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 |   |  2000 Honda Civic EX - Tightey Whitey
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2000 Honda Civic EX - Tightey Whitey

After six years…Frankenstein lives!

Matt “Rodrez” Rodriguez
Apr 30, 2012
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper
Htup 1205 01+2000 honda civic EX+honda access window visors Photo 1/8   |   2000 Honda Civic EX - Tightey Whitey

Trial and error—it’s the process by which records are broken, diseases cured, and some of the world’s most critical issues miraculously solved. From the Honda enthusiast’s perspective, the practice of sampling various outcomes and addressing bouts of potential failure in lieu of relying on preset theory has simply become commonplace. We’ve seen many a milestone over the past 20-something years, but none has carried as much controversy as the LS/VTEC conversion. Essentially taking the best of both worlds by combining the midrange power of an LS bottom end and the high-flow characteristics of a VTEC head, a rather potent, albeit affordable combination was realized. The process wasn’t widely accepted at first and, in all honesty, carried quite a bit of initial ridicule followed by intense scrutiny, and eventually, a level of acceptance that managed to stand the test of time.

Dominick Milio of New York is well versed in this low-budget, high-payoff Frankenstein engine configuration. In 2004, while finishing up his senior year in high school, Milio pieced together an LS block, outfitted with strictly factory internals. He adds, “My goal was to see how much power I could make with all OEM parts. I was going to install it in my DA, but long story short, I ended up receiving an offer on the shell that I just couldn’t pass up.” All dressed up with nowhere to go, the LS bottom end sat untouched in the corner of the garage. That is, until six years later, when the 1.8L was put into service. But more on that in a moment…

Htup 1205 03+2000 honda civic EX+mugen ferio rear wing Photo 2/8   |   2000 Honda Civic EX - Tightey Whitey

“I went through a lot of Hondas and eventually strayed away completely. I picked up a GTO muscle car and it was fast, but something began to draw me back toward Hondas again.” In the midst of transferring to a different college, the GTO was sold and the search for a new commuter was under way. Milio admits to ulterior motives as the daily driver hunt served as a mere excuse to purchase a Civic project car. His online efforts soon paid off in the form of an ultra-clean, one-owner, completely stock ’00 EX coupe spotted on Craigslist. The classic “old lady that only drives a few times a week” story was, in this case, the honest truth. Milio states, “She kept the car in the garage and only drove it to and from work. It was ridiculously mint, like it was kept in a museum! She had the original window sticker, all of the receipts, paperwork, and records. I mean everything was documented. I didn’t even look at the car before buying it. My brother went and put a deposit on it, knowing that it was exactly what I was looking for.” Just hours after bringing the car home, the new owner was busy installing the stereo system that he’d pre-ordered before the car was even found. “I told everyone the stereo was all I had planned for the car, and they all knew I was lying, lol!” After just a month of ownership, suspension upgrades in the form of PIC coilovers, a Beaks support bar, and Function7 LCAs, along with a fresh set of OEM Si wheels made their way to the virgin chassis, but that was merely the beginning of the journey.

The lonely PR3 piston-equipped LS block mentioned earlier, after half a dozen years of hibernation, was now being prepped for active duty. For the “VTEC” portion of the combo, a GS-R head complete with Blox Racing cams and valvetrain was mated to the block with a Golden Eagle conversion kit and bolted to the chassis with Innovative billet mounts. With the help of his good friend Jay, the two came up with a clever idea of building a custom timing belt cover that fits much better than the GS-R version and grants full access to the adjustable cam gears. Other custom bits include a handcrafted breather tank as well as a complete wire tuck that Milio, his brother, and Jay tackled on their own. Utilizing strictly OEM parts on the bottom end and plenty of aftermarket parts up top resulted in an impressive 212 whp/150 lb-ft torque at the hands of Xenocron’s dyno tuning session.

Htup 1205 04+2000 honda civic EX+custom timing belt cover Photo 3/8   |   The custom timing belt cover features a generous window for cam gear adjustments during dyno sessions.

Like many, Milio embraces the “less is more” theory when it comes to exterior enhancement, and his coupe is a testament. Up front, you’ll find nothing more than an Si grille and front lip, while bringing up the rear is an authentic Mugen Ferio wing perched upon the trunk lid. Careful inspection of the car’s profile reveals Honda Access window visors and Spoon-style side mirrors. A trained eye might also take note of the Si rear disc conversion—that is, if you can get past the gleaming white Work Meister S1 rollers that sit neatly under each wheel arch.

In less than two years, Dominick Milio transformed an elderly woman’s pristine “A to B” commuter into an undeniable neck breaker, all while attending college full time and maintaining his status on the honor roll. Milio proudly states that the motor has been reliable and trouble-free even after countless blasts to the 9,500 rpm atmosphere. Oftentimes a feature article ends with a vehicle’s owner explaining their upcoming in-depth modifications for their pride and joy, but Milio is quite the opposite. He openly states, “All that’s left to do is enjoy the car, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. Of course I want to keep playing around with the setup, and I’m going to hit some track days, but basically just have fun with it. Every time I look at this car I think about the hours, the money, and the sacrifice—it was hell…and it was all worth it!”

