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2000 Honda Civic CX Hatchback - Finding The Niche

What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

Rodrez
Apr 13, 2009
Photographer: Henry De Kuyper
Htup 0904 01 o+2000 honda civic CX+VIS front lip Photo 1/21   |   HTUP-090400-052-57-EK

Everyone remembers sitting in their tiny wooden elementary school desks as the teacher tried her best to hold her students’ attention, if only for minutes at a time. The age-old question would always come up: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For some, it’s a simple one, and they’d belt out an enthusiastic “fireman!” or “doctor!” Some childhood dreams come about from careful planning, even dedication. Others do not. For some, that classic question isn’t quite so simple. Over the years, outside influences or perhaps a change of heart might steer one down a road that’s void of painstaking planning and all-out effort in the classroom.

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Matt Pratt of Baltimore, Maryland, is a guy who seemed to lose all focus when behind the tiny wooden desk, and during the seemingly endless days of high school, ran into his fair share of scholastic dilemmas. “I was having trouble in school and basically failing some of my boring classes. So I decided to try learning something in the auto body field. Turns out I had a knack for painting,” he says. More than just a subtle ability, Matt showed promise immediately, especially in the paint booth. After some dedication and hard work, he was slated to do battle in the annual Skills USA auto body competition. His first experience with the Skills organization proved successful, as he walked away carrying First Place awards for both regional and state divisions. Advancing even further in the series, with more than 70 competitors nipping at his heels during the national level competition, Matt was able to secure a Sixth Place finish and cement himself as one of the nation’s best. His success under pressure soon led to the full-time position he now holds as one of O’Donnell Honda’s youngest painters to date.

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

Matt’s always been a car guy, but with a history of working on old-school muscle like his ’67 Mustang and ’68 Barracuda, one might wonder how this paint gun marksman stumbled into the world of Hondas. “A friend of mine was always going through cars so quickly. He had everything from a ’98 Blazer on Daytons, to a fixed-up ’97 Talon. At one point he owned a Civic that I really liked, so I ended up getting one for myself. Like always, he moved on to something else right away, but I stuck with it and never looked back,” Matt says. “Everyone around here drives STIs or EVOs, but I prefer my Civic.”

Matt’s ’00 CX hatchback would soon be on the receiving end of a flurry of upgrades. And with such a finely tuned skill under his belt, it was inevitable that Matt would unleash his painting ability on his own build. After the mandatory suspension and wheel changes, he decided to get down to business and strip the Civic entirely. “I tore it apart, painted it inside and out, every square inch. I wanted to clean up the bay quite a bit, so I shaved some of the sheet metal and I planned on tucking everything nice and neat,” he says. Once completed and satisfied that the body met his strict standards, attention was turned toward a suitable power source. Originally, a low-mileage CTR engine had powered the CX during its maiden voyage following a two-year stint in the garage, but a side project in the form of an LS-VTEC powerplant was already in the works.

Growing tired of drag racing, Matt attended a Supra track day at Virginia International Raceway with a good friend and was quickly recruited by the road race army. “Smashing turns and hitting 160 mph on the straights was pretty much the end of my drag racing days. I knew I had to road race, and everything I threw at the car from that point on was intended to make it a better road race car,” Matt says. Once the new engine went in, smiles soon turned to frowns as an oil pump failure reared its ugly head and put the project on the injured list. Not one to give up without a fight, Matt and friends started all over again, this time armed with a better quality oil pump. A new block punched out to two liters was mated to a VTEC head and carefully shoehorned into the bay. Once again, a black cloud was perched overhead as oiling issues claimed yet another victim. For some, having two built engines in the grave would be reason enough to throw in the towel, but for Matt it just meant there’d be another delay in the build. Thinking that the third time would no doubt be the charm, a fully built B20B block and B16A head was prepped for duty. But alas, the engine gods were once again angered and decided to pull apart Matt’s magnetic oil drain plug, in turn, jamming his oil pump gear. Fearing the absolute worst, the engine was opened up to reveal that the damage was minimal. Matt reports that the engine found its way home and is now fully operational. “It’s just one of those things, a part of building any car. Sometimes everything is perfect and other times you run into big problems. Luckily I had help from Mike over at TSR on the build, and Joe from Tempest who helped out with the tuning. Now the car is back on the road with the B20-VTEC and it’s ready to race,” he tells us.

