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Place Racing - Original Honda Engine Swap Shop

Staff Reports
Aug 27, 2008
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper

The K-series wasn't the first Honda engine swap; neither was the H-series or even the B-series. ZC-swapped Civics and CRXs had been done long before the guys who developed the K20A probably even worked for Honda. Sure, some guy in Idaho might have swapped out his '84 CRX's eight-valve engine for an Si's 1.5L injected one back in 1989, but we're talking about true-to-form engine transplants here-SOHC for DOHC, smaller engines for bigger ones, four-speeds for five-speeds.

The ZC was the first true engine swap, and the first true engine swap shop was Place Racing. Although ZCs bolted right into the '88-'91 Civic chassis with relative ease and, depending on whether you had a 1.5L or 1.6L single cam, didn't offer a whole lot more in terms of displacement. The '90 Integra and its 1.8L B18A1 powerplant changed all of that. Guys like Place Racing's Gil Garcia made sure of it. Swap shops like Gil's were scarce in the early '90s but bolt-in mount kits were on the forefront. Before Gil, early '88-'91 Civic B18A1 swaps consisted of lots of cutting, some welding, and a bit of frame massaging to get things to fit. Integra body brackets had to be sourced from the dealer and welded in place. Shift linkages needed to be cut, tweaked, and welded back together. Place Racing wasn't afraid of such swaps but knew there had to be a better way. Their solution was the first line of Honda engine swap mounts to hit the market. Place Racing started with their infamous '88-'91 Civic B-series mount kit and later developed everything from Civic and Integra H-series mounts to hydraulic transmission adapters for older cable transmission Hondas.

As engine swaps grew in popularity over the '90s, so did Place Racing. The company quickly outgrew its Azusa, Calif., facility, moved into a larger building, and converted to CNC machining to keep up with demands. Place Racing also officially incorporated around this time and decided to make the name official. You see, since they opened up shop in 1992, they never really decided on what to call themselves. Their customers would just call the shop "the place," they added on the word "racing," and the name pretty much stuck. As is often the case, the swap market soon became saturated and Place Racing eventually faded off into the sunset for one reason or another.

Place Racing didn't manufacture the best engine swap mounts our industry's ever seen. They didn't offer the largest variety of mounts by today's standards either. They had no K-swap mounts, no H-series to B-series adapter plates, and no fancy billet aluminum chunks that would shine underneath the hood, but Place Racing was the first company to recognize the need for a bolt-in engine swap solution. Give credit where credit is due.

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