The 1992 Honda Civic CX and 1995 Acura Integra GS-R you see pictured are bona fide Internet celebs. Anyone who's been involved in the Honda community for even a handful of years has come across both cars on social media on countless occasions. Both have the sort of staying power that maintains a level of relevancy rarely seen by today's lightning fast, come and go mentality, and the funny thing is, mention to Mike Hatten, the cars' owner/builder, that both have reached Kylie Jenner levels of social media stature, at least in the Honda realm, and you'll get no more than a head shake and a grin.
Known to his friends simply as "Donut," Hatten has never been one to brag and isn't the type to hype up any of his builds, past or present. In fact, we recently reconnected by phone and had a laugh about how much notoriety his Civic CX, parted out years ago, still receives from the likes of automotive social media users worldwide, including those random IG share pages that snatch every photo they can and offer little more than "tag owner—be sure to buy our merch" captions.
1992 Honda Civic CX
In 2007, I met up with Hatten in Long Beach, Calif. to capture some photos of his hatchback. As a fulltime freelancer at the time, my intention was to try to get him a few pages in Super Street Magazine but after a pitch and an agreement with them, it just didn't happen. The editor at the time instead hired a photographer and had the car re-shot, but this time it was for a full cover feature—a huge accomplishment for the guy that quietly collected parts for quite some time and assembled the car in his garage in less than a year. The accompanying photos are the ones that Donut and I shot that day/night in Long Beach.
In Memory Of
Much of his dedication to the build revolved around his friend Randy Gagan, whose untimely passing was a shock not only to Hatten, but to the entire Honda community. A fellow builder himself, Gagan was universally noted as being well ahead of the curve in the realm of fully custom Honda building and Donut attributes much of the success of this build to his fallen friend.
The Civic's overall look was simplistic, that's apparent, but Donut's style and attention to detail really set his car apart from the crowd. Based on a well-thought-out mix of OEM and aftermarket parts, rare finds and mainstream bits, it became somewhat of a benchmark with duplicates popping up everywhere soon after.
Bit by the Track Bug
Having spent a few weekends on the track with his ITR-powered Civic CX, it was obvious those days were pulling him in. Although the hatch was a capable track weapon, it was becoming costly to maintain, and even from the very beginning Donut felt he was doing himself a disservice by starting his track education with such an advanced setup. More than one experienced track enthusiast had commented on how much better off he'd be if he started with something fairly stock, then gradually worked his way up, rather than jumping in with both feet. It's sage advice that most would ignore, but Donut knew that the guys running fast lap times and carrying years of experience under their belts knew exactly what they were talking about.
At that time, Donut was splitting daily driving duties between an almost completely stock GS-R and a G35. After taking the GS-R on a track day adventure, he knew what he needed to do and in order to fully embrace the learning curve, he made the tough choice to part out the Civic and focus on the GS-R and his seat time, while the G35 became his fulltime daily. As the track days added up, mods began to make their way to the Integra as his skill level progressed. And while the changes were fairly subtle in terms of a track car, Donut's style and detailed approach produced yet another well noted build that had everyone talking.
1995 Acura Integra GS-R
The bright white Civic with its minor exterior additions was the polar opposite of the DC2 build. A track-ready stance, large rear wing and aggressive front splitter were bolted in place and the car's fog lights eliminated, while its turn signals were converted into brake duct feeds. It was apparent this car was built for the single purpose of chasing lap times, however, it maintained a distinct level of cleanliness that falls right into Donut's obsessiveness and that's not often found on dedicated track cars.
From the tough-to-maintain original paint that looked picture perfect in the studio, to the hand-polished FAL Lexan rear window that typically carry a slew of scratches and imperfections, he kept the GS-R in immaculate condition, similar to his previous Civic build.
The suspension setup revolved around Eibach's Multi Pro R2 coilovers and rear sway bar, and included PCI spherical RTA bushings and Hardrace camber and toe kits. That's it. A proper, track-focused alignment by West End really dialed things in but the off-the-shelf offerings add up to far less than what his lap times would suggest.
Under the hood, the K-swap or fully built engine you might expect was actually just the original, 200,000-plus mile B18C1 that used to scoot him to and from work. Along the way, as the times dropped, the onslaught of abuse finally caught up to the high-mileage engine and it required a rebuild, but even to that end Donut kept things relatively mild. Factory JDM ITR pistons replaced the originals on the bottom, while the top end was replaced with a B16 unit stuffed with CTR cams and Supertech valve springs. Bolt-ons included an AEM cold-air intake to 66mm throttle body, which fed an ITR intake manifold, with the gasses being cast away by a Skunk2 header and Buddy Club Spec II exhaust.
Setting the Bar on Track
The fact that Donut developed as a driver before tacking on more go-fast goods meant he was never at a disadvantage, trying to figure out how to manage big bumps in power. Instead, he grew with the car over time, and about three years ago he earned his personal best lap of 1:54.1 at Buttonwillow's 13CW—a time that he believes still stands as the fastest for a naturally aspirated B-series Integra.
"I still have the Integra, but I took a hiatus. It started getting too expensive with track days, tires, etc." A few years removed from almost constant track adventures, Donut became further invested in another wheeled hobby of his, but this time it was off-road. "I've been really involved in dirt bike riding and things just snowballed. It's much cheaper and I really just put the Integra on the back burner while I got further into riding." Unfortunately, that too has been taken off the table as Donut is on the mend, nursing an injury that occurred recently. However, thoughts of returning are certainly at the top of mind. He adds, "I'm going to get back on the horse, I want to get back out there. I had a motor issue but fixed that, then added an AEM digital dash and I finally got back to the track in June of last year at Ryan Novak's private event. Also, late last year I got the car corner balanced finally...it's ready to go again."
After chatting on the phone with Donut, it's obvious he's itching to get back to track days and doing what he does best. His GS-R has served him well and he's paid that back by giving the car an incredible level of care and maintenance throughout its countless battles on track. The guy that really couldn't care less about the public's attention managed to put together two cars that were insanely popular among the Honda crowd and, even today, hold their own in both appearance and functionality.