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 |   |  1997 Honda Civic - 12 Years Strong
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1997 Honda Civic - 12 Years Strong

From the ground up and back again

May 24, 2013
Htup 1304 01 o+1997 honda civic sedan+js racing lip Photo 1/12   |   Htup 1304 01 O+1997 Honda Civic Sedan+Js Racing Lip

A fully built K24 sits within the confines of a meticulously crafted (almost to an obsessive level) engine bay. The exterior, armed only with a few carefully chosen aero bits and aggressively designed flared corners, proudly sports a new hue borrowed from the BMW family. Inside the cabin, more fresh paint takes the place of any and all “extras” deemed nothing more than dead weight, while a custom rollcage serves as security at multiple points. It’s like a dream—a build that would look right at home on a weekend track sprint, the red carpet, or simply hustling through city streets, avoiding potholes and patrol cars like the plague.

On paper, most Honda heads would assume it’s the perfect hatchback scenario, never even considering the thought of stacking all of that engineering into a chassis with two additional doors. In fact, if you review the last 20 years, as the progression of the Honda enthusiast market has continuously changed at breakneck speeds, one thing has remained exactly the same: The hatchback and coupe platforms are by far the most popular to heavily modify. Perhaps it was that very reason that led Daniel Hernandez, owner of this immaculate Phoenix Yellow Metallic sedan, to stray away from the masses.

Htup 1304 12 o+1997 honda civic sedan+gas filler Photo 2/12   |   1997 Honda Civic - 12 Years Strong

If you’re assuming that Danny put together a game plan, ordered a bunch of parts, then executed the build as you see it pictured, you’re sorely mistaken. He admits that the car, through all of its changes over the past 12 years, has been taken apart and reassembled at least 100 times. He adds, “The car was originally purchased as a daily in 2000. I decided to build an LS/VTEC motor…that didn’t last very long. The next motor was a stroked B16, then a poor man’s ITR.” Along the way, he ran across one John Nguyen, aka “Supertwinz,” somewhere around 2003. He’d recently completed a K20A swap, and after taking a spin in John’s 2.0L iVTEC-powered hatch, Danny ordered his own swap just a week later. Along with the swap, the blue DC5 Recaros you see were sourced as well as a slew of other parts and a Laguna Seca Blue color change. With the exception of a few different naturally aspirated builds, the car remained the same for years. Danny states, “The current build happened when I got into a fender bender last May. I brought it to Franklin Autobody (now 5Fifteen Autobody) in SF for Sunny to look at. He said he could repair it, and we decided to paint the outside and inside of the car, but then he gave me the option of a color change.” A longtime fan of BMWs, specifically those draped in Phoenix Yellow Metallic, Danny gave the green light for a complete makeover.

To complement the new hue, simple bolt-on aero bits in the form of a Mugen rear wing and J’s Racing front lip were added to the paint booth, but the customization would go quite a bit further. Sunny grafted a set of Sportcar Motion fender flares to the already aggressive J’s Racing fenders for a one-off look and more wheel and tire clearance. He then built custom rear fender flares to match the wider fronts.

Htup 1304 08 o+1997 honda civic sedan+sparco steering wheel Photo 3/12   |   1997 Honda Civic - 12 Years Strong

While the body shop performed extensive surgery on the chassis, Danny set out to piece together a new, built K24. He chose Supertech pistons and BluePrint rods as the foundation, while up top, a set of Blox cams with Supertech valvetrain components push gasses through a hand-made DTR header. With Hondata’s world-famous K-Pro calling the shots, the 2.4L belts out 257 whp with a healthy 196 lb-ft torque through its K20A transmission. All of the car’s wiring has been completely replaced and rerouted for a cleaner and much more organized look.

Danny finally brought the car home and, with the help of friends, spent the next two weeks putting everything back together. That was followed by approximately four weeks of working out any bugs and essentially buttoning up the loose ends.

Formerly a member of the infamous AM7 crew, Danny parted ways and, along with a friend in Nebraska, founded Bandits. “I didn’t think it would be much, considering how the scene was going back then. Later, Mike Trevino joined, and we started going to events together. Since we’re always hanging out with the same group of guys and cars, the crew evolved into what it is today. The public hasn’t seen half of our cars because we aren’t primarily a show car crew. We care more about the person being a part of the family than just the car itself. Just because you don’t have the nicest car doesn’t mean that you don’t put your heart into what you’re doing—that’s what it means to be a part of the Bandits family.”

