Let’s try something a little different today. This is going to take your participation and an active imagination to make this work, so as your grade school teachers once told you; go ahead and put your “thinking caps” on. As we all know, our import automotive community has been driven by inspiration from Japan. We’ve always looked to them to learn more about the cars that we build and many of our ideas, as well as a bulk of our parts, have always come from there. Without the people of Japan, it’s a safe bet to say that our community would be nowhere near the point where it is today. We have evolved over the years and have developed a style all our own but again, we owe it to the Japanese for laying the foundation for many of our automotive philosophies. This is going to be tough, but we are going to try to see things from a totally different perspective. Try to imagine an opposite or “bizarro”-world where the terms “JDM” never existed. Instead, try to picture a world where everyone else looked to the American-tuning style for inspiration, one where the Japanese scene never takes off and the “USDM” style is the craze.
This is quite a scary thought actually. Many of us love Hondas largely due to how they’re built by enthusiasts in Japan, in addition to many of the different OEM options that are available to them. It is an interesting proposition to try to picture a world without Japanese-inspired Hondas. There probably wouldn’t be nearly as many Honda fanatics today if this alternate reality came to fruition. It is true that the “USDM” look has become popular worldwide—especially in Japan—over the last couple of years but our style has always retained a Japanese influence. To make this scenario interesting, just play along and try to twist your mind into thinking that there was never a “JDM” takeover, so to speak, and instead the world was bananas for all things “USDM”.
Tomohisa Tanaka’s EG6 Civic exists in our present reality but would also be a very relevant build in the alternate universe we described. Japan is by no means an alternate universe but for guys like Tanaka, his Civic represents what many of the Japanese believe to be the American or USDM-style. His perspective might be a little skewed based on what he sees on the internet, but the reality (this reality) is that Civics like this are what they interpret to be how we Americans build Hondas. Tomohisa and his authentic Japanese EG6 Civic SiR are byproducts of Japan but his intentions from the start were to Americanize his Civic.
“I wanted to build a Honda that Americans would be happy to see,” Tomohisa says. “I have always been a fan of the American-style and I found a good base chassis that was cheap, so I decided to build it.”
The acronym “JDM” means very little to Tanaka because it is very commonplace and nothing more than normal to him. He became a fan of American-built Hondas in the same way we became a fan of their style; it all comes down to just wanting to be different and standing out from the rest of the crowd. His Civic just happens to be a more “extreme” representation of what is deemed the “USDM” form. The overall build itself is quite simplistic in nature, but the sizing and fitment of the wheels definitely puts this Civic over the top. The custom-built BBS RS wheels are so aggressively-sized that extensive modifications had to be made to the suspension just to fit them on the chassis. After converting the original brakes and wheel hubs to ’96-spec Integra Type R 4x114 components, custom-fabricated rear shock mounts were needed to squeeze in the -30 offset, 8.5-inch wide BBS rollers. To get the wheels to roll with proper clearance, the camber angle had to be adjusted to a staggering -12 degrees! That seems way too extreme for many, no matter where the country of origin, but it was a look that was executed by Tomohisa with careful planning.
Right-hand drive conversions have been performed here in the States for years now. Firewall-chops have always been the next best thing to those who didn’t have the means or ability to acquire legit Japanese-market Hondas. In Japan, things are no different. Enthusiasts like Tomohisa are now doing complete left-hand drive conversions just to achieve the full effect of their U.S.-spec Honda builds. Admittedly, it is still a little strange to see left-hand drive cars in Japan but that just shows you how dedicated these guys are to their craft. If the LHD-swap isn’t “USDM” enough for you, he’s also installed a USDM rear tailgate to his hatchback in addition to shaving the sidemarkers off of his OEM Japanese fenders to resemble U.S.-specific Hondas. The First Molding front lip on his EG6 was originally only obtainable in his homeland, but has started to become quite the sought-after product over here. The lip can be found on various high-caliber Honda builds in North America so it still suits his American intentions.
The original B16A2 motor is basically untouched under the hood. An A’PEXi Megaphone exhaust gives the stock motor a nice grumble but you won’t find Tomohisa battling it out on the Suzuka Circuit any time soon. He has never had any plans for this Civic other than for it to be an American cruiser on the streets of Japan. With the way the suspension and wheels are set up, it would be silly for him to do anything other than cruise, and he is perfectly fine with that. His goal was to create his own interpretation of what he felt was a popular look in Japan—and in our eyes, it has been executed well. He is such a big fan of the American Honda scene that he is even a member of Lowballers Japan, which is the Japanese chapter of a popular American car club based in the Las Vegas area (What’s up NEEK! – JW).
No matter what reality or plain of existence this EG6 SiR appears in, there is no doubt that all eyes are on the American Honda community. We owe everything to the past and the Hondas we grew up loving when we were kids, but there is something just so undeniably cool about seeing people from other parts of the world building what they look up to here in the good old U-S-of-A—there’s no greater sign of respect. As the old saying goes; “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
1992 Honda Civic SiR
Owner Tomohisa Tanaka
Hometown Toyama, Japan
Engine 1.6L Honda B16A2; A’PEXi Megaphone exhaust
Footwork & Chassis Function7 rear lower control arms; ASR subframe brace; Banzai coilovers; custom rear shock mounts; 12 degrees camber front/rear; ’96-spec Integra Type R 4x114 conversion
Brakes Spoon Sports front brake calipers; Project Mu front/rear brake rotors
Wheels & Tires 16x8" -25/16x8.5" -30 BBS RS
Exterior First Molding/CRUX front carbon-fiber lip; Spoon Sports side mirrors and rear duckbill wing; USDM left-hand drive conversion, antenna block-off plate and rear hatch tailgate; shaved side markers
Interior Nardi steering wheel; NRG steering hub and quick-release
Thanks You Hie-Jinja Shrine; Lowballers (NEEK, Lurk and crew); Lowballers Japan (Kazuki, Ryo and crew); my homies Masao, Takuro, Fumiya and Kyon; Kazu Imai; Hose from A-Spec and more!
WWW facebook.com/lowballersjapan; function7.com