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2002 Honda Civic - All In A Name

A monumental build for a fallen icon.

Brian McGurk
Jan 30, 2012
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper

For those who put just as much heart into what they build as they do blood and sweat, the final piece of the puzzle is undoubtedly the name. Most times, the name is something rich with personal meaning, and gives years of hard work and dedication a life of its own. In the case of this drag car built by Import DPS of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the name is one that keeps the memory of a fallen friend alive in the hearts of everyone in the automotive community.

Htup 1203 01+2002 honda civic+cover Photo 2/12   |   2002 Honda Civic - All In A Name

The Import DPS car started out as a run-of-the-mill 2002 Honda Civic, and that’s where most of the similarities end in comparison to the front-wheel-drive economy car. The first thing the guys at Import DPS did was ship the car off to friends at the Tito Chassis Shop all the way in Florida. There, the car underwent an extensive build that included converting the FWD SOHC car to a one-off dragster sporting a rear-wheel-drive K-series setup. The Civic was delivered to Florida by the car’s namesake, Freddie “El Manco” Fuentes. Rick from Import DPS reflects on his friend and adds, “He was always willing to stop what he was doing to help another fellow racer out (in this case drive 18 hours to Florida to take the car).” Unfortunately, after delivery of the Civic, Freddie was tragically killed in a car accident near his home in the northeast, prompting Rick and the Import DPS guys to name the Civic after their fallen friend. “We were all very saddened by the loss and the collective team said ‘El Freddie’ would be the name,” Rick states.

2018 Honda Civic
$18,940 Base Model (MSRP) 28/40 MPG Fuel Economy

With the Civic in the shop, Tito’s guys removed the front quarter of the Civic and rebuilt it to support the new K-series heart pushing the power to a one-off driveshaft and custom axles designed and built by Tito. To keep the chassis from twisting, Tito’s guys installed a custom rollcage before sending the car to the guys at Gato Performance, where a dummy engine was mocked up in order for them to build their custom turbo and intake setup. While still in Florida, the coupe made its way to Pimar’s Automotive for a fresh coat of paint and a custom one-piece front end and hand-built spoiler.

Htup 1203 02+2002 honda civic+front view Photo 3/12   |   2002 Honda Civic - All In A Name
“He was always willing to stop what he was doing to help another fellow racer out (in this case drive 18 hours to Florida to take the car).” Unfortunately, after delivery

With the Civic in one piece again, the team at Gato installed the freshly built K24, now sporting a custom crank and pistons that helped push the factory 2.4L to a larger, “undisclosed” figure. The original head was replaced with a K20A2 alternative and, after receiving a full port and polish, then stuffed with a complete Ferrea valvetrain and custom Drag Cartel camshafts. Gato Performance designed a custom exhaust manifold to house the mammoth custom Bullseye turbocharger, while on the cold side, a Gato Performance intake manifold inhales through custom piping. Getting the power to the rear wheels comes by way of a G-Force transmission and matching differential, with Ram Clutches providing its clutch and flywheel setup. Four-figure horsepower numbers need a lot of rubber to get the car moving, and the crew at Import DPS chose a set of Holeshot wheels, 15x4 up front with a massive 15x15 wheel and tire setup out back! Stopping this monster is a custom Aerospace brake setup, featuring fresh calipers, pads, and discs.

The newly completed build was then delivered to Ricky Rosado of Rosado Racing for a test and tune session. The whole team, including the Import DPS guys, took the Civic to a NSCRA-sanctioned event where the car, fresh off the trailer, jumped directly into the 7-second club after some slight tuning. After its blistering run in Florida, Import DPS returned home with its new beast to lay down some number in the northeast. The official premiere in the northeast would be at Englishtown, New Jersey, during the Honda Day event. Rick from Import DPS recalls, “You could feel the energy from the crowd. I just remember looking side to side and seeing so many people proud that an RWD Honda had finally hit the map and ran so hard.… It was solid clouds the entire day, but it was the first time the sun had peeked right when this car did the burnout.” With the weather cooperating and the crowd’s anticipating the first run, it laid down a 7.1-second run at 195 mph. When asked about the future of the project, Rick states, “We’re looking to push the car and break the current four-cylinder record. We’ve done everything up to this date with no help, and we’ve run these times on the one engine with all of the parts the car had during the build. We’re confident that with some changes, all minor, we can break the 6.7 and 208-mph mark.”

