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Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX

Paying respect to one of the G.O.A.T. with a K24-powered restomod you could be lucky enough to own.

Rodrez
Sep 17, 2020
Photographer: Yerral Vargas-Lopez

Other than the obvious meticulous color-coordination that peppers every square inch of this 2000 Honda Civic DX hatchback, its relation to the late, great Kobe Bryant isn't completely clear, at least from a distance. Talk to its builder, @ghostboyaki, however, and things clear up in rather short order.

2000 Honda Civic DX CTR Style Front Lip Photo 16/16   |   Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX

If you're not familiar with the name, Aki is the man behind the Keep Gunnin YouTube channel—an outlet dedicated to building Hondas out of a modest 500sq-ft. garage in Yonkers, NY, and bringing viewers along for the ride. Documenting the process of building and assembling everything from engines to suspension, wiring to interiors and more, he's established himself as a community leader with a fiercely loyal fanbase.

Much of Aki's YouTube channel success is due to the builds he creates—with help, of course, from his friend and experienced mechanic, Trappy, along with parttime worker/fulltime ladies man, 40. In addition, the attention to detail and keeping the audience informed of everything happening, including assembly secrets, various pitfalls to avoid, proper tools—right down to showcasing actual part numbers, which in turn have molded his channel's library into a point-of-reference of sorts for enthusiasts tackling their personal builds.

This all comes on the heels of a drag racing career that was highlighted by a comeback after retirement that resulted in countless 1st-place finishes and the very first 99mm crank All Motor car to run 8s. Aki adds, "I vowed and promised back in 2016 that I'd save the dying All Motor Class and we did that collectively, with help from Jamie Marsh and 4Piston Racing."

2000 Honda Civic DX Keep Gunnin Rear Bumper Diffuser Photo 16/16   |   Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX

Since that whirlwind of All Motor battles and record setting, Aki stepped away from competition and his focus now is his channel and educating enthusiasts while piecing together complete Honda builds that, upon completion, are given away. That's right, after putting countless hours and plenty of money into builds like this Kobe tribute, fans have a chance to own the car, free and clear, by purchasing limited apparel through the Keep Gunnin website between Sept. 18th and the 25th, which includes a ticket for a chance to win. In addition, regardless of where you're located, Aki takes care of delivery on this one, so even if you're not on the East coast, it'll ship to your driveway.

Who Doesn't Love a Bright Yellow 6th Gen. Hatch?
M&M Honda EK9
Spoon styled '99 hatchback

Back in February, Aki's channel gave away a 600-plus hp 5th-gen. hatchback he'd built for the channel and not long after that a fully built all motor B-series long block as he simultaneously began digging into this once completely stock, automatic transmission Civic EJ hatchback. The process began on May 25th and is now 100-percent complete, with the final test drive to back that up.

2000 Honda Civic DX Keep Gunnin Kobe Bryant Tribute Sticker Photo 16/16   |   Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX

Getting back to what prompted a Civic build dedicated to one of basketball's greatest icons, Aki states, "Kobe has been my hero since I can remember. He's given me a mentality to live by—I even tattooed his jersey on my shoulder about 7 years ago to keep me focused on working." Focus is an understatement, as the Keep Gunnin channel has been churning out multiple Kobe-build videos every week—a tall order because unless you've attempted to create, edit, and upload video content on your own, you might not understand just how time consuming the process really is.

From the beginning, the plan was clear: bright yellow CTR-inspired color-change to ditch the factory silver and a naturally aspirated K24 heart. Inside, the car would keep all of its front interior while the rear seats would be deleted. Color-coding would of course incorporate purple to contrast the yellow in classic Lakers fashion, with a healthy amount of black strategically used to offer some relief between the two bright colors.

2000 Honda Civic DX Interior Photo 16/16   |   Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX

After a complete teardown, the Civic's wheel wells and belly were degreased, sanded and undercoated and Aki and Trappy built a custom dolly to roll the bare shell on to a trailer and transport to the local paint and body experts at Sassone Auto Body for the paint makeover. Back at Aki's garage, all of the original grey interior panels and carpet were thoroughly cleaned and prepped for black interior dye—a time consuming process that paid off in the end with the OEM pieces looking factory fresh. Custom purple fixed-back Status seats with yellow trim were brought in and a Sparco steering wheel that Aki had been eyeing at his main parts provisions outlet, Tristate Motorsports, finally made its way to the cabin. Probably not what you'd expect from a street car, especially at the hands of a long-time drag racer, but the interior result is absolutely immaculate and rivals that of a dedicated show car.

Under the hood, as clean as the overall look and execution is, it's not all fluff, as the stock block K24, fitted with a 4Piston Racing Pro156 head and Skunk's Tuner 2 cams had no problem pumping out 282hp, 191 lbs.-ft. of torque at the hands of Aki's go-to tuner, Jamie Marsh.

