Loi Song’s 1994 Civic CX
When Loi Song, owner of Sportcar Motion in San Marcos, CA, heard about the Castrol Syntec Top Car Challenge series, he headed straight for his laptop to register. No stranger to stiff competition, the thirty-something native of Hong Kong was immediately overcome with thoughts of going head to head with some of the meanest and nastiest cars around. His little white ’94 Civic CX hatchback had already caused quite a stir at race events throughout 2008, but it was the record-setting pace set in 2009 that raised even more eyebrows. Just a few years ago, Sportcar Motion produced another white hatchback that managed to work its way to the top of the food chain in the SFWD drag race series. Always a fan and participant in road race events, Song sensed a shift in enthusiasts’ interest, and was confident that the industry would soon concentrate more on road events, rather than drag events. With the future of drag racing under scrutiny, attention was turned toward building a completely street-able Civic with enough power and finesse to hold its own against far more powerful competitors.
If you’ve never met Song, his demeanor is usually very relaxed, with a comedic and friendly side that most know him by. However, there’s another side to this SoCal entrepreneur. Sometimes he’s a quiet and complex thinker who seems to channel every bit of energy and attention into the task at hand. This is the dangerous side, the one that will spend hours making tiny adjustments to the car’s suspension during all-night corner balancing sessions. Or you may find him scouring the internet all day in search of new ways to produce just a few more horsepower, or perhaps uncover a strategy to increase exit speeds. This is the Song that slipped through the cracks, and his Civic, with driver Tim Kuo, ended up as a Buttonwillow FWD record setter with a blistering 1:55.809.
The K24block/K20 head combo had proven itself to be effective and reliable under the harshest of conditions. Changing out cams, altering compression ratios, and experimenting with various exhaust systems and sizing eventually paid off. In all motor trim, the Frankenstein motor was able to inch its way toward the 300hp mark; more than enough power to move the lightweight chassis around the track and into the winners circle at many events. However, knowing that the level of competition during The Castrol Syntec Top Car Challenge would probably be relying on supercars with sky-high levels of boost and monstrous turbo upgrades, Song placed a call to Dr. Charles and Oscar Jackson. With the help of Skunk2 and Kraftwerks, a highly efficient Rotrex supercharger was chosen for battle. The Hondata-controlled Rotrex kit propels the featherweight CX to just under 470 horsepower on the rollers. The newfound power offers a whole new challenge to Kuo, who has to find a way to control the fury that lies under the hood.
I was given the opportunity to take the Civic on a controlled sprint around the block, close to the shop. It was early morning, my senses dulled from a lack of sleep and the absence of caffeine. I made my way into the shop where I was greeted by the angriest mug I’d ever seen on a Civic. Before I could get on the road, my first challenge was climbing into the Recaro bucket seat. With helmet supports on both sides, and a deep cradle, I somehow managed to squeeze myself past the seat’s protrusions and eventually slid in. Slightly frayed from consistent usage, I grabbed a bright green Takata harness strap in each hand and locked them into their designated chambers.
My left leg, feeling quite a bit of resistance, firmly floored the clutch pedal as my right hand fired up the K series motor. Harsh race mounts combined with a 3-inch exhaust worked like a triple Espresso, jarring me out of my morning sleepwalk. My next obstacle was to carefully make my way out of the parking lot. Not wanting to inflict any unnecessary scars to the Civic, I cut the driveway sideways and slowly inched onto the street. The lightweight flywheel and lightened assembly made the 2.4L bark with authority at the slightest blip of the throttle. Once on the road, the RPM stayed below 3,000 in order to get the car up to operating temperature.
However, even while babying the throttle, the power was apparent. As the temperature began to rise, my right foot began to smother the gas pedal. I’m convinced that first gear is just used to pull this car out of the garage, because anymore than 20% throttle and it’s a distant memory in the blink of an eye. As I eased into second gear, the torque produced by the Rotrex supercharger mated to the 2.4L block was awe inspiring and scary at the same time. The gurgle from the exhaust and the snap of the dash as I was rocketed forward served as a reminder that this wasn’t a dream, it was reality, and third gear was just begging for me to welcome him to the party. Popping the shifter into third with partial throttle crushed every bad thought I’ve ever conjured up about supercharged Hondas.
