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1997 Honda Civic EX - Heart Transplant

K Swap? J Swap? That’s Kid Stuff.

Brian McGurk
Jul 13, 2011 SHARE

If there’s one thing Honda guys love, it’s engine swaps. Surprisingly simple and often straightforward, Honda fanatics have been swapping powerplants across all platforms for 15 years or more. Recently, the K and J swaps have been the “in” thing, but when Chris Capparelli of Green Brook, New Jersey, set out to build something new, he wanted to take it to a whole new level. “I’ve built a bunch of Hondas and always loved the ’99-’00 Si, and wanted to build another one, but I also wanted an S2000,” he says. Chris did the only logical (or illogical to the average guy) thing, and dropped a complete S2000 drivetrain into a ’99 Si, RWD and all.

Htup 1107 01+1997 honda civic ex+burn out Photo 2/10   |   1997 Honda Civic EX - Heart Transplant

Every great journey starts with that first step; Chris’ was to source the donor car, or cars in this case. He recalls, “My first plan was to get a legit Si and work with that, but they were all in too good condition and not very cheap. I found a banged up ’97 Civic EX for a price I couldn’t pass up.” A rolled ’05 S2000 would provide most of the other parts Chris would need, and with both chassis in his driveway, the Frankenstein experiment would soon begin. There are no how-tos for a RWD Civic swap, so Chris decided to start at the rear and work his way forward. He remembers how it started: “Tube frame and a lot of 2-inch box tube and 1.5-inch round tubing. It took a lot of cutting and trial and error. I wanted to get it right. After a few weeks I had the rearend and camber set up, and with the rear finally in I could build the transmission tunnel.” Chris was in this project for the challenge, and wanted to do as much in-house as possible, but one thing he couldn’t do was make his own axles and driveshaft. Those came by way of Driveshaft Shop. “No one makes axles or a driveshaft for a RWD Civic project, but apparently some guys in Australia are stuffing S2000 setups into old Toyotas, and Driveshaft Shop made all those parts. They were the only ones who could really help me out.” With the rear dialed in, Chris set about upgrading the suspension, opting for Omni Power one-piece coilovers mated to custom five-lug Type R spindles so he could use the ’05 S2000 wheels. Although getting the rearend set up was hard, getting the engine where he wanted proved to be just as difficult. “The F22 is tall, and it took weeks to get the engine sitting low enough to get the stock hood to close, while still high enough to protect the oil pan—all the while looking aggressive,” Chris says. With the engine sitting properly, Chris’ custom work continued with modifying a Toda exhaust manifold and mating it to custom piping that runs to an A’PEXi WS2 muffler.

Htup 1107 02+1997 honda civic ex+exhaust Photo 3/10   |   1997 Honda Civic EX - Heart Transplant

With the engine, tranny, and rearend secured and functional, most would’ve sat back with a smile; but Chris wasn’t going for some trailer queen, he wanted a safe daily driver. “The interior wasn’t in yet, so I ordered an Autopower rollcage and installed it prior to finishing everything up.” The Civic was on a downhill run to being finished, and Chris hopped on Craigslist and managed to source a full ’99 Si front clip, complete with foglights to replace the battered ’97 Civic EX front. The wrecked S2K Chris had picked up was a treasure chest of usable parts, so Chris pulled the seats, steering wheel, pedals, and shift knob for use in his Civic. To complete his “Si 2000” theme, an S2000 cluster was wired in. Chris likes his music as loud as his exhaust so not surprisingly, a custom subenclosure was designed for the trunk. The interior portion of the build was finally coming together, but reusing the rear seats wasn’t going to be possible. “Between the trans tunnel, the cage, and the rear differential, those rear seats just weren’t going to work,” he tells. “I really wanted them in the car, too.” Continuing with his Si obsession, the Civic was treated to a fresh coat of the EM1’s most iconic color—Electron Blue Pearl—while the wheels were powdercoated white to complement the new coat of paint.

Chris is a humble guy, so we’ll mention this on his behalf—this entire project was completed in less than six months, in a little garage in Jersey. He completed it by himself, with no lift, while maintaining a 9-5 job Monday through Friday. His goal for this Civic was to piece together a one-of-a-kind daily driver that he could enjoy, and he says the future involves simply maintaining its driveability. However, he also hinted at adding some boost and going for big horsepower numbers. A reliable, rear-wheel-drive, turbo Civic? With the results of his build up to this point, we’re afraid to cast any type of doubt over those plans. In fact, we’re confident Chris can pull it off without a hitch.

