There's a saying I've grown quite fond of: Life isn't what happens with the plans we make; it's what happens while we're making the plans. As much as we like to think we're in control of our own lives, it's how we react to the unforeseen that determines them. Destiny, fate, mother nature-call it what you want, "it" doesn't really care what you think. It's going to do what it's going to do, and for you to have a shot at a successful life, you've got to learn to roll with it.
Anyone who's been knee-deep in a project car build can see the segue here. No matter how carefully you plan modification, budget, and build schedule, something always happens to throw those plans off, and your project never turns out exactly the way you envisioned. Jon Sunga's been there. But unlike most of the cars we feature, built by experienced wrenchmen who had a good idea of what they were getting into ahead of time, we don't think there ever was a time when the build of Jon's EG Civic went according to plan
This is Jon's first car, and he's had it for seven years. Truth be told, he didn't really want it in the first place. Jon's introduction to cars was through his brother, who rocked a tough first-gen RX-7 back in the day: Turbo II 13B swap, bolt-ons, suspension, etc. "I actually borrowed my brother's car to drive out to look at an RX-7 I wanted to buy," Jon tells, "and I saw this Civic at a Nissan dealership on the way, which one of the salesmen was selling privately." It was a bone-stock DX, had high miles but was relatively clean aside from faded red paint and ripped front seating. "The guy was asking $3K for it," he say. "I showed him the $2K cash I had on me and he let me take it."
Like any broke-ass kid who's first car was a Civic, Jon's a little hesitant to reflect back on his initial mods. "I did a lot of little stuff at first; I added a clock and passenger-side mirror, got new stock seats," he laughs, "but then I cut the springs, put on some painted HX wheels-typical ricer stuff!" Hitting up the local meets, he developed a taste for modification. "I remember seeing the AM7 guys and their crazy-clean cars at all the local spots," he recalls. "That's what made me see realize there was another way to do this."
He eventually swapped out those cut springs and blown shocks for Ground Control coilovers and Tokicos for $500, came up on a set of authentic Mugen RNRs, and rounded up some bolt-on performance mods and more interior bits. He was even pulling extra shifts to save up for an H22A swap. And just when Jon's plans started working out, life threw him a curveball. The Civic was stolen. "I got caught slippin'," he says. "I had a set of Teins in there that I just bought, along with those RNRs and some little stuff that I was going to put on at my friend's place the next day, and someone jacked it out of my driveway that night." Jon found the car a few days later, abandoned, just down the street from his place. "Baldwin Park was a gang neighborhood back then. I knew who did it, but there was really nothing I could do about it." The car was stripped down to nothing but a running shell, and all Jon's schwag was gone. "It was my only car," he says. "I had no choice but to re-build it."
Jon spent about $500 of his H-swap money piecing the Civic back together, and later added some stereo equipment and found a good deal on replacement bolt-ons. Content with the brand-new Teins, the thieves left Jon's ground Control/Tokico suspension untouched, and in turn, so did he. He picked up a set of Work RZRs from a friend, and just as he started saving up for that H-swap he'd been planning, his car went missing. Again. "This time the cops found it the same day," he says. "The thieves only had time to get the wheels off and rip out the stereo. I guess I lucked out."
Jon played his cards a little closer the next time around, and stocked parts up in his pad while rolling the Civic stock around town. His connections in the aftermarket led to a full-time gig at Fast Autoworks, and naturally, deals on parts came his way. He replaced the stolen RZRs with a set of used Work Meisters he picked up in trade for work on a homie's car, replaced his Civic's mismatched stock interior with a pair of Bride Zieg IIIs and matching re-upholstered rears for about a $1K, and added a JDM EG6 Si-R console in place of the stock DX unit the thieves tore out to grab his stereo. He even traded a beater EF Civic he picked up along the way for a Kenwood KBT-614 head unit, two Alpine amps, four Pioneer speakers, and a 12-inch JBL sub. "I was planning on keeping the EF as a daily," he says, "but I couldn't pass up the deal. I only paid $100 for that car."
