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1990 Honda Civic Si - Function Is Back

Hi, Function Before Fashion, Nice To See You Again. It's Been A While.

Aaron Bonk
Jun 3, 2010
Photographer: Rodrez

Darin Nishimura's '90 Honda Civic Si
You know the Internet forum Honda savant who recites chassis codes more fluently than the alphabet? Darin Nishimura is not that guy. He's also not the engine swap guru who pioneered the future of Honda performance a couple of decades back. He hasn't invented anything revolutionary for your Civic. He doesn't even have an online username. No, Darin Nishimura is quite possibly the last person you'd expect to build quite possibly one of the most important Hondas you should care about.

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It was only a year and a half ago that Darin found himself the owner of the only Honda he'd ever modified-a '90 Civic Si. By default of his trade-an automotive alignment guru-Darin's long been familiar with most of what goes on underneath cars like the '88-'91 Civic, but it took him a while to catch up on things like chassis code jargon, engine swap compatibility, and whatever else any Honda fan worth his weight in JDM air fresheners got memorized.

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

Peek closely at Darin's Civic and you'll see that everything matters. Nothing exists for reasons of aesthetics. Nothing. And nothing happened by accident. Nothing. As you might expect from one who dabbles in the witchcraft that is suspension tuning by trade, Darin's Si budget leaned heavily toward those things that you might not notice right away. Color-matched suspension bits or visions of JDM street cred entered not into the equation as Darin contemplated how to best set up his Si for time attack duty. JRZ triple-adjustable coilovers were selected along with Skunk2 front and rear camber kits and SBC adjustable toe links out back. The DA Integra front hub assemblies and rear trailing arms are stuffed with a combination of Progress spherical bushings as well as polyurethane pieces from Password:JDM. The front crossmember is from Full-Race, the front shock tower bar from Carbing, the rear anti-roll bar from ASR. In terms of suspension, corners were not cut, functionality was not sacrificed.

Understand Darin and none of this will surprise you, though. The 42-year-old's Gardena, CA, alignment shop's front office is simple, not unlike his race car. A yellowing, 10-year-old computer monitor sits behind the counter, a short row of lobby chairs older than you across from it, a lone photograph of himself performing some sort of motocross stunt hangs on the wall. The Yamaha dirt bikes, quads, and kart parked within the bowels of the shop convey his passion for racing better than words. And when only words will do, Darin will readily share stories of his rich Porsche motorsports background as well as his time spent tuning suspensions for some of the first Lotuses to enter the United States.

Darin will tell you that suspension tuning is just a job but it's also his passion. To be sure, the Si's most extensive modifications take place underneath. Fortunately, Darin's keen attention to suspension details didn't happen at the expense of acceleration. But the B18C Integra Type R engine didn't fall in between his Civic's frame rails by accident. Were it not for a few friends whose Honda knowledge surpasses Darin's-as well as more than a few dinner tabs-chances are that B-series never would've made it into place. While Darin may be one of Southern California's most respected suspension specialists, he'll be the first to admit that he's no engine swap expert. As such, he dabbled online and then cross-referenced his findings with his Honda friends. The pieces began to fall together until finally the B18C was installed and complemented with a Toda 4-2-1 header, a Skunk2 intake manifold, and an AEM cold air intake among other parts.

For some, aesthetic decisions like exterior paint selection can be daunting. It wasn't for Darin. For some, the decision requires consultation with friends, nights spent sleeping alongside paint chip samples, even online polls where digital peers are asked for their two cents. It didn't happen that way for Darin. The truth is, the body shop next door happened to be selling a theft recovery Civic hatchback that just so happened to be, well, blue. Darin would like to tell you that it's a special blue, perhaps one borrowed from BMW's lineup or maybe even Porsche's, perhaps one that's been mixed and modified in such a way by expert body shop chemists that it would remain forever unique to Darin's hatchback, but that would be a lie. The truth is, Darin really has no idea where this particular blue stems from or even its name. Best part is, he doesn't really care.

Htup_1006_08_o+1990_honda_civic_si+motor_shot Photo 9/16   |   1990 Honda Civic Si - Function Is Back

In between juggling customer phone calls, tending to visitors, and ensuring that his day's schedule stays on track by wrenching and sharing his Civic's story all simultaneously, West End Alignment's founder, owner, and sole employee, Darin, stops for a moment and, with an almost undetectable grin, jokes of how he waited until he turned 40 to "become a ricer."

