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1989 Honda Civic Wagon - The Road Less Traveled

Taking in the stars in this ragtop, Prelude-powered wagon

Joey Lee
Apr 18, 2011
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper

Matt Lines' '89 Civic Wagon
Many different factors contribute to our love of Hondas. Everyone has a different story to tell and all are special in their own way. Some people have older siblings that introduced them to Hondas; some are just car guys and draw inspiration from magazines like this one. Others, like Matt Lines, are drawn into the community through a close network of friends. Matt has no qualms with admitting that he was never much of a Honda-head. He was previously an active member of the Nissan 350Z community and currently sits very comfortably in his BMW M3. With such a performance-oriented track record, how, or better yet why, did he find himself infatuated with one of Honda’s least performance-tailored platforms?

Htup 1105 01 o+1989 honda civic wagon+driver side profile Photo 2/12   |   1989 Honda Civic Wagon - The Road Less Traveled

I caught the (Honda) bug after helping a friend out with his CRX build in 2008, Matt explains. I went to Import Alliance that same year and began looking at different Hondas that I might potentially want to build. While there I came across a couple of wagons that really stood out to me and I began to appreciate the potential in them. Once I got home from Tennessee, I began my search for a Civic wagon in my area.

Htup 1105 02 o+1989 honda civic wagon+custom carbon fiber hood Photo 3/12   |   1989 Honda Civic Wagon - The Road Less Traveled
2018 Honda Civic
$18,940 Base Model (MSRP) 28/40 MPG Fuel Economy

Civics of the wagon variety definitely aren’t easy to come by. Though the EF hatchback/sedan and CRX chassis are still easily accessible, the wagon isn’t exactly the most sought after model of this era. Even if you are able to locate a wagon, chances are it wouldn’t be in very good condition. Residents in the state of Indiana aren’t regarded as Honda collectors by any means and Matt knew going into his search that the one he would eventually locate would need much love and repair.

It took months for me to finally locate one. A friend of mine that worked at a local Honda dealership told me that one of her customers had just purchased a new Fit and was looking to get rid of their old Civic wagon. The next night I went and picked it up from them for $400. It was a pretty rough car but for that price, I just couldn’t pass it up. I let it sit for a couple of months after I bought the car and just started collecting whatever parts I could find for it, Lines says.

Htup 1105 03 o+1989 honda civic wagon+interior Photo 4/12   |   1989 Honda Civic Wagon - The Road Less Traveled

Matt then set forth a plan to have the car ready by the next Import Alliance event, which was just seven months away. The first major issue before him involved tearing the body panels off to repair the rust that had accumulated over the years. During that process, he was able to install a completely new front end that consisted of components from both the Japanese and European versions of the EF Civic. Matt even discovered a custom carbon-fiber hood made for the wagon body to replace the worn-down, oxidized stocker. The exterior remains mostly unmodified with the exception of a pair of JDM rear foglights, EDM rear license plate garnish, the custom ragtop, and a complete respray of the entire vehicle. Overall, the exterior remains fairly simple aesthetically due to the fact that there were never many parts available for it. The only option owners really had were adapting parts from its more popular brethren, or to go completely custom like Matt’s carbon hood. Even so, you would be hard-pressed to ever consider the Civic wagon an aggressive-looking vehicle. He knew this going in, so he opted to make the EE wagon more recognizable by mounting low-offset, 15-inch SSR Super Mesh wheels. The SSRs are not only period correct, but help change the entire image of Matt’s wagon.

While the exterior overhaul was fully under way, Matt found an H22A1 locally that had some chewed-up bearings. He called on good friend Matt Wheatley to help him rebuild and reassemble the engine before dropping it into the bay of his wagon. After the initial test-fit, they realized that the Prelude Type S intake manifold was hitting the firewall, so Matt had to make the necessary adjustments for it to fit. He then modified the firewall, resprayed the entire engine bay, and even did a custom brake line tuck before the Prelude heart finally made its way into the Civic for full-time duty.

Htup 1105 04 o+1989 honda civic wagon+edm lower console Photo 5/12   |   1989 Honda Civic Wagon - The Road Less Traveled

This is the first Honda I’ve ever owned, so this is basically my introduction to the Honda scene,’ so to speak. One thing I’ve noticed and I hate is how everyone just seems to follow everyone else. I wanted something different and that would stand out from the rest so I wouldn’t feel like a follower, Matt says. Even with the Prelude swap and the hybrid mix of JDM/EDM elements, Lines still admits that his favorite mod is his 35x55-inch sliding ragtop. I love it, Matt says with a smile. I sometimes catch myself staring at the stars at night while I’m driving. A ragtop, H22-powered Civic wagon is anything but common, and that suits Matt just fine.

