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1993 Honda Civic DX - Trading Spaces

If You're The Guy Who Traded Away This Civic For A Crx, Promptly Kick Yourself Now

Joey Lee
Oct 14, 2008
Photographer: Tracy Stocker

Paul Armstrong's '93 Civic DXThroughout History, many lopsided trades have taken place. Babe Ruth for $100,000, Vlade Divac for Kobe Bryant, or the kid on the playground who traded you his slap bracelet for your prismatic Pog slammer. At some point, someone's gotten the raw end of the deal. It's like trading a night of sobriety for a lifetime of STDs. If we told you that Paul Armstrong's Civic was bartered for a CRX, you might think it was the deal of a lifetime, but as good as that may sound, Paul still had his work cut out for him in order to tip that scale in his favor.

Paul acquired the hatchback from a fellow Ohio native back in 2005. The deal that seemed too good to be true almost was. "When I arrived to make the trade, the Civic didn't look too bad from a distance," Paul says. Further inspection revealed a poorly mounted rear bumper, a bunch of door dings, and a bad crash repair. The rear had been hit and then repaired with about a gallon of putty and paint. Even so, Paul loved the idea of having a Civic so much that he agreed to make the trade anyway. "I ended up doing the trade without even driving the car because I wanted a Civic that bad," Paul says. That moment of haste would come back to bite Paul in the butt two weeks later though, when the stock D-series took a crap on him. "It was my daily grinder that I had to get back on the road," Paul says, "So I bought the D16Z6 off of my friend who totaled his coupe and got it running." Thinking that he had the Civic running perfect again, he traded dailies with his fiance who commuted more than Paul. Everything seemed to work out fine until the future Mrs. Armstrong called and informed Paul that the Civic he loved left his wife-to-be stranded in a bad part of town. It was around this time that Paul decided something drastic needed to be done.

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

A bit of research led Paul and his fiance to a K20A2 swap in Michigan that also seemed too good to be true. "We were kind of skeptical because of how cheap they wanted for it, but they said it was a whole complete dropout with everything intact so we ended up leaving the next day after work and driving seven hours to Michigan," Paul says. Nothing sounds as sketchy as driving that many hours to buy something that may or may not be a bust, but Paul is a man of chance. Either that or he loves to play with fire. "When we got there the place looked empty, like they had already closed up," Paul says, "So after about an hour of beating on doors and ringing bells a guy finally came out to help us." The driving and waiting paid off. The K was complete and even better than advertised, so Paul paid up, packed up, and headed back to Ohio. "It was a long trip and I only got about three hours of sleep before I had to be up for work, but having the swap sitting by the car in the garage made everything worth it," Paul says.

Body and paintwork just so happen to be two of Paul's favorite hobbies, so he decided to revamp the entire bay before the engine would make its way to its new home. "By the time I was done grinding and welding in holes in the bay, I had welded every single one I didn't need, which ended up being over 50," Paul says. Paul also grinded down the seams, relocated the battery, and hid the brake lines. Over 90 man-hours were put into the bay before it was ready for paint. He then turned his attention toward the exterior, which needed much TLC. Paul repaired each dent and ding and replaced the stock, rusted, and beat-down quarter-panels with new pieces. "The worst thing that happened was when we were welding up the front floor plate for the rollbars and the car caught fire from underneath somewhere, but we couldn't get to it," Paul says. "We could see the fire through a 1-inch hole in the framerail but could hardly get any water in there to put it out. I thought for sure it was going to get bigger and take the car down inside the garage but after awhile it finally went out. It was one of the worst feelings ever." Paul made sure this '93 hatch was looking better than the day it came from the factory before he applied a custom-mixed coat of orange metallic throughout the chassis. After paint, a VIS carbon-fiber hood and front lip were installed.

