One of the best feelings in the whole world is successfully diagnosing a problem with somebody else's ride. Over the years, I have gradually become the guy that most of my friends and family call when they've got a car question. I guess it works out well, then, that most of the people I hang out with on a regular basis rock Hondas.
A few months ago an acquaintance picked up a new FG Civic. He called me a few days after getting the car and asked me to come over to check the thing out. When I showed up at his house, he had the car in the driveway with the hood popped and was searching about the engine bay like a kid digging through packing peanuts on Christmas.
Instinctively I asked, "What's the problem?" He responded, "What the hell is this thing?" When I came around to the front of the car, I saw him pointing to a huge plastic contraption bolted to the head of the new R18 motor hanging in the bay, and for the first time in years I had to admit, "I have no idea."
I'm sure there are people in the world who are comfortable with not having a clue. I'm definitely not one of them. The day after this encounter, I called up our friend and resident Honda technician John Rodriguez. When we met John, he ran a shop called Auto Innovations where he did many an aftermarket build. Now that he's a tech at a local dealer, we have somebody who knows both sides of the Honda world and has access to newer toys, like the R18.
Like us, he wanted just as badly to see it from the inside. Luckily, he had a new Civic come into the shop with a cracked block from a cooling problem. The motor was to be replaced, so we took the chance to view a broken-open R18 for ourselves. This is how it went.