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 |   |  1992 Honda Civic - D-Series Supreme!
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1992 Honda Civic - D-Series Supreme!

Proving you wrong, 794hp at a time.

Aaron Bonk
Apr 12, 2012
Photographer: Josh Mackey
Htup 1205 01+1992 honda civic+cover Photo 1/9   |   1992 Honda Civic - D-Series Supreme!

Seven-hundred ninety-four horsepower doesn’t care how many cylinders you’ve got. Seven-hundred ninety-four horsepower doesn’t care how big your engine is. It doesn’t care which turbo you’ve got, what your compression ratio is, or what kind of oil you use. And 794hp for damn sure doesn’t care whether you’ve got one cam or two.

Htup 1205 02+1992 honda civic+front view Photo 2/9   |   From turbo placement to exhaust routing, each and every component was well thought out by James and SpeedFactory.

Chances are, your fondest memory of Honda’s entry-level, four-cylinder D series is the day you plucked it from your bay and chucked it for a twin-cam swap. The truth is, though, with a little bit of attention, the D series is every bit as capable of making respectable power as any of Honda’s larger, dual-overhead-cam lineup. Just ask SpeedFactory’s James Kempf, who’s taken Honda’s D16Z6 and done everything to it that the Internet says you shouldn’t—like push more than 794hp out of it.

2019 Honda Civic
$21,450 Base Model (MSRP) MPG Fuel Economy

As a boy, James assumed he’d one day own the obligatory muscle car—something with eight cylinders. After all, he says, four-cylinder Hondas were “slow” and best left as “commuter cars.” Despite all of this, in 1998 James found himself the owner of a ’95 Civic EX coupe. “The look of the car caught my eye, and after a test drive I was hooked,” he says. “I just couldn’t believe how quick that puny 1.6L four-cylinder was, how it screamed to 7,000 rpm happily.”

James spent the remainder of the ’90s modifying his Civic and soon found his calling—drag racing. “The process of constantly tweaking and tuning the car, as well as my driving skills, in order to improve and run a new personal best was like a drug to me,” he confesses. It didn’t take long before James sought a lighter chassis in hopes of going faster. In 2002, the coupe was sold and a ’92 Civic VX hatchback was sourced. The VX was rough around the edges but was precisely what James was looking for—something light. In short order, James gutted its interior, yanked the engine, and dropped a D16Z6 complemented with a GReddy turbo kit into place. The combination was good for a 12-second quarter-mile, enough to spank just about any Mustang James would happen upon. And about beating those Mustangs, well, “It was a damn good feeling,” he says.

Htup 1205 03+1992 honda civic+turbo Photo 3/9   |   1992 Honda Civic - D-Series Supreme!

James grew bored of the entry-level turbo kit yet remained attached to his D series. “I loved having the underdog motor and the notoriety of being the guy with the little SOHC that was beating up on all of the DOHC-swapped cars,” he says. By 2006, though, James’ family and financial responsibilities began to counter his desire to go faster. As such, he pieced together an economically minded T3/T4-based eBay turbo kit and strengthened his block with Suzuki Vitara pistons—a combination James had seen proven within the Puerto Rican drag racing scene. “I had a very limited budget after the turbo kit upgrades and was dying to get it running again, so I was looking for a cheap way to get the motor back together,” he says. “The Vitara pistons had only been used to 300 whp at that point in time, and nobody really knew how far you could push them.” The new setup yielded James a 10.4-second quarter-mile once properly slicked down and earned him bragging rights as the quickest and most powerful Vitara-based D series. To be sure, at 471hp and 29 psi of boost, James’ D configuration was no joke.

Htup 1205 04+1992 honda civic+interior Photo 4/9   |   1992 Honda Civic - D-Series Supreme!

As James’ Washington-based tuning facility, SpeedFactory Racing, began to grow, so did his D-series aspirations. Soon the company developed its own D-series-to-B-series transmission conversion kit for the Civic and a legitimate compressor—this time from Precision Turbo—was added to the roster. Six-hundred horsepower came and went and was followed with more research and development, including a Bisimoto camshaft and Competition Clutch twin-disc assembly. In 2010, James’ Civic went on to become the first street class competitor to break into the nines still making use of Honda’s single-cam. And with a 9.65-second quarter-mile, it did so with those same cast-aluminum Vitara pistons.

As you might imagine, cast-aluminum pistons are no match for forged alternatives. As such, James upgraded to Arias slugs and a sleeved Golden Eagle short block. A larger T4-based turbo from Precision Turbo along with a reworked cylinder head netted James and company a remarkable 794hp at 39 psi, which led to the team’s 9.49-second quarter-mile best. Needless to say, the car’s early years helped shove budget-minded D-series performance to the forefront. Today, Vitara pistons remain a staple for frugal D fans across the globe.

