Ranking high above any other car in its field, the Honda Civic has been and remains the top choice for all beginner-level enthusiasts looking for a dependable car to modify. Although all its trim levels are severely underpowered from the factory, its good looks and endless supply of aftermarket support give it so much potential it s not even funny. There are so many variations and styles to turn to, from all show to full race. But if you’re reading this, chances are you don’t have the money bags to squander; you need viable options and you need them to be affordable. We’re here to help guide you, and since we’re limited to a $5,500 budget, we’ve taken our own ’95 Civic EX Coupe and added the right parts where it counts the most.
We know the Coupe isn’t as popular as the Si hatchback that everyone wants, but nearly 90-percent of the Si models you’ll find in the classifieds will be trickedout or trashed so hard that you’ll pay a huge premium just to find one that s been left untouched. And until you can convince that old lady down the street to sell hers to you, you may as well look to the EX instead; you even get the power windows the Si lacks. Ours was purchased through a private party at just under 190k miles, which is a testament of how great the stock D16Z6 is: feed it oil regularly and keep up with the standard maintenance and it runs forever. Being that we were on such a tight budget and the engine was still remarkably healthy, we buffed up the original with an AEM V2 intake and a DC Sports header and exhaust. To pull a few more horses out of the 1.6 liter, we used AEM’s Tru-Power pulleys and cam gear, and on the track we’ll have a 50-shot of nitrous through a NOS single fogger wet kit. These bolt-on engine parts can be had with even the tightest of budgets and are good for an extra 25hp, dyno proven!
Although we could’ve gone super budget with the suspension, wheels and braking, we didn’t. Bypassing what would’ve been a cliche move of springs and shocks, we opted for Tanabe s entry level coilovers, the S-OC Type 2s, which may not feature adjustable damping, but come with springs that can be changed out later for stiffer spring rates nice if you’re the racing type. To stiffen up and balance the handling, we’ve also bolted on Tanabe s front and rear strut and under braces. HD hooked us up with a great set of 17-inch wheels that didn’t put a dent in our budget and it won’t put one in yours, either. We then set those up with Vredestein’s Sportrac 2 tires. On the outside, we gave the EX a new VIS carbon hood and front lip spoiler for that JDM look, then added Island Motorsports head and corner lights. Inside, we switched the stock shift lever for a Pilot Motorsports short shift and shift knob, then we pulled the OEM deck for a mid-level Pioneer CD head unit.
The EX came through with flying colors, proving that, even with a budget, you can put yourself behind the seat of one of Honda’s greatest with enough power and looks to keep you in the cool crowd.
|QUARTER-MILE||16.5@ 83.9MPH||15.0@ 93.9MPH|
|$5,500||AEM V2 Intake||$362||$290|
|DC Sports Exhaust||$550||$440|
|DC Sports Header||$415||$332|
|AEM Tru-Power Pulleys||$213||$174|
|AEM Cam Pulley||$144||$115|
|NOS Single Fogger Kit||$600||$480|
|Tanabe S-OC Type 2 Coilovers||$750||$600|
|Tanabe Front and Rear Strut Bars||$196||$157|
|Tanabe Front and Rear Under Braces||$176||$140|
|EBC Front Brake Pads and Rotors||$247||$198|
|Island Motorsports Headlights & Corner Lights||$130||$104|
|VIS Carbon Fiber Lip||$310||$248|
|VIS Carbon Fiber Hood||$450||$360|
|HD, Inc. Hairpin Wheels||$800||$640|
|Mount and Balance||$30||$30|
|Pilot Motorsports Short Shifter||$50||$40|
|Pilot Motorsports Shift Knob||$20||$16|
|Pioneer DEH-P6800MP Head Unit||$260||$208|
BEYOND OUR BUDGET
- Upgrade clutch
- Bigger cam
- Nitrous accessories
- Engine swap
SPEC IT OUT
1995 HONDA CIVIC EX
UNDER THE HOOD 1.6L SOHC VTEC D16Z6; DC Sports header and exhaust; AEM V2 intake, Tru-Power pulleys and cam gear; NOS single fogger wet 50 shot
STIFF STUFF Tanabe S-OC Type 2 coilovers, front/rear strut bars and front/rear under braces
ROLLERS 17x7 HD Hairpin wheels; Vredestein Sportrac 2 tires 205/40R17
STOPPERS EBC slotted brake rotors and Red Stuff ceramic pads
EXTERIOR VIS carbon fiber hood and lip; Island Motorsports headlights and corner lights
INTERIOR Pilot Motorsports short shifter and knob; Pioneer DEH-P6800MP head unit
CO-CONSPIRATORS: DME Inc., Auto Shop Links, SP Engineering, AEM, DC Sports, Tanabe, EBC Brakes, Pilot Motorsports, VIS Racing, HD, Inc., Vredestein tires, Pioneer, Holley (NOS)
DEEP THOUGHTS: This was our street car build. We didn’t have a lot of money to swap the motor so we did the best we could with the D16 SOHC VTEC. We placed more emphasis on the exterior of this car compared to the rest of our fleet and everything we’ve tested is street legal. SP did all the dyno testing, but 90 percent of the parts were installed in Will’s garage.