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 |   |  1999 Honda Civic Si - Five-Star Build
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1999 Honda Civic Si - Five-Star Build

Hard work and blind chance.

Henry Z. DeKuyper
Mar 28, 2012
Htup 1204 01+1999 honda civic si+cover Photo 1/6   |   1999 Honda Civic Si - Five-Star Build

The year was 1999, and just about every die-hard Honda enthusiast on U.S. soil experienced a sense of excitement, a quickened heart rate, and perhaps a little frothing at the mouth. It seemed as though the powers that be, deeply rooted within the confines of Honda’s illustrious halls, had finally heard the people’s cries for something special. Already well versed in the art of engine transplants, the Honda massive saw plenty of potential with the introduction of the all-new Civic Si coupe, complete with a factory-installed B16A2. Earning a reputation as an outstanding starting point for tuning options, the venerable 1.6L already established a devout following and a booming aftermarket support system well before the EM1 had even been discussed by Honda’s design and engineering teams.

One of the ’99 Si’s biggest fans was Christian Santiago of Porter, Texas. Although he didn’t have the means to jump right into the driver’s seat as the car was first released, in the back of his mind he knew one day he’d have one of his very own. But before a set of Si keys were anywhere near his grasp, Santiago jumped into the Honda building world with a ’95 hatchback that he’d acquired for a mere $1,500. Admittedly, the car was nowhere near the standards he holds for his current project, but working part time and helping to support a family meant cheap parts and very basic upgrades were in order. He adds, “My intentions with the hatchback right from the beginning were to keep it very low budget. I purchased mostly replica parts, but I loved it because I built it myself, and I was able to financially support my hobby and my family at the same time.”

Htup 1204 02+1999 honda civic si+full view Photo 2/6   |   1999 Honda Civic Si - Five-Star Build
2019 Honda Civic
$21,450 Base Model (MSRP) MPG Fuel Economy

Fun is fun, but every man comes to a crossroads and an executive decision must be made. After a year of toying with his first project, Santiago had become dissatisfied with its direction and decided he wanted something more: more from his project car, more from his job, and most importantly, more for his family. This meant selling his hatchback and turning all of his focus toward his career—the result of which culminated in a promotion to assistant manager. The increase in take-home pay afforded a new car for his wife and kids in the form of a Honda Fit. As he sat poring through the mountain of paperwork that is synonymous with any new car purchase, something managed to draw his attention. Santiago recalls, “I noticed this gorgeous black Si pulling out of the dealership’s car wash. I figured it had to be an employee’s car but decided to take a closer look anyway. It had low mileage, and it was bone stock!” Curiosity took things one step further, and after consulting management, it turned out the car had just been traded in for a newer model Civic and was up for grabs. “I talked to the sales lead and since I was already purchasing the Fit, they made me a great deal. That day, I drove off the lot in my new Si and my wife in her new Fit!”

Something that any enthusiast will quickly notice about Santiago’s Si is its unwavering simplicity.

Not wanting to fall back into the replica parts world, Santiago dedicated much of his time to sourcing hard-to-find, legitimate parts online at bargain pricing. “I would stay up late just about every night and hunt for great deals on forums and eBay. My buddies would get so upset because I always beat them on these cheap buys—lol! I was persistent and motivated and the searching became like a hobby for me.” A bevy of Civic Type R and JDM upgrades adorn the interior and exterior of Santiago’s Si, but it was with his next promotion, this time to store manager, that he’d been given the breathing room he needed for bigger-ticket items. For example, his list of previously owned wheels would cause even the pickiest wheel whore to give a nod of approval. Classics that include Volk TE37, Sprint Hart CPR, Mugen, Regamaster, and Work RSZ-R, all served duty on this coupe before its owner finally settled on the set of Work Meisters that sit so perfectly on this Si.

Htup 1204 03+1999 honda civic si+wheel Photo 3/6   |   1999 Honda Civic Si - Five-Star Build
His Si presents a timeless look that doesn’t give in to any crazy aero or fender-destroying offset, but rather serves as an ode to the beloved EM1 chassis.

Something that any enthusiast will quickly notice about Santiago’s Si is its unwavering simplicity. His Si presents a timeless look that doesn’t give in to any crazy aero or fender-destroying offset, but rather serves as an ode to the beloved EM1 chassis. We see it as a throwback to a time when enthusiasts truly felt they were being understood by the powers that be. However, a very humble and down-to-earth Christian Santiago sees things in much simpler terms. “I’m just truly blessed to have had the opportunity to do what I did with this car, and I’m grateful to have such a supportive wife and kids. It wouldn’t be as fun building this car without them.”

A Five-Star Team
Christian often references team5star throughout his tech sheet, and for good reason. A proud member of the Houston, Texas-based group that was formed in 2007, they’ve focused their efforts on expanding the import community within their hometown. A tight-knit band of dedicated enthusiasts, team5star has earned a reputation for high-end builds utilizing only quality parts. Recently expanding with a new chapter in Dallas, the crew’s motto, “quality over quantity,” remains as their foundation.

Bolts & Washers

RMF exhaust manifold
A’PEXi World Sport cat-back
Custom test pipe
ARC induction box
ACT Stage III clutch
Spoon Sports plug wires
Mishimoto radiator
Spoon Sports radiator cap
Civic Type R oil cap
Carbing cooling plate
Aftermarket hardware
Eibach Ground Control coilovers
Koni yellow shocks
Carbing 3-pt front shock tower bar
Password:JDM X trunk bar
Energy Suspension bushing kit
Skunk2 camber kit
Civic Type R 32mm 5-lug conversion
Spoon Sports calipers
Civic Type R brake pads
Goodridge stainless steel lines
Wheels and Tires
Work Meister 16x8, +35
Yokohama 195/40-16
Paint by Pristine Image
Backyard Special front bumper
Vision Type DC mirrors
Seibon carbon-fiber hood
Civic Type R headlights/side markers
Civic Type R front fenders
OEM optional window visors
OEM optional rear lip
Recaro SRD with gradation
Vertex 320mm steering wheel
MOMO boss
Spoon Sports Duracon shift knob
Civic Type R gauge cluster
Civic Type R carpet
Civic Type R shift boot
My wife and kids, Team5star crew, Pristine Image, Azael, WTFake, and Chops

Owner Specs

Daily Grind
Work hard, play hard
Favorite Sites, NWP4Life,, Honda-tech, em1crew, S2ki,, JHPUSA, Nengun, rbwheels, memoryfab, eBay
Screen Names
Doh! or eg_junior
Building Hondas
About 10 years
Dream Car
Inspiration For This Build
To keep Houston on the map in regards to Hondas
Future Builds
S2000, possibly another Civic


Skunk2 Racing
Norco, CA 92860
Eibach Springs
Corona, CA 92879
Seibon Carbon
City of Industry, CA 91745
San Gabriel, CA 91776
By Henry Z. DeKuyper
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