Released at the peak of import performance enthusiasm in the U.S., the '99 Civic Si model was everything that stateside Honda fans had been longing for. A universal design that seemed to look good lowered on just about any set of wheels; a comfortable, user-friendly interior; and, of course, the venerable high-revving B16 that had escaped all previous domestic Civic models. Most important, at least to die-hard Honda fans, was the continuation of Honda's modular design that continued a legacy of effortless compatibility with its siblings.
That's all well and good, but after almost two decades since its introduction, the original 160hp engine didn't quite carry the appeal that it once did, at least to guys who struggle with leaving well enough alone. Guys like Mike Schietroma, owner of this heavily modified EM1 that he took ownership of in '04. The purchase, made by his father, didn't come without some sacrifice. Mike recalls, "To buy my first car, my dad decided to part ways with his '67 Chevelle, which I begged him not to do! His father gave him that car and my dad owned it for 29 years." Guilty feelings aside, with a lack of funds and a short-cut mentality, a few modifications were made, much of which Mike admits were replica parts. He adds, "At Hot Import Nights car show in Phoenix, I had a fake Mugen lip with a real badge riveted on. This guy RC [RC's Garage] walks up and asks if it was real. I said yes, but eventually I gave in and fessed up." The awkward conversation wouldn't be their last encounter, as the two eventually became close friends, and with a little direction from the Arizona business owner, Mike began to consider quality over quantity with his parts purchases.
In '14, after having been satisfied for a few years with minor engine upgrades and a Spoon/Vision theme for his coupe, he was ready to hit the restart button. He reached out to RC, who made the two-hour trek to Mike's house to pick up the car to begin the process of stripping the engine bay for a simple shave and K-swap.
The funny thing about RC Chacon is that he's not a fan of "simple." Instead, he prefers to create something that will grab people's attention. Mike recalls, "The whole bay was stripped along with the interior quick. It was at this point that RC and I started talking about painting the entire car, inside and out, since the car was completely stripped anyway, and would probably never be that way again."
In May of '15 the build continued, but a chance encounter during the annual Eibach Honda Meet would speed up the process considerably. "We stopped to chat at the Hondata booth and they heard RC's Garage was working on the Si. They asked if we wanted to be in their booth at SEMA. Of course, we said yes!" With a deadline now looming, the parts ordering routine became much more systematic and the wrench time drastically increased.
Not wanting to stray away from the Si's original Electron Blue, Mike enlisted Frank Rechlin, owner of IKandy Paintworks who, along with his crew (Jackie, Chris, and Jim), applied a healthy slathering of Automotive Art paint to the entire chassis both inside and out. To complement the expert paintwork and complete the refresh, a massive list of new OEM moldings and trim were ordered. A call to local parts importer, Matt of ICB Motorsport, resulted in a Backyard Special front bumper, sleek JDM side moldings, and a host of EK9 parts. Also on the ICB shopping list, in the stop and go department, were Project MU four-piston calipers and Diamond Black CE28Ns.
Much of the factory plastics and fabrics were left out of the interior equation entirely. A pair of ICB Pursuit MKI Kevlar-backed seats with Willans harnesses, wood grain Nardi wheel, and a K-Tuned billet shifter provide a taste of contrast to the flawless metal surfaces that carry the unique blue paint throughout the cabin.
Under the hood, where RC's expertise is well documented, he installed Hasport mounts to hang an internally stock K24A2 fitted with a JDL Auto Design exhaust manifold, All-In Fabrication center-feed intake manifold, and Garrett GT35R. Turbosmart's Hypergate wastegate and blow-off valve combo handle excessive pressure release duties, while ID-1000 injectors and a K-Tuned fuel pressure regulator control the thirst. All of the action is managed by Hondata's K-Pro 4 and boost controller, which communicate via Rywire's precision Mil-spec harness. As if to add yet another dimension to a build that already flirts with multiple styles, select parts were chosen for chrome plating and the aging hardware was pulled in favor of Downstar Inc., who provided a comprehensive collection of bolts and washers to keep everything together.
With SEMA just a month away, Mike's Si was sure to meet the deadline. That is, until RC's Garage was broken into and his entire tool collection was stolen. Despite the setback, RC made due with borrowed tools and no sleep, and the project was loaded onto the trailer at 1 a.m. on the same day it was due in Vegas. Exhausted, the two made the drive to SEMA, only to narrowly avoid a complete disaster when a trailer strap failed. The long hours and non-stop work paid off, however, with the debut a success and show-goers amazed by the result.
After having hit the restart button twice on this '99 Civic Si, Mike couldn't be happier with the finished product. He adds, "Having my car debut at SEMA was an absolute dream come true, one of the best experiences of my life. Since then, we've hit four shows and have taken seven trophies with three Best of Show awards. We even traveled to Florida from Arizona for Wek'fest and took home Car of the Festival."