If there was one common, longstanding complaint among Honda enthusiasts lusting after the fifth-gen. Civic chassis, like this 1993 Honda Civic DX hatchback, it's that finding one in good condition has become incredibly difficult. If you are in fact lucky enough to locate an unmolested, rust-free, straight-bodied version, then prepare yourself for an asking price well above what an almost 30-year-old commuter car should ever be worthy of fetching.
Capturing the Unicorn
Jason Tong, owner of this EH Civic, spotted the car on Craigslist and it had all the makings of a perfect project car, including no accidents, low mileage, just one owner and, most importantly, no rust—something seldom seen when hunting for an older Honda in Canada. He adds, "Vancouver is notorious for rust, so finding this white DX with only 74,000 kms was like winning the lottery as it was a local car with no rust on the quarters!" There was no toying with the idea of using it as daily driver and just adding a set of wheels before spiraling into a full-blown build; no, in this instance, the idea was to pick up the car specifically to build.
With so many directions to go with the ultra-versatile hatchback, it can be tough to figure out your next move, but for Jason, the plan was simple and began almost immediately. "I wanted to build this vehicle as much as I could in an era-correct way and with a subtle, 'OEM-plus' mindset. No crazy kits or big wings."
Previous Work Experience
Experience with the '90s chassis wouldn't be an issue, as Jason has dirtied his hands on multiple fifth-gen. hatchback and coupe projects that date all the way back to 1999. To kick off this project, the first order of business was stripping the car all the way down for a complete respray. That included cutting out the factory glass for a proper paintjob, and once it dried using all new OEM seals, nuts and bolts to give the early '90s chassis a true makeover. Though it might resemble a factory Honda hue, the color is in fact Mercedes Polar White.
All About Options
In the photos, you'll notice the subtle Mugen front lip—verified by its overlapping of the bottom of the factory Civic bumper before turning inward at the car's main grill opening. On any given day, it might be replaced by one of Jason's other lip options from the likes of Backyard Special or Spoon Sports. Out back, an authentic Spoon wing, arguably the most knocked-off part of any '90s-era Honda, sits atop the hatch. Authenticity and variety are both major factors to Jason's build style, as he noted, "I prefer keeping everything authentic with no fake or replica parts at all, as I'm old school and a lot of parts have lasted me over the years on the cars I swapped them over from. I like having a variety of looks, hence the wheel collection I have going on and front lips as well."
That wheel collection includes both 15 and 16-in. Mugen MF10 in classis bronze, 15-in. Spoon SW388 and 16-in. Volk Racing CE28N. In addition, all of Jason's wheels are wrapped in highly capable tires. That's because this car has seen its share of action. "The car was built for track and has seen track days, but it's now going to be a nice street car for weekend drives."
It's Bulking Season
Weekend drives are never boring, especially when you take into account the 2.0L swap lurking under the Civic's hood, courtesy of a bored and stroked ITR block with forged internals on the bottom end and a Supertech-enhanced valvetrain and Skunk2 Pro3 cams with adjustable gears fortifying the top end. AEM's cold-air intake and Spoon throttle body bring fresh air in while a Mugen Gymkhana header, T1R test pipe and quiet Apex'i Worldsport V2 exhaust move spent gases out. To take advantage of the mighty B-series' newfound grunt, a CTR transmission, stuffed with an ITR 4.9 final drive and ATS 1.5-way help put it to the ground. You'll notice the A/C and power steering in place, but the engine bay remains clean and functional and if it ever came down to it, could be reversed and put back to stock status pretty easily.
Even with relatively low mileage on the clock, the hatchback's suspension had aged considerably and wanting to do much more than just throwing a set of coilovers at it, Jason opted to rework all of Civic's underpinnings. A complete Hardrace bushing kit was installed along with the brand's rear camber arms. Also, in the rear you'll find an ASR subframe and sway bar combo and Function7 LCAs. Up front, Skunk2 Pro Series front camber arms are dialed in along with J's Racing roll-center adjusters and an ITR sway bar is bolted in place. All four corners ditched the squishy factory springs and probably blown shocks for ITR-spec Spoon N1 coilovers that actually sat a little too low for Jason's liking, so he had a set of CNC top hat spacers custom made to bring it up an inch. Bolted to the 5-lug converted hubs are Spoon twin-block calipers up front and factory ITR brakes in the rear, with all four relying on Project MU pads.
If you're a fifth-gen. Civic fan, then some of, if not all of, Jason's interior choices are probably on your wish list, starting with eliminating all of the original palmy blue interior in lieu of black and grey bits. Mugen S1 buckets, shift knob and a Racing 3 steering wheel that's been capped off with the beloved NSX horn button are on par with the price-gouging optional center console that's been fitted with a trio of Defi gauges neatly tucked in place.
Another One Saved
With enough experience behind him, Jason knew exactly what he wanted from this build and how to go about making it a reality. Based on an OEM+ feel, this hatch carries plenty of details, highly sought-after authentic goods and a nice surprise within its unassuming, nicely laid out engine bay. It's the sort of build that'll have purists breathing a sigh of relief when the see it, knowing that unicorn didn't end up in the wrong hands.
Thank You:My girlfriend Annie and my family and friends, David at EvoGarage, the guys at GarageFive, Glenn at MJ Honda, all guys in the H&C chat and my dog Pepper.