When Nobuyuki Hamada bought his championship white Civic Type R eighteen years ago, few believed it would still be in his possession. Yet here it sits, all but with a fresh slathering of Honda's yellow S2000 pigment sprayed across its hide, a heavily modified laundry list of aftermarket additions on file, and Hamada-san happily at the helm... at times.
But we'll get to that portion of the equation momentarily, because right now we need to focus on the value of permanence and perseverance. In an aftermarket arena where enthusiasts typically change their vehicles as often as their underwear, the notion of a single owner Civic is freakin' mind-boggling, not to mention the sensation people get when they witness something like this hardcore EK9 blasting past them on the interstate.
Originally purchased to satiate Hamada-san's unquenchable thirst for circuit racing, the white-hot hatch began its metamorphosis as a platform for street/touge racing and little else. After a few key tweaks, and several years of hounding the little B-series around town, life was good for the performance-focused fanatic, all the way up until one fateful miss-shift on the road to Autopolis Circuit, which caused the engine to grenade in '06.
This would mark the first time the vehicle's powertrain would be rebuilt by M&M Honda, which returned a far more "back to factory build" than an all-out overhaul. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, while en route to yet another track, a poorly aligned shift selection sent the freshly rebuilt block spiraling into the seventh level of hell once more, and Hamada-san's bank account into freefall.
Instead of going with the tried and true OEM approach this time around, Hamada-san opted to go with M&M Honda's suggestion of opting for a full-blown Toda Racing build, and then throwing some 50mm individual throttle bodies at the four-banger, along with an overbored block that crested 1.8-liter levels. This proved to be quite a beneficial move, and before long, Hamada-san was back to having more fun on the road course than ever before, as he consistently found himself setting personal best times at the local circuit.
Along the way, Hamada-san outfitted his Civic with a C-West bumper and J's Racing fenders, the latter of which were retired in favor of a 75mm M&M Honda Hyper widebody kit. Once modified, he went about making the Civic street legal, which proved to be a bit of a daunting task due to the vehicle's newfound proportions and performance upgrades. Luckily, the suits down at the local "DMV" were feeling lenient that day, and before long, Hamada-san had a hot hatch that he could legally drive to the track once more.
But just when everything was beginning to look peachy, yet another miss-shift blasted the freshly built B-series back to Hades once more. Back to the drawing board, both Hamada-san and his shop aimed to make this third engine as bulletproof as possible. M&M Honda recommended stroking the B-series until it reached 1.9-liter echelon status, with specialized Toda cylinder sleeves and oversized pistons serving as the forged cornerstones.
Unfortunately, Hamada-san continued to work and live in Tokyo, which is nowhere near M&M Honda, a company that remains headquartered in Fukuoka - almost 2,000 kilometers away. Being that the shop is almost a thirteen hour drive away, visitation rights were limited to say the least, meaning that the past two years have been a bit tumultuous for both the vehicle's owner and the shop itself. The entire time the car was getting re-tuned and race prepped, it remained unseen, and according to M&M Honda, Hamada-san hasn't even driven the Civic since its most recent overhaul.
Fast forward to today, and the longtime Type R enthusiast still waits patiently for his beloved EK9 to return to him, fully entrusting the team down in Fukuoka to make all the right moves for him. It's almost as if he were a vacant landlord, who wholeheartedly entrusts a crew of well paid specialists to keep the grounds in good order until the day the master of the house returns for his most prized possession. You cannot help but wonder if there is some level of separation anxiety at play here, what with the fact that the car has and always will belong to a single, utterly devout individual.
But Hamada-san doesn't seem to mind all that much as he nonchalantly allows his precious hatchback to receive one upgrade after another in his absence, and just cuts a check every month or so. While future plans for the vehicle may revolve around swapping the front calipers to an AP Racing setup, you get the feeling that M&M Honda is extremely close to completing this EK9, and after almost twenty years on the operating table, it's about damn time.
So while absenteeism isn't for everyone and a hands-on approach may appear more appealing, the fact that this ITB-filled hatchback and its owner are still bound together by law is an amazing accomplishment. It's a testament to the fact that when solid craftsmanship, undying dedication, and an unorthodox direction rekindle a man's dreams and a machine's capabilities, there's no telling how far the two of them will be able to take it.