During the war of words that shuffle across your monitor as you bounce between your regularly scheduled daily social media and automotive forum intake, you've no doubt read the snide remarks, not-so-clever memes, and overwhelmingly negative comments about Civic builds. All to often labeled as cheap commuter cars with nowhere near the power, finesse, or feel of a real sports car, they're blasted time and time again. Truth be told, much of what the naysayers are screaming online is quite true.
A high-dollar sports car the Civic is not, although, it was never intended to be. A '99 DX model, like the one pictured, was produced to serve life as a reliable, efficient, and very affordable commuter car. It's 100-or-so-horsepower engine wasn't the stuff dreams are made of but rather a gas miserly four-cylinder with just enough grunt to get out of its own way with a few passengers on board. But like anything else in the automotive aftermarket community, careful selection and ingenuity can go a long way, and the draw of Honda's long-running people-mover has always been its fun-per-dollar factor and ease of modification combined with countless options.
This particular car, owned and built by Kyle Moore of Wichita, Kansas, was purchased about seven years ago for a mere $500. His intentions were simply to bring the car up to a safe, reliable status for daily driving duties while he continued working on a hatchback drag car. The ultra-low price tag on the coupe of course meant a less-than-stellar condition. Kyle adds, "The car was a basket case. No interior, no motor, no wheels, just a shell with a dash more or less—and what parts it did have, were trash."
After getting the car home and giving it a more in-depth look, Kyle's inner-perfectionist wouldn't allow him to just throw together the car. He adds, "I, being as picky as I am, would not be seen in such a hooptie. The car was missing too many parts to just throw a motor in and go. It needed a right quarter-panel, so I found a totaled Si and snagged most of the parts I needed from it." Performing a quarter-panel graft at his workplace, Lonny Moore's collision repair, Kyle found a bit more damage beneath the surface. "When bolting up the new front end, I realized the front framerails were pushed up over an inch per side. Off to the frame rack she went."
With the chassis and exterior issues finally cured, Kyle could have simply installed an engine, drove the car daily as intended, and called it a day. But if that were the case, you wouldn't be reading about his car right now. He jumped into the engine bay and welded any unnecessary openings along with the antenna, washer nozzles, badges, and side molding holes. He then prepped the body, sprayed a fresh coat of Sublime Green inside and out, and then brought the car to his home garage to continue the build that, when it began, wasn't even supposed to be a build at all.
Having purchased the coupe, then a totaled EM1 for its quarter-panel and complete interior, Kyle was no stranger to pillaging a donor car. In fact, in order to boost his DX, he was even willing to purchase a third car. He explains, "I purchased another '94 hatch to acquire all of my turbo parts like the turbo, manifold, and Hondata. The engine portion of this car had been in the works since '06, so I had a head start on it. I built the motor out of all brand-new, nice quality parts, and Ray Yipp at Fusionworks Racing helped me assemble the rotating assembly and eventually tune the car for some traded labor on my part." The bottom end consists of a 2.0L GS-R block using 84mm, 9:1 CP pistons and Crower rods while up top, a B16 head was stuffed with Skunk2 Pro I cams and REV valvetrain. The forced induction formula is based on an AFI turbo manifold and Bullseye snail, custom piping to a BDL throttle body, and Edelbrock intake manifold.
With the majority of hard work behind him, the pieces seemed to be falling into place, though Kyle admits the process took longer than expected due to a few life-changing events that drew the spotlight away from the build. "I bought my first house, got married, and had my first child while my build was taking place. I never gave up, though. I had a vision and followed all the way through without cutting corners."
When life allowed, Kyle did in fact complete his coupe, and the finished product speaks volumes about the hard-core Honda enthusiast who continues to thrive in an import community packed with trash talkers, pretenders, and fly-by-night trend hoppers. What started as a $500 drop in the bucket has morphed into a show-quality build that has no trouble holding its own at the dragstrip. They'll say, "At the end of the day, it's still just a Honda" and they're absolutely right. It's a $500 Civic that was almost entirely built in Kyle's garage with his own two hands. Oh, and then there's that 600 hp on tap that has him flirting with 9-second territory, and the fun factor is only increasing.