The monotony of coasting down the highway, listening to whatever it is that keeps you from going insane during your commute, is abruptly interrupted. A rumble in the distance sharply echoes off of the concrete dividers and overpass before a convoy of cars, devoid of any conceivable ground clearance, rapidly approach. Though slathered in different paint colors and graphic schemes, five of the cars carry a very similar look, all labeled with three letters: RWB. The sixth vehicle doesn't quite fit the ensemble and the value of that particular car, in total, roughly equates to the cost of just one set of RWB flares and a massive rear wing. But monetary worth isn't what Bryson Richards, owner of this '92 Civic, ever concerned himself with when he took ownership. In fact, it's quite the opposite, as Bryson picked up this car for next to nothing and is quick to point out just how much fun the ride has been.
So how exactly did an early '90s commuter end up sandwiched between some of the most expensive builds in the enthusiast circle? Bryson tells us, "I drove the Civic with [RWB founder and designer Akira] Nakai and friends to the RWB Nashville build. There's a video of Nakai in his car and four other RWBs ... and then my Civic driving up the highway. People had all kinds of comments, not all nice, but several knew I painted the Nashville car and it seemed like the Civic got a 'pass' to be there." Getting the nod to paint the Nashville RWB car wasn't a chance offering; Bryson's shop, Classic Livery of Atlanta/WagenWerks, has painted plenty of high profile cars, including a number of Porsches, projects for FoCo Customs, BRE, IC Racing, and the list goes on and on.
Having worked with so many high-dollar cars, Bryson's been hit with his fair share of questions from friends and customers that wonder why he's put any time and effort into a Civic, rather than a sportscar. He adds, "I enjoy being an underdog and I'm not trying to make a racing career. I work on these other cars, I see what the parts cost, even for me. With four kids at home and a good home life, I keep my priorities right." If that last statement sounds at all foreign to you, it might be because you're not used to maturity. It's a thing, and it sneaks up on almost everyone.
Bryson's Civic might look like something a Honda lifer would build, but the truth is, he isn'treally a Honda guy. "I got the car for cheap because it had what they thought was a blown motor. It was a turbocharged D16 and ended up just being some loose head studs. [My friend] Wooley from S3 dared me to race the car. I was racing VWs at the time and wrecked a Jetta, so I raced the Civic and my split times at Roebling Road were faster. I was hooked."
Based on the widebody Rocket Bunny aero that you've seen plenty of times from car show coverage, your first inclination might be to assume this car only sets foot on plush red carpets, rather than the weathered tarmac. Contrary to popular belief, widebody aero can actually be used for what it was intended, and Bryson's hatch does just that. Adding a personal touch, the Ayrton Senna-inspired graphics treatment adds a little more depth to the appearance, but the objective is all business. Out back, the rear bumper has been trimmed significantly and fitted with a custom diffuser down low, while a custom wing sits atop the hatch via PCI brackets.
Bryson chose to utilize the Tra Kyoto front bumper, but slightly modified it to allow more air to smack the intercooler and help calm the temps on his B16 swap. To help maintain reliability while pushing the boosted car around the track, Wiseco Pistons and Eagle rods were chosen for the bottom half, while Supertech oversized valves fortify the top end. Schmidt Fab's turbo manifold and exhaust set up connect to the 3071r turbo that sees strict regulation by way of a Turbosmart 40mm wastegate. Helping to keep Bryson on the straight and narrow, or perhaps the windy and wide, is an EBTEC-built transmission that uses an MFactory metal plate LSD, Synchrotech carbon synchros, and in the cabin a K-Tuned shifter. Top things off with Hondata's S300 and Grams 1,200cc injectors, and you too could be making the 450whp that Bryson does.
Keeping all of that horsepower under control on a front-wheel drive platform requires a solid suspension set up and for that, Bryson went with Eibach's race-proven R2 coilovers, ASR's hollow rear sway bar, and a host of spherical bits to transform the 24-year-old suspension into something focused on intense grip rather than escorting a 20-something from school to Burger King comfortably. That's not to say the car isn't completely streetable; it's just that, well, it's a Civic with loud paint and a massive rear wing. Bryson adds, "I enjoy driving it ... only at the track. I just hate driving to the store, trying to park with the LSD, and the whole car shakes and chatters. People revving at me at lights, cops following me everywhere - it gets old." We can relate.
The pilot's quarters doesn't have fuzzy dice, a $13 JDM air freshener, or a stuffed animal strategically placed on the dash so as to match colors with the exterior. What it does have, however, is a KGMade GrandAm spec roll cage, RaceTech seats and a number of safety goods from the likes of Schroth and G-Force to make sure Bryson is good to go, no matter what the car might decide to do on track.
Read any car feature, blog entry or vehicle spotlight on social media and you're guaranteed to see something about how the owner wanted something different, built it for themselves, they love the haters, etc. Sure, that's probably the case for a few different people, but guys like Bryson Richards are wired a little different. He doesn't deny the resentment that surrounds his car of choice, or should we say his car of circumstance, and he really doesn't care. He adds, "The hardest thing about this car has been that it's a Civic and the stigma that comes with it. VTEC bruh! Braaaap! HonDUH! The rice jokes are never ending. I'm not a diehard Honda guy and they don't really bother me, but it gets old. I really enjoy the car and we hurt a lot of feelings at the track - I enjoy driving it." Maturity. It's a thing.