So you say you love your car, but how much do you really love it? Do you love your car enough to stay awake for three days straight building it? Do you love your car enough to have it repainted four times in a row until it's right? Do you love your car enough to drop out of college and go into debt to finish it? Mike Zusin does, and he quite possibly built the dopest Civic coupe of all time in the process.
When Mike first purchased this car he was a senior in High School. The HX already had a B18C ITR swap and life was great. Like many kids with swapped Hondas Zusin loved cruising around in his slammed Civic. Until one day he was feeling a bit frisky and decided to rip it past a semi truck on the freeway. Problem was that cars aren't designed to shift 3rd - 4th - 3rd and the engine's rod bearings paid the price. That's when his life would change forever.
"It was my first Honda, at the time I didn't know my way around a car besides the basics." Mike explains. "I dove head first into pulling the motor and tearing her down to find out what happened." After discovering the spun bearings Mike knew that the work required to fix the engine was beyond his capabilities and enlisted a shop that he presumed was qualified for the repairs. "After months of waiting I got the motor back, only to find out they had ripped me off and ruined the motor." But rather than getting bummed out, Mike did what any Honda fanatic would do - he set his sights K-Series bound.
"I dropped out of college, had a car with a crap motor and debt, so I decided to be dumb and start this huge rebuild." After selling off the B-Series parts he would no longer need he purchased a "really crappy daily driver." With that out of the way he was now ready to start the rebuild and look for a new power plant. "Once I tore down the car it looked worse than a theft recovery, I thought to myself 'what the hell did I just do?'"
At the time Mike's parents' house was on the market and they really didn't want to be any part of the car rebuild a garage full of Civic odds and ends certainly wasn't going to help them sell their house. Luckily for Mike one of his friends had an open garage, which sounded great at the time. "At first it worked out great and the car got more and more bare as we stripped it, but after a while my friend was hardly ever home. At one point I didn't see the car for five months!"
During this course of time Zusin's parents sold their house and moved into a new one. As soon as they were all settled in Mike made it a priority to relocate his car to his house so he could continue to work on it on his own schedule. After everything was torn down and reworked the car was ready for paint. Somehow Mike was able to find a J's Racing front lip, a piece I've been trying to find for my car for years. What Mike didn't know was that finding the lip would only be the begging of troubles he would face.
"When I was on my way to the paint shop my J's Racing lip fell out of the back of my truck, in rush hour! It was way too windy and I was just about to pull off at the next exit to get more straps when I saw the box fly out the back of my truck... and then I saw another truck run over the lip! Luckily we were able to fix it and get it smoothed back out, thank god for fiberglass!"
That would be only the first in a long line of paint and body related delays. "The first time we painted the car I had really bad planning. My painter was driving down eight hours just to paint the car and we only had one weekend to do it. I was up all night Thursday and he got in late on Friday, and so began a very bad/crazy/sleepless weekend. The painter called up two local friends to help tape off and paint the car. Everything seemed to be going well, we were working non-stop. We didn't sleep the whole weekend. On Sunday morning at 3 a.m., I came back from a burger run to find out they ran out of paint and still had the body and trunk left to spray."
Being a problem solver Mike decided to take the "rational" route and drove to Kentucky at 4 a.m. Delirious and sleep deprived, Zusin miraculously made the journey. "Let's just say we were able to mix the paint... somewhere. I was driving after already being up for sixty-plus hours and everyone else was asleep. It was not good. I made it up there, got the paint and drove back to Nashville. We sprayed it at 5 a.m. and cleared it by 6 a.m. and then went to sleep. When I woke up two hours later I realized that the paint color was different. Seventy-two hours with almost no sleep and the car had to be completely repainted!"
The second time the car was painted they decided to do it right and use a booth. Unfortunately, due to some time constraints the car ended up with a very thin layer of clear coat, too thin to color sand without cutting into the base. A third friend then came in to take a look at the color sanding situation and agreed it needed more clear. The fourth time seemed to be the charm as yet another of Mike's friends was able to paint the car in his garage. At last, success!
During all the paint shenanigans Mike was also planning his engine setup. He would eventually go through three K-Series motors before finding the right one. Anyone see a pattern here? "First I wanted to run a K20/24 hybrid so I got a K24A4 block and a K20A2 head. Then I changed my mind and bought a K20A2 swap from a friend which ended up having a cracked block and some bent valves. Finally I was able to find a low mileage K20A2 from Import Auto Connections."
