If you had seen Nick Higgins' Civic hatchback in its previous form, you'd think most would've stopped there. Project's done; it doesn't get any better. Fashioned after the popular kanjo style made famous by underground street racers in Osaka, it was equipped with enough JDM EF9 goods to make you think it was actually fresh off the streets of Japan. Looks to thrill, powered with a semi-built B16A outfitted with ITBs, it's the sort of build old-school Honda enthusiasts go wild for (including me). And then, one day, Nick decided to redo it from scratch.
But this isn't purely a simple story of one rebuilding a car for the sake of doing so. The purpose behind it has far greater sentimental value to Nick. What began as a quest to prep a car for time-attack racing eventually became his motivation to push forward in all aspects of life despite having to face two of the most troubling times in his life: the loss of his parents.
"I'm not their biological child, but they always treated me as if I was," he explains. "They fostered me from infancy and raised me to be the man I am today. They didn't have to, but their conscious decision to provide a better life for me opened up so many opportunities. Every step of the way throughout the process of my build, they were there cheering me on."
Though they were alive to see Nick complete the first phase of his Civic build, their passing shortly after and only 10 months apart from one another took a significant toll on his well-being. He felt lost without inspiration and missed his most important support network, so the project was put on hold for some time. "I lost the motivation, drive, and passion," he says. "Not just for cars, but life in general."
Nick quickly fell into a dark place, but he later realized that tragedy in life could only make him stronger. He channeled the negative energy and used it in a positive way to help him cope, rebuild his life, and complete his build. "That's why this car is so important to me; it's very sentimental," Nick says. "By completing it, I've been able to show everyone all the hard work that's been put into it. It feels amazing to have that passion for my craft back and to be motivated once again."
The chassis was torn all the way down and prepped for pristine show condition, ready for track action once the car reaches full completion. A new custom eight-point roll cage was fabricated by Janke Motorsports to add rigidity to the frame, and in the engine bay now sits a fully built K24 in place of the B16A with an all-new wiring setup by Rywire. It was yet another challenge Nick issued to himself, to break away from the classic B-series setup and see how far he could take a larger-displacement K-series, which EF owners normally tend to shy away from. It will be some time before the car hits the track, but we have high hopes it will turn decent lap times and put its new power to good use. Nick says there's even the possibility of seeing some type of forced induction, either in the form of a turbo or supercharger, in the near future.
When we saw this Civic at Spocom this past summer, we were floored by the amount of care and detail that went into it, crafted by a true artisan who knows how to bring his vision of automotive perfection to reality. Looking at it, you couldn't have known how deep the pain was for Nick and how much it motivated him, especially when it involved dealing with the loss of two of the most important people in his life.
"It's easy to paint your parents as a symbol of inspiration, which is true for me," Nick adds. "They encouraged me by showing me hard work can take you anywhere. I'm so thankful for them, and I'm honored to be their son. It's why this build means so much to me. It taught me so much about life and death, and myself. And for as long as I have this car, it will always be a special reminder to grow, persevere, work hard, and overcome hardship. I know they're looking down and are proud of me."