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2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

How the World's First Type R-swapped 10th-Gen Honda Civic Coupe Was Born

Micah Wright
Dec 13, 2019
Photographer: Luke Munnell

"Profound belief in something allows every individual to find an immense inner force, and to overcome his or her failings. "
- Soichiro Honda

2017 Honda Civic Si Custom Rear Wing 01 Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

Like millions of other babies born each year, the world's first K20C1-swapped 10th-generation Civic Coupe was conceived by accident. Despite being a senior engineer at Honda R&D, Kevin Boehm had to wait in line just like the rest of us for his chance to get the new Civic Type R. Eight months ahead of the FK8 Type R's release, Kevin learned picking up his own Type R hatchback would be problematic, and parts were looking like they would be extremely difficult to source. So, Kevin conducted a lengthy round of research, drafted up a proposal, and presented it to Honda Racing and Honda Performance Development (HPD). With a green light from the higher-ups, a one-off grassroots race car based on the Civic Si coupe and powered by the heart of the new Type R suddenly didn't seem so inconceivable, or so one might think.

To make sure Kevin's new project was going to be born on time, he was going to have to make the magic happen after work and on the weekends. After studying every conceivable difference between the Civic Si Coupe and the new Type R, he secured a shell and shipped it over to a preferred Honda fabricator. Kevin then located a '17 Civic Si donor, which, within a week, was picked clean of its core components.

2017 Honda Civic Si K20C1 CTR Swap Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

With Kevin's household supply of Ziploc bags disappearing almost daily due to all the reused bolts and whatnot, home life began bearing the brunt of the build. Cleanliness was also becoming a concern, since the living room could no longer be vacuumed or dusted due to the car's wiring harness being spread out across the floor. Meanwhile, back at the office, the 'caged shell's interior was getting powdercoated, with OEM suspension and Kevin's modified wiring harness following thereafter. Then it was time for a bath, followed by a heated windshield and Lexan quarter and rear windows, which Kevin tells us he installed himself.

2017 Honda Civic Si Custom Rear Wing 02 Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

Things were moving along at a nice pace, all the way up until the Ohio native realized he had a huge problem. Although the pilot motor for the entire HPD K20C1 crate engine program was definitely at the top of the wish list, requests for other Type R parts seemed to be going unanswered.

2017 Honda Civic Si Recaro Seat Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

Take the transmission for example: Finding a gearbox for an unreleased vehicle is damn near impossible. Kevin had to order individual Type R six-speed components and then assemble the entire transmission himself. No easy task by any means! Another issue arose when he realized there was no way of securing the engine. Waiting on custom Hasport mounts seemed like an eternity.

When the mounts did arrive, an RV6 Performance downpipe and one-off turbo-back exhaust were installed, at which point ACUiTY Instruments showed up on the scene. The ACUiTY team brought a prototype shifter and a custom air intake, which Kevin tells us dramatically improved intake air temperature and wastegate efficiency.

2017 Honda Civic Si Wedsport TC 105X Wheel Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

DIY modifications were plentiful and included a front splitter and rear wing to boost grip. The axles were homemade as well. Kevin explains that in order to make everything work, he had to first disassemble axles from both vehicles, cut the axle bars in two, measure them to the correct length, and then weld the Type R inboard half to the Si portion.

2017 Honda Civic Si GEMS GDi80 ECU Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

By this point, it had been six months since Kevin started creating his Type R Coupe conversion; it was finally time to go racing. With the car moving under its own power for the first time and the inaugural race just a mere week away, Kevin's unique offspring was right on time for delivery.

This first race landed Kevin a Second Place win, and, over the course of the 2017 season, three SCCA First Place titles were accrued, along with Second Place finishes in two of the six remaining races. However, after qualifying Second for the national championship, issues during the race prevented the car from finishing, one of the most disappointing moments of Kevin's racing career. Months of patience, research, networking, hard work, and hopefulness had brought him within a finger's breadth of his goal, and, just like that, it was all gone...

