There’s a reason this EK hatch is in our magazine and it’s not because of a lime green rollcage. Justin Semon has spent the last year building his Civic to run with the wolves. Not squandering money on rare or flashy parts, he’s developed an all-around car tailored for the track. And while many Honda owners only take their rides to get-togethers, Mr. Semon isn’t wasting his time being a hard parker. Last year, he tracked his car at Road Atlanta and plans to do more of the same in ’12.
The road to building this project wasn’t the easiest one though. Raised up in the ATL, Justin started learning about the scene from mags like us and Honda Tuning. “I got into cars during the sixth grade,” he started. “My first modified car was a ’96 Civic hatch followed by a K-swapped Integra. But I got out of the scene for a few years because I had to move out of my mom’s house and grow up.”
Messing with cars was after all a hobby, so Justin started thinking about his future and finding a career to support his wife and child. He was forced to sell his Integra, but luckily he didn’t stray too far from the car world. After working at Goodyear Tire and Acura, he landed a job as a full-time tech at the local Lexus dealership.
It wasn’t long till Justin hopped back on the saddle. “My little brother offered this bone-stock Civic hatch to me,” he told us. “I wanted to pick up where I left off with the Integra and do everything right from the ground up. I wanted to do track days again and use it instead of let it sit in the garage.”
Justin started with the chassis, lowering the hatch with BC Racing coils using stiffer spring rates. A collection of new control arms, sway bars and strut braces, as well as a sick Kirk Racing rollcage ensured the chassis would feel solid with minimal body flex. A few other tricks were added such as the rear toe and camber adjusters to dial in the suspension.
New brakes followed and they needed to be strong enough to withstand Justin’s ragers at the track. Up front, he upgraded to larger 11.8" Wilwood rotors with four-piston calipers while the rears received EP3 rotors and RSX calipers. “The brakes and suspension are probably [my] favorite parts of the car,” he noted. “Everything’s been changed and the handling feels fantastic. A lot of cars overlook these things. They can only go fast in a straight line. I like a well-rounded car that can handle and brake well.”
For wheels, Justin didn’t want to spend too much coin because he knew they would be vulnerable to damage. So he settled on some Team Dynamic wheels—a spec Miata wheel. “The way the wheel is designed, it allows for a pretty big caliper and rotor setup while still being 15s. They’re also cheap and easy to come by,” he explained.
And what would a weekend track car be without the proper tires. Toyo R888s were mounted up—some of the best street legal rubbers money can buy.
Next, Justin took some time to give the interior and exterior some lovin’. After gutting the interior out to save weight, it was kept minimal except for the Corbeau seats and a Spoon steering wheel. The exterior sported a few nice aero pieces like the ARC rear wing, carbon front lip, canards and custom rear under tray.
At last, everything was solid except for the power department, which Justin left to the end. After owning a K-Series before, he thought of trying something different. “I wanted a B-Series because they’re reliable and it wouldn’t be anything complex,” he admitted.
Justin thought he scored a sweet deal on a flawless JDM B18C from a guy who was parting out his car. “But I really got scammed on it... It was suppose to be a perfectly running motor but the bearings were toast and it would smoke like crazy. So I had to rebuild the whole thing,” he told us.
With good companies and friends on his side, this task wasn’t as painful as Justin thought. BRE Motorsports helped by bulletproofing the bottom-end using oversized pistons and ACL bearings.
After the head was ported and polished, Justin and his co-workers installed Skunk2 cams, valve springs and cam gears along with KMS titanium retainers for a bulletproof valvetrain. A few more additions were thrown in to give the B-Series more juice across the powerband like the amazing Bisimoto header, 50mm individual throttle bodies and 3" exhaust. After deciding the motor would only run on E85, the owner treated the fuel system to a Walbro 255 lph pump and 1000cc injectors (Holy injectors! -Ed).
The five-speed tranny needed some attention next to get it shifting like butter. Justin and his co-workers stayed late after business hours ensuring it was built to last with new bearings, an MFactory limited-slip differential and a more aggressive final drive.
With the car out of the garage and motor running, Midnight Auto took control of the AEM EMS and used their Dynojet to fine-tune the B18C. When all was said and done, Justin had 218whp at his disposal.
