If any thoughts come immediately to mind at the mention of the seventh-generation Civic it's highly unlikely that you're imagining anything special. In fact, we're willing to bet the most common response you'd hear upon first glance at the EP hatchback is: "I liked the older one better." Ejay Cruz didn't argue with popular opinion, but limited choices can do that to an individual. At the time of his purchase, the Corona, Calif., native was rolling around town in a '01 Prelude with basic bolt-ons accompanied by unintentional modifications-incorrect timing, bent valves, broken motor mounts and a desperate cry for help. "We believed that the car was boosted before I had it," Ejay says, "but I didn't know anything and I mean anything about Hondas."
A quick trip with dad to the dealership resulted in a '04 Civic Si hatchback. Faced with the opportunity to finally work on something that ran properly, Ejay wasted no time jumping into modding his EP3. "I immediately dropped it with Neuspeed springs and put a Type R wing on it to try and stay away from the hideous 'egg/minivan' look that everyone called the EP when it first came out."
When Ejay was 18 he decided to concentrate his energy on teaching himself any and everything there was to know about Hondas so that "the ghost of broken Prelude's past" wouldn't return to haunt him. With his newfound knowledge, Ejay determined his first step would be to make the vehicle more aesthetically pleasing. "I hated how the '04-'05 EP3s came with the bubble headlights, so I decided to fully convert the front end to a '02 Type R spec front," Ejay says.
Chuck and Rocky at Showstoppers USA were summoned for the entire JDM front conversion along with an ber-rare Walker Japan front lip. He topped off the rest of the exterior by installing paint-matched VIS Racing side skirts, a rear lip and wing.
Though the build was off to a great start, things continued to get better thanks to a new sales job at local shop, Tunerz Image. Not only was the job itself good news but Ejay was also able to conserve gas since he no longer had to drive back and forth to order parts. Although he also had no one to blame but himself when parts arrived late. Knowing that future paychecks would ultimately end up in the hands of his employer, Ejay continued his project by upgrading the suspension with Buddy Club N+ Spec dampers. Diamond Black 17x8 Volk Racing CE28N wheels wrapped with Falken Ziex rubber came soon after.
No show car is complete without the essential interior goodies so Ejay directed his attention toward the vehicle's control center. Giving the pilot of this Taffeta White EP perfect driving posture is a Recaro Pole Position seat and a four-point Takata racing harness. All creature comforts for the rear passengers are long gone because the rears have been gutted-sound dampening tar and all-and color-matched to the car's exterior. Guiding this EP about Southern California's highways is a classically stylish Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel mounted on a combination of a Mugen boss hub and NRG V2.0 quick release. The quick release, of course, is used to show off the Nardi wheel and to take up dining table space when Ejay is out with his girlfriend at the Cheesecake Factory.
Once the exterior and interior were complete, Ejay felt it was finally ready to see the showroom floor. Finally getting a chance to show off his ride in all its glory, Ejay soon found out his friends had come up with a new moniker for him. "I wanted to prove to everyone that this 'minivan' isn't just a 'show ho', (a name) which my friends always called me," he says.
While we have no idea what the relevancy of brilliantly crafted gardening tools is here, the namesake motivated Ejay to give his friend Vi at JVT Performance a call regarding a certain K-series turbo kit that had recently been completed. Just out of the prototyping stages and into his hands he, along with his crew (Jerkwrench) and the MAHU-built family, went straight to work on mating the kit to its new home. "To make the build a lot easier, we stripped down the engine bay and took out the motor, dropping it from the bottom of the car along with the subframe," he says.
A Clutchnet six-puck clutch and Evolution Industries flywheel were also installed. As soon as the turbo kit and assorted upgrades were installed the newly boosted Civic made its way to Bisimoto Race Engineering where infamous drag racer Bisi Ezerioha was called upon to tune the K engine. "We ended up with 242 hp and 219 lb-ft of torque at 10 psi of boost," Ejay says. "However, we were losing power due to restrictions with some of the piping, which was all banged up from the car being too low to the ground."
What's next for the Jerkwrench EP? "The car is done, I'm going to test it out and see how it does at the track," Ejay says.
His friends refer to him as a "show ho" who drives a "minivan". Gardening tools? Vans? We have no idea. We see an individual who possessed the wherewithal to take something completely ordinary and transform it into something special. Ejay will simply tell you, "It's been a long journey but this is not the last for me, I will be back, guaranteed!"
BOLTS AND WASHERS:
Ejay Cruz's EP3 Civic
Innovative engine mounts
RC Engineering 650cc fuel injectors
BDL fuel rail
BLOX Racing fuel pressure gauge
JVT T3/T4 turbocharger
JVT cast-iron, top mount manifold
JVT 2.5-inch downpipe
JVT 38mm wastegate
GReddy Type RS blow-off valve
NGK Iridium spark plugs
GReddy SP2 exhaust
JVT test pipe
Clutchnet six-puck clutch
Evolution Industries flywheel
Hondata K-pro engine management
Buddy Club N+ Spec dampers
CorSport rear upper strut bar
Rims & rubber:
17x8 Volk Racing CE28N (+38 offset)
215/45-17 Falken Ziex
JDM '02 CTR front end
Walker Japan front lip
ARC air splitters
VIS Racing side skirts
VIS Racing rear bumper
VIS Racing rear wing
Honda Access window visors
Taffeta White paint
Recaro Pole Position seat
Takata MPH340R four-point harnesses/gel pads
Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel
Mugen steering wheel boss
NRG V2.0 quick release
DC2 ITR shift boot
Mugen shift knob
J's Racing C-pillar bar
GReddy Profec B-spec boost controller
A'PEXi turbo timer
JVT boost gauge
Alpine CDA-9883 head unit
God, girlfriend and mom for letting me do what I do
Jerkwrench crew for the blood and sweat, especially Miles, Miguel, Christian, Mario and Jed
Carlo and Alan at Tunerz Image
Vi at JVT Racing
Chuck and Rocky at Showstoppers USA
Bisi at Bisimoto Engineering
Dennis at Evasive Motorsports
Danny at SIX Autoworks
Rick at A-1 Auto Body
Steve at www.racecoated.com
Jeff at Custom Creations
Andy at VIS Racing
Mike at High End Autosports
David at R&D Motorsports
Nam and Trent with detailing
The homies on www.ephatch.com and
Hometown: Corona, Calif.
Most played in the iPod: "Nas is Like" by Nas
Favorite kicks: Nike Air Max II
Recent DVD: Superbad
Bogus traffic tickets: Fine for a rolling stop
Mac or PC: PC
Favorite non-Honda: '05 and up Porsche 911 Turbo
Porn star pick: Eva Angelina
Hottest model: My girlfriend