam at Motovicity for getting all the parts that I needed last minute; Matt at ICB Motorsport for getting me all the JDM goodies; and Steve at Mackin Industries. I'd also like to thank Dave and Wing at Memoryfab (Wing, I didn't forget you), and, of course, Patrick Lauder at Quickworks for the great shots."