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 |   |  1990 Honda Civic SIR - Winter Solace
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1990 Honda Civic SIR - Winter Solace

Work hard. Enjoy. Repeat

Jun 25, 2011
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper

The idea of building a Honda, whether for track, street, or “just because,” can carry as much anxiety as it does unadulterated excitement. On the one hand, you’ve got what is essentially a blank canvas, ready for its owner to create something sensational, and, more importantly, something personal. Along with that rush of creativity comes responsibility, both in time management and critical financial planning. Most want everything done yesterday, rather than waiting and slowly chipping away at their proposed masterpiece. Then there are guys like Mike Guillen of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who take their time and let the chips fall as they will, all the while knowing that, in the end, the patience will eventually pay off.

Htup 1107 01+winter solace+cover Photo 2/13   |   1990 Honda Civic SIR - Winter Solace

Long before Guillen had ever taken hold of the paperwork for his little SiR, he’d spent a number of years scooting through the streets of Tulsa in a boosted ’94 Civic coupe. Grunting its way to almost 400 whp with nothing more than an FMU and archaic (by today’s standards) VTEC controller, he explained that his taste for big-ticket items like aftermarket wheels has changed dramatically since those early days. “Back then there wasn’t much a of a scene here in Tulsa. There was maybe one shop in the whole state, but they seemed to be ahead of the game, at least around here. I picked up a set of TSW Hock Rs—they were the biggest wheels I’d ever seen, ha-ha! Later I swapped in a B16, and eventually went turbo.” Jump ahead eight years, and though Tulsa hasn’t experienced a massive influx of import enthusiasm, there’s no question that progression has indeed taken place in America’s 47th largest city.

Htup 1107 02+winter solace+side view Photo 3/13   |   1990 Honda Civic SIR - Winter Solace

In ’05, a local shop by the name of Xtreme Autosports had barely made their way through the proverbial red tape that surrounded a ’90 Civic SiR defector when Guillen stepped in and plunked down enough coin to call it his own. Like many imported Japanese vehicles, the condition of the hatchback was less than stellar. “When I got the car it was completely trashed. The carpet had a bunch of stains, most of the plastics were broken, and the seats were a total mess. It looked like it was used as a family car with a kid’s seat in the back and toys everywhere,” he recalls.

The goals for the car weren’t unlike that of most builders. He wanted something functional, nice to look at, and, most importantly, fun to drive. Forgoing the complexities of artificial inhalation, Guillen chose to maintain the car’s natural aspiration, and focused his attention on areas of pure restoration. After completely gutting the cabin and concluding the seats were a total loss, he jumped online for a virtual hunting expedition. From eBay to and back, he searched high and low for replacement interior pieces and eventually landed a set of EDM buckets. He adds, “The hardest part for this build is the fact that it’s a real EF9, and in Oklahoma, there are really no parts available. I pretty much lived online trying to find replacement parts.” After what seemed like a lifetime, the car was finally up to presentable standards. A fan of the EF’s factory lines, Guillen opted to add only a smidgen of flair to the exterior with an authentic J’s Racing front lip, and a set of highly sought after Mugen MF10 wheels.

Htup 1107 03+winter solace+wheel Photo 4/13   |   1990 Honda Civic SIR - Winter Solace

With a good chunk of income already thrown at the iconic chassis, the build slowed considerably. Guillen explains: “Since it snows here every winter, I decided I’d just do a major upgrade every year, and then enjoy it when the weather was nice.” This plan of attack would afford plenty of brainstorming, and a lack of any deadlines meant the work would never be rushed or sloppy.

The first order of business in the winter-build series was supposed to be a respray, but as luck (bad luck, that is) would have it, things got underway a bit prematurely. “I left my car in reverse and hit the remote start to warm it up. I came outside to find it had gone up a hill and hit a guy’s truck. Every time it would hit, the car would try to start itself, and well, it would smack his truck again—lol!” Putting the car in the garage prior to his yearly winter project plan, the exterior was pulled apart in preparation for a respray. “I originally wanted S2K black, but my friend Luke, aka brokeasswhiteboy, showed me an ’04 STi in Java Black Pearl, and that was it, I was hooked!”