On his first adventure in Road Atlanta, he ran into a couple oil leaks. There are still some tweaks to be made until the car drives perfectly, but for now, he’s happy with what he’s accomplished. Sure it doesn’t have the widest wheels or a 300+hp turbo motor, but it’s the whole package that counts. It’s a speed demon that’s not afraid to get dirty which is why we give Justin props.
1998 Honda Civic DX
Owner Justin Semon
Location Atlanta, GA
Occupation technician at Lexus
Power 218whp, 143 lb-ft at 9400rpm
Engine JDM B18C with CNC race ported and polished cylinder head; Skunk2 Pro2 camshafts, Pro Series valve springs and cam gears; KMS titanium retainers; OEM ITR lost motion assemblies; OEM Honda 3 layer head gasket; 82mm PCT pistons; balanced and blueprinted rotating assembly; ACL race bearings; Morosso baffled oil pan; Blow Thermal intake manifold gasket; TWM 50mm individual throttle bodies; Fuel Injector Connection 1000cc injectors; Walbro 255 lph fuel pump; AEM engine position module; OEM S2000/RSX-S coilpacks; Bisimoto V2 Race header with 2.75" collector; 3" exhaust with Summit Racing glasspack muffler and turndown tip; Chase Bays mil-spec harness; Hasport motor mounts; CX Racing radiator and fan; Samco hoses; Endyn belt tensioner
Drivetrain B16A2 five-speed manual transmission with new bearings; MFactory limited-slip differential and 4.923 final drive; Rywire steel braided clutch line; Skunk2 short shifter
Engine Management AEM EMS 30-1020 ECU
Footwork & Chassis BC Racing custom-valved coilovers with 14K front and 18K rear springs; Wicked Tuning front upper control arms, Race rear lower control arms, Race rear toe adjusters, Race rear camber adjusters; 26mm Si front sway bar; 22mm CTR rear sway bar; ASR subframe brace; HardRace compliance bushings; custom front and rear stainless strut bars with X-brace; Kirk Racing six-point rollcage with door bars and X-brace; Civic DX front spindles; GS-R rear trailing arms
Wheels & Tires 15x7" +25 Team Dynamic Pro Race 1.2 wheels; 195/50R15 Toyo Proxes R888 tires; ARP extended studs; Fortune Auto titanium lug nuts
Brakes 11.8" Wilwood two-piece front rotors with four-piston Dynalite calipers, braided lines; Hawk DTC-60 race front pads; RSX-S rear calipers; EP3 rear rotors; Goodridge braided rear lines; Hawk HP+ rear pads
Exterior OEM antenna block off, SiR grille, EDM side markers, Valeo headlights, facelift tail lights; CTR carbon wing base; ARC Magic GT wing; APR aluminum mirror bases with TCS carbon mirrors; VIS Carbon Invader hood and Spoon style lip; Password:JDM fenders; custom rear under tray; RCrew canards; PCI tow hooks; Vogue silver metallic paint
Interior dark grey gutted dashboard; OEM facelifted Si gauge cluster, radio delete, shift boot, airbag block off tray; AEM wideband; Buddy Club seat rails; Corbeau FX1 Pro seats; GForce 3" Pro Series five-point harnesses; weighted shift knob; Spoon Gen2 steering wheel; Mugen hub; shaved steering column; Longacre cage-mounted rear view mirror; Jeg’s cage-mounted ignition button
Thanks You My beautiful wife Chelsea, handsome son Keegan, mom, brother Kyle, Robert “hondizzle!” Billings, Kurshid Cliff, Chris, Brannon “ejaysicks” Loggins, Barry, Lucas, Morris at Midnight Auto, Tadillac at DriveShaft Shop, Sean K at Super Street, Kyle McManus, Joseph Southern Fresh, Tex at BRE Motorsports, Juan at JJ Autowerks, Chase at Chase Bays, Brian at Fast Brakes, DPI Fabrications, NWP4LIFE, Tim at Hybrid Racing, Dale at K20tuned, Josh Chambers Photography, the OG triple OG h-t members, EK Squad