Cezar Ambriz' '92 Civic CX Way back in '98, long before the madness of Y2K swept the earth, years before the loss of MJ, when many of us were skidding around town in beat-to-hell hand me down cars, or worse yet, two wheeled bicycles, Cezar Ambriz was getting his start building cars. While others were cruising to the nearest Quickie Lube for a long-past-due overpriced oil change, Cezar was fabricating parts and wiring electrical components while simultaneously changing oil in his driveway......blindfolded with one hand; he's just that good.
After randomly choosing auto mechanics as an elective in high school, Cezar quickly fell in love with everything automotive. For him, it was love at first sight, and after a short time, he had it down. "I really loved the fact that I was able to rebuild an engine on my own, and hear it start up for the first time in years," Cezar said. When others his age couldn't tell a carburetor from a fan belt if it hit them in the face, Cezar was bolting down engines and installing suspensions.
After high school, he took some big league automotive courses in college, and then pursued work experience credits with an auto repair franchise that carried on long after he graduated. Really, if you haven't figured it out by now, this is a guy who knows something about cars, both inside and out.
Ten years down the road, after his fair share of Frankenstein builds, Cezar needed a new project. Being a self proclaimed 'hatchy' lover, he found a guy selling a bare-bones CX for $400, and just couldn't say no. "I chose it because I love hatchbacks and I'd had this project in mind for quite some time, not to mention I missed some of the old hatches I used to have," Cezar said. But what began as nothing more than a couple of cloth seats, steering wheel, and a beat up body rolling on a bare CX chassis, was quickly tweaked and tuned in to one of the LBC's most recognized rides.
After picking up the CX, Cezar was forced to sit on his build for nine agonizing months, while he worked to source parts and raise cash to get things started. Finally, in January of '08 he had what he needed, and began to tear the car down and start the bodywork at S&W Garage in Long Beach. A 6-point roll cage was the first thing Cezar installed-welded in before any paint was sprayed-while he took a step back, and let his friends at S&W take over. "The one thing I lack in automotive skill is bodywork and paint," said Cezar. When the time came, it was an easy choice to hand the keys over to the paint pros for a few days. A "secret" mint color was decided on for the inside and out, which Cezar "borrowed" from the Falken Drift Team's signature 2-tone scheme; half green, half blue. "The only difference is that their green has a slight blue pearl in it, and mine doesn't," Cezar said. "Everyone always asks me what color the car is because they've never seen an EH hatch that color. Still, I get great complements on the combo of my paint with the white CPF rims."
As spraying began, Cezar went out and bought everything he needed, including suspension, wheels, tires, and the infamous K-series motor from SIR Lerity in Long Beach. However, even with parts piling up, the car was far from ready. "I chose the K because of its impressive reputation and hybrid feel, and also because it's the closest feeling to a 1.0L street bike on four wheels" Cezar said. While patiently waiting for his paint to literally dry, Cezar busied himself by ripping the cylinder head off his new engine and sending it over to another local shop in Signal Hill, Ali's machine shop. There the head was port-matched and the valve train was installed. A few days later the head came back and was installed in its freshly painted engine bay.
After what seemed like months to Cezar, the paint and bodywork was finally finished. "This was really the most time consuming part of the entire build," he admits. In no time, he was hard at work installing all of the engine bay essentials, suspension, gauge cluster, and other minor interior upgrades. Minor because there's really no need for flashy interior extra's when your car is stripped down and glowing from the minty hue slathered over every square inch of its cabin.
At long last, the major overhaul of the once bare chassis was nearing completion, and everything was falling into place. Aside from the paint, body, and cylinder head, Cezar had proudly performed all of the changes himself. "Knowing that I did so much of it myself is really an awesome feeling, something that no one can take away from me. Some people criticize things that could have been done better or differently, but those are the same guys relying on other people to do their work for them," Cezar explains.
In the future, he wants to get the car into a few local shows to represent his Long Beach roots, but plans on tracking it eventually. That is, if he can bear the thought of possibly hurting his "secret mint" masterpiece. "I've had other track cars that I've raced, but this one is special, I went all out and this was for all the marbles," he said. "My real goal is to make it to a super lap battle competition race at the Long Beach Grand Prix. If and when that day comes, I'll have a smile on my face until the day I die."
Bolts & Washers
Fluidyne dual core radiator
Hasport engine mounts
Blueprint stage 3 camshafts
Blueprint valve springs
Blueprint Titanium retainers
Holley 2551ph fuel pump
Acura RDX 440cc injector
Baker Precision hydraulic high-pressure silicone lines
Baker Precision filter
TWM 54mm individuals with carbon stacks
Rcrew 4-1 design header with 2.5 collector
Buddy Club Spec II exhaust system
NGK BKR11 spark plugs
Competition Stage 4 clutch
ACT 8.5lb flywheel
Wavetrack LSD differential
Skunk2 Pro C coilovers
Skunk2 Pro C struts
JDM ITR antiroll bars
Energy Suspension bushings
Buddy Club front and rear camber kits
ASR rear subframe brace and control arms
Centric cross drilled and slotted discs
Hawk Performance pads
Steel Braided lines
S&W Garage's Secret Mint Green paint
Memoryfab carbon Kevlar seats
Takata 4point harnesses
NRG steering wheel
Hondata Kpro engine management
Kpro data logger
Autopower 6-point roll cage
Big ups to Andy at S&W Garage, Ali's machine shop, Jacob at SIR Lerity, and all my Long Beach People! Stand up!
Screen name/ nickname:
HT: big cee. AIM: mihondataef
Ferrari 360 Modena
Missed it too much
Greatest movie of all time:
Since first opening its doors in 1939, S&W Garage has been at the heart of the Long Beach street scene, providing all-around vehicle maintenance, repair, auto body and paint services. As time passed, the shop changed hands-and they began offering performance upgrades and custom fabrication.