“Oh great, here we go again, another Honda . . . another Civic hatchback in a magazine, like we haven’t seen this before.” Were you thinking that? Believe me, if you feel like that try to imagine how we feel! It feels like we have seen ’em all. Hondas are everywhere—from streets to Internet forums to magazines—we know. And when it comes to Civics especially, they have to be the number-one most-modified import chassis, and have been that way for years. Unfortunately, most owners think along the same lines and live within the same proverbial box. To put it simply: They are trendy. One guy does something and everyone else essentially follows. Creativity, innovation, and personalization tend to lack in their builds, consequently there are a massive amount of cookie-cutter cars out there. It all looks the same. Now this doesn’t just apply to Hondas, and you guys know it. But we can definitely understand how turning a page and seeing another white Civic hatch can add to the monotony of it all. Upon first glance the car may look quite simple and ordinary, we know. But this build is more than just ordinary—it’s extraordinary.
Jonathan Walsh has loved cars as far back as he can remember, and from the first moment the opportunity arose he began to tinker with them. A friend of his owned a Mazda Protégé, and that ended up being the first car he ever touched. After some audio installations and an intake, Jonathan was definitely hooked. He ended up getting a Mazda of his own, but decided on an MX-3 due to the large hatch area and the potential he saw for audio enhancements. Not one to be content with anything mild, Jonathan built up that car and in December of 2003 ended up being the one and only Mazda MX-3 featured right here in Import Tuner magazine. Interestingly enough, as a Mazda owner and enthusiast he held an extreme dislike for the Honda brand. “When I had the Mazda I hated Hondas,” he says. Perhaps his hate was more for the stereotypical aftermarket Honda “scene” rather than the brand itself, because Jonathan still ended up purchasing a Honda. Taking into consideration the brand’s reputation for being reliable, he bought a Civic hatchback as a daily driver. The car served that purpose and only that purpose for some time, but the catalyst for Jonathan’s conversion to an outright Honda enthusiast was right around the corner.
One fateful day, Jonathan hopped into a car as his friend went to go check out a car he was thinking of buying. That car happened to be an Integra Type R. As the ITR accelerated and the rpm rose, Jonathan felt himself falling in love with the Honda’s powerplant as the ECU activated the variable valve timing and lift electronic control. Feeling the surge of top end power the Honda engine created, something clicked. “This was my first real glimpse into Honda performance,” he says. “I fell in love with VTEC and told myself that if I ever were to sell my Mazda I would use the money to purchase a Honda Type R motor swap.” Some time passed and Jonathan sold the Mazda. Keeping true to his word, he went out and purchased a JDM B18C-R motor of his own. Jonathan went all in with Hondas from that point forward. As he puts it, “It was all downhill from there.”
Starting with the engine, he took his newly acquired powerplant and swapped the motor into his daily driven Civic. With the heart of the vehicle taken care of, Jonathan could no longer deal with the horrid exterior. The previous owner had a body kit molded to the car and painted with a cheap, dull coat of red. Getting the car’s exterior back up to par required help from someone with skill and experience. Luckily, Jonathan had Chris, a friend of his who had experience doing body and paintwork. With his help the two of them unmolded the kit and prepped the entire car for paint. Jonathan also sourced every Civic Type R exterior piece he could find as well as a ’99-00 front end. Chris then slathered the car in the popular Championship White hue. It was essentially an entirely different vehicle that was leaps and bounds better than when he bought it. But the very thing that prompted Jonathan to begin this build in the first place—the B-Series motor—had begun to bore him, and he had already decided what he was going to do.
It was in December of 2005 when Jonathan was ready for the next change to the build. He decided that it was time to switch to the increasingly popular K-Series motor with not just any K-Series, but a K20 powerplant from an ’03 ITR. Utilizing the only mounts available at the time—Hasport’s EKK1 mounts—he completed the swap at the Honda dealership where he works as a Honda technician. Now satisfied with the heart of his hatch, he began to focus on the complementary aspects of the build that he had not yet addressed. Wanting not just top-quality parts but those that were rare as well, Jonathan sourced a Project Mu brake setup, the only 4x100 one of its kind, he says. After seeing a bunch of knockoffs popping up of the Bride Gias seats that he had purchased, he got fed up and switched to a rare set of Recaro Tomcat seats. Jonathan was so enamored with the black-and-yellow print and color combination that he decided to make it the focal point of the build. The door panel inserts, custom headliner, and rear seats were all redone in the rare material. Jonathan also customized his dashboard by deleting parts that he no longer wanted or needed, such as the A/C vents and control knobs on the center panel, and then had it all wrapped in black suede with a yellow stitch matching the S2000 CR shift boot he had. Complementarily, exterior components were chosen based upon the color scheme and weave, such as the custom carbon Kevlar front lip and Mazda RX-7 carbon Kevlar rear diffuser he customized to fit the Civic’s rear end. At this point a very well-rounded build was in existence. From interior to exterior, the car had a great combination of rare and custom parts, and a great motor powering it, to boot. But one run-of-the-mill day at work would lead to the end of any amount of contentment that Jonathan may have developed at that point.
