The pioneers of the Honda tuning movement were a tight-lipped bunch. Nobody was taking to the forums to share things like the ins and outs of dialing in a pair of Mikunis on a non-VTEC Integra engine, and nobody was about to spend an afternoon producing YouTube videos that'd demonstrate how to do the very things that'd make whoever'd watch those videos faster than them. There were street races to be won, there was money to be made and, well, there was no Internet to do any of that anyway.
Things might've been different back then if more guys thought like Daniel Stoicescus. And if there was an Internet. "Teaching young guys who are just learning, supporting friends who are pros, and being surrounded by great people who come together as a community for fun as well as for support in times of crisis." Those are the sort of things Daniel says drive him. That and the culmination of a K-swapped and turbocharged Civic hatchback he built on his own.
Daniel's used to building Civics like this on his own. He's owned nearly 30 of them, has been doing it for 20 years, and learned what he has through trial and error. And the Internet. "I picked friends' brains [and used] YouTube and Google to learn what I could until I got to where I could build a Civic [from the] bottom up," he says. It's what's motivated Daniel to go so far as to start his own YouTube channel — Vasile Garage — where he helps others learn from his successes, and even his mistakes. It's all a stark contrast to the Honda-tuning pioneer ethos, and that's OK.
When Daniel says he built this Civic on his own, he means it. Every bit of the magic happened right at his Arkansas home where he's done everything from paint Civics to rebuild a 450hp LS-VTEC engine, neither of which he wishes local law enforcement knew anything about, though. "I'd gotten ticketed by the city several times for painting in my garage and running a shop out of the house," he says, which meant the bones of his latest buildup had to be solid to begin with. And for that, he was willing to make a 2,000-mile round trip. "I wanted an EG for weight, and an Si was one of the few Civics I hadn't had," Daniel says.
"It was important to me that the body be nearly perfect," he goes on to say. "It let me start clean so from there I could enjoy customizing it and doing the fun stuff instead of tediously sandpapering and spraying and, more importantly, avoid code enforcement."
Avoiding code enforcement doesn't mean Daniel didn't have his way with the 24-year-old Honda, though. Every area's been touched. There's a K20A2 swap underneath the hood that's been turbocharged by way of Comp Turbo. The underside's got help from Spoon Sports and K-Tuned. There's a pair of Sparco seats inside, the right amount of carbon fiber outside, and TE37s all around. And there's never anything wrong with TE37s. It's a recipe that, for Daniel, has been two decades in the making and dates back to a $900 CRX that put him through his paces. "I was a broke kid working two jobs while I was still in high school to help my parents make the bills, so all I could afford at the time was an '88 CRX DX with a blown head gasket," Daniel says, whose family left Romania for the U.S. when he was 16. "I drove that car for two years, adding water to it after every race because I didn't know how to fix it and didn't have the money to do so." It's called character building, kids, and it's what helped teach Daniel all he knows.
It's also, in part, what's motivated Daniel to give back by way of uploading the sort of videos he wishes he had as he'd watch that CRX's water-temp needle edge toward the dangerous side of hot. It's a maxim he lives by and one he makes known right smack-dab on the front of his valve cover. "It's a reference to [the Bible verse]," Daniel says, "an analogy, not just about winning races, but about winning at life, helping others, returning the blessings I've been given, and pointing others to the one to whom I owe it all."
And Another One...
This isn't the first time you've met Daniel. His white K-swapped EJ hatch was featured in January '15. Will there be a third feature in the coming years? We think so!