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1989 Honda Civic - Road Rage

Dumpster Diving

Mar 12, 2010

Aaron Bonk

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In 1996 I threw no less than a dozen non-VTEC D-series engines into the dumpster behind my shop. I had no use for them. My customers had since driven off with whatever ZC, B- or H-series swaps I'd stuffed into their engine bays and my racks were already stacked with what I early on determined would be the maximum space I'd allot for such single-cam silliness. And it's not like I didn't try selling them. The scrap kid came by every couple of weeks and traded us six-packs of Pepsi for a dirty ass D15 or two, but he soon got wise as to him getting the raw end of the deal and quit showing up.

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

D-series engines have long been expendable. Not the D16Z6 or D16Y8 with the VTEC business or even the multi-point D16A6 for that matter, but rather the junk that I care about less than the piece of electrical tape that's been stuck to the bottom of my shoe for three days, like the D15A3 that wasn't good enough to get four valves for every piston, the D15Z1 that tried to fool all of us into thinking it had the kind of variable valve timing we should care about, and the D15B8 that had a downpipe the size of my thumb. They all happily made their way into the depths of my dumpster at one time or another.

A few weeks ago I would've paid good money to have access to that old dumpster and any one of those junky D engines. My daily driver '89 Civic Wagovan's D mill finally took a dump, which meant I needed a replacement pronto. No problem. I'd just call up one of my comrades who'd recently done a swap, pick up my two-injector mill, and be on my way. Turns out, a funny thing happened sometime during the past 14 years-D15Bs became worth something...not just six-packs of Pepsi either...and that's if you can even find one. I did find one, but for the exchange rate of roughly 50 six-packs. Damn you, scrap boy, for manipulating with my economies of scale.

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Nowadays I have even less room for storing random D-series engines, but I do somehow manage to hang onto the occasional oddball part. Take for instance the plastic bin full of brand-new Accord ignitors and coils that I've for some reason hung onto for all these years. I don't own an Accord. I don't even own an Accord distributor to take apart and put these in, yet I've got a 40-year supply of distributor parts. And then there's the factory NSX coolant overflow tank that I couldn't put back in my car even if I wanted to due to the breather box contraption I came up with. This one doesn't make me look as bad, though, since I actually still own the car it came from. Sift through my hardware bin, though, and you'll see that this is where I hide my shame. Main cap bolts for a 4G63 Mitsubishi engine? They're there. Ford Triton V-8 fuel injectors? Those too-and packaged neatly, labeled and everything, as if I were going to use all of it someday. I've also got two sets of 81.25mm B-series piston rings, thrust washers, rod bearings, and who knows what else-probably enough for an entire rebuild or two. The thing is, though, I haven't owned a B-series engine for more than two years. But despite the miscellaneous non-Honda nonsense, you'll be happy to know that my parts bins remain heavily biased toward all things Honda.

One day I'll clean through all of this mess. Maybe I'll reserve a space at the swap meet and unload what I can or throw it all on eBay. Of course, I can see it now. The minute I sell that '91 Prelude headgasket that's collecting dust and I find myself browsing the classifieds I'll see the ad that reads: "For sale. No offer refused. 1991 Prelude. Cheap. Just needsa headgasket."



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