Think back to when you first got into this scene, planning the build-up of your first project car. Like a lot of us, chances are you dreamed of making it a monster—able to pick off big-block domestics in a straight line, out-corner high-dollar exotics, or maybe even pull hard enough on a few crotch rockets to leave their riders afraid to give chase. Hell, the technology is out there, and if all the inked features of today’s most wildly-modified feature cars have taught us anything, it’s that owning a time-attack-winning EVO, nine-second Civic or 1,500whp Supra is only a few months and several thousand dollars away . . . right?
Good luck. What you won’t often hear about are that EVO’s $4K dampers that need to be re-valved after every thousand miles, the oversized tolerances in that turbo’d Civic’s engine that necessitate a rebuild after every couple races, or the driveline parts on that JZA80 that withstand four-figure power on the dyno, but maybe half that on pavement. They say the grass is always greener on the other side, and if you’re fortunate enough to know anyone who has sought after such high-profile builds, rarely would they describe their ordeal as a “walk in the park”.
Riverside, CA native Florencio “Flot” (float) Rivera understands this, so it comes as no surprise when he describes his mildly modified Civic as being “done”. No future plans for big turbo upgrades; no dreams of handing C6 Vette or LP640 owners their own asses on the street. Having pursued the automotive lifestyle for as long as he can remember, Flot’s fortunate enough to have learned the rarely realized truth to building cars—that happiness comes from working within boundaries, rather than trying to exceed them. “I’ve seen a lot of good friends battle blown-up engines,” he explains, “or build show cars so crazy that they won’t drive them anymore. I wanted to build a car I could actually enjoy.”
Flot’s built them all—lowriders, domestics, off-road—but it wasn’t until his built Camaro Super Sport got eaten alive by an all-motor Civic at the street drags one night that he was moved to change his ways. “I was in total disbelief,” he says, “I didn’t know what I wanted to say . . . I just knew I wanted one!” Then, when after months of searching the Southland area for a worthy platform turned up an engine-less Civic DX shell nearly in his backyard—“A neighbor actually sold it to me,” Flot says—he saw his opportunity. The car was stripped and taken to trusted friend and bodyman Juan Valdez in Mead Valley, CA for its complete DuPont Hypnotic Teal Mica colorchange—a color taken from the ’08 Scion xB. “People give me shit for it not being a Honda color,” says Flot, “but f—it. I like it.” To slience the critics, Flot rounded up a grip of authentic OEM bits: JDM Civic Type R rear seats, a cargo tray, long arm rest, coin pocket, clock, climate control, gauge cluster, head and tail lights, side moldings and rear wing; carpeting and front upholstery from a USDM Civic Si; power windows from a USDM EX; keyless rear door handles from a USDM sedan; and DC4 front and rear brakes. He also added a pair of Recaro SRD “confetti” recliners, a rarely seen blue Personal steering wheel, even rarer RegaMaster EVO rollers, and a one-off MDM (Mexican domestic market) shift knob he jacked from one of his dad’s rides. “There’s a picture of some kind of saint or someone in it,” he explains. Odd, yes. But original—and we’d take that over played-out lotus petals and plastic cherry blossoms any day.
“My friend Johnny was working for Erick’s Racing, who just happened to have a JDM B16A swap for sale,” he explains, “and a full set of B16B internals from a JDM Civic Type R.” For those not familiar with Erick Aguilar, his Civic DX became the first to break the all-motor 9-second FWD barrier, in the summer of ’03, on an engine that remained unchanged for nearly three years—when Erick suggests to people how to build reliable, powerful, naturally aspirated engines, they listen. Erick ported Flot’s B16A to custom spec and replaced nearly every moving part with a B16B counterpart: pistons, rods, cams, valvetrain—all the way down to the single-belt race pulley. A Skunk2 intake manifold, Blox 73mm throttle body and BDL adjustable cam gears, a Password:JDM intake, Highend 4-1 stainless header, Spec clutch and lightened flywheel, and an Erick’s Racing custom ROM-tune further heighten performance without detriment to driveability, while diverting slightly from the traditional path of modifying a Civic.
Flot’s desire to create an enhanced, yet reliable street car translated to its suspension as much as its drivetrain. Ksport Kontrol Pro coilovers were added to each corner, allowing for ride height, spring preload and camber adjustability, and improved handling from increased—not extreme—spring rate and dampening. “The ASR subframe brace and Beaks lower tie bar were the last to go on,” he explains, “supposedly they stiffen up the rear end a little . . . but I like the way they look even better.”
Could Flot have added more to his ride before calling it quits? Sure. But that’s not to say there’s room for improvement. Owners of faster and more highly modified Civics may read this and wonder what his car has that theirs doesn’t, that makes it worthy of validation on our pages. Its simple, really; while they’re searching for ways to make their cars better than the other guys’, Flot’s enjoying his for what it is, and wanting nothing more.
1993 Honda Civic DX
Engine ’95 JDM B16A; JDM B16B pistons, rods, cams, valves, valve stems, retainers; Skunk2 intake manifold; Password:JDM carbon fiber intake; BLOX 73mm throttle body; Buddy Club Spec 2 exhaust; Highend header; BDL Industries cam gears; Mishimoto radiator, cap, hoses; Hondata Heatshield intake manifold gasket; Erick’s Racing ROM tune; AEM fuel pressure regulator; Spoon engine damper; stainless steel clutch line, fuel lines; Innovative mounts; GReddy timing belt; wire tuck
Drivetrain ’00 Civic SI transmission; Skunk2 short shifter; ACT Stage 3 clutch; lightened OEM flywheel; Password:JDM magnetic drain plug
Suspension KSport Kontrol Pro coilovers, front and rear; Beaks lower tie bar; ASR subframe brace; Skunk2 rear lower control arms; OEM Type R subframe bar
Wheels/Tires 15x7.5 +40 RegaMaster EVO wheels; 205/50-15 Falken RT-215 tires
Brakes OEM DC4 Acura Integra brakes, front and rear
Exterior Spoon carbon fiber front lip (VIS version for daily driving); JDM Civic SiR rear wing, headlights, taillights, molding, SiR-S door decals; shaved front plate holes, wiper squirters, key holes; custom wiper block-off plates; USDM EG8 rear door handles; DuPont Hypnotic Teal Mica full color change
Interior Recaro SRD seats; JDM SiR rear seats, long arm rest, coin pocket, climate control, clock, gauge cluster, cargo panel; OEM Civic EX power windows; Civic SI front upholstery, carpet; Personal steering wheel; Mexican mystery shift knob
Electronics Pioneer DEH headunit; Performance Techniques 600-watt amp; Audiobahn 6.5-inch speakers (x2), 2-inch tweeters (x4); Alpine Type-R 12-inch subwoofer; Audiovox wiring
Gratitude Johnny, Raymundo, Mike, Enrique, and Duane (aka Splatterpunk), Miss Tiff, Xavier, Brian, Jimmy, Ali, Ramiro, Jon (J.J.), Adrian, Jaime Ink, Matt, Erick Aguilar and Erick’s Racing crew, Highend Autosports, and last but not least: mom and dad!
Partying, Cars, Partying
“Yo holmes, I smashed my front lip again. I need a new one.”