The cover car of this month's issue is an old school Civic chassis that features an updated powerplant and some cutting edge electronics. The idea of the restomod in the Honda world is nothing new, but as with any of his builds, Ryan Basseri of Rywire.com always seems to find a way to go the extra mile.
The powerplant of choice is a '98 ITR engine with Kinsler 55mm individual throttle bodies. While that particular engine combination isn't out of the ordinary, the fact that Ryan's throttles rely on modern drive-by-wire technology, and are stuffed under the cramped space provided by an E-AT chassis, certainly is (you can read more about the DBW system in Ryan's feature). But before any of that was implemented, the 25-plus-year-old chassis needed some serious updating, especially in the suspension department.
It's not much of a shock; the EA-T chassis doesn't have dozens of suspension options available for purchase. It's not a common platform to build as most don't start with a platform prior to the '88 chassis. Fortunately, HeelToe Automotive has long offered options for '84-'87 Civic/CRX, and '86-'89 Integra owners. Dubbed the "Medieval-Pro Damper Kit," HeelToe does small-batch orders according to demand and gives customers the option of 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8K spring rates for the rear, based on your specific needs. Built by Tein, one of the most celebrated suspension manufacturers in the world, the front struts are 16 point adjustable, as are the rear threaded-body shocks. Best of all, the kits can be rebuilt if necessary.
HeelToe Automotive also offers multiple torsion bar upgrade options. Unlike later model Hondas, these vehicles use a front torsion bar rather than the spring and shock combo that most are accustomed to. Also from the Medieval-Pro series, Sport, Competition, and Race versions are available, again based on the end users' specific needs. CNC machined for absolute precision, the Rywire Civic relies on the Race version, which is 29 mm-a huge jump up from the factory piece. With the springs and torsion bar taken care of, HeelToe highly recommended the Cheddas Auto, adjustable Panhard bar, a part they also carry. This bar helps tremendously by repositioning the suspension geometry to avoid shoving the drivers' side wheel outward, toward the fender well where rubbing typically occurs.
Over 25 years of wear and tear can certainly take it's toll on a cars suspension components and this E-AT was no exception. The aftermarket parts would make for a remarkable improvement in handling and overall safety, but the real guts of the suspension were in dire need of freshening up. Removal of the wheels revealed ball joints that had been massacred, and lower control arms that had seen much better days. Even worse than that, were the factory bushings. Smashed, dried out, and brittle, they were removed in order to make room for polyurethane bushings from Energy Suspension.
The entire suspension revamped, Ryan was ready to dig into his area of expertise; motorsport electronics. His idea of using a drive-by-wire system on his Kinsler throttle bodies would rely not only on the actuator, but a high-level management system as well. AEM Electronics' Infinity system was to be implemented, right along side the SmartWire system from Racepak. This system works sort of like a relay, but solid state. That is, there are no fuses or relays in the car. Voltage is sent to various auxiliaries and if for some reason there's a short, instead of popping a fuse, it will actually retry the circuit multiple times. If it's still not working, it will shut down the circuit completely. Typically found in high-end motorsports, it's is fully programmable with presets that allow for customization. The system cuts down on wiring significantly as the management system, in this case AEM Infinity, handles the engine side of things, the SmartWire handles everything else like lighting, fuel pump, fans, VSS, etc. To monitor everything, a Racepak display replaces the factory gauge cluster.
Truth be told, this build could have been much, much simpler. A basic suspension set up to get the car lowered, no DBW, no SmartWire, just a basic swap and off-the-shelf harness to finish things up, but that simply isn't Ryan Basseri's style. Forever forward thinking, the motorsports electronics wiz admits that he's proud of the accomplishment of this build, but notes that this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are countless more ideas floating around inside his head.