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1991 Honda Civic Hatchback - Made-To-Measure

Being the first to attempt a new conversion is simple - as long as you understand that nothing will fit, and you'll end up modify everything.

Simon Cooke
Sep 1, 2009
Htup 0909 15 o+1991 honda civic hatchback+JDM front lip Photo 1/9   |   HTUP-090900-074-78-COUPE

As far as the owner of this car knows, his car is probably the only JDM Civic EF9/K20A engine conversion on the planet. And judging by the problems which Jonathan Byrne encountered during the conversion process, we're certainly inclined to believe him. And it didn't come cheap; total cost? Around $22,400-and that's not including the labor as he did the majority of the hands-on work himself, with help from some friends in the trade. Having got the team at ICETronix to source a totally standard EF9 JDM Civic and import it from Japan for about $4,200, Jonathan was initially delighted with his new toy. "It was gorgeous," he remembers. "But then after a few months it just wasn't quick enough and I started to think about an engine conversion."

Htup 0909 11 o+1991 honda civic hatchback+type r red recaros Photo 2/9   |   HTUP-090900-074-78-COUPE

Via the delights of the internet, he discovered that K20 conversions were a tried and trusted method for raising the car's potential. Well at least in the USA. However, and it's a big however - the majority of parts needed are produced for US-spec models. Although the Japanese imports might look the same, aside from some cosmetic differences such as headlights, bonnets and interior trim, in reality they're world's apart. As Jonathan was about to discover. "I wanted my car to be different, but that was my downfall," he admitted. "The moral of this story is that just about everything had to be modified to fit my car." Yes, in hindsight, putting an English-spec engine into a JDM car using American tuning and conversion parts was never going to be a straightforward task.

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

About the only item he remembered being a direct fit, as he expected, were the DC2 brakes. The Skunk2 exhaust for an 88-99 EF should have bolted straight on, but it didn't. And the TEIN coilovers took hours of grinding to coax them on, and the car still doesn't sit as low as he'd like. On the subject of suspension, he also fitted an updated bushing kit. Well, kind of. Only about half the bushings actually fit, and he's had to fabricate the rest of the kit by purchasing a set of Integra bushings as well. ICETronix sourced a suitable K20A engine from a Civic Type-R, but the Hasport engine mounts were quite different, and needed severe alterations to make them fit. At the rear, the engine sits on an EK20 mount. "The gearbox was hitting the rear cross member so we had to cut a bit out of that," he said. "The bonnet was nowhere near closing so we had to shave the dipstick and the oil filler cap, and then remove the bonnet's inner skin before we could actually close it." He couldn't justify the cash for a carbon fiber hood, besides he's not really a big fan anyway. Jonathan wanted the engine bay to look as neat and tidy as possible, so he ripped out the unsightly ABS, air-conditioning, and the power steering, and relocated the battery. "The wiring was a bit of a nightmare and in the end, Hybrid Racing made a custom loom for me," revealed Jonathan. But it didn't arrive with any instructions which led to a lot of late night (because of the Ireland/USA time difference) emails and phone calls to the U.S. for advice, while Jonathan and his local electrical expert Ralph wired everything up. "By this time I was wishing I was into gardening or golf, anything rather than cars," admitted Jonathan with a grin. But he'd already passed the point of no return and was committed to finishing the project off; he'd already invested too much time, money and effort to abandon it.

Htup 0909 14 o+1991 honda civic hatchback+hasport K20A EF custom swap engine mount Photo 3/9   |   1991 Honda Civic Hatchback - Made-To-Measure

Having removed the power steering pump to tidy up the engine bay, the steering was a bit of a disaster. To make things easier, a steering rack from a non-power steering EF was fitted. And he experienced driveshaft problems as well. The passenger side Hasport driveshaft kept popping out, prompting them to relocate the gearbox to hold it into position. On the outside, the car remains fairly standard looking. Aside from a fresh coat of white paint, Jonathan kept it pretty much as nature intended. "I wanted it to look standard so that people had no idea when I blew them off from the lights," he admitted. Although those in the know might have an inkling of what's under the bonnet if they spotted the K20A stickers.

