When Matt Tucker first locked eyes with this '00 Civic Type R through his computer monitor, he was positive it would be his, even with a few thousand miles standing in his way. It was collecting dust in Southern California, and Tucker left Tennessee with intentions of sealing the deal, then driving the 6th-gen clear across the country—a fairly tall order for a car that he had yet to see in person. With the money and title exchanged and more than 2,000 miles under his belt, Tucker pulled into his driveway a few days later in the bright-yellow EK9 that he'd been digitally lusting over and wasted little time in making it his own.
Like most imported cars from Japan, various factory pieces were missing or needed replacement, and Tucker got right to work sourcing parts and repairing any issues he found. And while most Type R purists cringe at the very thought of anything other than a B16B under the hood of the iconic hatchback, Tucker needed more grunt than the hyperactive 1.6L could offer. A boosted GSR swap made its way under the hood and produced more than 600 hp before eventually committing suicide and was then promptly replaced with a bare-bones ITR heart. Along the way the car landed a feature in Honda Tuning Magazine, then sat patiently while Tucker turned his attention to an S2000 project. He adds, "I decided it [S2000] wasn't as good of a daily driver as I needed, so I parted it out, back to stock, and sold it all. With new ideas and some extra funds from the S2000, I went back to the CTR and gave it a small makeover."
Exterior changes remained mild with an Air Walker front bumper replacing the factory CTR bumper and lip. However, under the hood, changes were far more drastic. Having already performed a trio of engine swaps on his Civic, Tucker was itching to do a fourth. After rebuilding a K20A2 for his friend Brandon, he eventually purchased that engine to use in the EK. A number of trips to Baton Rouge to visit the Hybrid Racing guys resulted in a stockpile of swap parts, and his plan of attack was set to unfold. Tucker states, "I sold the B18C5 swap and started doing the wire tuck. My friend Brandon and I got busy sanding the bay and shaving and smoothing a few things, then painted it with PPG Deltron paint and House of Kolors clear to make it look better with the K-swap." A closer look reveals plenty of factory holes and original creases even after the bay was reworked, and that's no accident. He adds, "I didn't want to shave the whole bay; I just wanted it to look very clean. Stock...but way better."
A K-swap under the hood of a '96-'00 Civic isn't uncommon, and to be honest, it can be pretty difficult to differentiate one guy's build from another. However, one of the things that sets Tucker's CTR apart from the clones is his attention to detail. Being hands on with a project of this caliber meant that hours could be spent on areas that most don't think about during a build. For example, the RBC intake manifold: "After a long night with Ethan Hamilton, I shaved all the things I didn't need and removed the webbing in between the runners. I used the OEM K20A2 engine harness and David Cordell and myself went through it to clean it up a little and tuck it." Then there were the brakes, which Tucker meticulously disassembled in order to clean and refinish the calipers for a "better than new" appearance.
When the increased power and torque of a naturally aspirated K-swap became somewhat mundane, the next logical step was boost, and Tucker started sourcing the supporting parts. "I got a great deal on a Peakboost manifold and Tial wastegate, along with 1000cc injectors. I used the Hybrid Racing intake and made the rest of the kit myself." Once completed, Arthur of Trackmasters was called upon to work some tuning magic and at 19 psi, the 2.0L belted out close to 550 hp—almost tripling the output of the factory K20. In stark contrast to the factory yellow paint, many of the engine bay components are slathered in stealth black, and with the hood open and the Precision 6265 snail perched in plain view, the look is rather sinister.
Satisfied with the car's performance, Tucker continued to massage the exterior with a set of Volk CE28N rollers in F-zero blue and his own personal touch to the front bumper. "I decided to make my own splitter. Tracing the bumper, I used that to cut out patterns on a sheet of carbon-fiber mat. We used four layers on top and two underneath a thin sheet of balsa wood and a vacuum bag while the resin was drying. I made brackets to mount it to the front tow hooks and plan on adding a turnbuckle setup to mount it to the front frame rails for added support."
Is this the end of the road for the CTR that's continued to change ever since it defected from Japan and journeyed from one side of the U.S. to the other? Hardly. Tucker is already plotting his next steps and noted, "This car is a lot of fun and I love to drive it. The only problem is the loss of traction, but I've recently upgraded to a larger tire size to try to help that issue. I have even bigger plans for the car, including building a K24/K20 for a little more torque and strength." The progression continues...