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1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Rare Wheels And Mismatched Color Schemes Will Only Get You So Far

Aaron Bonk
Apr 21, 2010
Photographer: Henry De Kuyper

Alexander Cardona & Jorge Ramos' Civic Wagons Few wake up in the morning thinking to themselves that they ought to go buy a slightly rusted, dinged-up, 20-year-old station wagon with worn seat cushions and blown shocks. Even fewer will utter as much in public. Alexander Cardona didn't. Civic hatchbacks-not wagons-danced around inside his noggin for some time-something of the '92-'95 variety, if you must know. And his cousin, Jorge Ramos, had no such predilection toward box-like station wagons either. To be sure, Jorge's ideal next-car candidate was a fourth-generation Accord. But despite all of this, both Alexander and Jorge ended up with Civic Wagons of their own, and the society of late-'80s Japanese family car owners is better for it.

Htup_1005_01_o+honda_civic_dx+frontal_view Photo 2/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

The story begins with two cousins, two cousins who wanted to be different. But what's required to stand out among the Honda populous is often subjective. For some, it's in the minutiae, like off-colored lug nuts or improper wheel and tire fitment. Others ensure originality by starting with a canvas that is, in and of itself, against the norm. Make no mistake, Honda's '88-'91 Civic station wagon is against the norm.

2017 Honda Civic
$21,500 Base Model (MSRP) 31/40 MPG Fuel Economy

Alexander Cardona's '91 Honda Civic Dx Wagon
You've no doubt heard the stories-the ones about the little old lady down the street who's got her late husband's mint-condition, mid-'60s Shelby something or other Mustang tucked away in her garage, unaware of its value or even its historical significance, only to find out what it's worth once posted on Craigslist. The scenario isn't all that different from the time Alexander Cardona's cousin, Jorge Ramos, went wagon hunting for him and happened upon just about the cleanest '91 Civic family ride you've ever seen. "You don't know what you bought there," the old lady's neighbor says to Jorge. "My neighbor took very good care of this car." But it wasn't just the neighbor's nod of affirmation that made Alexander feel as though he'd made the right decision; the seller was even kind enough to turn away another prospective buyer as she waited for him to secure his loan. All too often we hear of automotive endeavors that begin horribly. Such journeys are synonymous with blown engines, theft, delays, and worse. To be clear, this is not one of those stories.

Htup_1005_02_o+1991_honda_civic_dx+rear_view Photo 3/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Alexander's former Honda roster is predictable, and is made up of the kinds of Civics and Accords you'd expect, like a '95 and a '94, respectively. Indeed, both the Civic and the Accord served as fine modes of transportation for the longtime Honda fan, but both are exactly what Alexander wanted to avoid-predictable. To be fair, no matter what kind of wheels you put on your '95 hatchback and no matter what color you paint its engine bay, it'll always be a '95 hatchback-the same car tens of thousands of other enthusiasts are modifying at this very moment. Honda's '88-'91 Civic station wagon is many things, but predictable isn't one of them.

Htup_1005_03_o+1991_honda_civic_dx+gears Photo 4/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Alexander put his Wagon through its daily driver paces for some time before reinventing it. Eventually, though, the car became his canvas. "I started with a goal that my cousin and I shared-to be different," he says. "We both loved the other Civics, but we wanted to change the Honda scene." And change it they have. Alexander's Wagon mutation begins with its exterior, where it retains its original color, only freshly applied by the folks at MDS Auto Body. The good people at MDS also fitted the Wagon with an EF9 Civic front bumper, a custom-fit CRV rear spoiler, and an EF9 Cervini mid-wing, none of which necessarily belong on Honda's beloved American-spec Wagon but all of which make it that much better.

Unfortunately, no matter how good Alexander's Wagon looked, it was slow from any angle. As such, a JDM B18C engine swap was sourced and dropped into place along with bolt-ons, like a GReddy header, a Skunk2 intake manifold, and an AEM cold-air intake. Of course, neither the brakes or suspension were overlooked thanks to bits from Tokico, Ground Control, and Spoon.

Htup_1005_04_o+1991_honda_civic_dx+honda_motor Photo 5/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

For some, being different lies in the details. For Alexander, the details aren't good enough.

