I've been attending SEMA for over 15 years and one thing you don't see very often are older Hondas. Let's face it, when most companies exhibiting decide which car to feature in their booth, it usually goes one of two ways: the hottest new car they can find to show off a catalog of new parts on; or a build so loud 'n ridiculous that it'll stop you in your tracks no matter who you are. A clean and tasteful EF Civic doesn't exactly fit either of these criteria, which is why it gave us a warm tingly feeling when we came across Nick Higgins' '89 Civic parked in the main outdoor show area at this year's show.
We've seen Nick's EF multiple times this year at events like Wekfest and SpoCom, but seeing it on the main stage of the world's biggest aftermarket convention made it a deserving recipient of this year's Super Street SEMA Ultimate Award presented by Meguiar's. Unlike many of the other high-dollar builds of SEMA, he has evolved his Honda over the course of almost a decade, with its latest iteration as a time attack-themed race car dedicated to his late parents. It's a car that's been put together in his own garage and built with a high level of attention to detail, while using high-quality parts. It embodies exactly what we look for in the Super Street SEMA Ultimate Award and truly is an excellent representation of our tuning community. You can read about his story in this months' cover feature, but we also caught up with him in Las Vegas to present him Top Honors.
SS: We heard this is your first-time attending SEMA... How was your experience and how was it showing your Civic?
NH: I had a great experience attending my first SEMA event! Seeing all the cars further inspired me and really made me feel so grateful to be a part of this community. Having my car at SEMA showed me a different side of the way people showed their love for the build and has sparked something within me to always keep pushing myself to do better even if it means going out of my comfort zone.
SS: Was there any particular cars that impressed you at SEMA?
NH: Sam Du's and GReddy's Supras. Knowing that those cars are new on the market and seeing how they could take it to the next level was inspiring. And of course, some of the hot rods. These cars always fuel me with a vision for my car.
SS: How long have you owned the EF now?
NH: I've owned it for nine years, since 2010.
SS: When did you finish it? To our understanding, you've been hitting up a lot of shows?
NH: I finished the car in June 2019. I've worked on this car for a few years so when I finally finished it, I was ecstatic to show everyone the build that I dedicated to my parents. Overall, I went to eight shows this year, including Wekfest San Jose, Wekfest Seattle, Wekfest LA, SpoCom NorCal, SpoCom SoCal, and other local events.
SS: Can you elaborate more on what you changed from the first phase of your build?
NH: Coming from a B16A2 with bolt-ons with ITBs making 185hp and 123 lb-ft of torque, it was fun little power, but I knew I wanted more displacement because all these new cars on the road are making 400hp stock. It was time for a change. I see a lot of people shy out about putting a K-series into their EF chassis. We all love to go faster in life and the K-series was the best thing in mind for me. A simple K20 wasn't the displacement I wanted. I wanted bigger and better, so went for a K24 which has more all-around power. The motor I built made 280hp and 202 lb-ft. From there, I added a full rollcage, PCI side skirts, front carbon splitter made out of Birchwood, Sparco seat and harness, four-piston Porsche brakes and bigger Mini Cooper S rotors. I also kept the 4x100 setup and added 15x8-inch Gram Lights 57 Trans-X wheels with Toyo R888R tires.
SS: Any surprising comments about your car at SEMA?
NH: Yes, like "How did you get the Porsche brakes to work?" "What kind of dashboard is that?" OEM custom dash to fit my perfection. "What is your brake master cylinder now?" It's on the pedal assembly now made by Tilton Engineering. And so many others...
SS: What were some of the sacrifices you had to make to finish?
NH: I had to sacrifice some sleepless nights and many hours during the night to work and build this car. My mentality was that there was going to be a bigger move to be more creative and unique when it came to building this chassis.
SS: You mentioned before that time attack would be in the near future? How far are we away from that?
NH: I would say about two months. I still want to add a front and rear camber kit, dial-in the suspension and downsize the cams because at the moment it has a stage 4.5 Drag Cartel cam. Looking to get a Skunk2 Ultra 3 for a better and smoother drivability. Other than that, it'll be ready.
SS: What would be your advice to someone who wants to take their car to the level you have?
NH: Take your time, don't rush your passion, and build with a purpose.
RJ's Last Word: "This is a street/track machine that was just so cleanly built. There is a simplicity to this build but with great attention to many details that really impressed Sam and I. It's hard to explain but this felt very well edited. Everything felt like it had purpose and there were enough subtle tidbits like the Porsche brakes that just made it ultra unique."
As a winner in this year's Super Street SEMA Ultimate Award presented by Meguiar's, Nick receives a one-of-a-kind trophy helmet painted by Patrick Briand (@pbkreation) and a crushproof and weather resistant car care case from Pelican Cases customized with Super Street and Meguiar's logos.
Special thank you to Renz Dimaandal, Samuel Rojas and Jonathan Carrasco for the media support.