The fifth-generation Civic chassis plays nicely with just about any Honda-derived engine swap and that's been proven time and time again. Of the two most popular swap options, some will say nothing outshines the ease and versatility of a B-series, while others are far more drawn to the slightly more modern K-series family. Either way, both are more than capable of being turned into lethal performers. In regard to aesthetic, you'll see the two camps fight about which power plant suits the Civic's engine bay better, but regardless of which you choose, with some serious attention to detail and a well-devised plan, either swap has the potential to look something like the two examples below. And even by today's standards, some 10 years after its original Honda Tuning cover feature, this Civic EH hatchback can hold its own among the very best builds of today.
Ten years ago, we came across this white 1992 Honda Civic CX hatchback that had our undivided attention from the very moment we spotted it. The owner and builder, RC Chacon, had just finished his LS/VTEC swap inside of an incredibly clean bay, complete with a custom turbo kit. White hatches seemed to be growing on trees during that era and many went to extremes with their exterior in order to stand out, while RC chose to ignore any wild styling cues and instead keep an almost factory appearance on the outside, pointing all attention toward his immaculate engine bay.
The LS block was sleeved and fitted with CP pistons and Eagle rods before a B16A head with Crower valvetrain topped it off. JDL Auto Design, a shop that RC works with currently, supplied a V-band turbo manifold that held a Precision 6262 turbo with fueling duties handled by ID1000 injectors feeding an AEM fuel rail. The built setup registered 480whp and like almost all of RC's creations didn't bother with a hood that would only cover up the good stuff.
RC prides himself in covering the details and this bay highlighted that fact with a custom brake line tuck, extended shock towers and some carefully chosen shaved metal that had everyone talking. A bright orange valvecover and the golden burn of the turbo and wastegate exits made for a dynamic combo.
While everyone at the time was trying to squeeze in the widest wheels possible, RC went with a very uncommon choice in SSR Dori Dori for his 4x114 ITR lug suspension conversion. An authentic Mugen lip, Vision Type DC mirrors and a mild carbon wing atop the hatch were the only aftermarket dress-up items added to the build.
When the cover feature was released, readers were informed that RC was actually never a fan of 5th gen. hatchbacks and the project got underway on a whim. After tearing into the car and going so far with the build, it became RC's original signature build and would signal the beginning of a series of future Honda builds that only grew his reputation.
Four years after RC's Civic EH landed on the cover of HT, the car showed up again as a feature, this time under the ownership of friend and fellow Arizona local, Michael Blancke. And while the two were on the same page in terms of style and simplicity, even more interesting is the fact that Michael, too, was not a fan of hatchbacks.
After sourcing and hoarding parts for a 5th gen. Civic sedan build that he had planned, he witnessed RC build the white hatchback, sell it, then buy it back again, and the entire time Blancke was getting pressured to buy it so RC would know for certain it was going to a good home. After losing motivation to complete the sedan build, the hatchback seemed like the ideal platform to apply his parts collection to.
After riding shotgun in a K-series swapped Honda for the first time, Blancke knew that was what he wanted. He'd even picked up a turbo kit along the way and when it came time to install everything, he found that the variances between the kit, originally intended for a K24, and his 2.0L, were too much of a hassle to rework, so he kept things naturally aspirated. With RC's help, the two completed the swap and once again the engine bay was the star of the show. Beyond the shaved and tucked portions of the engine compartment, the use of brand-new parts, including an RSP Civic Type R intake manifold and fresh hardware throughout the bay, really stood out.
On the outside, Blancke went with a slightly more aggressive front lip from First Molding with mirrors to match and a rear wing by Sergeant. The wheels were stepped up from 15 to 16-inch with classic bronze Volk CE28. The changes warranted a revisit in print and a second feature was done on the car with its updates.
For V3 of the build, Blancke decided to revisit the turbo idea with a custom kit that was built around the engine and maintained strict tolerances so it wouldn't look like a bolt-on afterthought. Like its previous two iterations, it never went overboard or steered away from that signature combination of functionality and picture-perfect appearance.
It's hard to believe it's been a decade since the original version of this hatchback landed on the cover of Honda Tuning and even harder to believe that over that stretch of time, all three versions of the Civic build remain firmly planted as some of the nicest you're likely to see, even when compared to the builds of today.