Htup 0909 10 o+1991 honda civic hatchback+JDM rear lip Photo 4/9   |   HTUP-090900-074-78-COUPE

He managed to overcome trials and tribulations to get the car on the road, and he says it was well worth all the effort. "It's 240 bhp and it only weights about 900 kgs so it's very quick," he points out. "It wheelspins in the wet up to 4th gear. Even as standard, these cars came with 17-inch alloys, so with my 15s there is lots of wheel spin and torque steer."

Unfortunately the car hasn't run problem free since it was unleashed on the road around Dublin. Irish roads are nowhere near as smooth as a race track and to date; he'd buckled 5 alloys and scrapped a hole in the sump, not once but twice! One solution might be to fit a sump guard, but that would be touching the ground all the time!

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
K20a out of EP3
P/S Pump Removed
A/C Pump Removed
Fidanza Lightened And Balanced Flywheel
AEM High Flow Fuel Rail
AEM Adjustable Fuel Pressure Regulator
AEM Fuel Filter
Hybrid Racing Braided Fuel Lines
Custom Intake With AEM Filter
DC Sports Custom Race Exhaust Manifold
Skunk2 Full Exhaust System
Golpher Full Width Custom Aluminium Radiator
Hasport K20a EF Custom Swap Engine Mounts
Hondata K-Pro Ecu With Launch Control
Full Rpm Gear Changes
Hybrid Racing Custom Loom Harness
Battery Relocated To Boot
Custom Throttle Cable
All Lights and auxiliary wiring hidden in chassis
EP3 Gearbox
DC5 Gear Linkages And Bb4 Prelude Selector
DC5 Helical Lsd
ATS 5.1 Final Drive
Custom Clutch Cable
Hasport Up-Rated Drive-Shafts
Hasport Cable To Hydro Clutch Converter

Htup 0909 12 o+1991 honda civic hatchback+K20A Photo 8/9   |   The K20a swap increases power and torque output by leaps and bounds. With the additional go-fast goodies, power-to-weight numbers skyrocket.

Stance
Tein type-ra height and damp adjust coilovers
Energy suspension master bushing kit
Skunk2 front adjustable camber kit
Full-race custom traction control bars

Resistance
Tenzo-R drilled and grooved discs front & rear
AEM Fast Road Pads Front And Rear
Braided Brake Lines All-Round
ABS Removed
EG Non ABS Brake booster and proportioning valve with custom brake lines

Rims & Rubber
15" X 6.5" Jdm Wheels with 195/50/R15 silverstone Tires
GDL Light Weight Lug Nuts

Htup 0909 19 o+1991 honda civic hatchback+side skirts Photo 9/9   |   HTUP-090900-074-78-COUPE

Inside
DC5 Integra Type-R Red Recaros
Takata 6-Point Racing Harnesses
Momo Race Steering Wheel
Snap-Off Boss Kit
Accord Euro-R 6 Speed Gear Knob

Outside
Re-Sprayed Cl7 Accord Euro-R Pearl White
Side skirts and JDM front & rear lips color coded
New Glass All Round
JDM Front Fog Lights

Props
My girlfriend emma for putting up with my obsession.
Ralph for all the wiring, help and tech support.
Rob at ICETronix for letting us build it in his place.
Steven for the parts, Matt from hybrid racing.
Ciaran reilly motors for the tech help.
John stone racing for all the advice.
Darius for the re-spray.
Frank at fatboy motorsport.
And to everyone else who helped me out!

Sources

DC Sports
City of Industry, CA 91746
800-237-7560
http://www.dcsports.com
Hondata
Torrance, CA 90503
310-782-8278
http://www.hondata.com
HaSport
Phoenix, AZ 85040
602-470-0065
http://www.hasport.com
By Simon Cooke
18 Articles

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