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1997 Honda Civic Hatchback - 'Lude-Icrous

Sean Yearwood's '97 EK Hatch. Three Swaps, A Blown Motor And A Makeover Later.

Dru Barrios
Sep 1, 2005 SHARE

Sean Yearwood was new to the Honda scene when he bought his 1997 Civic hatchback in 2001. That same day, he put on a set of cheap coil-overs and '99 Civic Si alloy wheels and went to the local street races to show off the new ride. When he awoke the next morning, it was sitting on blocks in front of his house with no wheels. Insurance money paid for a set of blingin' Niche Shocks 17-inch wheels. Along with the chrome came a big muffler and a generic cold-air intake.

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After awhile, Yearwood came to his senses. The mods weren't cutting it. The first things to go were the sleeve-over coil-overs. Sean replaced the no-name setup with a set of H&R stage 3 springs and KYB GR2 shocks. Next was the tired old D16Y7. A B16A2 swap was sourced out of a wrecked '00 Si. Coupled with a '98 Integra Type R ECU, Sean had all he needed for the first of his DOHC VTEC swaps.

Year wood got the street racing bug. His pursuit of a quicker, more competitive street machine led him to get rid of his big, heavy 17-inch Niches to make room for a set of 15-inch Nippon Racing wheels weighing a mere 11 pounds. The next step was a power adder, this time a 50-shot from a NOS wet nitrous kit.

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But when he found himself refilling the bottle so often that his wallet took an unavoidable dent, Yearwood dropped the juice and got some boost, in the form of a Drag Generation 3 turbo kit. The B16 made 215-wheel hp at 8 psi with the Drag kit, which proved sufficient-for a while.

Yearwood sold the B16 and replaced it with a B18 longblock. The turbo B18 made 256-wheel hp and 172 lb-ft on the same 8 psi.

For most enthusiasts, a daily-driven 256-wheel-hp turbo car would be enough to keep them satisfied, but Yearwood got boost happy a few weeks later, and ran 11 psi on the same tune for a couple of weeks. He took the car to the track to see what it could do. On its first run down the 1320, the bottom end gave out on the way into fourth gear. The hatchback still rolled through the trap in 13.1 seconds at 107 mph.

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Yearwood's love for racing outgrew the streets, eventually. He bought an EG hatchback and an EF hatchback, both of which are now track-only racecars. The EG is an all-motor drag car with a stroked 1.9-liter B16. The EF is a road racecar with a SOHC VTEC motor. With two racecars in his stable, Yearwood decided to turn his EK hatchback into a dedicated daily driver.

For his purposes, a daily driver needed to have an internally stock motor and a B-series with bolt-on mods wouldn't cut it. Yearwood opted for Honda's big block to satiate his need for a daily driver that is still fun to drive.

A 1994 JDM Prelude front clip was sourced from All Japanese in Miami, Fla., to act as a donor for the H22-flavored heart transplant. After swapping in the motor Yearwood added a slew of bolt-on parts, including a J's Racing intake, an Accord Euro R intake manifold, a custom header and a Buddy Club bolt-on cat-back exhaust system.

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He also added an AEM fuel filter, AEM Fuel Rail, a Walbro 255-lph in tank pump and a set of RC 310cc injectors to help the now freely breathing H22 quench its thirst.

On the dyno, the H22 spun the rollers to the tune of 190-wheel hp and 154 lb-ft. Yearwood expects that once he further tunes the H22 using Überdata and an A'PEXi V-AFC II, he can pull out more than 200-wheel hp.

Year wood is about go rather than show, but no car is complete without some finishing exterior touches. The EK's most obvious upgrade is the '99-'00 Si front-end conversion. Yearwood's friend was selling his red '99 Si, and though it took a bit of convincing, he eventually convinced his buddy to swap the front ends before he got rid of the car. The front-end swap is no minor modification. Besides the bumper, he also had to swap out the hood, fenders, headlights and grille.

With the front end sorted out, the rear needed to complement and does so with a JDM Civic Type-R rear wing and lip, both of which he had paint matched at his buddy's shop in Miami. While the wing and lip were being painted, the OEM black side skirts, moldings, and license plate tray were sprayed as well.

Yearwood's EK is by no means a showstopper, nor a superfast racecar. But it's a hell of a street car and proof that building a great car isn't about how many parts you can squeeze into a chassis, but rather how a careful selection of parts create a sort of automotive harmony.

Bolts & Washers
Sean Yearwoods's '97 Civic Hatchback

Propulsion
Sean's hatch is powered by an internally stock '94 JDM H22A, held in place by an HCP mount kit including the optional front cross bar and A/C bracket. The 2.2-liter lump breathes through a J's Racing carbon-fiber intake clamped onto a JG Edelbrock 65mm throttle body. The intake charge is managed by an Accord Euro R intake manifold. A Hondata intake manifold gasket seals up the cold side of the motor and keeps heat transfer down between the DOHC VTEC head and the intake tract.

On the hot side is a 4-2 section of an OBX Racing header bolted to a custom 2-into-1 downpipe with a 2.5-inch collector. Spent gases are not hindered by a catalytic converter on their way out the Buddy Club Pro Spec cat back. Keeping things cool is a Fluidyne radiator, with a Password JDM cooling plate and bling-bling Spoon Sports radiator stay holding them in.

A Walbro 255-lph fuel pump feeds pump gas through an AEM high-flow fuel filter into an AEM fuel rail and finally out a set of RC 310cc injectors. NGK plugs and MSD 8.5mm wires spice up an otherwise stock ignition system. The brain behind the H-series' brawn is an Überdata chipped P28 ECU connected to the engine via a custom OBD IIA-OBD I harness. Fine-tuning is accomplished with an A'PEXi V-AFC II. Finally, the power is put to work by a stock non-LSD M2A4 tranny and a set of Hasport Level 1 axles.

Rims & Rubber
The EK sits on Nippon Racing 15x7-inch wheels weighing 11 pounds apiece. The featherweight wheels are wrapped in a set of Falken Azenis Sport sized 205/50R-15 all around.

Stance
KYB GR-2 nonadjustable shocks and H&R Stage 3 springs help the Civic sit pretty and handle better while maintaining its daily driveability. Energy Suspension poly bushings keep the suspension pieces in place. A custom camber kit including shims in the rear and adjustable front upper arms keep everything in line.

Resistance
Yearwood's brakes are all stock save for Hawk pads in the front. Powerslot rotors and a rear disc brake swap are in the works.

Fashion
Inside: The interior doesn't sway much from the theme of the rest of the car, with OEM del Sol front seats and a '99-to-'00 Si gauge cluster. The only aftermarket piece inside the car is a bronze STR shift knob.

Body: Can you say OEM? No body kits or aftermarket here, just a tasteful selection of tried-and-true OEM exterior parts. The '97 front end was replaced by a '99-to-'00 Si front end, including the front lip, bumper, fenders, hood, grille and headlights. A Civic Type-R wing and rear lip add some JDM flavor and complement the taillights sourced from a USDM '99 Civic hatchback. The rear lip, wing, side moldings and side skirts were painted to match the car's factory red paint job.

I.C.E.:
A Pioneer head unit pumps out the jams through Sony Explode 5.25-inch components in the front and matching 6x9-inch speakers in the rear. A Clifford 8000 alarm is a bit of insurance for all of Yearwood's blood, sweat and tears

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By Dru Barrios
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