What is it that motivates someone to build a great car? Some might say that the motivation comes from their peers or even by the mere discovery of a rare part that they never knew existed. With this question in mind, we stop by Phoenix, Ariz., where Jason Buell happily tells us his journey of how his car went from just being a daily car to "The Mallard" it is today.
Jason had never intended to modify his Cypress Green Pearl Civic but an unexpected gift from his wife suddenly triggered his obsession. "She was online looking for a Christmas gift for me and somehow stumbled upon a Ferio badge for the car," Jason remembered. This Ferio badge sparked something in Jason, which caused him to develop a newfound love for the Civics' Japanese counterpart. He began searching aimlessly for everything that was Ferio-related but sadly, he came to the realization that his car was nothing compared to the Ferio. The Ferio would be his muse and his Civic, the slightly less-attractive sister. "There's nothing worse then having a brand new car you suddenly hate," Jason said.
That didn't discourage Jason into giving up on his car, in fact it encouraged him to build his Civic and make it special. What made it even more difficult back in 1998 was that the the Internet wasn't what it is today. While it was still useful, it was quite difficult for an enthusiast to find anything JDM or even of the Japanese variety. As if that wasn't bad enough, what was even more painstakingly difficult was getting those rare parts stateside once they were found. It took Jason two years of just collecting parts before anything found its way onto his Civic. According to Jason, "Some of the more rare parts I had stashed away, even before most of the kids nowadays had even seen them for the first time.
The initial phase of the build started with a first generation Mugen Ferio wing, JDM SiR front lip and EK9 front grille and headlights. Interior goodies included a SiR gauge cluster with EK9 carbon-fiber bezel and Spoon Sports Duracon shift knob. Jason then decided to give his car that proper stance so he called on Skunk2 for its dampers, camber kit and tower bars. It wasn't long before Jason also came to the realization that drum brakes went out of style in the late '60s. He called on his buddy Chris to help him swap in a set of Integra GSR rear disc brakes along with a Tanabe Sustec rear tie-bar for added chassis stiffening. No stance is proper without the right set of wheels so Jason added 205/50/R15 Falken Ziex tires with 15x7 Desmond Regamaster Evos.
The next stage of the buildup would prove to be more tedious but the results were definitely worth the miles traveled. Jason made calls to Password:JDM and JHPUSA in California to set up a road trip for him and his wife to go pick up some rare parts. Once there, the rented truck was loaded with brand new front and rear SiR bumpers, front grille, EK4 thin side moldings and assorted Mugen hardware. "The best part of the trip was paying the bellboys at the Hotel to unload the truck and take the parts to our room for safekeeping. They said it was the most unusual luggage they had ever handled."
Once they were back home, Jason unloaded all his newly bought goods into his garage and began working on the front and rear conversions. The interior was then meticulously disassembled, with each screw and bolt marked and labeled before the entire chassis was sent off to El Camino Custom Autobody in Phoenix to be completely resprayed.
"I call the color 'Mallard' Green, named after the car," Jason said. "If you want the color code, that's what I'll tell you with a straight face, then I'll laugh my ass off as you go on a wild goose chase looking for it. No pun intended."
After two weeks the car was done and the freshly painted "Mallard" headed off to Import Power House in Phoenix to get the old motor swapped out in favor of a '99-spec JDM B16A. Along with the new motor came a Spoon Sports exhaust and Carbon Kevlar intake pipe, courtesy of ICB Motorsport. A CTR valve cover was also added for extra JDM bling. By press time, Jason reminded us that the motor would have gone through valvetrain modifications in the form of CTR cams, valvesprings and retainers.
In the final stages of his project, Jason was finally able to install the SiR navigation system. It took him six years but Jason credits Matt at ICB for helping him locate a complete right-hand drive cabin harness and navigation software from Honda Japan. "I did the entire electronics conversion without cutting any wires and everything works perfectly. It took me 16 hours on my back to rewire the cabin but it was worth the pain." In addition to having full navigational ability, the unit also plays DVD movies via a Gathers Media Box. To solve the problem of U.S. radio stations and Japanese tuner frequencies, Jason discovered a way to play 170+ channels of XM Radio by utilizing an XM black box. And with that final touch, "The Mallard" was born.
Bolts & Washers
Jason Buell's 1998 Honda Civic LX
The stock motor is ditched and a '99 JDM B16A sits in its place. Air is pulled in courtesy of a Spoon Sports Carbon Kevlar intake and exhaust gases are expelled by way of a Spoon Sports Street Exhaust and Vision 4-1 header. Headwork includes a complete CTR valvetrain.
Jason's EJ6 rides on Skunk2 dampers and Skunk2 camber kit. The chassis is reinforced with Skunk2 front and rear tower bars and a Tanabe Sustec lower tie-bar.
Rims & rubber
The Civic rolls on 8 pound 15x7 Regamaster Evo's attached to 205/50/R15 Falken Ziex tires.
The entire chassis is resprayed in a secret hue of what Jason calls "Mallard Green." Exterior goods include a complete JDM catalog of parts: JDM Ferio electric folding mirrors, EK4 SiR front/rear bumpers, EK side markers, thin side moldings, SiR front lip and badges, CTR front grille and headlights with 8000k HIDs. A rare First Generation Mugen wing sits on the trunk and Honda Access door visors and parking pole also find its way onto the Civic.
Jason has black JDM ITR front and rear seats from a DB8 Integra. The Momo SRS steering wheel is from an EK9 Civic and sitting inside the dash is a SiR gauge cluster mated to an EK9 carbon-fiber gauge bezel. Spoon Sports supplies the shift knob and no JDM-themed interior is complete without the JDM OEM safety flare.
The Rockford Fosgate components are controlled by an ber-rare JDM SiR Optional Honda Navigation System. In addition to navigational functionality, the system has a radio, CD Player, lower tape deck and can play DVD Movies via the Gathers Media Box. To resolve the difficulty of using the radio with Japanese FM frequencies, an XM black box transmits 170+ channels of XM Radio into the navigation unit. Jason rewired the entire cabin with a complete JDM RHD harness to ensure proper function.