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 |   |  2001 Honda S2000 and 1996 Honda Civic CX - Grown Folks’ Toys
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2001 Honda S2000 and 1996 Honda Civic CX - Grown Folks’ Toys

A peek inside an awe-inspiring automotive toy box

Matt “Rodrez” Rodriguez
Sep 5, 2011

Time and money; two critical necessities required when setting out to build the ultimate Honda project. While most have plenty of time and at least an ounce of patience, it’s that other pesky variable that seems to be in high demand and, in most cases, short supply. Ryan Novak of Torrance, California, is bit different in respect to the aforementioned formula. The brash 30-something lacks patience, and his serious automotive collection reflects that of a man with no shortage of income. His current stable consists of a maniacal Subaru time attack car, along with the “built to the hilt” S2000 and the raw ITB K-powered Civic hatchback you see pictured. Oh, and then there’s the coveted R33 and R35 GTR duo that would force even the snobbiest of collectors to crack a smile, nod, and extend their hand for a fist bump. Ask this owner how it feels to own some of the sickest cars in existence, and he’ll no doubt fire back with a lowly, “I don’t know, it’s cool.” You see, beyond the veritable dream garage and high-dollar upgrades, Novak is an enthusiast at heart. Blessed with the ability to afford the toys that others can only drool over, his focus has always remained the same: drive, enjoy, improve, repeat.

Htup 1109 01+1996 honda civic cx+cover Photo 2/18   |   2001 Honda S2000 and 1996 Honda Civic CX - Grown Folks’ Toys

The AP1 project has dished out as much heartbreak and disappointment as it has driving enjoyment. Having gone through five different engines in naturally aspirated trim, and noting the extreme speeds being reached by the opposition, Novak decided that boost was going to be a necessary upgrade for his S2K. Originally nothing more than a basic GReddy bolt-on affair, the go-fast demons eventually transformed the engine bay into the beast you see pictured. A stroked, low-compression F22 (2.4L) is the foundation of the build, while a Garrett GT 3076 handles inhalation, and a custom V-mount intercooler/radiator combo brings cooling up to acceptable track standards. If the name and car seem somewhat familiar, it was once armed with individual throttle bodies, a full J’s Racing aero kit, and landed on the cover of Honda Tuning in 2009. Along with the obvious power and fabrication upgrades since then, an Amuse GT1 wide-body aero kit and massive Enkei NT01 rollers replaced the previous look. The ongoing build’s current status didn’t come without its share of issues.

Htup 1109 02+1996 honda civic cx+front view Photo 3/18   |   Kiwi of Special Projects provided his front lip and splitter—a track proven combo that many competitors rely upon.

Novak adds, “After boosting, it was a disaster. Turbo was too small, then too big, suspension was too stiff, then not stiff enough, and back and forth it went. I took a car that handled great from the factory and basically raped its character. Honestly, this car almost gave me a nervous breakdown more than once. There were times when I just wanted to take a sledgehammer to it, or set it on fire. It was that frustrating. It took two full years to make the car happy again. We did well in the series we built the car for, but they ended up taking our class in a different direction, and I’ve since retired the car from competition. Not real sure what I’m going to do with it, but I’ll probably hit some track days just to raise some hell.”

Htup 1109 03+1996 honda civic cx+tow hook Photo 4/18   |   2001 Honda S2000 and 1996 Honda Civic CX - Grown Folks’ Toys

Novak’s latest project is a direct result of his previous Civic Type R (August ’10 issue of HT) becoming more of a hassle than a blessing. “It was a fun car, but I got too lazy to put it on a trailer to take it to and from the track. I started looking for a regular left-hand drive car that I could build for the track, but still drive on the street ‘legally.’” A few weeks later, he headed to the track with his new R35 GTR to stretch its legs for a few sessions. “I was out there with the FF Squad guys, and they were kicking my GTR’s ass! It was kind of embarrassing, to be honest. FF Dylan mentioned that his friend was buying a ’96 Civic for $500 and was planning to flip it. The next day I called him up and just bought it.”

Htup 1109 04+1996 honda civic cx+wheels Photo 5/18   |   2001 Honda S2000 and 1996 Honda Civic CX - Grown Folks’ Toys

Ignoring the rod knock, massive accumulation of dirt, and the one color he can’t stand (red), Novak spent the next three days tearing the chassis down to a bare naked shell. Wanting a Championship White hue, he shipped the chassis to Hudson Auto Body while a parts list was created. JRZ received a call in regards to suspension, while Kiwi at Special Projects worked his magic on both the aero upgrades and custom transmission, and a K24 was built and prepped for extended abuse. “By the time the car came back from paint, all of the parts had arrived and it just had to be put back together. It took about three weeks to finish everything.”

Htup 1109 11+2001 honda s2000+full view Photo 12/18   |   2001 Honda S2000 and 1996 Honda Civic CX - Grown Folks’ Toys

Arizona’s Firebird Raceway would serve as the Civic’s maiden stomping grounds, and not surprisingly, Novak was chomping at the bit. “I spent most of the morning fine-tuning the suspension with help from JRZ. Once we hit the main track, after the first three hot laps I couldn’t believe how fast the car was.” After passing a number of cars, Novak pulled into the pits, but didn’t climb out immediately. “I literally sat in the car and just started laughing to myself. All I could think was ‘holy shit, I created a monster!’”

