Sifting through some event coverage that had just been sent over from Thailand, our track pad swiping fingers lifted the instant we noticed a Civic EG doing a nasty rear-wheel-drive burnout. A closer look revealed it wasn't one of the standard swaps that, for a few decades now, so many Honda enthusiasts have pieced together in their garage during a weekend wrench-a-thon. Furthermore, it wasn't a slick reimagining of Honda's S2000 drivetrain layout picked apart and transferred to a bubbly hatchback. No, it was something we—and we're pretty sure you—haven't seen before.
Wanchai Padthamang is the owner of this '93 hatchback, and he doesn't have a long list of Civic and Integra builds sprawled across his resume. Instead, he's gone through a number of rear-wheel-drive projects. The idea for this wild, V-8-powered build was born out of a little disbelief mixed with a healthy serving of vengeance. While Wanchai was taking part in a local Gymkhana event, things were going great until his 700hp, 2JZ-swapped Nissan S13 had its proverbial lunch eaten by a naturally aspirated Civic. "I felt the Civic EG body was much more agile and lighter with its NA setup compared to my 180SX, so I chose the EG body on those merits," he recalls. "To me, it's different and more challenging than using common sports car platforms like the Supra, Silvia, or Skyline."
His research into building a Civic of his own began immediately, and he found the mid-'90s hatchback wheelbase is actually longer than his previously mentioned 180SX, making it ideal for the sort of drift activities he enjoys taking part in. The only problem being that smoking the front tires while the car's ass dragged behind him wasn't his idea of a good time. The plan to convert it to rear-wheel drive would, of course, include a new powerplant, but rather than settling for a K-series swap and power-adders, Wanchai opted for something far more potent right out of the box: Toyota's 3UZ VVT. He explains, "Honda engines have small displacement, and if you need a high-horsepower setup, you'll need to invest a lot of money. Then there is the durability issue. I also wanted something different and an engine with which I was more familiar."
Found under the hood of various Lexus and Toyota Crown models, the all-aluminum 4.3L V-8 is compact enough to cuddle between the shoulders of Honda's most commonly swapped Civic chassis. The sizable gap you see between the EG's front core support and the front of the 3UZ was intentional in order to push the engine further back—part of Wanchai's plan to find that perfect weight balance. "The current weight is 1,100 kilograms (2,425 pounds) but, as we speak, the car is being weight reduced. The aim is to hit 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds) and close to a 50/50 weight balance through carefully placing components and corner weight balancing."
To gain those precious inches and set the V-8 and its 350Z six-speed transmission further back uninterrupted, the Civic's firewall was modified and, admittedly, the metal massaging on the firewall isn't the prettiest, but it wasn't intended to be. The sole purpose behind shoehorning those mighty eight cylinders in place of the original gas-sipping four-banger is strictly in the name of performance. To that end, the radiator (which you no doubt noted is missing from the grille opening) has actually been relocated to the rear underside of the vehicle, just above the titanium dual exhaust that exits under the center of the bumper.
One of the reason's the 3UZ swap fits so well and with room to spare, is because other than the pie-cut intake tubing that feeds the beast, almost everything else under the hood has been moved or deleted entirely. Stare a little harder and you might notice the shock towers aren't native to this chassis. In order to meet the demands of the 4.3L and to once again work with something he was very familiar with, Wanchai grafted in Nissan S14 suspension and chassis mounts up front to work in conjunction with S13 suspension counterparts in the rear. TunerConcept coilovers, various adjustable suspension arms, and custom "drift-friendly" knuckles all help to dial in the one-of-a-kind setup.
Power is nothing without control, and squeezing 18x11 rear wheels wrapped in 265-series tires under the arches of a fifth-gen Civic without Back to the Future-spec camber dimensions wouldn't be possible without a widebody treatment. Karn Fiber of Thailand provided the girth needed to make it happen. Screwed into place, the add-ons are easy to replace when the inevitable happens during drift encounters, and a modular, chrome blue vinyl wrap ensures that even the aesthetic downtime is minimal.
As with any good competition vehicle, even the most basic of interior amenities were ditched in order to continue the weight loss program. The original dash and door panels were replaced by featherweight carbon-fiber versions, and you'll find little more than a set of bucket seats and a fuel cell—all surrounded by a system of bars that make up the custom 'cage for a worst-case scenario.
More corner balancing and additional weight removal are the priorities, but the car's already been let loose at a few events with Wanchai setting his sights on more Gymkhana and drift competitions and demos. The very idea of building a rear-wheel-drive Civic is unique in and of itself, but toss in Toyota's husky 3UZ, then tack on the S-chassis suspension makeover, and you get a feel for just how wild some of the builds from Thailand's booming enthusiast community really are.