Htup 1304 07 o+1997 honda civic sedan+volk RE808 wheels Photo 4/12   |   1997 Honda Civic - 12 Years Strong

Bolts & Washers

Hondata K-Pro management
HaSport engine mounts
BluePrint rods
Supertech pistons 12.5:1
Supertech rings
Supertech valvesprings
Supertech retainers
Supertech keepers
Blox Racing Spec B cams
DTR header
Dual twister resonators
K-Tuned intake
K-Tuned throttle body spacer
Blox Racing 70mm throttle body
Golden Eagle fuel rail
K-Tuned fuel filter
K-Tuned fuel regulator
Acura RDX injectors
C&R full-core radiator
K-Tuned radiator hoses
K20A transmission
K-Tuned billet shifter
Custom 4-puck clutch

Htup 1304 03 o+1997 honda civic sedan+K24A4 Photo 5/12   |   Clean and mean. Danny’s spotless bay houses a 257hp K24 and a number of custom bits.

257hp and 196 lb-ft torque

Htup 1304 04 o+1997 honda civic sedan+blox racing throttle body Photo 6/12   |   1997 Honda Civic - 12 Years Strong

Function/Form Type 2 coilovers
Energy Suspension bushings
Benen lower tie-bar
Carbing 3-pt shock tower bar

Spoon Sports calipers
Spoon Sports brake pads
Brembo discs
Mike’s Garage brake lines

Wheels & Tires
Volk RE808 17x8
Falken Azenis RT615K 235/40-17

Bodywork by 5Fifteen Autobody
Phoenix Yellow Metallic paint
J’s Racing front lip
Mugen rear wing
Fiber Images carbon-fiber hood
Modified J’s Racing front fenders
Custom flared rear fenders
Shaved gas door
Shaved antenna

Htup 1304 02 o+1997 honda civic sedan+mugen rear wing Photo 7/12   |   1997 Honda Civic - 12 Years Strong

Redzone custom-built rollcage
DC5 Recaro seats
Takata harnesses
Sparco steering wheel
Blox Racing shift knob
CTR cluster
Pro Sport oil pressure/water temp gauges
Alpine and Memphis Car Audio system

Sunny at Franklin/5Fifteen Autobody, Rob and Bakari at Falken Tire, Mike and Ben at K-Tuned, Cesar at NorCal Auto Stylez, Mike’s Garage, Benen Industries, Preston Dawson at Function/Form Autolife, Mike Choi at Blox Racing, Jay Tarwick at Memphis Car Audio, my Bandits family—Raul, Mike, Ray, Pablo, Jeremy, Jimmy, Anthony, and Alex. My buddies Miguel, Isaac, Lepe, Sal, Rob, my family, my mom, my son Jonathan, and my wonderful and understanding girlfriend Heather

Owner Specs

Daily grind
Project manager at Alain Pinel Realtors

Htup 1304 06 o+1997 honda civic sedan+DC5 recaro seats Photo 11/12   |   1997 Honda Civic - 12 Years Strong

Favorite site

Screen name

Building Hondas
16 years

Dream car
BMW M3 sedan (if you haven’t noticed from the paint)

Inspiration for this build
John “Supertwinz” Nguyen’s EK build way, way back

Future builds
1950 Chevy truck when I can afford it—ha-ha!

Hot Rod Inspiration

Beyond the loud exterior you’ll find a number of hot rod–inspired features sprinkled throughout Danny’s sedan. The driver’s side is void of a gas filler door thanks to Sunny at 5Fifteen Autobody. Danny states, “I went over a few different ideas with Sunny, and I’d asked him to remove the door and just clean up the area so the filler was exposed for easier access. Sunny didn’t like that idea and came up with the idea of sealing off the door completely, rebuilding the filler tube and relocating it inside the trunk. It’s still easily accessible, and now I can pull up to either side at the pump and access the filler without any issues.”

Htup 1304 11 o+1997 honda civic sedan+die cut Photo 12/12   |   1997 Honda Civic - 12 Years Strong

The engine bay features some precision dimple die cuts that were merely a result of Danny wanting to simplify removal of his hood. “At every event we go to it’s almost a ritual; you help someone remove their hood, and move on to the next car, and so on. At the end of the event, it’s the same thing, everyone helps each other slap the hood back on which to me is just annoying. Sunny helped me figure out a way to add the quick-latch system to hold the hood down which left us with a radiator support that had no latch, just a bunch of ugly holes. Instead of filling the holes like I’ve seen people do before, we decided to weld in a flat piece of metal and add the dimple dies for a more appealing look. I wanted to keep the theme going but not overdo it, which is pretty easy with dimple dies, so last minute I replaced the center portion of the radiator support to match the rest of the bay.” The theme continues with the shock towers which have been a point of frustration for many as they’re prone to damage from a lowered suspension. “Most cars have the towers boxed, and they end up looking out of place. Sunny again helped me come up with the idea for the dimple die cutouts to match the radiator support and aid with clearance. It was a mixture of necessity, function, and aesthetics to make it all work the way I wanted to, with plenty of help to get the job done right.”


HASport Performance
Phoenix, AZ 85040
Supertech Performance
San Jose, CA 95136
5Fifteen Autobody
By Rodrez
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