When asked how this Civic stacks up to some of his past projects, he answers without hesitation, “Oh yeah, this is the ideal car for me. I go to the track in the morning, rip it up and pull some good times, then drive it right back home afterward. No BS. just a clean, functional car. Out of all the cars I have, this is my favorite.” Considering the company it keeps, this Civic is something remarkable.

Bolts & Washers

’96 Civic CX
Toda 50mm individual throttle bodies
Drag Cartel Stage 4 cams
Blox Racing header
R Crew cat-back exhaust
AQ Motorsports hi-flow cat
Portflow headwork
Supertech valves
Supertech valvesprings
CP 11.5:1 pistons
Carrillo rods
K-Tuned fuel rail
Walbro 255 lph fuel pump
RC 750cc injectors
HaSport motor mounts
Gear-X close gearset
Hybrid Racing shift box and cables
ACT clutch
ACT flywheel
Wave track differential
HaSport axles
Rywire radiator
Hybrid Racing hoses
Rywire mil-spec engine harness
300 whp on 91 octane
JRZ RS two-way coilovers
Hyperco springs
ASR adjustable rear antisway bar
DC2 front antiroll bar
Hard Race spherical bushings
Hard Race alignment kit
Spoon Sports shock tower bar, front and rear
StopTech two-piece rotor, front
Spoon Sports caliper
Hawk DTC
Motul DOT 5 fluid
StopTech brake lines
Wheels and Tires
949 Racing 15x9 +40 front
949 Racing 15x8 +40 rear
Nitto NT01 225/50-15
Hudson Auto Body paint and body
Spoon Sports carbon-fiber hood
Spoon Sports carbon-fiber mirrors
Special Projects front lip and splitter
Seeker rear wing
Alex wing risers
Recaro Pole Position buckets
Sparco 6-pt harness
Personal steering wheel
Spoon Sports gauge cluster
Spoon Sports shift knob
Auto Power 4-pt bolt-in
GReddy 60mm oil pressure/temperature gauges

Owner Specs

Favorite website
Facebook (I guess)
Screen name or nickname
Mr. Novak
Building Hondas For How Long
Your Dream Car
Toyota Corolla with Black Widow body kit and nawz
Build Inspiration
Cheap and fun racecar
Current Stable
R33 GTR, R35 GTR
What’s Playing In Your iPod/CD/MP3 Player Right Now
Toro Y Moi
Greatest Movie Of All Time
Team America

Bolts & Washers

’01 S2000
F22 stroked to 2.4L
BC crankshaft
CP 9:1 pistons
Carrillo rods
Assembled by Laskey Racing
Portflow headwork
Supertech valves
Supertech valvesprings
K20A OEM retainers
Toda cam gears
Garrett GT3076 turbo
AQ Motorsports 4-inch intake
AQ Motorsports turbo piping
AFI intake manifold
AFI Novak-spec turbo manifold
TiAL V-band turbo exhaust 103 housing
Swain Tech coating
Blox 70mm throttle body
AQ Motorsports side exit exhaust
TiAL blow-off valve
TiAL 44mm wastegate
GReddy intercooler
Koyo radiator
AQ Motorsports custom V-mount
Hosetech couplers
Earl’s AN fittings and quick-disconnect hoses
Trust oil cooler
Moroso oil accumulator
Detchwork 1,600cc injectors
Earl’s fuel filter
Walbro 255 lph fuel pump
ACT six-puck clutch
Toda flywheel
Driveshaft Shop custom 4-inch driveshaft
Driveshaft Shop–modified Porsche axles/adapters
Defi sensors
520 whp on E85
JRZ RS two-way coilovers
Hyperco springs
J’s Racing front bumpsteer kit
J’s Racing rear trailing arms
J’s Racing roll center adjusters, front and rear
ASM under-body brace
Cusco front subframe brace
One-of-a-kind brake system
StopTech 15-inch two-piece rotor, front
StopTech 13-inch two-piece rotor, rear
StopTech six-piston caliper, front
StopTech four-piston caliper, rear
Motul DOT 5 fluid
StopTech brake lines
Wheel and Tire
Enkei NT01 18x10.5 +30
Toyo R888 295/30-18 front
Toyo R888 315/30-18 rear
Amuse GT1 wide-body kit
J’s Racing carbon-fiber hood
ASM dry carbon trunk
ASM dry carbon duckbill spoiler
Mugen FRP hardtop
Kognition Design dry carbon GT wing
JDM headlights
Password:JDM Kevlar under diffuser
Craft Square carbon-fiber mirrors
Bride Zeta III Type L
Custom seat brackets
Personal steering wheel
MOMO boss
ASM shift boot
NASA-spec rollcage
JC Meynets pit clock
AiM MXL dash
Frank Chen at JRZ, AQ Motorsports, Darryl at JHPUSA,, Shaun Church, Daniel Butler and Ryan Zamora at Church Automotive Testing, Kiwi at Special Projects, Mark at Hudson Auto Body, West End Alignment, Mitch Pederson at MPT, Jay Meynet, AFI turbo, Mike Keeney, Steve Hughes and Ruiz Sr. at StopTech, JC at AEM, Driveshaft Shop, Toyo Tires, ACT Clutch, Moroso, CL Brakes, Detchwork Injectors, B-bar Ranch, and everyone else


AQ Motorsports
Toda Racing
JRZ Suspension Engineering


Compton, CA 90220
Toda Racing
Irvine, CA 92618
AEM Power
Hawthorne, CA 90250
JRZ Suspension Engineering
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