In terms of project car building, some might assume that working for the Super Street Network and dealing with cars like this long-term 1992 Honda Civic VX hatchback means spending multiple days of the week wrenching away and making progress. The reality is, as much as I'd love to be able to do that, my day-to-day duties steal all of those precious DIY moments. I'm left to sneak in an hour at night during the week or, if the planets align, spend a solid three hours in the garage on a weekend. Spare time, or the lack thereof, certainly lengthens the process, and there's been a few times that I've questioned my time management and work-life balance, but as of the last few articles on this build I'm feeling much better about where it stands.
The meat and potatoes of this project is the built K24 block/4Piston Racing K20 head. Having cleaned up the ITR transmission and installed it with a McLeod Racing clutch and flywheel before buttoning it up while it sat comfortably on a custom Vein Engine Stands cradle, it was time to get it seated inside the bay.
With any of my past projects I've used an engine hoist to lift the engine and situate it - very carefully - into the bay. It's been done this way with home garage Honda swaps forever, and people who do this sort of thing all the time are really good about not taking off any paint or breaking any sensors because they're so familiar with the process. I don't do swaps nearly as often and it's actually been a number of years since I've done one, but with the Vein cradle holding the engine at the right height and angle to bolt into place, and noting that many YouTubers install the engine from the bottom, I felt it would be a safer, less stressful process as I was tackling the swap, as well as everything else, on my own with pretty basic tools.
Low Freight Charges - Harbor Freight
There are a few different ways to go about getting the car high enough to roll the engine in from underneath, some of which look incredibly sketchy. I felt that using a hoist to lift the front of the car via the CheckerdSports crash bar made the most sense. To avoid having to go too high, I disconnected the driver's side knuckle to reveal the highest part of the engine bay and the easiest to roll the engine right under.
My local Harbor Freight had a 1 Ton foldable shop crane in stock and after using a 20 percent-off coupon I found in sister brand Hot Rod (you can also find them online), it was well under $200. I also grabbed a lifting sling rated for 6,400lbs - way more than enough for the front end of a featherlight Civic VX without an engine. The straps are a bit more forgiving near paint as compared to chains and allowed me to wrap around the bar multiple times with plenty of room to spare.
Project K24s Recent Progression:
In order to use this method, the hoist needs to be turned sideways so that its legs don't interfere with the engine placement. The wide stance of the Harbor Freight hoist offers stability even in this awkward configuration, and in just a few minutes I had the front hoisted high enough to roll in the swap. Carefully lowering the car while centering the engine, I brought it just low enough to align the mounts and then I unbolted the Vein Engine Stand cradle arms and rolled it out of the way. Quick, easy, and safe.
Strongest Link in the Chain - DriveShaft Shop
You have a few options on the table when it comes to axle selection. There are the basic OE replacement axles that will get you up and running but be warned that if you're running more power than stock, you're likely to run into reliability issues rather quickly. The other option is to go with a strengthened aftermarket axle designed to deliver consistently and able to take far more punishment than an OE-style setup ever could and that's where DriveShaft Shop steps in.
With over 30 years of research and development in various vehicle and motorsport types, as well as having their product help put the power down on multiple record-setting track cars, the driveshaft gurus at DSS know more about the axles for your build than the car's original manufacturer. Many of the more popular chassis, like the 5th gen. Civic, have multiple options available that you can pick and choose from based on your setup. Best of all, they take all the guesswork out of figuring out proper lengths and compatibility, and for the peace of mind you get from a proper axle setup, these are a steal.
I plan to unabashedly abuse this vehicle once it's complete, and since there's a good chance I might want to boost it later on down the road, the DriveShaft Shop experts recommended their Level 2.9 kit. However, if you're looking to make big boy power and need something even beefier, they have off-the-shelf options or they can make you something custom. Or, maybe you're needing an entry-level type of setup to get things going - they have very affordable level 0 axles to get you on the road as well.
Able to handle up to 475whp, regardless of power adders, the 2.9 kit is ideal for a street/track car. DSS mentions that the inner portion of the axles, along with the center bar, are both borrowed from their extensively track-tested Level 3 kits and rely on a proprietary material, solid torsional center bars, high-grade inner housings with an oversized tripod, and chromoly spline plug.
The outer CV of the DSS 2.9 is produced in high grade chromoly that gets an extensive heat treatment before it makes its way to you. These were designed to properly fit Honda's standard 26-spline hub and they "slid and clicked" right into place on my car without issue. They also included new axle nuts and they're ready to be installed and torqued into place right out of the box, though I'm not torqueing them down just yet as I found that my driver's side wheel bearing has some play in it and I'll need to correct that before finishing this up.