2017 Honda Civic Si Rear Bumper Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

While this may have motivated the Honda engineer to work even harder in 2018, the season opener ended in a mangled mess. Another driver had slammed into Kevin and another competitor after exiting the pit lane, crashing all three cars out of the race. Thousands of hours of work were all about to be toast once more, yet, miraculously, Kevin managed to reenter the grid three hours later thanks to repairs done by his crew chief of a father and close friend Clayton Hooker. From there, Kevin went on to win the second race that weekend, a triumph on many levels for both man and machine.

2017 Honda Civic Si OMP Steering Wheel Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

The victories didn't stop there, as Kevin won eight of nine races in 2018, with the only "loss" being the one when he crashed out due to competitive skullduggery. This included the SCCA National Championship race held at Sonoma Raceway, an unfamiliar track that tested Kevin's mettle immediately following his final warm-up lap. But thanks to some careful driving and a touch of luck, Kevin was able to get a massive lead early on, leaving the commentators with little more to discuss than the distant fight for Second Place.

The year 2019 brought with it a strengthened partnership with ACUiTY and a makeover from the car's OEM Energy Green paint to the teal and purple livery pictured here. Although ACUiTY has upped its support considerably in order to keep the car competitive, Kevin admits that to date he remains the sole head mechanic and driver. To further this collaboration and potentially gain a fresh audience, Kevin began competing in Gridlife Time Attack this year as well, a move we're told only required the removal of the car's turbo inlet restrictor, along with any additional weight required by SCCA standards.

2017 Honda Civic Si Front Bumper 01 Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable

High performance and loads of podium finishes in a small car that was built by an engineer who decided to achieve the inconceivable... Sound familiar? It should. These are all things that made this company a success in its infancy and an industry leader today, for "If Honda does not race, there is no Honda."

2017 Honda Civic Si ACUiTY Instruments Shifter Photo 23/23   |   2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable
By Micah Wright
70 Articles
2017 Honda Civic Si - Achieving The Inconceivable
Tuning Menu
Owner: Kevin Boehm
Hometown: Columbus, OH
Occupation: Senior Engineer, Honda R&D
Instagram: @kevinboehm
Engine: K20C1 Civic Type R engine swap; Hasport mounts; Wiseco 86mm pistons; Saenz S-Series connecting rods; RV6 Performance radiator, downpipe, exhaust; 4Piston Racing five-angle valve job; Boomba Racing custom blow-off valve; ACUiTY Instruments prototype FK8 right-side intake
Drivetrain: ACUiTY Instruments Stage 3 adjustable short shifter; Tilton Racing 7.25-inch twin-disc clutch; Quartermaster flywheel; Cusco Type RS limited slip; Custom axles; ACUiTY Instruments Esco V2 insulated shift knob prototype; Red Line Synthetic MT90 fluid
Engine Management: GEMS GDi80 ECU; MoTeC C187 data logger; custom wiring harness
Footwork & Chassis: Serial #001 Honda Racing/HPD body in white; Bilstein MDS double adjustable coilovers; H&R 60mm springs; RV6 Performance antiroll bars, spherical bushings; Honda Racing/HPD alignment kit
Brakes: StopTech 331mm calipers; Carbotec XP24 pads; Goodridge lines; Brembo Endurance calipers; custom 2.5-inch cooling ducts
Wheels & Tires: 17x9 Wedsport TC-105X wheels; 255/40ZR17 Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires
Exterior: Custom splitter, rear wing; Seibon vented carbon hood; Honda R&D paint
Interior: Custom rollcage, toggle box; powdercoated cabin; Recaro seat; Schroth six-point harness; OMP steering wheel; ACUiTY Instruments throttle pedal spacer; gutted interior; stick-on windshield defroster
Thanks: ACUiTY Instruments, Honda Racing/HPD, Carbotech Brakes, Red Line Synthetic Oil, RV6 Performance, Weds Wheels, 4Piston Cylinder Heads, Cusco, Seibon Carbon, my wife/COO, my crew chief dad, my photographer/friend Clayton Hooker

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