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Yes, Matt may have lacked direction early on, but he managed to earn a career in a field he loves and build a standout Honda that turns heads in a town seemingly overrun by STis and EVOs. His paint skills have not only garnered him nationwide recognition but have also allowed him to barter with friends for custom work and tuning when necessary. You simply cannot beat that. Somebody tell Matt’s elementary school teacher that, apparently, he’s found his niche.

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion:
B20B block
B16A head
Hasport engine mounts
Golden Eagle sleeves
Knife-edged crankshaft
JE 13.5:1 pistons
Eagle H-Beam rods
Eagle oil line kit
Custom oil breather tank
Extrude Hone port work
Supertech valves
Toda valve springs
Toda titanium retainers
Toda camshafts
ITR lost motion assembly
TWM ITB assembly
Walbro fuel pump
RC 370cc fuel injectors
Hondata S300
Buddy Club battery
Earl’s fittings and lines
ProFab header
Fluidyne radiator
Samco Sport hoses
Spoon Sports N1 muffler
Omni Power test pipe
B16A transmission
Exedy Stage 2 clutch
Fidanza lightened flywheel
Quaife LSD
ATS final drive gear
Driveshaft shop Stage 3 axles

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Stance:
PIC Performance Select coilovers
PIC Performance custom top hats
CTR front antiroll bar
ASR rear subframe brace
Ingalls camber kits
Full-Race traction bars
CTR front lower control arms
Omni Power rear lower control arms

Resistance:
DC2 ITR disc brake conversion
Hawk pads
Earl’s steel-braided lines
Motul Dot 4 fluid
DC2 ITR master cylinder
DC2 ITR proportioning valve

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Rims & Rubber:
16x7 AME Tracers (+32 offset)
215/45- 16 Dunlop DZ101

Outside:
Custom orange/gold paint
Shaved emblems and antenna hole
CTR rear lip
CTR sideskirts
CTR moldings
CTR fenders
Spoon Sports carbon-fiber rear wing
Spoon Sports side mirrors
VIS carbon-fiber front lip
CTR headlights
TL projectors

Inside:
Autopower roll bar
Tempest harness bar
CTR gauge cluster
Mugen S1 bucket seats
Takata harnesses
NRG quick-release hub
Mugen pedals
Custom shift knob
Auto Meter oil pressure and air/fuel ratio gauges
CTR coin tray
CTR climate control

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Props:
O’Donnell Honda body shop managers
Howard Beaver and Roy Fordyce
Chris Wald
Jared Hintze
Scotty Mac
Dad and mom
Mike from TSR
Joe from Tempest Racing
Sean Bradford

Owner Specs

Hometown:
Baltimore, Maryland

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Daily grind:
O’Donnell Honda painter

Favorite website:
Censored!

Building cars for how long:
All my life

Favorite kicks:
Nike 6.0s

Dream car:
NSX-R

Build inspiration:
Spoon Sports race cars

Can’t miss TV:
No TV

Skills USA

Now in its 45th year of competition, Skills USA offers a competitive environment for career and technical education students. Categories include, but are not limited to, auto body, electronics, and precision machining on regional, state, and national levels. Competitions are run annually with the aid of industry leaders, trade associations, and labor organizations, with testing being set up by the industry itself. The program serves more than 300,000 students and instructors each year, with more than 13,000 chapters in 54 states and territories. Add to that a good 14,000 instructors and administrators and you have more useable information than you could possibly imagine. As a student, Matt Pratt used his newfound experience and raw talent to catapult himself to the top of his class during competition, which resulted in him landing a job as the youngest painter at O’Donnell Honda, thus securing a career for himself. Now looking to give back to the program that helped set him on the right track, Matt will serve as a judge for the state and regional competitions this year, along with his own hand-picked team of associates.

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For more informaton contact:
SkillsUSA
P.O. Box 3000
Leesburg, VA, 20177-0300
703-777-8810

Htup 0904 07 o+2000 honda civic CX+spoon sports rear wing Photo 18/21   |   HTUP-090400-052-57-EK
By Rodrez
656 Articles

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