Owner Specs
Favorite website
www.teamnsu.com

Htup_1005_05_o+1991_honda_civic_dx+steering_wheel Photo 6/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Screen name or nick name
NJCIVICWAGON2

Building Hondas for how long
Eight years

Your dream car
'69 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

Build inspiration
My cousin, Jorge

Whats playing in your iPod/CD
MP3 player right now
Jay-Z

Greatest movie of all time:
Heat

Bolts & Washers
Alexander Cardona's '91 Honda Civic Wagon
Propulsion
JDM B18C engine
Hasport engine mounts
AEM cold air intake
Skunk2 Pro Series intake
manifold
Skunk2 Pro Series camshaft
gears
GReddy header Custom high-flow catalytic
convertor
Vibrant Performance exhaustsystem
Walbro 190lph fuel pump
AEM fuel rail
AEM fuel pressure regulator
Koyo Racing aluminum radiator
Spoon Sports radiator cap
NGK iridium spark plugs
Spoon Sports spark plug wires
Hasport shift linkage
ACT Street and Strip clutch
Fidanza lightweight flywheel

Htup_1005_06_o+1991_honda_civic_dx+monoblock_calipers Photo 7/17   |   Spoon monoblock calipers help bring Jorge's Spoon SW388s to a halt.

Stance
Ground Control coilovers
Tokico Illumina shocks
Skunk2 rear camber kit
Ground Control top hats
ETD traction bars
DC2 ITR five-lug conversion

Resistance
Brembo DC2 ITR-spec drilled/slotted
rotors (front)
DC2 ITR rotors (rear)
PBR/AXXIS pads
Spoon Sports mono-block calipers (front)
DC2 ITR calipers (rear)
Earl's steel-braided lines

Rims & Rubber
16x7.5 Sprint Hart CP-R (+45 offset)
205/40/16 Falken Azenis

Exterior
EF9 Civic front bumper
EDM headlights
EDM taillights
EDM corner lights
EDM roof rails
EDM plate holder
Custom sunroof
JDM rear fog light
DA Integra custom rear lip
JDM static strap
CRV custom rear upper wing
Cervini mid wing

Htup_1005_07_o+1990_honda_civic_dx+full_view Photo 8/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Interior
Nardi 350 twin half steering wheel
Rick's signature spun shift knob
Custom headliner
Alpine head unit
MB Quart mids
Alpine amps
Skunk2 short shifter
Energy Suspension shifter bushings

Props
My family
My cousin, Jorge
Team NSU
Justin and Julio
Jorge and Mario at Hillside 22 Honda
Anthony and Hugo at MDS Auto Body
Bone Head powder coating
Perfect Polish

Jorge Ramos' '90 Honda Civic DX Wagon

Htup_1005_08_o+1990_honda_civic_dx+honda_engine Photo 9/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Not unlike his cousin, Alexander, Jorge also happened across his Civic Wagon by accident. The plan was to find a fourth-generation, four-door Accord, a car capable of hauling his soon-to-arrive daughter's belongings yet maintain some level of dignity for himself by avoiding anything with sliding doors, faux wood paneling, or something he could nearly stand upright in. Interestingly enough, a dusty, old '90 Civic Wagon caught his eye, tucked away in the back of the sales lot he was supposed to have found his dream sedan in. Make no mistake, though. Jorge didn't settle. Like Alexander, he too recognized the Wagon's potential for exclusivity. He just needed to accidentally bump into one to realize that.

And exclusive Honda's turn-of-the-decade station wagon is. For some, the path to exclusivity lies in rare wheels that arguably are no longer rare, one-off color schemes that are inadvertently repeated on at least a dozen online build threads, and a host of other non-North American knickknacks and doodads that, to be sure, a good portion of North American Honda enthusiasts already own. To claim exclusivity, to be considered different by the masses is no easy task. It's even more difficult when your blank slate shares the same chassis as just about everyone else. But Civic Wagon owners like Jorge need not worry about any of this, for Honda's '88-'91 Civic Wagons are few and far between.

Htup_1005_09_o+1990_honda_civic_dx+pro_series Photo 10/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Jorge wasn't exactly a Honda expert upon settling into his Civic, though, but that didn't matter. No, his previous car was an early '90s Nissan 240SX that offered him no outlet for creativity, not to mention no amount of space for his daughter's car seat. Like so many others, Jorge's early Wagon modifications soon led to a daily driver that was no longer of commuter use. "I started modding the Wagon to the point that it was no longer a daily," he says. The updates began innocently enough, like ditching the near-junk D-series for a JDM, non-VTEC B18B engine paired with an LSD gearbox. Like Alexander, Jorge's Wagon boasts a shiny new exterior-a '99 Accord Heather Mist Metallic color scheme-thanks to MDS Auto Body and the same EF9 front bumper, along with a few special additions, like EDM taillights and corner lights, and a JDM rear fog light. Jorge's brakes are also beefed up by means of an Integra Type R five-lug conversion and brake swap, and the Civic's suspension benefits from Ground Control coilovers paired with Tokico shocks, Progress anti-roll bars, and a Skunk2 front camber kit.

