"I actually liked the thought of buying a Civic that had already been built, and giving it a new life," Seattle, WA resident Yee Vang attests, "The Honda market is so progressive, it's possible to re-build the same car again and again and make it better each time with the freshest parts." Yee's EK is the fourth Honda platform he's owned and modded since getting into the scene in his high-school years, and this marks the second time its been thrust in the limelight.
"I had a couple mildly modded Civics back in the day," he begins, "After one of them got stolen, I bought a DC2 to modify a little more aggressively, so I also bought a Midori Green EK just to putt around in." Big mistake. With an even bigger and more readily accessible aftermarket than that for the DC2, the flood gates to modification blew wide open, and Yee found himself with no choice but to get down with it. "After the basics and a drop on legit wheels, the green EK was the car I started becoming known for. I was invited to join EK Squad with that car, and I began looking into doing a K-series swap and/or forced induction," he continues, "But then I found an even better one."
The car had already been K-swapped, and was also fitted with the basic bolt-ons in addition. But there was much more room for improvement. "It was one of the first K-swapped cars in the country," Yee explained, "It had been featured in magazines and was very well-known in the Honda community, but it was rough around the edges. The knowledge and aftermarket support for K swaps just wasn't there when this car was converted, and new parts for EKs had been released over the years." One to like a challenge, and the fact the car would be EK Squad's first K-swapped ride, Yee hawked his Midori Civic and began modification on this one immediately.
Yee had always been a fan of a clean, OEM-inspired styling, so he'd had his eye on the J-Blood front bumper from the get-go. It had been on the Japanese market for a while, but no one in the States had taken the initiative to bring one over. "Mine was the first," he informs, "and is often confused for an OEM '99-spec front bumper with a molded lip, or some new version of the White Crow bumper for the EG." Also added were authentic C-West side skirts, Vision mirrors, JDM Civic Type R taillights, thin moldings, headlights with DTM covers, and an ultra-rare combination of a Zeal rear wing with Mr. Alex brackets that, in the tradition of the J-Blood bumper, looks like a tweaked version of the OE Civic Type R piece. "Since Zeal got bought out by Endless, the wing has been discontinued," he explains, "I believe there are about seven in the States. And the Mr. Alex brackets were specially made in Japan and brought over by a friend of mine in the military," he continues, "They're one of three authentic sets in existence." A Spoon rear diffuser was also ordered up from the Land-of-Parts-That-Take-Forever-to-Come, but after a year and a half of waiting, Yee got bored and decided to have a custom carbon fiber piece made to order.
Despite its once-ground-breaking K20 swap, the EK's engine bay was in dire need of an overhaul. Its crude custom-fabbed mounts were replaced with OEM chassis mounts and urethane-filled Hasport EKK2 engine mounts that better supported the engine, and give it a little more ground clearance. Unlike how it had appeared in years past, the bay was given a full wire tuck, with firewall-mounted battery terminals and stainless fuel lines, while Yee took to fabbing up a custom stainless oil-catch can, radiator overflow reservior, and battery and fuse box brackets. The engine itself was also given a bit of an overhaul; stock pistons, rods and cams were retained, but Blox valve springs and retainers, a Six Sigma Racing header, and 52mm TWM individual throttle bodies with carbon fiber velocity stacks were added to free-up aspiration and allow for high-revving power-226 hp, to be exact, courtesy of a Hondata K-Pro and 440cc RC injectors.
An OEM Integra Type R subframe, steering rack and control arms were brought in to replace the EK components, to improve turning radius and better support the full Integra Type R five-lug hubs and Brembo OE-spec brakes that were added to all four corners, along with their accompanying master cylinder, brake booster and a 40/40 proportioning valve from an '00 Civic Si. The ITR's 24mm front sway bar was retained, and Yee added a Blox 21mm sway bar to the rear, A'pexi coilovers to each corner, a Benen Industries three-point front strut brace and rear lower tie bar, and Next's Miracle X-brace with C-pillar and rear strut tower support. Not much of a wheel whore, Yee stuck to what works when improving rolling stock: 16x7 +40 offset Volk Racing CE28Ns, with 205/40 Toyo Proxes 4 rubber and Project Kics Neo Chrome nuts.
Yee's dedication to boosting his Civic's swagger with the rare, JDM elite continues in the interior, with a $3K pair of Bride GIAS Andromeda buckets (authentic Mazora finish), a Nardi Classic steering wheel with Splash/Signal Auto goodies, Defi Link gauges, and possibly the most aesthetically complementary cocktail of OEM Honda equipment ever to be fit into a domestic-market chassis: an S2000 digital gauge cluster and six-speed shift knob, Canadian-spec airbag delete tray, JDM sunglass roof console and rear seats, and an ashtray and Honda Optional cigarette lighter. Takata harnesses, Takata and G Force eyebolts, a Broadway mirror, and a Redzone Performance one-touch hood pop further round out a list of mods you and I will probably never own in any one car. Even audio was made a priority-with a pair of Alpine 6.5-inch door speakers and 6x9s in the rear panels-since the car is driven regularly. "I drove it down to Nisei Showoff in L.A. the week after it was debuted at HIN Seattle," explains Yee, "And I drove it out to Wekfest in S.F. after that. Pretty much everywhere it shows, it's driven there-open ITBs, no windshield wipers and all," he laughs.
