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2005 Honda Civic Sis - Honda's Forgotten Hatch...

... And the loyalists who have been behind them since Day One

Luke Munnell
May 17, 2017

If pressed to name one car that perfectly represents the import/sport compact pop-culture movement in its heyday, most of us can agree it'd be the '92-'95 EG Honda Civic hatchback. Sure, the JZA80 Toyota Supra and FD3S Mazda RX-7 were the halo cars, and the '99-'00 EM1 Civic Si or the '97-'01 DC2 Integra was what we lusted over, but the lightweight, infinitely customizable fifth-gen Civic hatch was what we had. And damned if we didn't make the most of it.

2005 honda civic sis Photo 2/25   |   2005 Honda Civic Sis

But as adequate as they were from the factory, and as great as they were for modification, there was plenty of room for improvement in their early '90s design. So when Honda announced the production of a new Civic hatch a decade later that promised to do everything better, imagine our excitement at how far enthusiasts would take it. Imagine our surprise when they didn't really like it.

2017 Honda Civic
$21,500 Base Model (MSRP) 31/40 MPG Fuel Economy

Maybe the more powerful and aggressively styled DC5 RSX — out roughly around the same time — stole the limelight, or maybe there was an early lack of interest in the new tech when the older stuff was still breaking new ground. But when Honda announced the EP3 Civic Si hatchback at the height of the import movement—with an improved 2.0L, DOHC, i-VTEC K20A3 engine (sharing attributes with the RSX Type S's more powerful K-series engine), manual transmission, independent suspension, and compact body—nothing really happened among enthusiasts. It was almost as if they hadn't figured them out — yet.

2005 honda civic sis mugen mf10 wheels Photo 6/25   |   2005 Honda Civic Sis Mugen Mf10 Wheels

Today, with a better understanding of Honda's K-series engines and increased aftermarket support, the EP3 is making a comeback. They're inexpensive, ripe for power-adders or more potent versions of the K-family (which have also come down in price), and they enjoy an underdog appeal no longer found in Civic/Integra options. Just ask Joe Pham and Jeremiah Santos—two EP3 loyalists who have seen it all over the past 12 years.

2005 honda civic si voltex type 7 gt wing Photo 7/25   |   2005 Honda Civic Si Voltex Type 7 Gt Wing

When the import craze caught fire in Southern California, Joe knew he wanted to be a part of the community. When his parents offered to help him out on the cost of his first car (something newer and reliable, they required), he tried his best to steer them toward an EM1 Civic Si coupe, but settled on a brand-new, Vivid Blue Pearl '05 Civic Si. It was his first car, and maybe not exactly what he wanted, but the gears were turning with thoughts of how to modify it.

Originally from the Philippines, Jeremiah had previously owned and built an EG Civic (B16A swap, suspension, TE37s, etc.) and had plenty of experience under his belt when he relocated to SoCal and bought his Nighthawk Black Pearl EP3, also new in '05. That year, Joe and Jeremiah modified their cars mildly—wheels, suspension, bolt-ons—and got more involved with the local scene. Joe's blue EP3 was the flashier of the two, flexing more and better brand-name parts than Jeremiah's, which was still being used for work, hauling duties, even serving as his bedroom for a couple of weeks before he and his girlfriend bought their first home together.

2005 honda civic si mugen grill Photo 11/25   |   2005 Honda Civic Si Mugen Grill

As two of a very small number of EP3 faithful, each with their own styles and set of friends, there was some "uncertainty" between the two rivals about each other. "I thought Joe was a douche at first," Jeremiah says with a laugh. "He had some gold Work VS-XX wheels while I had XXRs, and he never really talked to me." Conversely, Joe didn't think too much of Jeremiah. "We never really talked, so I just figured he was doing his thing with his own crowd."

2005 honda civic si mugen mf10 Photo 12/25   |   2005 Honda Civic Si Mugen Mf10

But as the scene brought them together, they discovered they had more in common than not. Not much later, they began hosting "install days" at each other's house, where friends could hang out and work on their rides. This ultimately led to track days, family functions, and Joe and Jeremiah joining Team Ar-Kan, kicking their project cars up a notch at the same time.

Jeremiah upgraded his budget wheels and suspension for better gear; added his 'cage, seat, and safety gear; reduced weight; and improved aerodynamics. Despite his EP3s race-readiness and aggressive appearance, Jeremiah made it a point to retain its factory engine and maintain its CARB legality to continue enjoying it on the streets of California as well as at the track.

2005 honda civic si work meister s1 wheel Photo 16/25   |   2005 Honda Civic Si Work Meister S1 Wheel

Joe's approach was a bit more ... eventful. He added a Jackson Racing blower to his stock K20A3 in '08, got pinched for street racing in '09, and had the car impounded for 30 days and then "refereed"—meaning everything under the hood had to be put back to stock. After a brief cooling-off period, he re-installed the supercharger, only this time he and Jeremiah took their cars to the track, drag racing at Fontana's Auto Club Speedway and later running in Speed Venture track days at Willow Springs. His most recent upgrade involved swapping his car's original 2.0L for a 2.4L K24A2—an upgrade Jeremiah is also looking to complete on his own car in the near future.