Arriving at the Honda dealership for work one day, Jonathan was greeted with a supercharged RSX that needed his attention. “The car ran like crap and needed a lot of things done to fix it,” he says. No big deal there, as that was his job. But the gears had already started turning in his head and Jonathan saw an opportunity that he lunged for. “I told my boss I’d fix everything and get the RSX sellable, but I get to keep the blower.” Well, as you can see, he got his wish. Taking the supercharger home to test-fit on his hatch, he realized due to the angle that the motor was sitting it wouldn’t fit without having to notch the headlights as well as the radiator support. Rather than being discouraged and selling the blower, Jonathan sourced an Integra subframe as well as the newer EKK2 motor mounts that had been released in the time that had passed since he first put the K in the car. Not only did the mounts create more oil pan clearance and better axle angle, they placed the motor at an angle that would allow for the supercharger to fit without having to notch anything.
There are a ton of Civics out there that have aftermarket seats, wheels, a swap, and are even painted white. They all appear to be the same thing over and over again . . . commonplace, average, ordinary. But when you take a closer look at this particular build you realize that it has far more than meets the eye. You realize that although the same parts exist on other cars, they just don’t quite measure up. This build is quite simply greater than the sum of its parts. And that is extraordinary.
Behind The Build
I wanted to build a complete car that could excel in all aspects of automotive competition, from track to show.
I fell in love with VTEC and told myself that if i ever were to sell my mazda I would use the money to purchase a honda Type R motor swap.
’96 Honda Civic DX
Output: 314 WHP/212 lb-ft of torque
Engine ’03 K20a ITR; Hasport EKK2 motor mounts; Jackson Racing RSX M62 supercharger with inlet and outlet port-matched, ceramic-coated, RSX intake manifold; Pulley Boys 3.2 blower pulley; HKS air filter to ceramic-coated 3-inch aluminum piping; port-matched ITR throttle body; RCrew 4-2-1 header; Vibrant Performance custom 3-inch exhaust piping, race muffler, and turn-down; Hondata intake manifold gasket, K-Pro; AEM fuel rail, adjustable FPR; Precision 750cc injectors; Walbro 255-lph in-tank fuel pump; Fluidyne radiator; K-Tuned radiator hoses; FAL radiator fans; ARC spark plug cover, oil cap, radiator cap; Mugen thermostat and fans switch; custom metallic pearl powdercoated valve cover and ITR subframe; Championship White powdercoated engine mount brackets; heater core delete; throttle-body bypass; RSX engine harness; green beauty washers; carbon Kevlar firewall block-off plates; Odyssey PC680
Drivetrain OEM ITR LSD transmission; Competition Clutch Stage 4 clutch and lightened flywheel; Gator axles; Buddy Club RSX adjustable shifter box; Karcepts shifter mounting kit; CorSport bronze shifter bushings; ARC Titan shift knob
Suspension Buddy Club N+ coilovers with pillow-ball mounts, 12K front, 14K rear spring rates, rear camber control arms; Carbing three-point front upper shock tower bar; ITR front sway bar, LCAs; custom front titanium four-point subframe brace; SPC front camber control arms; Function 7 rear LCAs; Cusco rear lower tie bar; Energy Suspension urethane master set; Civic manual rack with Quaife quick-ratio rack-and-pinion kit
Brakes Project Mu front calipers, front and rear brake pads, front and rear brake lines, brake fluid; ITR master cylinder; relocated brake lines and proportioning valve
Exterior Championship White paint; ’00 Civic front bumper; custom carbon Kevlar front lip; ARC canards; Seibon carbon hood and carbon hatch; CTR headlights, side skirts, thin side moldings, rear lip; carbon Kevlar RX-7 rear diffuser; Spoon mirrors; Seeker version 1 rear wing; Backyard Special customized wing risers; ’99-00 Civic taillights; custom foglight bezel intake ducts; ’04 Acura TL headlight bulbs and ballasts
Interior Recaro Tomcat front seats; Takata harnesses; Momo Drift steering wheel; LTB quick-release and hub; ARC Titan shift knob, S2000 CR yellow-stitched shift boot; CTR gauge cluster, door panels with tomcat reupholstered inserts, seat rails, pedals, console; black suede headliner with tomcat stripe; custom steering column gauge pod; ACC carpet
Gratitude Dan at CCW, Donavan at Vibrant Performance, John at K-Tuned, and John at LHT Performance