Htup 1107 07+winter solace+strut tower Photo 8/13   |   1990 Honda Civic SIR - Winter Solace

The following winter consisted of painstakingly removing practically every part of the rear suspension, and scraping off all of the rear factory sound-deadening material to make way for a fresh coat of bedliner. A handful of suspension pieces went to the powdercoater, while Tein Flex coilovers, T1R camber kit, Function 7 LCA’s, and an ST rear antisway bar found a new home on the Civic back half. In the months following, void of any signs of that pesky white fluffy stuff on local roads, Guillen enjoyed exploiting the new, far sportier suspension setup and had already started thinking about the next winter’s to-do list. “I loved how the rear suspension and undercarriage turned out, and decided it was time to completely redo the rest of the car. I pulled everything off and replaced all of the bushings and motor mount inserts with Mugen bushings, and swapped out the old tranny for an ITR hydraulic version with an ATS 4.9 final drive and LS 5th gear.” With the car perched on a set of jack stands in his garage, countless hours were spent underneath, on his back, scraping all of the old rotted undercoating until bare metal could eventually be seen. Struggling to avoid a mouthful of rubberized coating, Guillen laid down a healthy coat of primer, followed by fresh bedliner before bolting on more aftermarket suspension and braking goods to add to the SiR’s fun factor.

Htup 1107 08+winter solace+rear view Photo 9/13   |   1990 Honda Civic SIR - Winter Solace

In the end, the final result of these winter escapades is a rare Civic SiR with an emphasis on its “like-new” restoration and real-world driving fun. A far cry from a common mistake made by far too many who rush to secure fly-by-night trends that usually come back to haunt them a few years down the line.

Htup 1107 09+winter solace+fuel rail Photo 10/13   |   1990 Honda Civic SIR - Winter Solace

Undercoating—Is that stuff legit?
We’ve all heard the jokes about “stealerships” charging an arm and a leg for undercoating. Fact is, most don’t even know what it is, and whether or not automotive dealers are getting away with highway robbery when it’s time to sign on the dotted line is debatable. One thing is for certain: Undercoating is very necessary. The rubberized layer provides additional protection and insulation for the undercarriage of your car. This area is the most vulnerable as it’s constantly being bombarded by road debris, moisture, and Mother Nature’s various byproducts. If you’re planning to do a complete restoration, you might consider investigating your project car’s underbelly, as it might be due for a “scrape and cake” session. Available in spray-on applications from your neighborhood parts store, or through a service like those offered in the truck bed market, undercoating is typically made up of a mix of fiberglass, rubber, ceramic, petroleum, and silicone.

Bolts & Washers

Mugen motor mounts
Cusco adjustable cam gears
ARC intake
HKS 4-2-1 exhaust manifold
HKS cat-back exhaust
ITR transmission
ATS 4.9 final drive (LS 5th gear)
Spoon Sports clutch
Spoon Sports flywheel
Sonem hydraulic conversion (at the pedal)
Custom Innovative transmission mount
Skunk2 short shift kit
Benen fuel rail
Earl’s inline fuel filter
B&M fuel pressure regulator
Spoon Sports plug wires
Koyo radiator
FAL slim fan
Spoon Sports radiator cap
Samco radiator hoses
Tein Flex (ITR model)
Suspension Techniques antisway bars
Mugen bushings throughout
Skunk2 front upper arms
T1R rear camber kit
EM-Racing triangular bars (rear)
Cusco front shock tower bar
Cusco front lower control bar
Function 7 LCA’s
Brembo slotted DC2 front disc
Brembo Si rear disc
DC2 brake calipers
EBC “Green Stuff” pads
Stop Tech stainless lines
Cusco brake master cylinder brace
ARP wheel studs
Wheels & Tires
Mugen MF10 15x6.5 +45
Advan Neova AD08
Project Kics Neo-gen lug nuts
Subaru STi Java Black Pearl paint
J’s Racing front lip
Recaro Speed bucket seats
SRR cam-lock harnesses
Spoon Sports steering wheel
Works Bell Rapfix GTC
Spoon Sports shift knob
ITR shift boot
Honda Access floor mats
My wife Melissa for allowing me so much time and money into this car, Mitch, Nick, Chucho, Blake, Quinton for all the hands-on help, Bill’s Custom Paint, my whole Team Ikon family, Padox, Humble Performance, Synergy Motorsports, Toyspeed

Owner Specs

Favorite websites and
Screen name or nickname
Mike G or MeanstreakCivic
Building Hondas for how long
13 years
Your dream car
’84 Mugen CR-X
Current stable
’04 Acura TL
Build inspiration
What’s Playing In Your iPod/CD/MP3 player right now
Greatest movie of all time
The Goonies


Koyo Radiator
Skunk2 Racing
Samco Sport


Skunk2 Racing
Norco, CA 92860
Tein USA
Downey, CA 90241
Koyo Radiators
Irvine, CA 92618
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