Alex Soto's 1994 Honda Civic CX
You don't have to be heavily involved in the Honda community to know who Alex Soto is or what he's accomplished. He's built two of the more notable Hondas within the last couple years and has become a household name. The term "Sheepey Built" has been seen plastered on images of both his engine bays all over the internet and in more magazines than we can even count. This Jade Sea Metallic Civic hatchback should look very familiar to any reader of Honda Tuning because it has graced these pages before. It actually appeared on the cover almost two years ago, and while he was busy building his DC2 Integra, his hatchback went into hibernation under a car cover inside the garage of his Perris, CA, home.
It may look a bit different nowadays. Other than the Spoon mirrors and the "Minty Fresh" (See Oct. 2007 issue) paint, it's almost unrecognizable. Alex "Sheepey" Soto's Civic CX has since packed on some serious muscle and is moving up to the heavyweight division to compete in the re-emerging world of sport compact drag racing. Straight-line, quarter mile racing has taken a backseat the last few years, but hopefully, with guys like Alex, it will make a triumphant return to the limelight.
This Civic started life with Alex as a race car, then went on to become an immaculate magazine-cover show stunner, and most recently has come full circle back to its racecar persona. As with most occurrences in life, how this Civic came to be was very random and unexpected. "One day last year, my buddy John Perry and I were on our way to grab some food and beer after getting my Integra ready for a car show," Alex explains. "I told him that I wanted to make more power out of the Integra so that I could take it to the track. The setup I had in my DC made some really good power, but it was more of a street trim build and for car shows. He suggested that I use the Civic instead, since it was a race car back in the day, and the rest is pretty much history."
The hatchback wasn't necessarily rotting away. It had just been placed off to the side as other projects had taken all of Sheepey's attention, and he had plans to build another Civic altogether. The shell itself had remained in perfect condition, almost frozen in time since it was last immortalized in print. Rebuilding wouldn't be difficult; it was just a matter of getting the perfect combination of parts. When someone builds to the caliber of Alex Soto, the right mix of parts and execution is essential, whether it be race or show.
"My ideal plan was to just reassemble the car and motor, make a ton of power, and keep it in street trim, but after I started to gather the parts I wanted, I knew it would never see the street again. The turbo that I got from Bullseye Power was massive and all the fabrication work that was going to be involved with it gave me motivation to make this thing a competitive drag car."
His weapon of choice to handle the high boost ensemble is a bigger displacement, non-VTEC, B20B block. Up top, a GS-R head with a completely reworked valvetrain carries some top secret specs that Alex likes to refer to as "custom Alex Soto-spec." Mounted to the head is a Full Race intake manifold and BDL 72mm throttle body.
Fuel and ignition spark is definitely a necessary evil whenever high horsepower applications are involved, and Sheepey spared no expense. "The problem with Walbro pumps lies in the fuel pressure. They don't really like being pressured high at all. For street applications I'm sure it'll suffice, but I don't feel safe with them whatsoever. The Bosch 044 pumps are much larger and can handle the amount of fuel that my motor requires." Dual Bosch pumps lie in wait, ready for service at Soto's beck and call. The responsibility of getting the fuel into the B20B is held by a Skunk2 Pro Series fuel rail and a set of T1 Race-spec ID2200 injectors. Sheepey called on his close friend and wiring extraordinaire Ryan Basseri to help him assemble his ignition harness. The custom Rywire harness ensures that adequate ignition spark is delivered from the T1 Race-spec M&W ignition box to individual Honda CBR ignition coils.
Producing major horsepower is a Bullseye Power S368 turbo. At first glance, there should be two items that immediately catch your eye; the turbine wheel that is visible through the front bumper, and the dump tubes that stick out through the hood. The turbo is mounted toward the front of the vehicle via a custom JDL Design front-mount turbo manifold. Seated directly adjacent to the giant snail is a Garrett intercooler with custom end tanks, also by JDL Design-modified to properly seat the turbo. "The entire front core support was custom made in such a way to support both the turbo and intercooler," Soto states. "There is no hose clamp necessary to connect the two whatsoever."
The Bullseye unit gets relief from a TiAL 50mm blow-off valve while a team of TiAL 44mm wastegates lurk underneath the hood where the aggressively positioned dump tubes exit. JDL Design is responsible for the custom four-inch downpipe. The complete turbo and exhaust system was then coated in Swaintech's "White Lightning" ceramic coating. Once all the required pieces were in place, Alex sent the car off to Jared at Seganti Metal Works for mock-up and final installation. Jared also took the liberty of fabricating a single three-inch charge pipe that is also color-matched the same Jade Sea Metallic as the exterior.
Power transfer is made through a GSR manual transmission with the addition of a Quaife LSD and upgraded twin-disc and flywheel assembly from Competition Clutch. Skunk2 offered up their services by supplying Sheepey with their Pro-C drag-spec dampers as well as rear lower control arms which Alex mounted up to the Civic's suspension with titanium bolts. The faces of the Exospeed Star 8 wheels have been color-matched for an added touch of class. 13x9-inch wheels with M/T slicks are mounted up front, while fifteen-inch skinny's support the rear.
The nine-inch-wide wheels sit under a three-piece Exospeed racing front end, the wider front fenders allowing for better clearance with the large slicks. This is always a good thing, especially in preventing the slicks from cutting into the OEM metal fenders when they expand during acceleration. As stated earlier, the turbo is clearly visible through the front end-the opening on the bumper has been customized and cut out to expose the wheel. Other than that, the exterior remains in the same immaculate condition as Soto left it when he stored the car. Vision smoked corners are still tucked inside the widened front along with JDM SiR Headlights. Additionally, HOP window visors, Spoon Sports side mirrors, and an SiR rear wing still reside. Whoever said you can't go fast and look good at the same time will be eating their words soon enough.