Completing the shell meant that the K20A was ready for its new home, so Paul enlisted the help of his dad to give him a hand. The only thing better than having a hobby you love is having one that your friends and family support. It's enough to make an otherwise meaningless build meaningful. The engine went in and it was off to SlowMotion Motorsports for dyno tuning. The first time out to the track, Paul was able to run consistent 12.50 e.t.'s with the stock K-series. "Initially, when I was in the planning stages for this car, I knew I wanted to build a really fast car because my buddies and I were always out drag racing," Paul says. "Most of the guys around our town were raised to be big V-8 domestic guys and laughed at us Honda guys because they thought our cars were slow. Reading magazines like Honda Tuning is what inspired me to keep building Hondas." One fateful night and a ride inside a turbo Integra owned by SlowMotion Motorsports sealed the deal for Paul. It was time for boost. The only issue that lingered was that Paul didn't want to clutter up the very bay that he painstakingly put together. The guys at SlowMotion assured him that all would be well and just five days later the hatchback was producing a healthy 498 whp at 13 psi. Such numbers are made possible thanks to a Precision GT3582R turbo mated to a SlowMotion side-mount manifold. The setup is complemented with a 2-inch dump tube, intercooler piping, and a 3-inch turbo back exhaust, all done by Corey and the guys at SlowMotion. Fuel delivery is made possible thanks to Corey, who installed custom lines and fittings, a custom rail, and a Walbro pump.

"I'm not a JDM junky or a guy who will buy the rarest of rare parts just to say I have them," Paul says. "I like clean, functional parts that don't break the bank." Instead of opting for the usual Recaro/Takata theme, Paul opted for SR fiberglass seats that he claims weigh 30 pounds less per seat. Paul also went for g-Force five-point harnesses, which are race legal but don't rape the wallet. He then took the money he saved and got two sets of wheels: A set of 15x7 HPD Hairpins mounted to 205/50 Falken RT615s for the street and 13-inch Lensos on M&H slicks for tearing down the 1320.

"I love this car, it's a blast to drive with nearly 500 hp on tap in a 2,100-pound car. It's a beast," Paul says. "The car has been hitting 10.50s all day long and we're looking to go faster by the end of the year." You want to trade a CRX for a 400-plus horsepower K-swapped Civic hatchback? Sounds like a great deal to us.

Htup_0810_17_z+1993_honda_civic_dx+hair_pin_wheels Photo 16/16   |   1993 Honda Civic DX - Trading Spaces

Bolts & Washers
K20A2 engine
Hasport mounts
BDL 70mm throttle body
Karcepts throttle body adapter
Civic Si intake manifold
Hondata intake manifold gasket
Precision GT3582R turbocharger
PWR intercooler
SlowMotion Motorsports intercooler piping
TiAL 50mm blow-off valve
TiAL 60mm wastegate
SlowMotion Motorsports 2-inch dump tube
DEI exhaust wrap
SlowMotion Motorsports exhaust manifold
Motorsports 3-inch downpipe
Custom 3-inch exhaust piping
Vibrant 3-inch muffler
Walbro 255lph fuel pump
Precision 1,000cc fuel injectors
SlowMotion Motorsports fuel rail
Summit fuel lines and fittings
SlowMotion Motorsports fuel filter
Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
Fluidyne radiator
SPAL slim fan
Karcepts shifter box
Clutchmasters FX400 clutch
ACT Streetlite flywheel
Perrin boost control solenoid
Hondata K-Pro
Hybrid Racing K-swap harness

Skunk2 coilovers
KYB AGX shocks
Blox camber kit
Blox rear lower control arms

Brembo cross-drilled/slotted rotors
Hawk HP pads
Earl's steel braided lines

Rims & Rubber:
15x7 HPD Hairpin (+40 offset)
Falken RT615 205/50-15
13-inch Lenso VPD
24.5-inch M&H slicks

Password:JDM fenders
Vision corner lights
VIS carbon-fiber front lip
VIS carbon-fiber hood
Vision side mirrors

S&W rollbar
SR fiberglass seats
G-Force SFI five-point harnesses
NRG hub
NRG quick release
NRG steering wheel
Auto Meter oil and boost pressure and water temp gauges
Auto Meter shift light
AEM wideband air/fuel meter

Bolts & Washers
Corey Parrish
Ryan Franti
SlowMotion Motorsports
Dem Boyz Crew

Owner Specs
Logan, Ohio

Daily grind:
Automotive paint and body

Favorite website:

Building Cars How Long:
Nine years

Favorite kicks:
DC shoes

Dream car:
Honestly, my car with more boost

Build Inspiration:
Turn heads, go fast

Can't Miss TV:

Auto Meter




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