Htup 1107 03+1997 honda civic ex+rear view Photo 7/10   |   Simple street Honda on the outside, modern-day rear-wheel- drive marvel on the inside.

Chris is a humble guy, so we’ll mention this on his behalf—this entire project was completed in less than six months, in a little garage in Jersey. He completed it by himself, with no lift, while maintaining a 9-5 job Monday through Friday.

Pump-free Power Steering.
The highest hurdle Chris had to jump was the S2000s power steering. For those not in the know, the S2000 uses an electronic motor to assist in steering instead of the traditional belt-driven hydraulic setup. Because the engine sits so far back in the bay, the drive gear is all at the front of the engine. This is all well and good in an S2000, but the Civic uses a traditional hydro-assisted setup with the drive gear behind the motor, creating a veritable nightmare for Chris. He recalls, This car was to be daily driven so I needed power steering. It took me months, three different setups, and a fully customized rack and tie rods, but I got it. This sort of thing is what most people would overlook, but Chris said it best: I wanted it as stock as possible while using as many Honda parts as I could. Keep it in the family, you know.

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
OEM S2000 F22 engine
OEM S2000 6-speed transmission
OEM S2000 rearend
OBX radiator hoses
Custom firewall
Custom front crossmember
Custom rear subframe
Custom intake
Custom modified Toda exhaust manifold
Custom test pipe
Custom exhaust system
Driveshaft Shop custom driveshaft
A’PEXi WS2 muffler
Walbro 255-lph fuel pump
Exedy Stage 2 clutch
Exedy flywheel
Stance
OEM Type R front hubs
Customized OEM Type R trailing arms
Omni Power 1-piece coilovers
Energy Suspension bushings
Skunk2 camber kit
Resistance
Brembo cross-drilled and slotted rotors
Brembo brake pads
OEM Type R calipers
OEM Type R master cylinder
OEM Type R proportioning valve
Custom stainless steel brake lines
Wheels & Tires
’05 S2000 17x7 +55 offset front, 17x8 +65 offset rear
Nankang 205/40R17 front, 215/40R17 rear
Exterior
’00 Civic Si front end
’00 Civic Si taillights
’00 Civic trunk
OEM JDM rear badge
OEM CTR front lip
OEM Honda foglights
Datum1 rear tow hook
Interior
Custom floor pan
Custom trunk pan
Custom black suede headliner
Custom center console cover
Autopower 4-point rollcage
OEM S2000 seats
OEM S2000 steering wheel
OEM S2000 pedals
OEM S2000 shift knob
OEM S2000 gauge cluster
Schroth 4-point harness
Electronics
Pioneer touch screen DVD and navigation
Memphis 500.1 sub amplifier
Memphis 100x4 high amplifier
12-inch Memphis Mojo subwoofer
Props
My wife Juliane
John Mattei
Artistic Metal Finishing
Driveshaft Shop
Talent For Survival
Cooper Bros. Tire

Owner Specs

Favorite Website
Everydaystrugglekustomz.com
Screen Name Or Nickname
Everyday Struggle
Building Hondas For How Long
11 years
Your Dream Car
Bentley coupe convertible
Build Inspiration
Always trying to do things that aren’t usually done
Current Stable
’88 Honda CRX K20, ’90 Honda CRX Turbo Type R, ’04 Infiniti G35, ’01 Chevy Tahoe, ’99 Honda Civic Si, ’87 Chevy S10 Blazer
What’s Playing In Your iPod/CD/MP3 Player Right Now
Lil’ Wayne
Greatest Movie of All Time
Gone In Sixty Seconds

Connect

Driveshaft shop
www.driveshaftshop.com
Omni Power
www.omnipowerusa.com
Exedy
www.exedyusa.com
Toda USA
www.todaracingusa.com

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Sources

Exedy Clutch
Belleville, MI 48111
800-346-6091
http://www.exedyusa.com
Omni Power USA
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
951-956-6554
http://www.omnipowerusa.com
Toda Racing
Irvine, CA 92618
949-336-6299
http://www.todaracingusa.com
By Brian McGurk
47 Articles

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