In its current state, the Civic earned Second Place its debut night at HIN Seattle '08, won the title of Best EK at the Nisei Showoff two weeks later, and was voted Third Place Civic at the ultra-elite WekFest earlier this year. Yee plans to compete the Civic at West Coast shows alongside his EK Squad brothers for the rest of the year and continue improvements in the downtime. "The engine is due for a rebuild," he explains, "so I've been toying around the idea of building a K24 block for it . . . possibly for forced induction. That, or I might actually go B-series or something even crazier. The Honda market is still changing, and the options for EKs are endless." No matter the direction he takes his car's next incarnation, it will all be a part of-in his words-"showing the world that Hmongs don't drive riced-out Civics, like in Gran Torino!"
Behind The Build
Vehicle '98 Honda Civic DX
Engine JDM K20A engine; Blox valve springs, retainers; TWM 52mm individual throttle bodies, carbon fiber velocity stacks, fuel pressure regulator, fuel rail; A'pexi GT Spec exhaust; Six Sigma Racing 4-2-1 stainless header; C&R Visteon RSX radiator; Samco Sport Superflex radiator hoses; Hondata K-Pro stand-alone ECU, Heatshield intake manifold gasket; NGK plugs; RC 440cc injectors; Walbro 255lph fuel pump; J's Racing oil cap; ARC spark plug cover, Spoon Sports reservoir covers, magnetic drain plugs; AEM alternator pulley; Hasport EKK2 mounts, urethane bushings; custom wiring, stainless fuel lines, radiator brackets, oil catch can, coolant reservoir, battery/fuse box brackets, firewall-mounted battery terminals; Redzone Performance shift linkage, wire tuck
Drivetrain Drive Shaft Shop axles; JDM Integra Type R LSD
Suspension A'pexi coilovers; Integra Type R subframe, steering rack, 24mm front sway bar; Blox 21mm rear sway bar, rear lower control arms; Benen Industries three-point front strut brace, rear lower tie bar; Next Miracle X-brace with C-pillar and strut brace
Wheels/Tires 16x7 +42 offset Volk Racing CE28N wheels, black valve stems and caps; 205/40-16 Toyo Proxes 4 tires; Project Kics Neo Chrome R40 lug nuts
Brakes JDM Civic Type R five-lug conversion, master cylinder, brake booster; Spoon Sports Twin Block four-piston calipers (front); Drilled Brembo OEM replacement rotors, pads (front and rear); Stoptech stainless braided lines; 40/40 prop valve.
Exterior J-Blood front bumper; C-West side skirts; Zeal rear wing; Vision side mirrors; J's Racing front and rear tow hooks; Tein hood dampers; Beatrush engine under panel; custom rear diffuser; JDM Honda Civic Type R rear lip, headlights, thin moldings, taillights; Honda USDM antenna block-off plate, window visors, DTM headlight covers; Vogue Silver Metallic paint; McCulloch HID kit
Interior Bride GIAS Andromeda front seats, optional cushions, Type R seat rails; Takata 340R four-point harnesses, 20mm eyebolts; G-Force 50mm eyebolts; Broadway 300mm rear-view mirror; Honda OEM Canadian-spec airbag delete tray, JDM sunglass roof console, USDM ashtray, USDM cigarette lighter, S2000 shift knob, JDM Civic Type R rear seats; Nardi 360mm Classic steering wheel; Splash steering wheel hub; Signal Auto quick release; Redzone electronic one-touch hood pop
Electronics Defi Link Meter 52mm: oil pressure, water temperature, EGT gauges, Link Control Unit II; OEM S2000 gauge cluster; Alpine CDA-7898 head unit, 6.5-inch front speakers, 6x9-inch rear speakers;
Gratitude Thanks to my wife, Sandy Yang, for always supporting and making the trips to California every time with me. My mom and dad for raising me to do everything in life properly and reasonably. Greg and Mike at JDMSpeedworx for always putting my parts on priority. The hometown homies who helped me put things together: Ronnie, Hmovchoua, Josh, Marvin, Rainier 2TO, Steve, Tai, Dennis, Jeff, Mel, Richard, Garrett, Brandon. The Cali boys: Danny, Chris, Fred, Ryan, Son, Basil, Sean, Albee, Brian. Adam at Weksos. Special thanks to PlusONE and Hasback for always saving me a spot. My Vang family in Seattle and Nor Cal for traveling along to shows and housing. Props to EK Squad, Albert Squad, ATS Garage, Soul Seattle, Team:2TO, DPK, Phaze2, my customers, all my homies and family along the west and east coast. Lastly, thanks to my Lord and savior for granting me everything I have and blessing me with a great, supporting family and friends.
Photography, Shoes Air Max '90s, Jordans, Phones, Anime (being Asian)
"Always keepin' it YEEserious"