BOLTS & WASHERS

Htup 1105 08 o+1989 honda civic wagon+manifold Photo 9/12   |   1989 Honda Civic Wagon - The Road Less Traveled

Propulsion
H22A1
Hasport engine mounts
Prelude Type S 0.25 oversized pistons & rings
Kaizenspeed balance shaft eliminator
Kaizenspeed manual tensioner conversion
K&N intake filter
Modified Prelude Type S intake manifold
BDL throttle body
EGR block-off
MAP block-off
Relocated IACV
Thermal exhaust system
Walbro 255-lph fuel pump
Acura RDX fuel injectors
Rosko Racing fuel rail
Russell fuel lines & fittings
Fuelab fuel filter
Fuelab fuel pressure regulator
Full Race radiator
NGK spark plugs
NGK spark plug wires
Hasport axles
Suja1 SONEM hydraulic clutch conversion

Stance
Ground Control coilover sleeves
Koni adjustable shocks
Energy Suspension bushings
Wicked Tuning alignment kit
Full Race traction bar

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Resistance
’96-spec ITR 4x114 front brakes
’96-spec ITR 4x114 rear brakes
Earl’s steel braided brake lines
Custom brake line tuck

Wheels & Tires
15x7 SSR Reverse Mesh +15 offset
195/50-15 Yokohama S Drive

Exterior
Custom carbon-fiber hood
JDM EF9 front bumper
JDM EF9 round foglights
EDM adjustable headlights
EDM rear license plate garnish
JDM window visors
JDM side marker lights
JDM rear foglights
Custom 35x55 sliding ragtop
Shaved antenna, emblems, rear wiper

Interior
DC2 ITR steering wheel
EDM rear interior
EDM lower console
JDM EF9 armrest
EM1 instrument cluster

Htup 1105 10 o+1989 honda civic wagon+jdm ef9 bumper Photo 11/12   |   1989 Honda Civic Wagon - The Road Less Traveled

Electronics
Rywire engine harness
Hondata S300
PLX wideband O2
Pioneer head unit
Memphis Audio components

Props Matt Wheatley, Travis Bittle, Jordan McCord, Shad Markwell, Jorge, Dave’s Auto Body, Madcou.com, hondacivicwagon.com

Owner Specs

Favorite Website
Madcou.com

Screen Name or Nickname
MrM3

Building Hondas For How Long
3 years

Your Dream Car
Audi S5

Build Inspiration
To stand out in the huge Honda scene

Current Stable
2002 BMW M3, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe

What’s Playing In Your iPod/CD/MP3 Player Right Now
Maylene and the Sons of Disaster; The Ghost Inside

Greatest Movie Of All Time
Forrest Gump

A Helping Hand
One of the most interesting aspects of Matt Lines’ build is that he practically did everything on his own, with a little help from hondacivicwagon.com. Being a first-time Honda owner introduced him to many different obstacles, but the most difficult issue he dealt with was painting his whole car with just one good hand. Import Alliance was coming up very quickly and I had planned to paint my car, but the day before, I actually broke my hand. It (the paintjob) had to get done so I managed to paint the entire car with my broken hand before being put in a cast from elbow to fingertip. Once I had the cast on, I wasn’t able to reassemble the car as fast as I wanted to, but luckily I have good friends and they all came to my rescue. We put the car back together just two hours before we had to leave on our 7-hour trip to Nashville. With the ragtop open and just 100 test miles before that, we made it to the show without one problem! Matt exclaims.

Htup 1105 11 o+1989 honda civic wagon+h22 engine Photo 12/12   |   1989 Honda Civic Wagon - The Road Less Traveled

Sources

Ground Control Suspension Systems
Shingle Springs, CA 95682
530-677-8600
http://www.ground-control.com
HASport Performance
Phoenix, AZ 85040
602-470-0065
http://www.hasport.com
Kaizen Speed
Kennewick, WA 99336
(509) 585-0900
http://www.kstuned.com
Rywire
Garden Grove, CA 92843
240-479-9473
http://www.rywire.com
By Joey Lee
243 Articles

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