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1988 Hatch - JDM Madness

Abuse Of Power And Off To Your Right You'll See An S2000, Which Apparently Has Crashed

Reginald Legaspi
Oct 1, 2007
Htup_0710_02_z+jdm_madness+photo Photo 1/1   |   1988 Hatch - JDM Madness

So I bought this '88 (EF) hatch from a friend of mine almost a year ago. Aside from a few holes in the door from a creative stereo install, torn seats and some seriously faded paint, it's in really great shape. The body panels are immaculate inside and out. Best of all she's bone stock, my perfect blank canvas.

I figured it would be just about finished by now, but instead I'm stuck driving it around wondering which way to go with it. I see so many cars that aren't done right. They're perpetually halfway done, rocking a beat up SiR front end or some jankey clear taillights. I don't want to draw that kind of attention. I'd rather just go unnoticed until I have a solid plan.

2019 Honda Civic
$21,450 Base Model (MSRP) MPG Fuel Economy

I should probably be concerned with what is going in under the hood. Maybe I should think about the suspension. I know the car is going to spend some time on the track. Will it just be part-time? Or should I go straight for a full on race setup? I know there are no excuses on the track. Should I go ahead and gut it now? These are all questions I should've answered months ago. But, I spend most of my time hung up on one thing, what to do with the taillights.

You see, the EF hatch was the Honda that caught my eye. There was a crew called "Black Magic" who would park three brand new slammed black hatches just up the street from my high school. I would walk by nearly every day and daydream most of the way home.

One night I was riding shotgun on the 110 South when an EF went buzzing by with its ambers on. The red tails with amber corners and little strips of red wrapping around the front, all glowing evenly, drew attention like no other car. I watched the car weave through traffic for miles. It was life-changing cool. I knew that one day I would own one of those cars, and without a doubt the lights would look like that.

It would be nearly 20 years before I would own my EF hatch. You'd think I'd know what to do by now, but I bought the wrong car. The plan was to buy a '90-'91 Si. It has my favorite front end of any Civic yet, sunroof, four injector harness, it would have been the perfect starting point. I wanted to show people how cool the USDM hatches can be, with the red/amber/red tails being the exclamation point wherever I went.

But the '88 DX came along at the right price from a good friend who bought the car new. It was too good to pass up. And it would be perfect for anyone but a sicko who thinks that the front end on a 20-year-old car looks dated compared to that of an 18-year-old car. Plus the side moldings are thicker on the '88, like an SIR. The rear bumper matches the sides and has the mounting holes for the SIR skirt. Warning! You are about to enter a state of dementia known as the JDM Zone.

It only makes sense to put the JDM SIR front end on the car. It needs to get painted anyway and you know it will look cool. You know you want those smoked side markers. A B18 or even a K20 will fit under the SIR hood. It already doesn't have a sunroof so the car can't be built exactly how you wanted it anyway. There's just one tiny detail, the taillights. You can't very well have a complete SIR conversion and not switch to the JDM SIR taillights. You know, the ones that are red in the back, amber in the corner and then have an amber reflector as it wraps around to the front. Everyone will think you are ignorant and uncultured in your JDM-ness if you leave those USDM lights on the back.

Stop! Now go back and re-read that last paragraph over and over for the next nine months so we can be on the same wavelength. OK, now go shave, take a shower, call your mom, odds are you missed her birthday, now let's continue.

I can't do it. I can't rock the JDM taillights. My childhood dream of flossing the USDM ambers must be fulfilled. I don't care if most law enforcement agencies do have shoot-on-sight orders for modified turn signals. That's it. The decision is finally made. Now does that mean I should just stick with the original front end so everything matches?

Hmmm, well, we're out of time folks. But, by chance, should you see a Civic with mismatched parts, don't hate on them for it. For that matter, if you see someone with clear taillights, cut them some slack. Maybe the first Honda that caught their eye had clear taillights, or maybe their mother gave them those lights for their birthday and they didn't want to piss her off by leaving them in the box. Be nice to your mother.- Andy Hope

By Reginald Legaspi
1 Articles

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