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Ruben Rivera's 1991 Honda Civic Si - The Foundation

A Throwback To Simpler Times And The Civic That Started It All

Oct 14, 2008

The '88-'91 Civic carries some serious weight upon its somewhat boxy yet curiously streamlined shoulders. Originally intended by many as a grocery getter or perhaps an economical family car that could be passed down, this generation of Civics carried on the tradition of being cheap, reliable, and easily obtainable. As the tidal wave of import street racing crashed upon the clone-like business parks of Southern California, a Honda presence seemed to be increasing more than any other make. Being the cheapest of Honda's fleet, the Civic dominated the number of H-badged street warriors and a reputation for being quick and nimble was soon earned. Almost 20 years and a number of changes later, the EF chassis is still known as the foundation that the modern age of Honda tuning was based upon. Though just about every possible persona has been slapped onto the Civic chassis, including 9-second drag monsters and lowriders, it continues to carry a bit of tradition and old-school honor. Admittedly though, these days it's tough to find a well-rounded build like Ruben Rivera's.

In 2003, knowing that an early model Civic would not only be affordable, but would take nicely to most any modification, Ruben and his father set out to find a project car. A chance encounter at a local hamburger spot and $2,000 later and Ruben was driving home in a stock '91 Si. It sounds like a steal but there were a few problems-like the bent inner and outer tie rods that gave the car a nasty pull to the right under acceleration. Ruben took a hands-on approach though and began learning more about his new car by wrenching on it himself. "After I finished the suspension repairs, I decided to try and squeeze more power out of the little SOHC motor with the regular bolt-on stuff," Ruben says. As the minor upgrades went on, research on engine swaps became priority, and a new heart was eminent. A DOHC ZC engine proved to be cheap and easy to install, but only temporarily satisfied his need for more power. Ruben later sourced a B16A, replaced the belts and water pump, and then completed the install, though it didn't turn over immediately. "I later found out the plugs and wires were soaked, so I changed them out and it fired right up," Ruben says. "It was the happiest moment for me to know I did it myself with just some basic tools, a wiring schematic, and some common sense." The B16A block is topped with a B16B CTR head, and gets a breath of fresh air from a BDL throttle body and Blox intake manifold. Toda adjustable cam gears allow for fine-tuning of the CTR camshafts while a BDL fuel regulator controls the flow. Password:JDM's carbon-fiber intake snakes through the right side of the bay, while a Rage tri-Y exhaust manifold is front and center and mates to a GReddy SP2 cat-back exhaust system. A JDM Y1 tranny stuffed with an Exedy Stage 1 clutch and Spoon flywheel help put the power to the pavement.

2018 Honda Civic
$18,940 Base Model (MSRP) 28/40 MPG Fuel Economy

To update the Civic's aging suspension, Ruben chose Energy Suspension bushings and an Ingall's alignment kit to straighten out the ride. Function & Form V2 coilovers with Ground Control top hats set the ride height and improve the handling. A Cusco front shock tower bar complements the Skunk2 rear bar, and an EM Racing upper triangular bar kit is planted in the rear hatch to improve rigidity. DA Integra brakes reside at all four corners and feed off of an ITR master cylinder teamed with Goodridge lines and Motul fluid. Ruben's wheel choices change rapidly. Today he has a set of 15-inch Volk TE37s wrapped in Falken Azenis tires. Tomorrow, who knows?

The interior resembles something of a purpose-built race car with everything from the front seats to the rear hatch stripped out and an Autopower rollbar with a custom harness bar anchored down. A single Recaro Speed bucket seat with a Sparco harness holds Ruben in place while he grips his Personal Neo Grinta steering wheel and stomps on Mugen sport pedals. Bringing the Spoon shift knob conveniently closer to the wheel is an FLP race shifter.

No build is complete without a little exterior flair to complement the rest. Opting for a complete facelift, a JDM EF9 frontend conversion, splash guards, rear bumper with lip, and a rear wing made its way onto Ruben's wish list. In the rear, a J's Racing wing cover adds some length to the OEM piece, and a Mugen towhook is custom-fabbed into the bumper. To freshen up the body and color match his newfound body pieces, Ruben enlisted the help of Custom Madness to spray the car Aviator Gray Pearl inside and out. A set of Vision Type MC carbon-fiber mirrors, a J's Racing front lip, and HOP window visors round off the exterior changes.

A cheap startup, followed by plenty of research and wrench time as well as trial and error produced a Civic built as prominent today as it would have been back in '91. If you're thinking this car stays in the garage most of the time, think again. Ruben proudly says: "I built this car by myself, out of my garage. I wanted it to be a daily driver, and that's exactly what it is. I'll be installing an ITR motor with individual throttle bodies and getting some dyno time, and then it's off to the track to see what it can really do." That, friends, is the epitome of Honda tuning.

Bolts & WashersPropulsion:
JDM B16A block
JDM B16B head
Innovative mounts
CTR camshafts
Toda adjustable cam gears
Skunk2 valvesprings
ITR oil pump
Password:JDM carbon-fiber intake
BDL 68mm throttle body
Blox intake manifold
BDL fuel rail
BDL fuel regulator
BDL fuel filter
B&M fuel pressure gauge
Earl's fittings and stainless lines
Rage exhaust manifold
Custom test pipe
GReddy SP2 exhaust
Heeltoe battery tray
JDM Y1 transmission
Exedy Stage 1 clutch
Spoon Sports flywheel
Mugen radiator cap
BDL oil cap

Stance:
Function & Form V2 coilovers
Ground Control top hats
Suspension Techniques antiroll bars
Energy Suspension bushings
Ingall's alignment kit
Cusco front shock tower bar
Skunk2 rear shock tower bar
EM Racing triangular brace
Autopower rollbar

Resistance:
DA Integra disc conversion
OEM/Brembo discs
Motul fluid
DC2 ITR master cylinder and booster
Goodridge steel braided lines

Rims & rubber:
15x6.5 Volk TE37 (+39 offset)
205/50-15 Falken Azenis RT615

Outside:
JDM EF9 frontend conversion
JDM EF9 rear bumper, lip, and wing
J's Racing wing cover
J's Racing front lip
Password:JDM side skirts
Mugen towhook
Aviator Gray Pearl paint
Vision Type MC carbon-fiber mirrors
HOP window visors

Inside:
Recaro Speed bucket seat
Sparco 3-inch harness
Personal Neo Grinta steering wheel
FLP Race shifter
Spoon Sports shift knob
Mugen sport pedals
A'PEXi VAFC2 meter
JDM EF9 gauge cluster
NRG short hub
NRG quick release
Carbon-fiber fuel pump cover

Bolts & Washers
Props:
My family
Marcus at www.heeltoeauto.com
Charlie at Custom Madness
Carlos at BDL Industries
Tim at Innovative Mounts
Preston at Function & Form
Carlos at Costa Mesa Power Honda
Shaun at SportCarMotion
Max at Logic Motorsports
Louie at L-Con Race Car Fabrication
Steve Sullivan
Brandon Powers
Chris Ortega
Phil Gonzales
Erik Meza
Gabriel Cruz
James Harris
Trang

Owner Specs
Hometown:
The OC

Daily grind:
Diesel technician

favorite website:
www.nwp4life.com

Building Cars How Long:
Six years

Favorite Kicks:
ES Kosten 3

Dream Car:
Ferrari 430 Scuderia

Build Inspiration:
General interest

Can't Miss TV:
HBO: Cathouse series

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