The El Mirage lake bed is what the end of the world looks like. It's an open, weeping sore in the landscape of the California Mojave Desert, a mile-wide stretch of desolation that's flat and lifeless as a paved road. Nothing dares grow here, actually, nothing can grow here-the ground is a rock-hard shell of scoured clay that's inhospitable to everything but a handful of wandering dust devils. It's a void, a scorched emptiness; it's a middle-fingered salute to all things lush, cuddly, and air-conditioned.
Oh yeah, and it's also one hell of a spot for a photo shoot.
Hence the reason I'm in the midst of this god-forsaken patch of dirt, trying to follow behind the massive shape of the BFGoodrich Tires trailer. Snuggled safely inside it, in luxury befitting royalty, are the day's two main attractions-the mighty JUN-built Civics.
Each of these cars specializes in an opposite side of the racing coin-either drag racing or autocross. On one hand, you have the solo racer, a '98 hatchback (it's the one that looks like it just drove through a puddle of the letter "g"), and on the other, you've got the drag car, a '96 hatchback. The cars may look similar, but their internals are tuned to provide entirely different results.
Of course, we have the U.S branch of renowned Japanese tuner shop, JUN Auto Mechanic, to thank. And thank them you should because these Civics are an epic pairing of Hall and Oates magnitude, a devastating one-two punch in the name of vehicular excellence. No matter how many times you failed algebra, each car is one part of an equation the never fails to equal "super bad."
Cut to the present, where these two Civics are finally being lowered from their trailer and deposited onto the desert floor. If I could, I'd cry at the sight of the JUN trademark colors of yellow and green, but the obnoxious desert heat has melted my tear ducts shut. Seeing these cars crouched on the lake bed floor, primed to tear up the scenery, reminds me of something that becomes a bit muddled in light of the cars' extravagant pampering-these machines aren't meant to be trailered, they're meant to scream.
The Solo racer, the more handling oriented car of the two, has been out-fitted with a custom JUN B18C high-performance engine as well as a JUN gearbox, aero hood, and stainless steel exhaust manifold. JUN has also chosen to add a Tanabe autocross suspension and Project brake rotors. The inside of this beast is all business, the most prominent features being the Sparco seats and steering wheel. To top it all off, the car rides on a set of Volk Racing TE-37 wheels which are gift-wrapped by four BFGoodrich g-Force T/AKD tires.
Like its companion, the drag car also features a special JUN high-performance engine, but its mechanicals are geared for full-on, dead-ahead speed. Its got a JUN EK4 stainless steel exhaust system, and is fitted on the outside with a JUN aero hood and rear aero wing. On the inside, you'll find a set of GReddy gauges, and underneath is a Tanabe drag racing suspension. The drag car has the same Volk wheels as the solo racer, but it rolls on slightly different rubber-BFGoodrich g-force T/A Drag Radials in the front. This mechanical combination has been good for 13-second passes at Palmdale-yes, at Palmdale!
Occasionally during the shoot, a car will come tearing across the lake bed, looking from a distance like a fast approaching forest fire. Its occupants stare as they pass, their faces ghoulish in the glare of the sun and distance, apparently surprised to find two virile race cars and a gleaming big rig smack in the middle of Armageddon. I don't blame them, because as impressive as the racers are on their own, they are doubly so when viewed as a pair. When you consider that each car is capable of an all-motor output of around 220 hp, that's even more of a reason to get down on your knees and kiss the ground they tread on. Unless, of course, that ground happens to be in El Mirage, where there aren't a lot of bathrooms (at least not nearby, so you kind of have to...well, you get the idea).
Don't worry, though, these cars will be getting plenty of chances to strut their stuff. In fact, you'll find the drag car competing at this year's NIRA events. As for me, if I had to choose a scorching desert wasteland for a photo shoot in which to get lost and die of thirst and be feasted on by buzzards, I'd definitely choose the El Mirage lake bed. And when it comes to twins, there's no contest-forget those straight-to-video, Full House havin' Olsen Sisters and give me the JUN Honda Civics any day.
Win These Cars!
That's right, you (yes, you) could win either the JUN g-Force T/A drag car or the JUN g-Force T/A solo car pictured on these pages. We're not talking about a stripped down, engine-less, prop-car version either; we're talking about the real deal Holyfield that goes "vroom vroom" and everything. Just imagine-you, one of these cars, some Kenny Loggins on the radio-it's a match made in heaven. This is definitely not a dream, you are not in Kansas anymore-we're as serious as a heart attack about this. Each car will go to one winner apiece, and one of those winners could very possibly be you.
Interested? We know you are. For details and online entry, log on to www.bfgoodrichtires.com and then follow the directions. And that's it! Sit back in your La-Z-Boy and start practicing your driving posture!
Owner: BFGoodrich Tires, built by JUN Auto Mechanic
Hometown: The hearts of import tuners everywhere
Daily Grind: Tires and tuning (respectively)
Ride #1 '97 Honda Civic hatchback (Solo Racer)
Under The Hood: Honda B16A Stage 1 crate engine, ported and polished head, JUN Type 3 camshafts, connecting rods, 81mm pistons, piston rings, dual valvesprings, titanium retainers, custom air intake, EK4 special exhaust, header, cam gears, ECU, clutch, Honda transmission w/ special gear ratios; GReddy ISO 7 spark plugs; Cusco limited-slip differential
Stiff Stuff: Tanabe Sustec coilovers, corner weight balance by JUN
Rollers: Volk Racing TE-37 wheels, BFGoodrich g-Force T/AKD tires
Stoppers: Project B-Force brake pads; Baker brake lines
Outside: Jun aero hood, front lip spoiler, eye liner, EK4 rear wing
Inside: Sparco Sprint seats, steering wheel, pedals, seat belt harness; Pivot tachometer; Honda Optional Equipment silver shifter knob, front floormats
Ride #2 '96 Honda Civic hatchback (Drag Car)
Under The Hood: '99 Honda B16A (JUN B16A/1,800cc stroker engine, assembly balance, JUN Type 3 camshafts, connecting rods, 82mm stroker kit pistons, piston rings, 18 stroker crankshaft, ported and polished head, dual valve springs, titanium retainers, custom air intake, EK4 stainless exhaust, header, cam gears, ECU, yellow/green valve cover, B16A/B18A clutch, '99 Honda transmission w/ special gear ratios; GReddy ISO 7 spark plugs; Cusco limited-slip differential
Stiff Stuff: Tanabe Sustec Pro coilovers; corner weight balance by JUN
Rollers: Volk Racing TE-37 wheels; BFGoodrich g-Force T/A Drag Radial (front), g-Force T/A (back)
Stoppers: Project B-Force brake pads; Baker brake lines
Outside: JUN aero hood, front lip spoiler, eye liner, EK4 wing
Inside: Sparco Pro 2000 seats, steering wheel, seat belt harness; GReddy gauges (oil temp., oil pressure, water temp.); Honda Optional Equipment silver shifter knob, front floormats
Props: Jun, BFGoodrich Tires, Tanabe, Volk, Mackin, Project , Sparco, Honda Optional Equipment, Neo, Baker, Pivot, After Hours Paint -Brian Kono.