Htup_1005_10_o+1990_honda_civic_dx+spoon_monoblock Photo 11/17   |   Spoon monoblock calipers help bring Jorge's Spoon SW388s to a halt.

Neither Jorge or his cousin, Alexander, wished to own one of Honda's nearly forgotten Civic station wagons, let alone one for each of them. But the will to do one's own thing, to rise up against commonality, is often enough to drive anybody toward individuality.

Owner Specs
Favorite website
www.hondacivicwagon.com

Htup_1005_11_o+1990_honda_civic_dx+side_view Photo 12/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Screen name or nick name
NJCIVICWAGON1

Building Hondas for how long
Ten years

Your dream car
Bugatti Veyron

Build inspiration
The Wagon is second to none

Whats playing in your iPod/CD
MP3 player right now
Hip hop

Greatest movie of all time:
Terminator 2

Jorge Ramos' '90 Honda Civic DX Wagon
Propulsion
JDM B18B engine
JDM EF8 YS1 LSD transmission
Arizona Racing engine mounts
AEM cold air intake
DC2 ITR exhaust manifold
Custom high-flow catalytic convertor
Vibrant Performance exhaust system
Koyo Racing aluminum radiator
Mishimoto radiator hoses
Walbro 190lph fuel pump
Golden Eagle fuel rail
AEM fuel pressure regulator
NGK spark plugs
MSD Ignition 8.5mm spark plug wires
Skunk2 short shifter
Energy Suspension shifter bushings
Hasport shift linkage
Competition Clutch six-puck, sprung-hub clutch
Fidanza lightweight flywheel

Htup_1005_12_o+1991_honda_civic_dx+white Photo 13/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Stance
Ground Control coilovers
Tokico Illumina shocks
Skunk2 front camber kit
Skunk2 rear camber kit
Progress front anti-roll bar
Progress rear anti-roll bar
EM Racing C pillar bar
DC2 ITR five-lug conversion

Resistance
Brembo DC2 ITR-spec drilled/slotted
rotors (front)
Brembo DC2 ITR-spec slotted rotors (rear)
PBR/AXXIS pads
Spoon Sports mono-block calipers (front)
DC2 ITR calipers (rear)
Earl's steel-braided lines

Rims & Rubber
16x7 Spoon Sports SW388 (+45 offset)
205/40/16 Yokohama Parada Spec2

Exterior
EF9 Civic front bumper
EDM taillights
EDM corner lights
EDM roof rails
EDM plate holder
Custom sunroof
JDM rear fog light
DA Integra custom rear lip
SSR tow hooks

Interior
Custom leather interior
Spoon Sports steering wheel
Spoon Sports shift knob
DC2 ITR shift boot
Custom headliner
Kenwood head unit
MB Quart mids and highs
Kenwood amps

Htup_1005_13_o+1990_honda_civic_dx+lever Photo 14/17   |   1991 Honda Civic DX, 1990 Honda Civic DX - Different Defined

Props
My family
My cousin, Alex
Team NSU
Jose Enrique Torres
Edgardo Diaz
Julio "ThatDoodle" Bichao
Justin Morton
Danny Padilla
Kitty Kat Will
JDMLou
MDS Auto Body
Jason "Ragenasian" Osterman
Zell's Mobile Electronics

It's Not A Wagovan
The general population often refers to Honda's '88-'91 Civic station wagon as the "Wagovan." The general public is wrong about 33 percent of the time. There's no denying that "Wagovan" sounds cool, but let's not forget about Honda's good ol' DX Wagon and RT4WD Wagon, which after all, make up for the other two-thirds or so of the category and are by no means classified as Wagovans. As you might expect, the differences are in the details. Contrary to what you might have heard, Wagovans do not feature AWD drive trains, but rather five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions powering the front wheels via Honda's dual-point-injected D15B2 engine. The DX isn't much different, save for accouterment refinements and such. It's the RT4WD Wagon that's special. Here lies Honda's early iteration of its Real-Time 4WD architecture matched with one of the best D-series engines of its time, the multi-point-injected D16A6, and a six-speed manual transmission (four-speed automatic optional for wussies). Now you know.

By Aaron Bonk
383 Articles

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