The interior also carries the show-and-go theme. It's been completely stripped-out and color-matched with a full Seganti Metal Works custom 10-point chromoly roll cage. The most interesting part inside the Civic's cockpit has to be the AEM EMS, Pro14 ignition box, and sealed relay housing that sits adjacent to the Status racing driver seat. All three sit mounted to the passenger side floor board, connected via a Rywire harness with custom bulkheads. The one-off sealed relay box even has a mil-spec plug and mil-spec breakers, something most builders and racers would never even think to do!
This particular Civic was once a show car and the finish and details are still very evident. Had it not lived the life of a show-stopper before, Alex assures us that it would still look equally as perfect as it does now. "It's just the way I build cars," Sheepey says proudly. "I have show car roots, yes, but I'm also a dedicated racer who has been influenced by some of the great racecar builders of the past. As I've gotten older, I've become accustomed to a certain way of doing things and I just want to build a complete car. There's nothing wrong with building a high horsepower race car that you can also take to a show and win an award with. I'm probably one of the most anal people you'll ever meet. I love the little details and if you do it correctly, someone will notice and appreciate it."
Avid Racing solid engine mounts
JE Pistons w/upgraded wrist pins
Manley Turbo Tuff connecting rods
Custom "Alex Soto-spec" cylinder head
Full Race intake manifold
BDL 72mm throttle body
Bullseye Power S368 turbo w/1.10 A/R turbine
TiAL 50mm blow-off valve
Custom Seganti Metal Works single 3-inch
charge pipe color-matched to exterior
Garrett 18x12x4.5 intercooler w/custom end
tanks by JDL Design
Custom T1 Race polished catch can w/-10 AN
hose and hose ends for crank case ventilation
Custom JDL Design front mount turbo manifold
Custom JDL Design 4-inch downpipe
Dual TiAL 44 mm wastegates with hood exit
Complete exhaust & turbo system coated with
"White Lightning" by Swaintech
Dual Bosch 044 fuel pumps
T1 Race-spec ID2200 fuel injectors
Skunk2 Pro Series fuel rail
-10 AN fuel hose ends w/Russell Pro Classic lines
Aeromotive 10 and 100 micron fuel filters
Fuel Lab fuel pressure regulator
Denso Iridium spark plugs
Custom Rywire ignition harness
T1 Race-spec M&W Pro14 ignition box
Honda CBR individual ignition coils
Fluidyne radiator w/-16 AN hose ends and Russell Pro Classic hoses
Y80 transmission swap
Competition Clutch twin-disc clutch assembly
Competition Clutch flywheel
Quaife limited-slip differential
DSS 5.9s c/v half-shafts
Tilton hydraulic throw-out bearing assembly
Skunk2 Pro-C drag-spec coilovers
Skunk2 Pro Series alignment kit
Skunk2 Pro Series rear lower control arms w/titanium bolts
Wheels & Tires
Front: 13x9 Exospeed Star 8
M/T 24.5x9x13 slicks
Rear: 15.5.3 Exospeed Star 8
M/H 15x3.5 slicks
Custom Jade Sea Metallic color-matched faces
Custom Jade Sea Metallic paint
Custom front end support modified for turbocharger placement
All new OEM rubber & moldings
Exospeed 3-piece racing front end
Vision corner lights
SiR rear wing
HOP window visors
Spoon Sports side mirrors
Custom Seganti Metal Works 10-point
chromoly color-matched roll cage
Status Racing Ring seat
Personal steering wheel
Skunk2 shift knob
AEM Series 2 EMS
RacePak IQ3 display dash
Custom harness w/custom-built
Sealed relay box w/mil-spec plug
First off, Elsa for always supporting me;
My best friend Hieu;
Matt Denton aka Honda Matt for wrenching when you always had to leave;
Jared Seganti at Seganti Metal Works for the sick custom cage and fab work;
Ryan at Rywire for never giving up on my pickiness in wiring;
Tony Palo at T1 Race for the consulting and parts;
Jesse at JDL Design;
Lourie Dunlap and Steve Story at Web Camshafts for believing in me;
Gerardo Mata for the badass paintwork;
Franklin & Victor at Avid Racing;
Aaron Bonk and Tony Shagday from Skunk2 for always supporting me no matter what;
Melissa at Competition Clutch;
Donovan at Vibrant Performance;
Jose at Extreme Performance; Wil at Exospeed;
John Perry & Abe Ramirez for helping when I needed it the most;
Mike Hooks at Original Kings clothing;
Jeff at Go-Power; Floaty and Pipe man;
Shizinera Dustin; My lil brother Antonio Garcia;
Rodrez; Joey from Stickydiljoe.com;
Zach, Cliff, and George at G&J Aircraft for all the hose ends and fittings;
Bisimoto for the awesome advice, track assistance, and tuning;
Big Mike, Bobby Coulter, and all my car friends;
DPK+ATS for always making things happen!
Screen name or nickname
Building Hondas for how long
Your dream car
All the f*ckin' HATERS
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The Artist Formerly Known As Sheepey
The term "Sheepey Built" has become quite the recognizable name within the Honda community, but a couple months back, Alex Soto actually considered dropping the name. Why? "I just think that I'm getting a little bit older and growing up, so I'm trying to put that name behind me and move forward," Soto explains. His closest friends and others are quick to laugh off that idea though, as many feel that it's a name they've grown to know and love. Most of his friends probably don't even know his real name is Alex. To them, he'll always be Sheepey, the guy who lives out in the middle of nowhere and spends all his time away from cars playing Counterstrike. Who's Alex Soto? No one knows, but that Sheepey character sure knows how to build a Honda!