You might think that with all of the success James has encountered thanks to his faithful D series that a DOHC engine swap would be the furthest thing from his mind. You’d be wrong. After 12 years, James says he’ll soon be retiring the single-cam. “I’m content with what we’ve been able to accomplish with it over the years, and it’s now time to move on to something else,” he says. The D has already been pulled and, by the time you read this will have been parted out, shelved, or tucked away somewhere. But James remains undecided of what exactly will occupy that barren space underneath the hood once again. Perhaps an Outlaw K series mated to an Albins dog box will find its way in there. Or maybe a 309hp, naturally aspirated B series, which the SpeedFactory team just so happens to have sitting in its facility, will be called upon. In the words of James himself: “Only time will tell.”

Htup 1205 05+1992 honda civic+engine Photo 5/9   |   At just under 800hp, this D16Z6 is far more than just a pretty face.

Vitara Pistons
Interesting pistons the Vitaras are. Borrowed from Suzuki’s 1.6L, SOHC compact SUV of all places, Vitara pistons remain a staple among cost-conscious Honda D-series followers. Manufactured from cast aluminum, Vitara pistons aren’t nearly as strong as forged-aluminum alternatives, but they do feature many of the same frills as most aftermarket pistons. For one, Vitara pistons feature floating-style wrist pins with superior oiling capabilities, unlike Honda’s pressed-in versions. Floating pins exhibit less friction and typically wear less frequently. Vitara pistons also feature a dished design with ample valve reliefs—perfect for lower-budget forced-induction setups where reduced compression ratios are common. Best of all, Vitara pistons feature a 75mm bore—just like the Civic’s—and are compatible with D-series connecting rods, piston pins, and rings. Their ring lands are also thicker than any D-series piston, which is precisely what makes them so durable, and a specialized Teflon coating—not unlike what you’d find surrounding an NSX or Integra Type-R piston—helps promote less wear at start-up.

Bolts & Washers

D16Z6 engine
Avid Racing solid engine mounts
Precision Turbo 6765 T4 turbocharger
Precision Turbo front-mount intercooler
Custom intercooler piping
Omni Power 68mm throttle body
Golden Eagle intake manifold
TiAL Q blow-off valve
SpeedFactory exhaust manifold
TiAL MV-S wastegates (2)
SpeedFactory 4-inch downpipe
Golden Eagle sleeves
Arias 10.6:1 pistons
Eagle rods
ATI Super Damper
Bisimoto Level 3.6 camshaft
Ported, polished cylinder head
Ferrea +1mm valves
Supertech valvesprings
Supertech retainers
Injector Dynamics 1,000cc/min fuel injectors
Golden Eagle fuel rail
XRP AN fittings and lines
Aeromotive fuel filter
Weldon fuel pressure regulator
Bosch fuel pumps (2)
Koyo aluminum radiator
Skunk2 radiator hoses
NGK spark plugs
NGK spark plug wires
MSD Digital 6-Plus ignition
MSD HVC-2 coil
SpeedFactory D-to-B conversion kit
Albins B-series dog box transmission
SpeedFactory shift change holder assembly
MFactory limited-slip differential
Competition Clutch D-to-B twin-disc clutch
Competition Clutch D-to-B flywheel
Driveshaft Shop Stage 3.9 axles
Hondata S300 engine management
794 whp and 479 lb-ft @ 39 psi
A’PEXi N1 coilovers, front
Blox Drag coilovers, rear
Full-Race traction bar
Brembo rotors
Integra brake conversion
Goodridge steel-braided lines
Wheels and Tires
13x9 Bogart Pro 4 front
15x3.5 Bogart Pro 4 rear
24.5x9 Mickey Thompson front
22x4.5 Mickey Thompson rear
Wings West RS front spoiler
Spoon-style mirrors
Art Morrison 10-pt rollcage
Kirkey aluminum seat
G-Force harness
G-Force window net
MOMO steering wheel
Auto Meter gauges
NepTune TunerView
Wife and kids—Katie, Jaedan, Isabell
Mom and Dad
SpeedFactory family
Golden Eagle
Competition Clutch
Arias Pistons
Bisimoto Engineering
Precision Turbo
“Marmalade” Marmon

Htup 1205 09+1992 honda civic+drag slicks Photo 9/9   |   1992 Honda Civic - D-Series Supreme!

Owner Specs

Daily grind
SpeedFactory Racing
Favorite Site
Screen Name
Building Hondas
13 years
Dream Car
Nitro funny car
Inspiration For This Build
All the guys trying to go fast with an SOHC
Future Build
Something fast!


Competition Clutch
Conyers, GA 30012
Precision Turbo & Engine
Hebron, IN 46341
Golden Eagle Manufacturing
San Dimas, CA 91773
Speed Factory
University Place, WA 98466
253-566-4331 Main
By Aaron Bonk
413 Articles



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