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1992 Honda Civic Hatchback

Reborn From the Ashes

Jimmy Louis
Jun 1, 2002 SHARE

Getting a car featured in the pages of Super Street magazine is not as easy as it may seem. Many times it takes months, sometimes years (and sometimes never) to get in the book. Sometimes it just takes begging and bribery. Sometimes you have a really hot car, and it gets featured right away. Rudy Ramirez has gone to all the above extremes to get past the velvet rope, including completely destroying his car and rebuilding it. We like that type of enthusiasm.

The car you see on these pages started out humbly enough as a white '92 Honda Civic CX, relegated to grocery duty by the mom of the house. It was purchased for the sole reason that the Civic was good on gas mileage and still able to haul a day's worth of shopping. As you know in the world of Super Street, these types of vehicles very rarely go unmolested.

After borrowing the car from mom and getting his ass handed to him on a regular basis by little old ladies on electric scooters, Rudy got fed up and decided to part with his hard-earned cashola and turn mom's car into a snarling, tire-baking race monster. The only drawback was that the original 1.5L motor suffered from a serious case of the "no-goes." After contacting a good friend at a shop called Speed Garage, Rudy decided that a new lump was definitely the first order of business. So out went the old 1.5L paperweight and in went a fresh B18C. That's when 13.5-second timeslips became a reality, as did consistent Top Ten finishes in the Battle of the Imports in 1995.

Soon enough, going in a straight line became old hat for Mr. Ramirez. The show circuit was calling his name in a big way, and he was sworn to answer it. The car was painted silver-blue, graphics were added, and show duty began. This is where "JDM Sniffer" Wong first came across the car. But as fate would have it, no sooner had business cards exchanged hands than tragedy struck. Two days before the car's first appointed photo shoot, Rudy was rear-ended by an import-hating old lady in a '69 Mustang. But wait, the story gets better. The very next day the car was hit again, but this time in the front by another old lady who was reading Car Craft while driving. Because of all the modifications on the car, the insurance company would have no part in fixing it. This is where the begging and pleading came in. Rudy, who was in the process of putting the car back together with the help of A&R Autobody Shop and Chase Auto, went to seek the aid of Peter Han of Han Auto Trends for guidance and assistance.

Peter, in his infinite wisdom, saw potential in the twisted metal that used to be Rudy's mom's bag-toter, and hence a prototype nine-piece wide-body kit was designed for it. The kit was designed with a Euro flair, not unlike the touring cars that frequent the Nürburgring and Brand's Hatch. The body kit was molded to the sheetmetal to make it baby-smooth, while a carbon-fiber hood and rear roof spoiler from Fiber Images, Spoon carbon-fiber mirrors, and a Goodridge racing-style gas cap were added to round out the DTM look. A Wings West three-piece rear spoiler was also added to spice up the package. The car was then shot with many coats of a custom shade of red, and Cookie Graphics of Los Angeles laid on the vinyl. What touring car would be complete without a set of big wheels to stuff under the wheelwells? Rolling duties were entrusted to a set of 18-inch Racing Hart CP10s wrapped in Nitto rubber. Custom one-off Sway Away coilovers with Eibach springs help close up the wheel gap, and a prototype set of Stillen brakes help bring everything to a halt after jaunting around all day at the speed of sound.

Now remember, this used to be a race car, so there is still some go in this show. Rudy retained the B18C motor with its Type R cams, valve cover, and internals and added some increased airflow via a DC Sports header, a Nokya exhaust, and a prototype Injen polished intake system. The gang down at West Coast Racing Heads laid some serious porting on the little motor in order to further increase flow. All this newfound power is transferred to the wheels via an ACT Stage 3 heavy-duty clutch.

Since Rudy spends more time inside the car than outside, a comfortable, functional interior was also on the list. More begging and pleading led to some trick red Type R race seats from Pro Car. D. Lemos Custom Upholstery took care of the rest of the interior by slathering the rear seats, door panels, and dash with light- and dark-gray leather and vinyl. Sparco lent its hand and provided the three-point harnesses to hold Rudy in place during his bouts of spirited driving. Auto Power provided the four-point rollcage, just in case the driving becomes too spirited. A MOMO carbon-fiber-look steering wheel provides guidance, while Auto Meter gauges mounted in the front of the glovebox provide information. Rudy may be hearing impaired, but that doesn't stop him from having a killer sound system consisting of a Panasonic receiver, Pioneer coaxial speakers, and a Rockford Fosgate subwoofer powered by a Kenwood amp.

Many people have gone through extremes to get in this magazine. We've received hostage threats, bribes, car titles, and yes, even underwear (just say no to skidmarks). All Rudy had to do was completely destroy his car, spend his life savings to put it back together, and crawl on his hands and knees through broken glass to get sponsorships. Sounds easy, doesn't it?

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By Jimmy Louis
51 Articles

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