Gone was the waiting period that accompanied most N/A setups in reaching their sweet spot. Farewell to turbo lag and the rush of power that comes and sweeps you off your feet when it feels like it. The supercharger made gobs of power from the very bottom to the very top, and I was reaching stupid speeds (for a public road) almost immediately, and decided to let off. With my eyes a little watery from essentially being shot out of a canon, I thought I’d hit a few turns before bringing the beast back to its cage. The suspension, sporting custom 22k front and 14k rear spring rates offered a ride almost as cushy as a wooden wagon on the Oregon Trail in the 1840s. However, the stiff rates offered a fistful of confidence as I tossed it into a few short, tight turns. With virtually no body roll, the car seemed to lay completely flat all the way through the turn, almost pestering me to push it harder. Deciding to quit while I was ahead, I ignored the little devil on my shoulder, and headed back to base.
Loi Song has a stable of cars built for competition, and all are impressive. But this one in particular was chosen to represent Honda Tuning Magazine in the Castrol Syntec Top Car Challenge for the mere fact that it’s the classic Honda formula. An enthusiast takes an innocent hatchback, completely reworks it from top to bottom and surprises the competition. And any gear head can relate to that, even non-Honda owners.
Bolts & Washers
Kraftwerks Rotrex Supercharger
Kraftwerks blow-off valve
Intercooler and piping by Dr. Charles Madrid
Crankshaft lightened and balanced
JE 13.7:1 custom pistons
Crower Max-light connecting rods
K20a2 cylinder head
Modified RBC intake manifold
Portflow port and polish
Skunk2 70mm throttle body, Skunk2 stage III cams, Skunk2 oversized valves, Skunk2 pro series valvesprings, Skunk2 pro series retainers, Skunk2 exhaust manifold, Skunk2 3in muffler
Custom 3in exhaust piping
Walbro 255lph fuel pump
RC 650cc injectors
SX fuel regulator
HaSport motor mounts
Custom aluminum radiator
Accusump oil accumulator
Machine work by VW Paradise
RSX Type-S transmission
Buddy Club shift box
Exedy Hyper single
Exedy lightweight flywheel
Kaaz LSD with 4.78 final drive
MR2 power steering pump
Skunk2 oil cap, Skunk2 radiator cap
Odyssey mini battery
Tein SRC coilovers (22k front, 14k rear)
OEM ITR anti-sway bars
Special Projects spherical bushing kit
Skunk2 camber kit, ASR rear lower brace
Autopower bolt-in roll bar
Next Miracle X bar
OEM ITR front and rear (now switched to Wilwood 6 piston fronts)
Hawk blue brake pads
Earl’s stainless steel brake lines
Rims & Rubber
Advan RG1 16x8 (+35 offset)
Toyo Proxes R888 225/45-16
J’s Racing front half bumper
Sportcar Motion plywood front splitter
Sportcar Motion canards
APR carbon fiber wing w/custom pedestals
Sportcar Motion exposed tow hook
Sportcar Motion carbon fiber rear wing
Spoon side mirrors
Vision amber corner lights
HOP tinted window visors
Fiber Images carbon fiber hood
OEM EG6 sidemarkers
OEM EG6 rear wing
Custom flared fenders
BDL rear tow hook
Recaro Pro Racer bucket seat
Takata 5-pt harness
Defi oil pressure and water temperature gauges
Personal suede steering wheel
Skunk2 shift knob
I would like to thank all of our sponsors: Skunk2, Kraftwerks, Hondata, Rywire, HaSport, Toyo Tires, Tein USA. Also, thank you to Castrol Syntec for the opportunity to compete in the shootout
Screen name or nickname:
Building Hondas for how long:
My friends in San Diego with clean Civics. They got me into Hondas
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