Honda's third-generation Civic and first-generation Integra occupy a fuzzy realm within the brand's history, where it began moving away from things like torsion bar front suspensions and mechanical injection in favor of double-wishbone-configured shocks and on-board diagnostics. Globally speaking, both models were in as much a state of flux as the company was. Want a carbureted CRX? No problem. How about a fuel-injected one with pre-OBD electronics? We've got those, too. To be sure, it's within both of these models that Honda had indeed found itself.
Today, it's those same antiquated underpinnings, though, that make cars like Honda's '86 Civic Si and Acura's '88 Integra SE so special, both of which Steffen Johnson and Rodney Auyeung understand better than you know.
Neither Johnson nor Auyeung are vintage Honda newcomers. Each began their build at a time when general consensus said that modifying anything other than an early '90s Honda was a false step, and neither one of them cared. Johnson, who'd already owned a similar Si some 28 years ago, was sentimentally motivated to make another one his when he'd happen across a likeminded Si in 2004. "After a few months of me pestering the owner," he says, "I was able to purchase the one-owner car for a great price."
Auyeung didn't have to wait three months for his; his Integra was ready for him 13 years before he even wanted it. "[The] car's been in the family since new," Auyeung says. "My father's cousin bought it in 1987, put it up for sale in 1992, and my dad bought [it], daily drove it, and turned it over to me in 2000."
Johnson and Auyeung, like many from the '80s-era Honda ownership pool, quickly became friends, both going on to execute their own B-series engine swaps and to fit generation-specific Mugen wheels to their respective prizes. Here, retaining period-correct status is key, but the balance is a careful one; one that Johnson's '92 B18A1 engine and Auyeung's first-generation GS-R swap almost disrupt. Almost.
Doing all of this the right way isn't easy, either. "Finding those rare JDM OEM parts for this chassis back then was hard but provided great gratification when found," Auyeung says before also going on to tell of how he purchased what he believes was the last set of factory window trim Honda of America had to sell.
Johnson won't argue with any of that: "The hardest thing about working on this chassis was to find parts for it," he says. "JDM [and] EDM parts were really hard to come by. I had to go on the Internet, research everything I wanted, and hopefully find someone willing to part with [them]."
Just like the cars' beam-axle rear suspensions and pre-OBD electronics that command your nostalgia, the pursuit of the rightful parts is every bit as satisfying, and exactly what makes Honda's '80s classics more special now than ever.