With a car that was finally painted to perfection and an engine swap begging to be installed it was time for the final adjustments. "I got the car back from paint just over a week before my deadline of Import Alliance 2009. It was crunch time but Chase, the guys at Hybrid Racing, JDMspeedworx and Keenan at Acura of Memphis all had tons of parts on their way to my house. Luckily I received them all in time! Chase even brought my K-Pro on Friday just in time for the show!" With everything running down to the wire Mike called in some help from his buddies and pulled a couple more all-nighters to get ready for the show.
Needless to say Mike made the show with no less than a moment to spare. With all the work done to the car I can clearly tell Mike Zusin truly loves his car. Sadly the car has since been sold so that Mike can pursue his newest dream - getting his own parts line started. Track.One will be officially launching in 2010 with a line of various track-only parts so be sure to keep a look out for it. Mike also assures me that there will be more car builds to come, after all every company needs a demo car.
1997 Honda Civic HX
Owner Michael Zusin
Hometown Nashville, TN
Occupation co-owner of track.one
Engine 2.0L NA K20A2; Chasebays mil-spec engine harness, fuel line kit, clutch line, grouding kit; Hybrid racing engine mounts, shifter box; Koyo dual-core aluminum radiator; Samco hoses; Karcepts intake, alternator relocator, RBC adapter plate; BDL Industries 70mm throttle-body, fuel pressure regulator, fuel rail; OEM RBC intake manifold; Skunk2 header; Walbro 255lph fuel pump; Buddy Club spec 3 exhaust, radiator cap, oil cap; Odyssey battery; Royal Purple oil
Engine Management Hondata K-Pro tuned by Adam Hopkins at eCtune'd
Driveline Drive Shaft Shop 2.9 race axles; Competition Clutch stage 2 clutch and flywheel Suspension D2 Coilovers and rear lower control arms; ASR black rear subframe brace and 24mm rear sway bar; OEM DC2 GSR front sway bar; Suja One bushing kit; Mfactory roll center adjusters; Buddy Club front camber kit; ARP extended wheel studs
Brakes D2 6-pot big brake kit; Chasebays stainless braided brake lines; Hawk pads; Brembo blank rear rotors
Wheels & Tires 16X7+33 Volk CE28N wheels; 205/40R16 BFGoodrich G-Force T/A KDW tires; Project Mu lug nuts
Exterior Blue Gold Crystal Metallic paint; J's Racing front lip and canards; EK4 SiR headlights; EK9 CTR grill, fenders with sidemarkers, thin moldings; C-West eyelids; '99-00 rear bumper and taillights; antenna block off plate; JDMspeedworx 10k HID kit
Interior Vision Corsa carbon Kevlar seats; Recaro side mounts and sliders; Wedge engineering brackets; 350mm Vertex 10th anniversary steering wheel, black shift knob; yellow stitched DC2 ITR shift boot; NRG steering hub and quick-release; Mugen pedals; custom wrapped door panels and headliner, black dyed interior panels and carpet; EK9 CTR gauge cluster; air bag block-off
Audio Panasonic head unit; Infinity speakers
Thanks You God, my parents for putting up with me and my car addiction, my brother Corey, Nac and Burr, Katherine for late night pizza, Chase at Chasebays, Will at Hybrid Racing, Greg and Mike at JDMspeedworx, Don and the Import Alliance staff, James Evins, Adam Hopkins at eCtune'd, Tony Shagday at Skunk2, Keenan at Acura of Memphis, Adam at Weksos, Tad at driveshaftshop, Puyan at Import Auto Connections, the guys at Suja 1, Royal Purple, Effect Apparel, Burgers and Cream, all of my friends that have helped and supported me over the years, you guys know who you are... thank you for everything. I'd also like to thank beer, 5 hour energies, junk food, my sweet tools for helping me out, the garage floor for all the oil, coolant, gasoline... and every other mess I made on it, space heaters, lights so I could see what I was working on, and my bed... and of course, the Super Street guys for the love!
www bdlindustries.com ; buddyclub.us ; chasebaysonline.com ; d2racing.com ; hybrid-racing.com ; karcepts.com ; skunk2.com