After more than four years, the H22A swap Jon had been planning finally became a reality. Kind of. "Once I saved up, my friend gave me a really good deal on his B16A," he says, "and Fast (Autoworks) was able to get me pretty much everything under the hood, all for about the price of an H22A swap." Chase Bays stepped in with wiring after the Civic was stolen for the second time, and according to Jon, converting the tucked harness for the B16 was easy.
We all know how badly Honda red fades-Jon's Civic had pretty much been pink until this point. "I wasn't sure about which color to paint it," he says, "but I knew I had to do something crazy before I brought it out." Crazy, but clean. Jon had become a fan of stock lines, and purposely hadn't added very much in the exterior department. Any color he chose to paint the Civic would have to stand out, yet remain subtle. "The Honda guys up north were doing the Battleship Gray engine bays with all different exterior colors," he recalls, "and when my friends Mikey and Arnel from Phase2 did theirs down here [see sidebar], I got ideas for mine." A lifelong Lakers fan, Jon chose royal purple for the exterior. But also a collector of kicks, he went teal with the engine bay and interior, inspired by the "Grape" colorway of Nike's Air Jordan 5. "I couldn't afford a pro to paint it like I originally wanted, so I took my shoes and some Lakers gear down to a Home Depot and matched up a couple hundred bucks in Sherwin Williams paint and supplies, and my friend Adam and I sprayed it in his backyard," he says, before offering a final comment that perfectly caps the process of his Civic's build, and his acceptance of the things he couldn't change along the way, "The colors turned out a little off, but whatever. I'm cool with it."
Sales manager, Fast Autoworks
Xbox 360, PS3, Air Jordans
"Keeping the family tradition alive."
'92 Honda Civic DX
Engine '00 Civic Si B16A2; Skunk2 Stage 2 camshafts; JG valves, valve springs, retainers; Password:JDM intake; Buddyclub Spec 2 exhaust; Fast Autoworks custom 4:1 header; Mishimoto aluminum radiator, hoses; tucked Chase Bays mil-spec wiring harness; custom white valve cover, tucked brake lines, Air Jordan reservoir socks
Drivetrain ACT Stage 3 clutch, Xtreme Pressure Plate, Prolite flywheel
Suspension Ground Control coilovers; Tokico shocks; Skunk2 rear lower control arms
Wheels/Tires 16x7.5 Work Meister wheels; 205/40-16 Nitto Neogen tires
Brakes DC2 Integra GSR rotors, calipers (front and rear); Performance Friction pads (front and rear); Chase Bays stainless steel braided brake lines (front and rear)
Exterior OEM Honda EK9 side skirts; VIS Racing carbon fiber hood, rear wing, front lip, side mirrors; Stanley headlights, fog lights
Interior Bride Zieg III front seats; custom Bride Gradation-covered rear seats; JDM EG6 Civic Si-R console; Sparco steering wheel, shift knob
Electronics Kenwood KBT-614 head unit; Alpine PDX-5 amplifiers (x2); Pioneer CS-D1720C speakers (x4); 12-inch JBL subwoofer
Gratitude Rodriguez and Sunga family; Cheryl, Jayde, Mark, Steven, Dustin, Angelo, Gloven, John, and the rest of the Defroce fambam; Tuan and Mary at Fast Autoworks; Chuck and Rocky at Showstoppers; HeyMikey Cristi and the Phase2 crew; Joey Lee of stickydiljoe
You might not be familiar with the members of SoCal's now-defunct AM7 crew, but chances are you're familiar with the trends their cars set. Ryan Ordianario's boosted burgundy EF had one of the first crazy engine bays out there, with its signature gold-leaf intercooler piping, and Adam Nelson's gunmetal K-swapped EG was the first ride we saw to utilize gold heat shielding underhood. Out of SoCal's Phase2 camp comes Mikey Cristi's gold-bayed, turbocharged DC2 and Arnel Ortiz's ultra-flush EG with the rainbow underhood scheme (which is now red and boasting a tucked radiator), inspired by the Battleship Gray bays of NorCal's heavy hitters, who were in turn inspired by Japanese track cars from shops like Spoon and J's Racing, whose bare chassis were delivered in gray hues straight from Honda. But Hawaiian teams like Green Bottle preempted the trend by nearly a decade. Dig up 2NR's coverage of the 2001 Hawaii Showoff for more.