As a matter of fact, the car's original intent was that of a daily driver, putting through the snowy winters of Colorado. However, after relocating to Riverside, Calif., with his trusty beater, the notorious performance bug proceeded to sink its razor-sharp teeth deep into his neck and the whirlwind began.
After a quick GSR engine swap, a chance meeting with legendary builder Jason Whitfield (Rage Performance) prompted Alex to add a nitrous kit and hit the dragstrip. Running consistent high 12's at Palmdale with just a few bolt-ons and a dose of laughing gas quenched his thirst for time slips, but he felt the little CX came up a bit short in the appearance department. Sporting a set of bright orange fenders after a small collision, and a crushed roof due to the factory hood unlatching under acceleration, there was no doubt that a facelift was well overdue. Alex recalls, "I was sitting in my garage on Thanksgiving Day last year looking over the car and just thinking about everything it had been through. I figured it was time for a change. I guess I just wanted a car that looked good and ran hard. Jason [Whitfield] always built fast cars that looked as good as they ran, and I wanted to do something like that." Almost immediately, Alex enlisted the help of his brother-in-law, Aberham Ramirez, to help tear the Civic apart in hopes of starting fresh.
With the chassis completely stripped, the car was ready for a fresh coat of paint and a new attitude. Friend and fellow car builder Jay Smith suggested that Evans Autobody in San Bernardino, Calif., be trusted with the bodywork. After a month at the body shop, the car was taken home where the rebuilding process was to begin. Feeling that he had bitten off more than he could chew, Alex took a step back and reconsidered the project. "I brought it home, looked it over and realized I didn't even know where to start. I think I'd lost my motivation. My girlfriend Elsa pushed me to get it going; she knew how much I wanted to finish it. Without her, I don't think this car would have ever been completed." Over the next three months, the couple traveled throughout SoCal picking up various parts to add to the build. One of those stops was the Honda dealer parts counter, where OEM replacements for every plastic piece and rubber seal both inside and out were purchased to update the 13-year-old commuter. Keeping the exterior as simple as possible, a Mugen EG6 front lip was installed along with a set of SiR headlights and Vision Smoked Amber corner lights. Honda window visors were then clipped to the doors and a SiR wing was paint-matched and bolted up to add some flavor to the rear.
The simplicity of the exterior continues throughout the interior as well. The Integra Type-R passenger seat and rear seats are matched perfectly by tweed door panel inserts with custom red stitching. The coveted Mugen S1 bucket seat with Mugen rails was selected for driver comfort, with a Mugen shift knob and aluminum pedal kit thrown in for good measure. Keeping the car stable on the straight and narrow is a Nardi 350mm deep corn steering wheel, also black with red stitching.
With the appearance and comfort up to par, Alex embarked on an NA motor build to complete the project and showcase his favorite part of any car. Upon completion of the motor, and a few 11.9 time slips in his back pocket, tragedy struck. The motor ingested a small piece of metal that wreaked havoc on its internals. "At that time we'd built a motor for my brother-in-law that we never ended up installing in his car, so we decided to drop it into my car and get it running again," says Alex. At first glance, it's difficult to look past the incredible attention to detail and the seemingly endless trail of carefully organized stainless lines. However, this motor was built for brute power as well as beauty. RS Sleeves added its infamous bulletproof vest to the block before dropping in a set of 12.1:1 compression Arias pistons and Crower Ultralight I-beam rods. Punched out to 2.1 liters (85.5mm bore x 92mm stroke), the bottom end was ready to be abused. Alex took matters into his own hands at that point, adding a Portflow ported B16A head stuffed with Kibblewhite stainless steel valves, Web Cams valvesprings/retainers and set of custom Web Cams bumpsticks. To get the most out of each throttle stomp, a set of TWM 50mm individual throttle bodies take a gulp of fresh air, eventually sending it through the Rage Tri-Y header and ES oval muffler with custom piping. A Hondata S300 equipped P28 ECU was chosen to manage the NA dream team and is tucked away neatly. Anyone who's spent time drag racing knows that power is important, but traction is critical. To fight wheel spin, a Quaife LSD was installed at the same time as the ATS 4.9 final drive. A Clutch Masters Stage 3 clutch and Toda flywheel unleash the beast at Alex's command.
When the super-sticky slicks aren't mounted, 15-inch Sprint Hart CP-FG's wrapped in 195/50-15 Falken Ziex tires keep the hatchback grounded, with height adjustability and camber changes provided by Omni Power coilovers and camber kit.
So what could possibly be next for the guy that succeeded where so many others have failed?
"I didn't build this car to be part of any certain scene. I just built if for me, and I just want to make sure that's clear to everyone reading the article," says Alex. "And this is just the beginning as far as building goes. I'm only 21 years old, and I have a bunch of ideas that I came up with along this build that I'll apply to my new project."
Yeah, he said "new project." Stay tuned
bolts & washers
Alex Soto's 1994 Civic cx
The Big Bertha of B-series motors (B20B) is bolted to the chassis with Hasport mounts. RS Sleeves provided the insurance that cradles a set of Arias 12.1:1 pistons attached to Crower Ultralight I-beam rods and push displacement to 2.1 liters of pure joy. A port/polish and three angle valve job was completed by Tom at PortFlow before the Kibblewhite stainless valves, Web valvesprings/retainers and cams found their way home. A Rage Tri-Y header and cam gears were bolted on as well. Thirsty TWM 50mm individual throttle bodies with carbon-fiber horns are fed by a set of RC 440cc injectors and Walbro 255lph fuel pump. Hondata's S300 and P28 ECU combo oversee the workforce. A Quaife limited slip and Clutchmasters Stage 3 clutch help put the power to the ground as the ATS 4.9 final drive takes Alex from First to Fifth in no time.
Rims & Rubber
A set of Sprint Hart 15x6.5 wheels wrapped in 195/50-15 Falken Ziex tires were just replaced by the set of BBR competition wheels seen on the cover. Track day suspension adjustments are a breeze with Omni Power coilovers and Omni's adjustable camber kit.
Instead of making a thread on a message forum asking complete strangers what color he should paint his car, Alex put in his own work. Searching the local car dealerships resulted in him falling for a minty green hue that he'd prefer to keep to himself. An SiR wing and headlights, HOP window visors, Spoon mirrors and Vision smoked corner lights add a few subtle changes. The Mugen EG6 front lip is a natural, perched nicely under the front bumper. Every piece of plastic and rubber molding was replaced with OEM goodness to complete the makeover.
A Mugen S1 bucket seat, shift knob and pedals share duties with the Nardi steering wheel on the driver's side of the cabin. In sharp contrast, the passengers ride in style thanks to the Integra Type-R passenger and rear seats, and custom black tweed and red stitched door panel inserts. To separate the two sides, an SiR center console was added.
Big systems mean big weight and there's no place for additional weight in this hatch. If Alex ever grows tired of the sweet melodies produced by the big block jukebox, an Alpine CDE-9881 deck powering a set of Pioneer door speakers is within reach.
My girlfriend Elsa for all the support throughout this build, Abe Ramirez for helping me wrench on this car and those late hours, Steve and Lori at Web Cams, Javier at Hondata, Bubba and Jency at Do It Dyno, Kibblewhite valvetrain, Gabriel at Evans Autobody, Mike at Highend, Steve at Omni Power, Floate and Duane always down to help me, and all the guys on Honda-tech for the great help as always.