Darin says his goal was to build a stock-bodied, FWD Honda that could run sub-two-minute times at California's Buttonwillow Raceway. He's got just one second to shave and he's there. Sure doesn't sound like a ricer to me.

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
JDM B18C ITR engine
Hasport engine mounts
AEM cold air intake
BDL 68mm throttle body
Skunk2 Pro Series intake manifold
Toda 4-2-1 exhaust manifold
Hy Tech Exhaust resonator
Walbro 190lph fuel pump
AEM fuel filter
AEM fuel rail
AEM fuel pressure regulator
Marshall fuel pressure gauge
Carbing oil catch can
Spoon Sports oil cap
Full-Race radiator
Mugen thermostat
Hondata S100 engine management
Odyssey PC680 battery
Custom battery bracket
DA Integra YS1 transmission
Quaife LSD
Custom shift linkage
Custom short shifter
Exedy clutch
Exedy lightweight flywheel

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Stance
DA Integra front hub assembly
DA Integra rear trailing arms
JRZ triple-adjustable coilovers
Hypercoil springs
Skunk2 front camber kit
Skunk2 rear camber kit
Progress front LCA spherical bushings
Progress rear LCA spherical bushings
Carbing front shock tower brace
Full-Race front crossmember
ASR rear anti-roll bar
Password:JDM rear trailing arm bushings
SBC rear toe links

Resistance
Wilwood 11.75-inch front rotors
DA Integra rear calipers
Power Slot rear rotors
Cobalt XR2 front pads
Axxis Ultimate rear pads
Motul 600 fluid
FastBrakes Steel braided lines
DC2 ITR master cylinder
DC2 ITR brake booster
DC2 ITR proportioning valve

Rims & Rubber
Front: 15x9 949 Racing 6UL (+36 offset)
Rear: 15x8 949 Racing 6UL (+36 offset)
225/45-15 Toyo R888

Outside
Custom blue paint job
Custom rear Lexan windows
Six-point chromoly roll cage
VIS carbon-fiber hood
VIS rear hatch

Inside
Sparco Evo seat
DEFI tachometer
DEFI oil temp., water temp., oil pressure gauges
Auto Meter speedometer
XT Racing Ultra-Lap timer
Simpson harness
Sparco steering wheel
Works Bell quick-release hub
Mugen pedals
Skunk2 shift knob
Simpson window net

Props
Alan Hamada, Mitch Pederson, Mike Michelson

Owner Specs

Daily Grind
Auto alignment specialist

Favorite Website
www.fulltiltpoker.com

Screen Name/Nickname
NA

Building Hondas For How Long
1.5 years

Your Dream Car
A sub-two-minute Buttonwillow Civic

Build Inspiration
Lotus Elise

What's In Your Ipod/CD/MP3 Player Right Now
Race videos

Greatest Movie Of All Time
The Godfather

About West End Alignment
I walked into Darin Nishimura's West End Alignment in Gardena, CA, at 9:15 in the morning. My appointment was for 9:30 a.m. Darin greets me and tells me he'll be ready in a few minutes. He was. His punctuality throws me off my game. West End is a one-man operation and it's all the better for it. "West End could have blown up and gotten huge a few years back but the quality wouldn't have remained," Darin says as he reminisces of a time when he sought growth. Despite the lacking staff, the shop phone seemingly tied to his cheek all day, and the never ending gabbing of customers (me), Darin does his thing, and he does it well. Vehicle alignments and corner balancing are his specialty, but West End has the wherewithal to install just about anything suspension related, including coilovers, tie rods, control arms, you name it. The sounds of classic rock music pour through the shop as Darin picks my brain, prods, and probes in hopes of finding out exactly what I expect out of my alignment. "How often will you track your car?" he asks. "What about canyons? Do you want it set up for canyons too?" he says. If you ask Darin, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Such is the mentality that often goes hand in hand with such specialists. Darin's 1 p.m. appointment walks in the door a few minutes early as he fine tunes my front toe after a quick test drive. "Hi, I'll be with you in a few minutes," he says to the TSX owner. Right on time, as scheduled.

By Aaron Bonk
405 Articles

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