2000 Honda Civic DX K24A Swap Photo 16/16   |   Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX

Well organized and sporting a number of powder-coated parts courtesy of Powdercoatnation914, the engine bay gains considerable visual depth by way of its carefully selected color palette, varying textures and obsessively routed AN lines, broken up only by touches of Downstar Inc. purple hardware scattered throughout not only the bay, but the entire chassis. Additional space on the cold side is granted by one-off floating headlight brackets created from scratch by Elite Paint & Performance, who also mounted the ultra-compact CSF Radiator and aligned the car's body panel gaps to insure proper fitment.

2000 Honda Civic DX Circuit Racing Wheels 01 Photo 16/16   |   Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX

Twenty-year old suspension has no place on a build of this level and all of the major players, like the shocks and springs, LCAs, ball joints, upper arms, etc., have been replaced with brand new versions and the original hubs substituted with Karcepts larger 36mm option to work with factory axles. Frozen purple powdercoat was used on 16-in. Circuit Racing wheels that emulate '98-spec ITR wheels and maintain the original 4-lug pattern yet offer a much better offset—ideal for the 225/45 Toyo R888.

The power of editing really allows a channel's build to go start to finish without a single hiccup, but that's just not Aki's style. When things went wrong during the build, viewers knew because he remained transparent during the entire process—something we rarely see from the YouTube universe. From the almost comical coolant system air pocket that tested Aki and Trappy's patience, to the on-dyno discovery by Jamie Marsh that VTEC engagement had managed to remain locked in the high-cam position and required a shallow dive back into the engine to rectify, you're in the shop with them for the complete experience.

2000 Honda Civic DX Aerocatch Hood Pins Photo 16/16   |   Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX

There are hundreds of YouTube channels that showcase builds, especially Hondas, but very few go to the lengths that Aki and Keep Gunnin do to directly educate builders, and even fewer are building giveaway cars to this sort of standard.

2000 Honda Civic DX CTR Taillight Photo 16/16   |   Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX
2000 Honda Civic DX Type R Style Front Lip Photo 16/16   |   Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX
By Rodrez
921 Articles
Ultimate Gunner Giveaway: Kobe Bryant Tribute Build 2000 Honda Civic DX
Tuning Menu
Car: 2000 Honda Civic DX
Builder: GhostBoyAki
Occupation: Automotive YouTube Content Creator
Engine: K24A swap; Hasport EKK2 mounts; 4Piston Racing Pro156 head, oil pump kit; Ferrea valvetrain; Skunk2 Tuner 2 cams; RBC cam gear w/.40 pin; Skunk2 Ultra 2L center-feed intake manifold; Ross Racing 90mm throttle body; Myers custom header; SpoonFab custom 3-in. exhaust system; Vibrant piping, V-bands, clamp holders; Grams dual 340lph fuel pumps, dual pump hanger, fuel pressure regulator; Southbay 1,000cc injectors; TSM fuel pressure gauge; K-Tuned VSS, coolant components; CSF radiator; Spal radiator fan; Downstar Inc. engine bay hardware; powder coated subframe, valve cover, timing cover, transmission case; Vein Stands titanium bolt kit; Hondata KPro V3; new OEM wiring harness; Hybrid Racing conversion harness
Transmission: K20Z3 trans; carbon synchros; Action Clutch Ironman sprung clutch kit, aluminum flywheel; OEM 36mm axles
Suspension Skunk2 Pro ST coilovers, front/rear lower control arms and camber kits, rear shock tower bar; TSM race compliance bushings; new OEM ball joints; Karcepts 36mm hubs, extended wheel studs
Braking: Stash Auto brake line tuck kit with proportioning valve; StopTech cross-drilled/slotted rotors; EBC "Yellow Stuff" pads; Karcepts 36mm hubs w/extended studs
Wheels & Tires: 16x7 +35 Circuit Racing wheels; 225/45 Toyo Tires R888; 10mm rear wheel spacers
Exterior: Complete color change; Civic Type R side mirrors, rear spoiler, front/rear emblems, headlights, taillights; LED headlight kit; CTR-style front lip; Keep Gunnin rear bumper diffuser; Aerocatch hood pins
Thank you to: Samir & Scarlett (my children), Michelle Vega, ALL the Gunners, Trappy, Vicky, Manny, Desiree, Tristate Motorsports, Action Clutch, Elite Garage, 4 Piston Racing, Vein Stands, Jamie Marsh, Spoon860, Status Seats, Downstar Inc., PowderCoatNation914, Sassone Auto Body, Zeus, Stash Auto, Skunk2 Racing, K-Tuned, Hasport, CSF Radiators, Grams Performance

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