It's tough building a car when your only source of income is allocated for important things, like tuition and school books. But if you are sneaky enough to figure out how to tweak that "budget" wisely (and believe us, we've seen plenty of people who have done this; not that you should), then we say: get away with it while you can! Eric Moon isn't doing a regular nine-to-five and can't afford to buy a secondary car to use as his project, so he did what every undergrad that's into building cars does: spend that financial aid check with abandon!
After his first Si, a 2000 coupe, was stolen, Eric wanted to keep his next car in the Honda fam, switching up to the one Si that never fully developed: the EP3 '02-'05. "It's so unpopular compared to other Civics," he says, "but I think it has so much potential to be a great car." He bought the car off a fellow EP enthusiast who had already modified it heavily, but to make it his own-and to avoid adding to his collection of fix-it tickets-Eric found a better way to enjoy his daily driver by tuning the suspension rather than the engine. "The K20's power is fine the way it is," he adds, "I tried building my engine with all CARB-approved products, but the cops still get me for them. Besides, I like to drive the canyons more and this current setup is perfect for it, not to mention affordable."
This quest for handling perfection pushed Eric to find the best in suspension wares. A set of Ohlins coilovers doesn't come cheap, but he installed it anyway. He made further tweaks by slipping in an Integra Type-R front sway bar, a Progress rear sway bar, Mugen front lower control arms and Skunk2 rear control arms, and stiffened the chassis with a Cusco roll cage. He stepped farther out of the box by trying modifications that he hadn't seen elsewhere or he thought would seem unusual on a front-wheel drive. "Fender flares and negative offset wheels are natural for a RWD, and could be considered "ricey" for my car," he explains, "but it looks great and that's what makes my car unique." When we first spotted Eric's car at a Hot Import Nights earlier this year, those fat 17x9 Work Meister wheels were what grabbed our attention. Unnatural for sure, but nonetheless sick for a Honda.
With the suspension dialed to his liking, Eric did have some engine issues to work out. The original K20A3 was an unpopular K-Series engine from the get-go, dishing out a paltry 160 hp. To fix this, a 201hp K20Z out of a later generation RSX Type-S was dropped into place and along with it, a CARB-exempt Jackson Racing supercharger kit. On top of this setup, Eric had the cylinder head built with Skunk2 valve train pieces, including Stage 2 cams, valves, valve springs and retainers. This may not be flashy like a fresh set of individual throttle bodies, but it is good for at least an extra 50 hp, more so once the Hondata KPro is tuned.
Previous stages of this car include it being repainted in various colors of the spectrum; first it was white, then red and green. Eric changed it one more time to a custom yellow with green and red flakes that pop like crazy with the right light. The fender flares were a must to match the Work wheels unless you want to run the chance of cruising around like a lowrider and the Mugen aero pieces on the front end give the hatchback a very aggressive touch.
The concept behind Eric's EP is quite easy to stomach; it's simple and it didn't require having to order every piece from Mugen's catalog to complete. The kid's suffering without an interior and a real audio system to make his car lighter. He doesn't need the fancy stuff and that's going the distance in our eyes. He stepped lightly but cashed in big on parts he knew would prove their worth. That's how you do things when money's tight, or at least until the financial aid runs out.
'02 Honda Civic Si
Owner Deokbae "Eric" Moon
Hometown Buena Park, CA
Daily Grind Student
Under The Hood 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC K20Z1 engine; Skunk2 camshafts, cam gears, valve springs and retainers; Jackson Racing supercharger; Mugen oil cap, intake and baffled oil pan; Spoon exhaust, magnetic oil drain plug/transmission drain plug; high flow catalytic converter; Six Sigma Racing header; NGK Iridium spark plugs; Koyo radiator and cap; powdercoated valve cover by Rainbow Powdercoating; ARC stainless spark plug cover; Samco radiator hoses; Innovative motor mounts; Hondata intake manifold gasket
Drivetrain Acura RSX Type-S six-speed transmission; Quaife limited slip differential; aluminum shifter bushings; Exedy organic clutch
Brains Hondata K-Pro ECU
Power 250 hp
Stiff Stuff Ohlins PCV full coilovers with camber plates; DC5R Integra Type R front sway bar; Progress rear sway bar and rear tie bar; Spoon rear strut bar; spherical bearings; Mugen DC5R aluminum front lower control arms; Skunk2 aluminum rear control arms; custom end links; SPC camber kit; Cusco roll cage; Neuspeed cross brace; J's Racing C-pillar bar
Stoppers Rotora big brake kit
Rollers 17x9 (-10) Work Meister S1 wheels; Toyo R1R 235/40R17 tires
Outside Civic Type-R front bumper, side skirts, rear lip, front headlights, ion foglights and taillights; Mugen front aero lip, front radiator duct and front grill; Seibon carbon-fiber hood and Mugen-style rear wing; VIS carbon-fiber hatch; custom fender flares; custom yellow with green/red flake paint job and clear spray-on bra by M1 Autobody
Inside Bride Maxis III and Zeta III seat; Civic Type-R carpet, gauge cluster and shift boot; AIM MXL digital cluster; MOMO Tuner steering wheel; ARC titanium shift knob; Project pedals; Splash steering wheel hub; Simpson harnesses; Taylor battery relocation box
ICE Kenwood head unit; Alpine speakers
Props Mike Shin at Toyo Tires; Tony at Skunk2; David at InlineFour; Team RL2; GPC; Fullerton homies (Team Shell); John Nohand Ray at Just Tires, Buena Park; DK Garage
WWW cafe.daum.net/onroad; ephatch.com; hondata.com; kingmotorsports.com (Mugen); koyorad.com; more-japan.com (Bride); momo.com; neuspeed.com; rotora.com; skunk2.com; toyo.com; visracing.com