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1996 Honda Civic DX - EK CHA MP

Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee…Aloha Style

Jonathan Thompson
Dec 29, 2010
Photographer: Henry Z. De Kuyper

Chris Bornios’ ’96 CIVIC DX Picturesque beaches, ladies dancing in hula skirts, and delicious barbeque are but three reasons to pluck coin from the piggy bank and scoot to Hawaii. But there’s another reason to visit the 50th state. Chris Bornios’ Championship White ’96 Civic hatchback—one that’s often mistaken for a legitimate Civic Type R—also has that effect (except for the LHD thing).

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Chris’ interest in Hondas began during high school, in part, due to a friend’s ’92-’95 body Civic coupe. A ’95 Accord EX of his own turned interest into enthusiasm. “At the time, the Accord was pretty quick,” he says. Chris went through six hatchbacks, two Integras, a slew of trucks, and a bunch of other cars that aren’t worth mentioning until he finally found a cheap Civic DX with a bad engine, which had otherwise been well maintained by an older couple. Knowing the hassles of importing a real CTR and the associated coinage, Chris opted to transform his hatch into an EK9. “Well, anybody can just buy a CTR if they have the money, but it is much more rewarding to build one yourself,” he says. The efforts of his brother Arnold and his car crew Vision in Progress Racing paid off, and the build resulted in Chris’ new nickname on the streets of Honolulu, “EK Champ.”

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

The journey was not straightforward though. Chris picked up the Civic to ease the pain of skyrocketing gas prices. He figured he’d slap on some wheels, drop it like it’s hot, plop in a B16A or a B18C, and still enjoy the great gas mileage. “My brother and friends talked me into getting something more powerful, and something that was different from what everybody else was running,” he admits. And so, Chris quickly scooped up a healthy B18C5 engine. During the swap he went ahead and added an ITR five-lug conversion and painted the hatch white to match his Championship White CTR wheels. After enjoying the car for six months, the Honda gods struck Chris with a painful bolt of lightning. A friendly race ended the newly purchased B18C5’s life.

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His friend had recently installed a turbo on an Integra so, naturally, a dual was in order. The two friends, amongst others, wanted to test out a naturally aspirated B18C5 against a turbo-equipped B18C1. Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion came into play as Chris accidentally shifted from Third to Second. “Needless to say, I won the race but lost my engine. It was crazy,” he laughs.

Cementing the Type R theme, sort of, he chose a JDM ITR K20A engine as the B18C5’s replacement. Given his street-adorned nick- name, he knew he had to assume the role as heavyweight champion. He became addicted to “for sale” threads as he snatched up every CTR part that he could find. “Parts were coming in almost on a daily basis. I started to get to know the Fed-Ex, UPS, and U.S. Postal Service drivers on a personal level. At times, they would call me in advance to see if I was home,” he says.

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As rare parts such as Canadian Recaro red rear seats and a discontinued Spoon Sports gauge cluster piled up, so did the bills. Chris was able to finance his habit through “working a back-breaking job as a drywall installer, buying and selling cars, and some of that plastic money,” he says. He also went out and bought two sets of Mugen MF10 rims for a cool $5,000 when he heard that Mugen was switching its name to M-TEC. Chris’ brother Arnold, also fittingly known as “Lucky,” received the other set of Mugen rims for his own ITR.

Chris credits Lucky and the VPR crew for the success of his EK9 clone. His brother helped him source rare JDM gems. “My brother was a big influence on me. He taught me that if I was going to build a car, to build it right the first time and save a lot of headaches in the future,” he says. His homeboy Finley and his cousin Jordan also worked on the car for more hours than he can recall.

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Chris remembers the night before he attended his first car show with his hatch pretty much done. It was the 2007 Import Showoff. The rest of his crew had their cars finished. Only his was left. He and four friends worked into the wee hours of the morning. Tinkerbell must have come along and sprinkled sleepy dust on the five as they tinkered with the Civic because Chris awoke in the garage to see his four friends fast asleep right where they had been working. But again, the efforts bore fruit as Chris took home Third Place in the JDM Honda class.

To be sure, a Honda with looks and guts good enough to place at a prominent car show is sure to draw attention from the domestic crowd. One day Chris went on a car cruise when, on the way home, he happened upon some sort of Mustang cruise. “Everyone wanted to see how my car would do, so I beat one guy. Then four other Mustangs lined up. I beat all four of them at once. I won’t forget the looks on their faces as I was passing them,” he says as he’s laughing.