2005 honda civic si jdm front bumper Photo 17/25   |   2005 Honda Civic Si Jdm Front Bumper

School and work for Joe, and family and work for Jeremiah (who recently welcomed his first son into the world), kept further upgrades to their EP3s on hold. Today, with a little more stability, both are looking forward to advancing their cars further. Who knows, maybe they'll finish just in time to enjoy a late boom in popularity for Honda's forgotten hatchback. Or maybe not — either way is just fine with these diehards.

2005 honda civic si k20a3 engine Photo 18/25   |   2005 Honda Civic Si K20a3 Engine
2005 honda civic si k24a2 engine Photo 25/25   |   2005 Honda Civic Si K24a2 Engine
By Luke Munnell
260 Articles
2005 Honda Civic Sis - Honda's Forgotten Hatch...
Tuning Menu
'05 Honda Civic Si
Owner: Joseph Pham
Hometown: Garden Grove, CA
Occupation: DoD Covert Operative and Munitions Contractor
Power: 260 whp; 210 lb-ft of torque
Engine: K24A2 engine; K20Z1 upper timing chain guide; K20A2 oil pump; Avid Racing 75A engine mounts; ported and polished cylinder head; Kelford Stage 1 camshafts; port-matched RBC intake manifold; Karcepts 70mm RBC adapter; Skunk2 70mm throttle body; ARC Super Induction Box; Buddy Club race header; custom 2.5" mid-pipe with Vibrant Performance Ultra Quiet resonator; Spoon Sports N1 axle-back exhaust, baffled oil pan; TracTuff VTC limiter; Circuit Hero lower timing chain guide; Hybrid Racing fuel rail; 650cc RC injectors, plug and play clips; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Password:JDM battery relocation kit; Odyssey PC680 slim battery
Drivetrain: Carbon-fiber synchros; MFactory limited-slip differential; Russell stainless steel clutch line; Clutch Masters FX400 six-puck clutch, 11.5-pound flywheel
Engine Management: Hondata K-Pro ECU; tuned by Church Automotive
Footwork & Chassis: Buddy Club Racing Spec Damper coilovers; Sankei 555 tie-rod ends; Tegiwa steering arm bracket; DC Sports titanium upper front strut bar; SPC Performance rear camber kit; EM2 front sway bar; 22mm Progress rear sway bar; Omni Power rear lower control arms; Beaks rear lower tie bar; Mr. Alex rear upper strut bar, rear C-pillar bar; Mugen-style rear H bar; Cusco six-point rollcage, B-pillar bars, lateral bars
Brakes: Buddy Club front big brake kit, front street pads, stainless steel lines; StopTech Stage 2 rear brake rotors, pads, stainless steel lines
Wheels & Tires: 17x7" +38 Mugen MF10 chrome-dipped wheels; 205/40R17 Toyo Proxes R888R tires; ARP extended studs; Project Kics R40 extended open-end lug nuts
Exterior: JDM front bumper, orange side markers, emblems; Mugen grille, front lip, license plate bolts, metal emblem; Tegiwa front canards; ARC EK9 winglets; TOP1 Motors front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser; VIS carbon-fiber Mugen-style hood, wing; Carbon Creations carbon-fiber trunk; 1,600mm Voltex Type 7 GT wing; custom wing mount and bracket; DEPO projector headlights; F1-style rear brake light
Interior: Mugen Race steering wheel, steering wheel boss, pedals, shift knob, shift warning badge; Status Racing Ring bucket seats, side mounts; Planted seat brackets; Sparco sliders; Takata four-point harnesses; JDM trash can, shift boot; Pioneer AppRadio 3 head unit, back-up camera; Louis Vuitton door panels
'05 Honda Civic Si
Owner: Jeremiah Santos
Hometown: Costa Mesa, CA
Occupation: CIA Intelligence Analyst and Field Asset
Engine: K20A3 engine; ARC intake; JR header; custom straight-through exhaust; polished valve cover and engine peripherals
Drivetrain: Buddy Club short shifter; mirror-polished shift knob
Footwork & Chassis: Buddy Club Racing Spec Damper coilovers; DC Sports upper front strut bar; Beaks rear lower tie bar; Progress 24mm rear antiroll bar, tie bar, rear lower control arms; custom rear lower trunk braces, rollcage, rear upper strut bar
Brakes: Cross-drilled rotors
Wheels & Tires: 17x8" Work Meister S1 wheels; 235/40R17 Toyo Proxes R1R tires
Exterior: EP3 Civic Type R front-end conversion; Mugen front lip spoiler, air duct, hood, rear wing; HFP side skirts; custom fender flares; Ubeymade rear diffuser, canards
Interior: Bride Zeta III seats

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