Nowadays it seems that everyone wants a piece of the action and seeing an unmodified Honda in California is less likely than coming across a girl with a pair of sunglasses that don't cover half her face. Let's face facts, any time you mention a modified import, the first car that comes to mind will more than likely be a Honda Civic. The continual popularity of the platform proves that it is the people's choice, whether it is the almost cult-like EF or the CTR. One would assume that anything bearing the "Civic" moniker would automatically gain the notoriety of its predecessor. The introduction of the EP3 in 2002 however, would lead one to think otherwise. But the mixed reviews and lack of a universal following didn't affect Kenneth Li's decision to purchase one, as he saw it as a perfect opportunity to make a statement.
The Union City, Calif., native originally purchased the Honda Civic brand new in January of 2004 when his car at the time, a '92 Honda Prelude, was giving him problems that left him in need of a reliable daily driver. "I chose the EP because it wasn't that common and I saw a lot of potential in it," says Li. Not much was done to the Prelude, just your run-of-the-mill drop/intake/exhaust combo and the new EP received the similar treatment, starting off with a set of Tein springs and a clean set of silver Gab wheels.
By the time summer came around, the thirst to pull more power out of the stock K20A motor consumed Li and he decided to force-feed the motor with a turbo kit courtesy of the guys over at Rev Hard. "The turbo kit came about when I was deciding what kind of power gains I wanted from my stock motor. Knowing that the EP came with a disadvantaged K20 motor, I figured that [turbo-charging] was the easiest and fastest way to add power," says Li. Casey over at Modacar in Livermore, Calif., was responsible for the install and tuning of the t3/t4 setup that was good for 238 whp. To help get the power to the ground and to give it a more aggressive stance to match its newly established power, Li decided to upgrade the suspension to Tein Basic coilovers along with a J's Racing C-pillar bar and Carbing lower tie-bar for added structural rigidity.
With the "go" factor set in place, the next step was to give it the looks to match. To set his EP apart from the rest, Kenneth decided to draw his inspiration from the Top Secret cars of Japan. He sent his car to Main Street Autobody to get the Civic resprayed Maya Gold Metallic and the roof of the car Nighthawk Black. Once the paint settled and a new set of rollers in the form of 17x7 Regamaster Evos were installed, Li came to the realization that it was a good idea to turn this once daily-driven machine into a weekend warrior. The decision to park the car led to its biggest transformation yet, and how it came about, was simply a matter of pure luck. RedZone Performance was originally called to duty to perform wire tucking services on the Civic and according to Li, "I was really surprised, another customer had ordered a JDM K20 motor and the clip just came with the deal...I've never seen or heard about an EP right-hand-drive clip stateside before so I jumped on the opportunity right away." As if it weren't rare enough to see a show-stopping gold EP on the streets, the guys at RedZone decided to help Li really raise the bar by handing him an even more rare right-hand-drive conversion. Talk about being at the right place at the right time!
To complete the J-spec transformation, Kenneth began to source assorted pieces from throughout California. He made a call to Showstoppers USA and picked up a JDM Civic Type-R front bumper, lip spoiler, and projector headlights and hit up his buddies over at N1 Concepts for a pair of CTR door panels and carbon-fiber trim kit. For the finishing touches and to top-off the interior, Li sourced a rare set of Vision Technica Imus Kevlar seats. "Matt from ICB Motorsport was who I got my Vision Imus seats from...[the seats] were something that I had been eyeing for a very long time," says Li. Anyone that's ever been badgered in high school for wearing mismatching clothes knows that you can't cruise the streets without properly accessorizing, so Li chose to highlight his Vision seats with various Vision engine pieces including, but not limited to, a Vision oil cap and carbon-fiber plug and manifold covers.
Any and every true car enthusiast will tell you that a project is never officially complete, no matter how complex the build. With Li, it is no different. "For future plans, I hope to concentrate on upgrading the suspension and adding extra chassis reinforcement to really put this car to the test." Currently rolling on a pristine set of 18x8 Volk SE37K wheels, Rays Engineering's most underrated wheel is screaming for a big brake kit to back up its stunning bronze finish. "Hopefully upgraded brakes will be in the near future also," says Li.
Many will contend that the EP Civics lack the true following to really ever reach the status of the ones before them, but Kenneth Li sees it as a perfect opportunity to play the underdog and to triumph over those who would doubt his vision. "If you do it right, there's a lot of potential," Li adds. We would have to agree. Kenneth Li's one-of-a-kind project is proof-positive that no matter the platform, if you dig deep enough, you will strike gold.
bolts & washersKenneth li's 2004 civic siPropulsion
The K20A motor is boosted courtesy of a Rev Hard turbo kit featuring a Precision T3/T4 Turbo, Rev Hard cast-iron manifold, Spearco front-mount, TiAL wastegate, HKS Super Sequential blow-off valve, RC Engineering 550cc injectors and custom charge pipes by RedZone Performance. Exhaust gases exit by way of an HKS Carbon-Ti muffler with RedZone 3-inch piping. Other underhood accessories include Vision Technica carbon-fiber manifold cover, spark plug cover, oil cap and a Cusco radiator cap. A Hondata K-Series Re-Flash kit powers the brains of the operation.
StanceThe Civic sits aggressively thanks to Tein Basic coilovers attached to a Carbing lower tie-bar.
Rims & rubberThey say the wheels make the car and this gold EP rolls on a gorgeous set of 18x8 Volk SE-37K wheels surrounded by 225/40/18 Pirelli P-Zero tires.
FashionExteriorResprayed in a brilliant Volvo Maya Gold Metallic with a Nighthawk Black rooftop, the Civic also features a J-spec themed front end that includes an '04-05 Civic Type R front bumper, front lip spoiler, front grill, and projector headlights. The stock hood has been replaced by an Evasive Motorsports carbon-fiber hood and Li also made a call to VIS for a carbon-fiber rear spoiler.
InteriorThe interior is equally impressive as the outside of the car thanks to a rare set of Vision Technica Imus carbon Kevlar seats, complete right-hand-drive conversion, Takata four-point harness, and a Sparco 368 steering wheel. Accents include an '04-05 CTR door panels and an N1 Concepts carbon-fiber center console trim kit. An Auto Meter boost gauge keeps Li informed of boost pressure and a Greddy Turbo Timer allows the turbo to cool properly before shutdown.
IceThe only music coming from this vehicle is the sweet music of a spooling turbo.
PropsThe ATS Garage Family, Jeremy, Brandon, Wayne, & Nisa at RedZone Performance, Adam & Colin at Wek'Sos Industries, Geoff & Ernesto at JDM Theory, Phil at Spoolin Performance, Tom "Manji318," NWP4life.com for all the inspirations, Aaron Paule, Tony Vuong, Showstoppers USA, Wayne at Speed Star Racing, Jeff at Pro-Motion, Brian at Tein USA, James Balizan, Casey at Enginetiks, Main Street Auto Body, Modern Bench Works, N1 Concepts, FF-Greg, MikeG, Danny "Dier88", Preston at F2, Viet "VEEE", Son at Hasback Photograhy, StephenB, Kevin Vuong, Maria Ellorin, AM7, Paksiw, PlusOne, and last but not least R.I.P Randy "Questoyz" Gagan & Vincent "JDMEFSEDAN" Pascua.