Bolts & Washers

B18B block
B18C1 P72 head
Golden Eagle LS/VTEC kit
Hondata S300
Innovative 75A billet mounts
PR3 pistons, oversized .25
Blox Racing Type C cams
Blox dual valvesprings
Blox retainers
Blox cam gears
Custom header
Skunk2 MegaPower R exhaust
T1R test pipe
Blox intake manifold
Blox 70mm throttle body
Injen 3-inch cold-air intake
RC 440cc injectors
Russell -6AN lines
AEM fuel regulator
ITR water pump
ITR oil pump
GReddy timing belt
Shaved LS crank pulley
Blackworks radiator
Samco radiator hoses
ITR transmission
Competition Stage 2 clutch
Competition 9lb flywheel
Shaved and coated valve cover
Custom timing belt cover
Custom breather tank

Htup 1205 06+2000 honda civic EX+B18B block Photo 4/8   |   Using OEM bottom end internals, this LS/VTEC conversion was able to pound out 212 whp on Xeno- cron’s dyno.

212 whp and 150 lb-ft torque

Htup 1205 07+2000 honda civic ex+headers Photo 5/8   |   2000 Honda Civic EX - Tightey Whitey

PIC Select coilovers
Beaks rear lower brace
Function7 LCAs

Cobalt Friction brake pads
Si rear disc conversion
Goodridge brake lines

Wheels And Tires
Work Meister S1 16x7 +42
Sumitomo HTR Z 215/40-16

Mugen Ferio rear wing
Si front lip
Si front grille
Honda Access window visors
Spoon-style side mirrors

Recaro SPG Profi XL driver seat
Buddy Club Super Low rails
Recaro SRD passenger seat
Sparco rails
Crow Industries 5-pt harness
ATC International Sprint Cone 65 steering wheel
Karcepts shift knob
Custom shift extender
Custom shift boot
Custom armrest
CDM airbag delete
Odyssey PC680 battery

Htup 1205 05+2000 honda civic EX+recaro seats Photo 6/8   |   2000 Honda Civic EX - Tightey Whitey

Shout-out to my brother Frankie, Billy V, and Jay S, you three were the most crucial in this build—wouldn’t have been possible without you. My girlfriend Tracy for having an infinite amount of patience, my father for getting me into cars in the first place, Billy V, Tom K, Scotty Beans, Vintendo, Vinny C, Jay, and Lou at SoleFresh, Rob at, Chris M, Nick C, Nick L, Phil at, DJ, Benny (376 Scissors), Jim K, Skip and Bob at Royal, Darryl at JHPUSA, the whole crew at, Collin at N1 Concepts, the crew at SoHondaGarage, Chris Harris at Xenocron Tuning, Eddie at Hudson Valley Powder Coating, and all the new friends I’ve made along the way!

Owner Specs

Daily Grind
Diesel mechanic

Htup 1205 02+2000 honda civic EX+si front lip Photo 7/8   |   2000 Honda Civic EX - Tightey Whitey

Favorite Site

Screen Name

Building Hondas
10 years

Dream Cars
Ferrari 599 GTO and ’67 Chevelle SS

Inspiration For This Build
Track cars, JDM-influenced rides, West Coast builds, and people who said they were waiting to see more quality builds from the East!

Future Build
Who knows what’s in store?!

The Frankenstein Effect

Those in favor of the LS/VTEC configuration are often heard singing its praises, but not far off in the distance are the naysayers. The debate lies within reliability and high-rpm abuse. As many know, the B18A/B (RS/LS/GS) Integra motor was never intended to be revved to the levels that the B16A/B, B17, B18C/C1/C5/C6 were in fact designed for. The goal is, of course, to match the low end and midrange grunt of the LS block, with the high-flow/high-revving VTEC head and reap the benefits of both sides. For every few success stories with the LS/VTEC conversion, there are a few unfortunate catastrophic failures. Whether it was pilot error or perhaps mistakes during assembly is still unclear. One thing is for certain: The combination was revolutionary during a time when GS-R and ITR bottom ends were worth their weight in gold. The LS/VTEC conversion offered an affordable alternative, and with do-it-yourself kits like those offered by Golden Eagle, the swap became an “at home” affair.

Htup 1205 08+2000 honda civic EX+mugen ferio rear wing Photo 8/8   |   2000 Honda Civic EX - Tightey Whitey


Blox Racing
Fremont, CA 94538
Golden Eagle Manufacturing
San Dimas, CA 91773
By Matt “Rodrez” Rodriguez
69 Articles



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