Experience Trumps Shock Value
Backed by 20 years of tinkering, modifying and all-out fanaticism, builds based on popular platforms like this 2000 Honda Civic hatchback aren't going to surprise those who've been around for a while. Short of catching you off guard with extreme RWD conversions or massive, axle disintegrating quadruple-digit power numbers, you've seen just about every version of the 6th-generation hatchback that, unbeknownst to Honda, quickly became known Stateside for separating itself from its meager 106hp factory powerplant, often times well before the owner's final payment was mailed in.
Of the countless versions, both good and bad, roaming your local streets, one thing is for certain; quality, execution and attention to detail always stand out, regardless of how many examples you're faced with sifting through. Jesus Aguilar's EJ hatchback might be the perfect example to drive that point home with his choice of classic parts and an almost understated appeal that'll fly right by the average onlooker and get the nod and thumbs up from those who know these cars well.
Admittedly, Aguilar is a step ahead of most, serving as an automotive technician and backed by a healthy list of previous Honda builds that all stood out in their own right. From a GS-R swapped, Milano Red Civic to a K24-K20 combo'd '97 Integra, a Highland Green Pearl EH Civic with an ITB'd LS-VTEC, right up to his currently owned '00 ITR and '92 hatchback—he's accumulated more than his fair share of Honda building experience.
"It's Just Going to be a Daily"
Like many of the best Honda builds, this hatchback wasn't even supposed to be an actual project. A few years prior to it getting underway, Aguilar met Cooper Boudia of C's Customizing when he purchased a set of Regamaster wheels from him. Later, the two would strike a second deal involving those exact wheels, as Aguilar didn't end up using them and Boudia wanted to purchase them back. Instead of taking any money, the wheels were offered in trade for this 2000 Civic. The thought was that it would make for a nice daily driver with a fresh coat of paint and maybe a set of wheels that, as you already know, is Honda owner's code for a complete build about to get underway.
Giving in to Temptation
Being so experienced and knowing what to look for can actually be a curse for guys like Aguilar who seem to have a sixth sense for parts. He adds, "Original plan was to just repaint and make it a daily driver, but enthusiastic friends and social media made it difficult to just do that. I kept seeing deals on parts on social media and opted to buy some, thus, the 'real' build began. We started the tear down the early part of November 2018—me and my buddy Raul Rodriguez worked on it every other weekday on evenings after work, and on any weekend we had open." Even with the onset of winter weather and conditions that wouldn't allow them the freedom to head to the shop to wrench on a whim, the duo set a deadline for March 30th, 2019. "There was a local Show 'N Shine car show for all the high school seniors, and since my nephew, Damian Chavez, was a senior, I needed to show support. So, as the deadline got closer, we started grinding again."
Turning back the Clock
Like any 20-year-old Civic, the body had its fair share of wrinkles, and Rodriguez, being a seasoned painter, helped lead the refinishing phase as the two guide-coated and blocked the body multiple times until they were satisfied. While the body work was underway, the parts search and accumulation continued. To add a little more to his plate, Aguilar's wife was in the final sprint and almost ready to give birth to their child, but even with the additional pressure the two-man team pulled it off, with Raul laying down the final paint and glass touches on March 17th, almost two weeks before their absolute deadline.
Along with the fresh Vogue Silver respray inside and out, an authentic Mugen lip (not the eBay version that's said to "fit" every Honda ever produced, yet rarely does) sits just below the EK9 upper grill and headlights and flows with JDM thin side moldings that pass by hard-to-find EC Works mirrors. Out back, a Sergeant Racing Division diffuser cleans up the rear bumper, while atop the hatch you'll find a Seeker V1 spoiler.
A very small gap separates the fenders from the Kumho-wrapped 16-in. Regamaster wheels thanks to Blox Drag Pro+ coilovers that Aguilar set to his liking. Upgraded front and rear control arms facilitate a proper footprint, while the 5-lug conversion's braking system includes Spoon front calipers and StopTech rotors to keep the hatch in check.
The K20 swap that you've come to expect, especially from the 6th gen. crowd, is nowhere to be found, Aguilar instead opting for good ol' B-series power in the form of an LS-VTEC setup. Oversized CTR pistons sit inside of a B18A1 block that's been topped with a GS-R head that has been fortified with Supertech and Skunk2 valvetrain bits that include Pro2 cams. The older crowd will recognize the classic AEBS intake manifold that's fed by an ARC Power Chamber originally intended for the DC2 chassis, while on the hot side you'll find a Six Sigma Racing "street sweeper" header. Using a P28 ECU with Crome editor, the combo produced 213hp through an MFactory LSD-backed EM1 transmission—more than enough for Aguilar, who says the car has become a weekend-only affair. "I like to be able to have fun with my builds. Race it and then clean it up for a show, and vise-versa."
Aguilar and his passenger sit firmly in a set of Recaro SPG XL buckets, surrounded by a custom coated Cusco roll cage, while back seat occupants will have to find another way—the Civic's rear seats having been deleted. The clunky factory steering wheel's also been removed and replaced by a Spoon version, while the lack of a tachometer from the factory is addressed with an EK9 gauge cluster.
It took just a handful of months for Jesus Aguilar and Raul Rodriguez to piece together this Civic and address all of its inherent shortcomings with no lack of details or shortcuts. It's the kind of build that on paper sounds like a million other silver hatchbacks, but when picked apart, those in the know realize just how good it really is.
With this EJ, Aguilar adds yet another completed project to his resume and also continues the requisite full-blown build that almost always results from that infamous statement almost comedically offered by just about every longterm Honda enthusiast: "It's just going to be a daily."