The Stickiest - Toyo Tires
Years ago, my go-to tire was Toyo's Proxes RA1 with its soft, durable R-compound that was sticky yet seemed to last remarkably long with street miles and was relatively friendly in wet weather. It served as a game changer ever since its debut back in the '90s. A bit later, Toyo's Proxes R888 came along and what the Proxes RA1 left on the table in terms of grip in lieu of wet weather behavior, the Proxes 888 picked up and became a legend itself.
Since then, the R888 has been updated with the R888R - a tire that was mounted to countless builds at SEMA last year, regularly seen on track and, yeah, quite a few street cars as well. With wet performance on par with its predecessor, the R888R uses a water evacuation channel to disperse moisture, and though it rarely rains these days in my neck of the woods, it's nice to know I won't be "ice skating" if a sudden rainfall takes place while I'm behind the wheel of this build.
The large tread blocks on the outside tread are tasked with providing lateral grip to keep your cornering stout and repeatable, while Toyo's engineers zeroed in on optimizing the contact patch, most notably under pressure, when it counts most. The result is improved dry traction in the big 3: cornering, acceleration, and braking. The wide center rib grants the sort of steering response you're after and offers a heightened level of directional stability. This combination of assets is also the reason this tire looks so damn good with its aggressive, rigid sidewall. Here you can see the width differences as I'll be using a FWD staggered wheel and tire setup.
Toyo R888R Fast Facts
Treadwear Grade: 100
Traction Grade: AA
Temperature Grade: A
Wheel Diameter: 13-20-in.
Tire Width: 185mm-345 mm
Sidewall Profile: 30-60-series
Optimal Tread Temperature: 160 degrees F-220 degrees F
Hot Inflation Pressure Range: 32psi - 38psi
Camber: -1 degrees to -3 degrees
Custom Shoes - SSR Wheels
Wheel selection is always a hassle for me. I like older-style wheels, prefer 16-in. sizing, and I have no interest in going 5-lug, so choices are usually somewhat limited. With this build I've had plenty of "dude, you should run a set of *extremely popular, lightweight wheels on just about every build around*" and those are great, I've had them before on my previous cars, but for this one, I wanted something with a little retro flair.
When SSR Wheels announced the Formula AERO MESH wheel, I had just stared making plans to tear this car down a few days after I purchased it and I knew these were exactly what I wanted. So, I ordered a set that arrived to U.S. shores right alongside another much larger set that showed up at SEMA 2018 on a Supra - the first ones in the U.S. in fact. Mine, however, have been sitting in their original boxes collecting dust until now.
You've seen these wheels before in 18-inch version bolted to the 10th gen. Civic Si project that I assembled late last year for SEMA and continued into early 2020. Bright silver, the idea was to use a sort of throwback style on a modern chassis and I liked the way the combo turned out, but I feel like these are best suited for an older chassis like this Civic EH.
The 3-piece construction carries an old-school feel but with modern strength and dependability, and with SSR's willingness to let you customize your wheel order, I was able to select a matte black face and polished lip, topped off with red center rings.
I opted for 225/45 Toyo R888R fronts and 205/45 rears for a FWD staggered setup to wrap around 16x8-inch front, 16x7 rear SSRs. With the aggressive rubber, staggered fitment and deep, polished step lip, this combo is exactly what I envisioned and I couldn't be happier with the finished product.
Locked and loaded - Wheel Mate's Muteki
Due to the extended ARP wheel studs I'm using, I needed an open-ended style lug nut and these Muteki HR 38 (Hyper Race) seemed like the ideal fit. I wanted to avoid using aluminum lug nuts and these are actually produced in 50BV30 Chrome Vanadium. The length of the HR38 is positioned somewhere between your standard short lug nut and lengthy open ended extended version.
Since I'll be playing around with various wheel spacers both front and rear, these are sized perfectly so that they're not sticking out way passed the studs. The included tool adapter is much needed as the Formula AERO MESH uses very small lug nut openings and a standard socket would make contact with the surface.
This particular version is "Titanium Chrome" with a red ring but they're also available in black with that same trio of colors.
The subtle red ring on the outer edge of the HR 38 is the perfect complement to the SSR's trim piece.
With so much progress in the last few weeks and the engine finally bolted in place, it's time to address a number of sensors and appropriate wiring and fuel components and its right back up in the air on the Quickjack as Project K24 continues.