Over the past two decades, the fifth-generation Civic hatchback platform has remained one of, if not the most popular platform for Honda-fiends to modify. You've no doubt seen more than a few in various states of tune buzzing up and down your local freeway. At just about any car show or race you'll attend, you're almost guaranteed to see even more. From an enthusiast's perspective, the chassis is nothing short of a godsend. A lightweight foundation with Lego-like compatibility allows for parts swapping with a number of other chassis as well as dozens of powerplant options all wrapped up in an ultra-affordable package. Make no mistake, the CX, VX and DX models are nothing short of stripped-down econo-boxes with their micro-sized factory wheels and tires, gas-miser engines and general lack of creature comforts. And that's the beauty of the fifth gen—bare bones and ready to be shaped into something remarkable.
Carlos Resto was well aware of the car's merits back in '10, when he first purchased this CX model. Keeping things simple for his daily driver, he dropped in a replacement 1.5-liter heart and added a Fujitsubo exhaust. The gas mileage was exceptional, but being picked on by the likes of an SRT4 and later an Evo VIII was rather annoying. Carlos' patience was wearing thin and, not surprisingly, thoughts of finding more power began to cloud his mind during his drive to and from work. He recounts, "I had to make some changes. The car was completely taken apart and most of the parts that were not going to be used were sold. After talking to my good friend Eladio Cruz, I decided to build a low-compression GS-R motor that could handle as much boost as I could throw at it."
The first call was made to Full Race who, after hearing Carlos' goals, suggested a turbo kit essentially intended for SFWD competition. With the forced induction portion of the build taken are of, Carlos began researching engine builders and found Laskey Racing. With some over-the-phone back and forth with Mike Laskey on a plan of attack, the two agreed on Benson sleeves with an 84mm bore and CP Piston/Pauter rod combo for the bottom end. Up top, a BorgWarner S300SX turbo hangs from a Full Race manifold that's mated to a Portflow head complete with Skunk2 cams and a Supertech valvetrain. Wanting to update the dated ignition system, a Hondata Coil Plug Retrofit (CPR) kit was purchased, along with Hondata's tried-and-true S300 V2 management.
The car, along with the supporting cast of parts, was sent to 4130 Performance Fabrication so that Wayne Sweeten and his team could put the final touches on the engine portion of the build. Once complete, 4130 handed the car off to Randy Schoener of RSTech to bring the Civic to life. A break-in period on the dyno was followed by a tuning session using 93-octane pump gas; the result—more than 470hp! Though there was more power in store, the car ran into issues trying to stay straight and narrow on the dyno rollers due to a much-needed alignment. A rematch with the dyno is already being planned. Carlos also added Hondata's boost-by-gear technology dialed in to help control the ponies instead of simply smoking the front tires through every gear.
Ecstatic about the hatch's performance, attention was turned toward bringing the appearance up to par. Carlos had already done a mild shave and re-spray under the hood prior to installing the GS-R swap. He relied on friend and painter Angel Alicea of Angel's Design to prep and paint the exterior of the car to match, prior to reassembly. In search of a timeless, uncluttered look, a Spoon Sports carbon lip and J's Racing rear wing were really the only visual upgrades, along with a long list of OEM seals and garnish pieces to fight the effects of aging. Looking to add some contact patch under the arches, a new set of wheels was in order. Carlos told us, "After looking at several companies, I opted to go with an uncommon wheel. I reached out to Steven Lam, owner of RPM Garage, who was the only Barramundi distributor at the time, and I ordered a set of Barramundi Elevens." Just behind the unique rollers are Wilwood brakes and Buddy Club N+ coilovers.
While the exterior of Carlos' chassis is quite simple, the interior is the exact opposite. Prior to all of the engine building and paintwork, a set of GS-R seats had been re-upholstered, but with the build reaching a whole new level, they didn't seem to fit the theme. Reaching out to Prime Motoring, Carlos began talking to Demetri Xanthos about a set of Status seats. The conversation eventually led to a huge opportunity and before he knew it, Status had thrown him a set of Spa Icon seats. Carlos had them wrapped in a blue ultrasuede with a unique diamond stitch pattern and had pieces throughout the interior upholstered to match. A Personal Neo Grinta wheel with blue stitching adds to the theme.
What started as a basic commuter with a few mild mods turned into a full-blown build with a bit of encouragement from road bullies. These days, however, those same bullies are steering clear of Carlos' well-built fifth-gen hatch.