We’re pretty sure their dearly missed friend and fellow enthusiast, El Freddie, will lend a little tailwind to break that coveted record.

El Freddie
The drag racing community is a tightly knit one, and most people either know or know of everyone else. Freddie “El Manco” Fuentes was one of those guys in the northeast. Known and respected for driving a manual with one arm, even on the racetrack, Freddie had been around the block a few times. Rick from Import DPS adds, “He was simply one of the best. He didn’t use Dynojets like we do now or even any of the popular electronics. He did things his way, and they always went fast. I only knew him personally for a couple years, but he was one of the most down-to-earth people around.” When asked about Freddie’s history and what made him great, Rick went on to say “his popularity spanned from the northeast to Florida to California and even Puerto Rico. He was the first person to tune a 7-second import.” A tragic loss of an iconic individual who the Import DPS team will continue to celebrate while smashing records.

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
K24 block/K20 head
Gato Performance custom engine mounts
Gato Performance with Bullseye custom turbocharger
Gato Performance custom intake manifold
Gato Performance custom exhaust manifold
Gato Performance custom downpipe
Gato Performance custom fuel rail
Sleeved and sealed engine block by ERL Performance
Custom Billet Crank crankshaft
Custom JE pistons and rings
Cunningham Custom connecting rods
Barnes dry-sump oiling system
Barnes fuel pump
Mishimoto half-sized Civic radiator
Custom braided radiator hoses
Custom billet Drag Cartel camshafts
Custom Ferrea valves
Custom Ferrea valvesprings
Custom Ferrea retainers
Custom Ferrea keepers
Custom Ferrea rocker arms
2,000cc fuel injectors
Accufab 95mm throttle body
TiAL Sport blow-off valve
TiAL Sport 60mm wastegate
NGK spark plugs
MSD plug wires
M&W Ignition box
G-Force transmission
G-Force differential
G-Force box shifter
Ram Clutches clutch
Ram Clutches flywheel
Tito Chassis Shop custom aluminum driveshaft
Tito Chassis Shop axles
Suspension
Custom Koni coilovers
Resistance
Aerospace brake rotors
Aerospace brake pads
Aerospace brake calipers
Custom Pimar’s Automotive brake lines
Wheels and Tires
Front: HoleShot wheels 15x4, Mickey Thompson tires, varying size
Rear: HoleShot wheels 15x15, Mickey Thompson tires, varying size
Exterior
Full three-quarter chassis car
Tito Chassis Shop custom rollcage
Custom Pimar’s Automotive one-piece front end
Custom Pimar’s Automotive rear wing
Interior
Aluminum racing seat
Electronics
Race Pack boost controller
Race Pack data logger
Haltech Platinum engine management
Props
Pimar’s Automotive
Tito Chassis Shop
Import DPS Speed Shop
Rosado Racing
John Veloso
All of the family and friends

Owner Specs

Daily Grind
Import DPS
Favorite Websites
grs-motorsports, nyce1’s.
Screen Name or Nickname
importdps or el Freddie racing team
Building Hondas for How Long
20+ years
Your Dream Car
We have it!
Build Inspiration
K-series engine
Future Build
6-second timeslips

Sources

Ferrea Racing Components
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
888-733-2505
http://www.ferrea.com
KONI North America
Hebron, KY 41048
859-586-4100
www.koni-na.com
Drag Cartel Industries
Simi Valley, CA 93065
8059559993
http://www.dragcartel.com
Import DPS
Philadelphia, PA 19133
215-227-6000
http://www.importdpsonline.com
By Brian McGurk
47 Articles

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