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Chris was able to romp on his fellow Hawaiians with no more than 230 whp and a little bit of skill. The performance modifications make the Civic ear-piercing. “The first time I brought my two daughters Kristen and Jazlen out for a ride they wouldn’t take their hands away from their ears because they said it was just too loud,” he says.

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Reflecting upon his build, he offers some advice: “Build your car the way you want, not how you think everybody else would want. Be patient when buying parts and do your research. Race safe and don’t hate,” he says. The EK Champ might have to change his nickname to the EG Champ as Chris has sold his white hatch to a friend and begun working on a ’92 Civic hatchback. As Muhammad Ali once said, “If you even dream of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologize.” The Champ isn’t throwing in the towel anytime soon. Watch out.

Bolts & Washers

K20A engine
Hasport engine mounts
K-Tuned/ETD Racing cold-air intake
K&N air filter
Karcepts throttle body adaptor
Hondata intake manifold gasket
RBC intake manifold
R-Crew exhaust manifold
Custom 3-inch exhaust piping
Burns 3-inch race muffler
Walbro 255 lph fuel pump
Golden Eagle fuel rail
Autolab fittings and lines
Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
AEM fuel pressure gauge
Competition Clutch Stage 4 clutch
Hasport Stage 2 axles
Koyo aluminum radiator
K-Tuned/ETD Racing radiator brackets
EP3 crankshaft pulley
Mugen thermostat
Spoon Sports carbon-fiber spark plug cover
Spoon Sports radiator stay
Spoon Sports radiator cap
Spoon Sports oil cap
Spoon Sports reservoir hats
Hondata K-Pro ECU
Hasport K20 conversion wiring harness
NRG slim battery relocated
Fuse box relocated
Vision in Progress Racing wire tuck

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Tokico fully adjustable coilovers
Custom lower control arms
Next Miracle X brace
K-Tuned/ETD Racing traction bars
ITR crossmember
ITR control arms
’95 Civic non-power steering rack

ITR 5-lug conversion
ITR rotors
ITR pads
ITR calipers
Earl’s steel-braided lines
Honda heavy duty brake fluid

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Rims & Rubber:
16x7 Mugen MF10 (+50 offset)
205/40-16 Falken Azenis
ARP extended studs

’00 Civic complete front end
’00 Civic radiator support
Backyard Special front bumper
Backyard Special carbon-fiber front lip
JDM CTR grill
JDM CTR taillights
JDM Civic window visors
JDM CTR Honda emblems
JDM CTR side markers
JDM CTR thin side moldings
OEM Civic four-door handles
Spoon Sports side mirrors
ITR Championship White paint
Shaved antenna
Shaved rear wiper

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JDM CTR Recaro front seats
Canadian Recaro rear seats
Takata harnesses
JDM CTR steering wheel
JDM CTR carpet
JDM CTR roof liner
JDM CTR door panels
JDM CTR black inserts
JDM CTR sun visors
JDM CTR armrest delete
JDM CTR center console
’00 Civic dashboard
’00 Civic rear panels
’00 Civic tweeters
Mugen pedals
Karcepts shifter relocator
JDM CTR titanium shift knob
Spoon Sports EK9 gauge cluster

My wife Janna
My two beautiful daughters
My parents
Arnold AKA “Lucky”
My right-hand man Jordan
Warren at W&S Autobody
Roy and Aaron of Team Ultraspeed
Team Racing Pretty gurus
Chester, Russ, Randy, Lyn, Jay, Jan
The entire VPR family
Hawaii teams reppin’ the 808 state

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Owner Specs

Honolulu, Hawaii

Daily Grind:
Drywall technician, American pit-bull terrier breeder

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Favorite website:

Building Cars For How Long:
12 years

Favorite Kicks:
Converse Chucks

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Dream car:
BMW M5 with stage 3 turbo

Build Inspiration:
To be Hawaii’s “EK Champ”

Can’t Miss TV:
Anything MMA, racing, or pit-bull related

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Compton, AK 90220
Hawthorne, CA 90250
HASport Performance
Phoenix, AZ 85040
Falken Tire
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