Joey Silva's '95 Integra LS
"Do it yourself" has become a motto for cheapskates, penny pinchers, and spendthrifts. Most of the time, the projects these people take on turn out to be more of a disaster and money trap-more so than if they hired a "professional" to do the work. When it comes to cars, trying to do your own work can be horrific at best if you don't know what you're doing. A manual can only take you so far, and online forums can be a wealth of misleading information. These days, some might be better off spending a little cash to pay someone to do the job right and avoid the wasted money-unless of course your name happens to be Joey Silva.
As a young root growing up, Joey got his kicks watching his dad work on an array of different cars, from Impalas to Cadillacs-something that for some reason stuck with him to this day. Years down the line when Joey picked up his first Civic coupe, the original Fast and the Furious movie had just been released. It was meant to be. "Like that it was on," Joey says.
Even though the street scene was virtually non-existent in the Seattle area at that time, with street races too risky and events nearly non-existent, Joey got his racing kicks from jumping on the freeway. It was like his own personal racetrack, where he could floor the pedal in his '95 Civic and climb to top speeds with only the threat of a speeding ticket looming over his head. Though dangerous, for a while, that was all he needed.
Years went by though, and Joey started to itch for something more. He wanted more power, more performance-something different. So in between helping his parents out at their restaurant and hanging with his girl, Joey taught himself the ins and outs of auto mechanics. "From the day I pulled out my first single cam and swapped it for a B-series, everything seemed to come easy for me," Joey said. "I spent my time in the garage welding, doing fab work, and just trying out new ideas and styles."
After trying his hand at a couple of builds that he never really sunk his teeth into, Joey wanted a real project, something he could get really get down with. He has visions of building a fast car that could turn heads at a show. A build that would cover all the bases. He traded up his '95 Civic for a '95 Integra LS. "I spent three years with my Civic, and had already swapped the engine. I was done with the Civic thing." So he moved on and said goodbye to his old friend. No tears, no big deal.
The LS, like all builds, had to start somewhere. For this particular car, it was at rock bottom. "The paint job sucked, the motor ran like crap," Joey recalls. "I found out the previous owner paid his friend $2,000 and a set of wheels to do the paint job." From overspray galore to uneven coats of "JDM orange" (whatever that was) the Integra wasn't too easy on the eyes. It was time for a serious makeover.
Starting out, he didn't worry about paint and body so much. Instead, he sourced parts mainly from a handful of his homies. He picked up rims, a cage, brakes, and any other little knickknacks his friends could supply.
As he continued to source parts, Joey decided to get busy on the bodywork on his own. No body shop, just Joey, his garage, and some 40-watt light bulbs. He started out by stripping the whole car down, making sure that when the time came, the paint would cover every possible surface. Wires and cables were removed, suspension went, panels were ripped out. "I spent a lot of long hours in that garage. I ran that light bill up so high working late into the night." On the side, he was also doing a little fab work. "I made some radiator brackets and catch cans, and patched up all the holes I wanted to plate up and smooth over. By the time I was done, the entire engine bay was shaved."
While fabrication and bodywork can be fun, the part Joey really got into was doing the swap. He spent countless hours reading online posts, searching the web, and making a ton of calls to figure out the mounts, wiring, and parts he needed to make the car run. But no one ever said home swaps were easy, and problems came up almost immediately. "She was smoking a lot, and the idle wouldn't go past 3,000. We were all tired and frustrated, and couldn't figure out the problem." Finally he found it; a bad map sensor. A simple $40 fix managed to keep the car down for months.
Close to four years after starting the build, Joey was finally ready to put the finishing touches on his pride and joy. With the car ready for paint, he just happened to be working at a paint and body shop at the time. Just like that, he had yet another chance to do his own work. He decided on a deep Daytona blue hue, and got right to work spraying. "This was a color I had always wanted on my ride. The first time I saw a 350Z this color, I knew it was the perfect choice." And it was. And everyone was happy.
But the story doesn't end here. According to Joey, he'll never truly be done with his build. "I can enjoy the car now that's its painted, but it'll never be finished. There will always be some new part to get, or a different set of wheels." He'll still cruise the streets of Tacoma as long as he can, turning heads and setting standards. You might not see him on a racetrack (since they really don't exist there), but if you're ever in the area, keep your eyes peeled for the do-it-yourself builder that managed to "do it" himself.
Bolts & Washers
Hasport engine mounts
Walbro 255 fuel pump
Golden Eagle rail
Earls lines and fittings
Aeromotive A1000 regulator
RBC Accord Euro R intake manifold
R-Crew exhaust manifold
3-inch Vibrant exhaust
Omni Race Spec one piece coilovers
ITR sway bars
Energy Suspension bushings
Comptech lower tie bar
SSR lower LCAs
Spoon Sports calipers
Earls brake lines
2000 Type-R 5-lug, extended ARP wheel studs
350Z Daytona Blue paint
JDM SiR-G front clip
Shaved and tucked engine
Bride Maxis driver bucket seat
Recaro SRD passenger seat
Key's steering wheel
NRG quick release
Honda 6-speed knob
Spoon Sports gauge cluster
Auto Power 6-point roll cage
My girl for the time, money, and support
Mi Webo Mike
Frank the Tank
Terry in the WC
Twinn Cam Pow
Moms and Pops
Trik Speed Cats
All my family
Building Hondas for how long:
I want them all
What's playing in your IPOD cD/MP3:
Greatest movie of all time:
Should I do my own Engine Swap?
Considering taking on a new project like swapping your engine at home or in your driveway, but don't know where to begin? Swaps can be fun, but are in no way a simple procedure for beginners. Projects can take days, weeks, sometimes months to complete, depending on the level of commitment. Before you can even begin the swap process, you need to do your research. Is the swap common? Does it have the power you want/need? Do you have an appropriate amount of space to set up shop for as long as this takes? These questions and many more are crucial to answer before buying or doing anything. And once you have taken all that into consideration, remember that engines are heavy, and require special equipment just to lift them out, not to mention put them in. If you're thinking about swapping, remember: be prepared, do your research, and know that you'll be saving money in labor while getting a whole lot of satisfaction doing it all yourself. And isn't that much cooler than paying someone else to do it for you?