There's something to be said about a well-built, nicely-tuned Honda. For many of us, this is our generation's hot rod, and as we get older, we gradually become more appreciative of the simpler builds. Sure, it is great to see innovation and new styles develop, but man, there are just those Hondas that transcend any limitations of time. When you see them, you get this overwhelming sensation that a car is built "just right." If you're a younger enthusiast that is barely starting out in this hobby, you'll eventually understand that it isn't just throwing money at name brand parts and compiling a large modification list that makes a great build—it's how you execute and make those parts work in unison. Sometimes the car doesn't even have to be perfect in appearance; it can be a little rough around the edges as long as the proper execution is there.
In my travels, I've had the opportunity to see quite a bit of the Honda community worldwide. One of the destinations that I make an effort to visit annually is the Pacific Northwest. The Evergreen State isn't talked about as much as places like LA or New York, but by no means should you ever sleep on the builds in this region. Some of their Hondas are simply incredible. You just don't hear about them that much because the wet weather conditions leave their cars neatly tucked away in garages. On a rare sunny day in Seattle, the streets are like a parade filled with modded vehicles—everyone wants to take advantage of the good weather!
One of the premier car clubs in the PNW is a group known as Trik Speed. Most Washington natives know them simply as "Trik." The club has been around since the nineties and while some have grown up and moved on from the hobby, many are still representing faithfully. A couple new guys have come into the group in the later years but they have remained a tightly knit unit. Even the elders who don't have cars anymore still come around to spend time with the crew and there is a strong sense of family. Trik Speed has produced some memorable Hondas over the last decade and are an inspiration for many Honda guys around the world.
Team member, Darnell Andrada, is one of the last of the group to not have been prominently featured in print—until today. While the others have seen immeasurable amounts of praise from throughout the community, Darnell has been lurking in their shadows. It's not because his car is undeserving; he's just been putting it together over the course of six years. He's also a bit hard to find because he rarely ever brings his car out. I was fortunate enough to convince him to take it out for this year's Honda Issue.
Like his fellow Trik Speed brethren, his Civic is also multi-faceted; it serves as a street car, show car and spends a good amount of time at local track events. It isn't nearly as detailed as some of the other Trik builds but its raw appeal is refreshing. It is a car that is very straight to the point and there isn't anything on the car that would be deemed "excessive" or would make it a "hard parker." What you see is what you get.
"I had a '98 Civic coupe previously that taught me pretty much everything I know about cars," Andrada says. "I learned how to do an auto-to-manual swap, how to assemble an engine, heck, I even learned how to drive stick with it. I loved that thing but I always wanted a hatchback. The shape of it and the plethora of parts available for it really appealed to me. I was able to find this chassis that I have now, stripped it down, and built it from the ground-up using all the knowledge I gained from my old coupe."
There's a sense of pride when you talk to Darnell about his car and it's justified; the build took roughly six years to reach its current state, but he assembled the entire car by himself in just seven months inside a tiny one-vehicle garage. Bodywork, paint prep, re-wiring the engine harness and refreshing of old parts were all performed consecutively. This was also done before his eventual move to the Northwest from his previous home in Virginia. The B-series engine from his coupe made the transition over to this hatchback, but the A-Sport individual throttle bodies you see didn't happen until years later. The white-on-white exterior portrays a simplistic appeal, but the heart of Andrada's Honda reveals much more. Under the custom teal valve cover is a B16A head mated to a larger 1.8-liter B18C block. The head sees valvetrain improvements with a full Portflow package and beefy Buddy Club Spec IV cams. The block is strengthened with Spoon Sports connecting rods, factory P30 pistons and better rings from Hastings.
Darnell expresses no desire to keep any secrets and admits the motor has seen better days. High mileage and some spirited driving over the years leaves it with some wrinkles that will eventually need to be ironed out. Still, famed drag racing specialist Speed Factory was able to squeeze 210whp out of the individually-throttled 1.8-liter.
The surface of Andrada's hatchback photographs nicely, but there is no shame in hiding that it's a bit unrefined. I guess you can say that it displays some of that "Northwest patina." The harsh, wet, weather has taken its toll on the paint but it suits its aggressive nature. The front-end has been swapped-over to a newer '99-00-spec face and protruding from the bottom is a paint-matched First Molding lip. Seated atop the rear hatch is a carbon J's Racing rear wing and the hood has been swapped out in favor of a vented J's Type-T. A classic set of Advan Racing RG wheels complete the package.
"Comfort" is not a word you could really use to describe the interior of Darnell's Honda. Much is removed and only the essentials remain. The single Recaro Pro Racer seat is surrounded by the bars of the Safety21 cage and the most obvious metal protrusion in the cockpit is a very rare C's shifter assembly from Japan. The rear half of the interior is completely absent, highlighted only with a Mugen rear strut bar.
When I set out to find some notable builds for this year's Honda Issue, Darnell Andrada's was high on my list. There are always the obvious choices, but I wanted to showcase a build that was a relative unknown to the rest of the nation from a region that is often forgotten. The Pacific Northwest is a staple within the vast Honda community worldwide and it continues to produce some formidable projects that would be relevant anywhere, any time. Hondas like these are the ones that remind us that we should not be weary when a particular fad or trend takes over at any given time. These are the ones you appreciate because they are built to last.