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2003 Honda Civic Si Hatchback - One Too Many

Jovito La Victoria Doesn't Turn Down Project Car Buildups. His Laundry List Of Civics Is Proof Positive.

Aaron Bonk
Dec 1, 2005
Photographer: Rodrez

For most people, a single project car would suffice. Managing time and cash flow can easily put a damper on any multiple-car buildup, but not for Jovito La Victoria. He doesn't let pesky minutiae like a shortage of greenbacks or the waning hours in the day stop him from building potent street machines-four of them in the last couple of years, in fact.

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The lengthy list of cars that the Hacienda Heights, Calif., local has owned reads like an excerpt from the Honda history books, beginning with an '89 Civic hatchback that his uncle gave him seven years ago. It's since burgeoned into a collection of every other Civic three-door, excluding the antiquated CVCC. He even had a '94 Accord in the garage at one point, but it was stolen soon after purchase.

It's La Victoria's latest hatchback creation that caught our attention, an '03 Civic Si representing a skillful union of power, handling and style. From the beginning he set out to construct a hatch like no other. "It's got to be different," he says, "but the quality's got to be good too."

With three B-series-swapped, naturally aspirated hatchbacks already sitting in his driveway, Jovito knew he'd have to leave his all-motor roots if his latest Si were to possess some individuality. Although partial to the instant throttle response of his N/A B20 VTEC (in a '91 Si), he called upon the techs at Super Autobacs in Stanton for a GReddy turbo kit. He has nothing but praise for the install.

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"They did such a clean job," he says. "It looks perfect for shows."

Next, Jovito turned to what he says most people appreciate about the car: the exterior. "When you're sitting in traffic, nobody cares about what you have under the hood," he explains. "They care about what's on the outside."

Fair enough. He dropped off the EP3 at Monterey Park Auto Body, where it received carbon-fiber body upgrades from Seibon, TR and MG. Equal attention was paid to the interior, where La Victoria installed red Recaro Speed buckets, Takata harnesses and enough gauges and electronics to gather more than a fair share of attention from traffic-captive onlookers.

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Building a worthy project car, regardless of the quantity, is seldom an easy task. Jovito admits as much. "Putting the Si together was like putting a puzzle together. I had to go to so many different places to find the right pieces."

But encountering adversity upon sourcing parts was not his only dilemma. Money and spare time were no easier to come by. When they did arrive, they came at the expense of the other. Late nights of carpentry work reeled in funds but also ate away wrenching hours. And there were always the other cars. None would be neglected at the expense of another, he says.

Regardless of the challenges, the Si buildup still took only one year. Were it not for his five-year-old daughter, La Victoria claims it may have taken longer.

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"She's helped out many nights, handing me tools, helping me install bumpers and body parts."

Now fully tuned and belting out a healthy 231 hp, the Si has yet to debut at the dragstrip. We suspect he's simply having difficulty deciding which project car to take out.

Carbon fiber
More than You Wanted to Know
While most recognize carbon fiber as the material of choice for automotive enthusiasts, its uses go far beyond the scope of hoods and bumpers. Thomas Edison stumbled upon carbon fiber in 1879, but it wasn't until the 1960s that it would see successful mass production. This recent breed of high-strength material is now used to manufacture everything from tennis rackets to tanks, medical supplies to missiles.

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The extremely strong fiber is made by oxidizing and pyrolyzing synthetic fibers, such as rayon, until they are charred. Pyrolyzing refers to the process of decomposition, or compound transformation by heat. The fibers used to make carbon fiber are polymers. Like all polymers, they form long chains that, when heated properly, bond with one another, forming narrow sheets. The resulting fibers are not used by themselves but are instead used to reinforce materials like epoxy resins. The result is an extremely strong and lightweight material.

You'd be mistaken if you thought carbon fiber existed solely for your Civic. The main applications of carbon fiber are within the aerospace and nuclear engineering industries, as well as transportation and civil engineering. Only recently has carbon fiber been introduced to the automotive industry, first to high-end race teams and later to the average consumer.

Bolts & Washers
Jovito La Victoria's 2003 Honda Civic Si

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Powered by an internally stock 2.0-liter K20A3 engine, the Si gets additional beef by means of a GReddy turbo kit with a T517Z snail as the backbone. The kit includes exhaust manifold, downpipe, front-mount intercooler and Type-RS blow-off valve (all GReddy).

A GReddy Airinx filter and HKS titanium exhaust system free up airflow at both ends. RC Engineering injectors sized at 440cc/min work in tandem with a GReddy e-Manage piggyback to ensure safe air/fuel ratios. Spark is amplified with the assistance of NGK Iridium plugs and an HKS Circle Earth System grounding kit in conjunction with the OEM ignition system.

A J's Racing engine dampener paired with Energy Suspension motor mount inserts alleviate engine vibration.

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The Si's engine bay was not spared from dress-up paraphernalia: Mugen oil and radiator caps, reservoir covers, VIS carbon fiber intake manifold cover and spark plug wire cover.

Rims & Rubber
Rotating beneath the EP3 are 18x7-inch Gram Lights 57s wrapped in Falken Ziex rubber sized at 215/35-18.

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Although La Victoria placed great importance on the Si's exterior, he in no way neglected the car's suspension. Tein Control Master Type Flex coil-overs are installed and work with Progress Group front and rear anti-roll bars at both ends. A Progress Group lower tie bar, Tanabe Sustec front upper strut bar and Carbing six-point underbrace stiffen up the sheet metal.

Oversized Brembo cross-drilled rotors increase the Civic's stopping prowess and are matched to Goodridge lines and Brembo pads. The fronts receive further improvements in the form of Brembo four-piston calipers.

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La Victoria installed a Seibon EVO-style carbon-fiber hood, Spoon-type mirrors and side skirts from TR. Also installed are a rear wing, front and rear lips, and eyelids, all from MG. Prime Graphix handled the sticker treatment. JDM yellow fog lights, Episode city lights and Honda badges round off the body mods.

Red Recaro Speed seats replace the stockers up front and make do with Takata four-point harnesses. The rear seats and door inserts match thanks to Kreative Customs Interiors. GReddy oil pressure, water temperature and boost gauges monitor the vitals. Also installed are a GReddy turbo timer and Profec B-Spec 2 boost controller. Razo pedals, a Spoon Sports shift knob and Civic Type-R shift boot add to the flair.

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The Si relies on a Pioneer multi-media head unit, Eclipse front and rear speakers, and a Kicker CVR 15-inch subwoofer powered by KX50 two-channel and KX350 four-channel amps.

By Aaron Bonk
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