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1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

60 MPG or Bust

Scott Tsuneishi
Feb 5, 2014 SHARE

With over three months of hard work modifying our Honda Civic VX, the fruits of our labor had finally come down to a test on how the car will fare on our five-day "Ecorun Trip". The gist of our test consists of thrusting our 21-year-old Honda with weight reduction, engine, suspension, Falken Ziex-914 Ecorun tires, and aero modifications through a grueling drive-a-thon to see if our upgrades had been successful in increasing the vehicle's overall mpg. Keep in mind, the goal of this project wasn't to break any world record in fuel economy, but rather increase fuel efficiency by our projection of 20 percent with a target goal of 50 to 60 mpg without having to drive like your typical "eco driver".

Planning a cross-country road trip can be quite a challenge, especially when your travels take place during the dead of summer. Unfortunately, the world of journalism waits for no one, including us magazine guys. Mother Nature decided to liven up our road trip by throwing a variety of challenging driving scenarios including thunderstorms, hail, severe windstorms, and even a statewide fire warning advisory. These were just a few of the dangerous weather conditions we encountered throughout the trip that began at Falken Tire's tire facility located in Fontana, CA.

To make our trip more interesting, we let the power of social media determine our daily destinations chosen by Falken Tire Facebook fans. For the next five days a final poll was tabulated to determine our next location prior to jumping into our cars and driving through the South and Northwest region. Fans from both Import Tuner and Falken were able to follow along "live" throughout our adventure though Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (#ecoruntrip) and even joined in at local areas to check out the car and talk about the trip.

Prior to making our trip, we stopped by the local electronics store to pick up some gadgets, which included a portable MP3 radio, charger for our phones, and navigation system to bring some much needed creature comforts back into our minimalist Civic. Other important items we decidedly replaced prior to making the trip were the carbon doors back to the original factory units for crash safety reasons.

Nakamichi speaker 04 Photo 5/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip
1992 honda civic VX cigarette car charger 05 Photo 6/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

Day 1: NorCal

We teamed up with the dynamic duo of James Yim and Cale Bunker of Falken Tire along with Import Tuner Editor Charles Trieu sitting in as my copilot. We drove our way along the coastal shores of the Highway 101 toward NorCal. We made it a priority along the way to document our drive by visiting a number of sightseeing destinations and tuner shops.

101 freeway 02 Photo 7/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

As luck would have it, we found ourselves caught in two hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic before the roads opened up, but not before we encountered some mountain roads. Come to find out, the 1.5L engine coupled to a long-geared transmission doesn't make for an easy uphill climb. All the necessary downshifting and uphill battles put a dent in our fuel economy with a day ending 54 mpg. Not bad, but not the number we had hoped to achieve.

Cow . . . cow . . . cow . . . horse! We encountered numerous grazing cattle and pastures while making a number of off-the-beaten-path excursions in the middle of nowhere for a photo op before we throttled into San Jose around 6 p.m. for a stop at Speed Element Tuning. We spent some time checking out a few of their project cars as well as chatting with their customers before we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge into the heart of San Francisco.

1992 honda civic VX project sipper 06 Photo 8/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

If you've ever driven downtown you're well aware of the treacherous hills that make driving a manual transmission car a living nightmare. We decided to take a few photo opportunities in and around Chinatown before we quickly retreated back onto the highway roads and made our way into Fairfield around 1 a.m. under one tank of fuel. Day 1 was a success, but there were four more days to go!

1992 honda civic VX project sipper 09 Photo 9/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

Day 2: Springfield, OR

A 9 a.m. wake-up call gathered up the group for a quick breakfast, where we checked the final voting tabulations. A close battle ensued between traveling eastward to Utah and north into Oregon, the latter proving victorious.

1992 honda civic VX oregon state border 10 Photo 10/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

We were delayed a few minutes due to a mysterious non-power issue with the MPGuino gauge that required some troubleshooting inside the hotel parking lot. The problem was quickly addressed and we continued north, past Medford and into Springfield for day two.

1992 honda civic VX scott tsuneishi 11 Photo 11/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

While driving though the college town of Oregon State, we pulled up in front of a group of car enthusiasts gathered in front of a Dairy Queen. A few people within the group immediately noticed the Civic, as they too were following our progress on the web. We handed out some Ecorun T-shirts and snapped a group photo before once again rolling down the road.

1992 honda civic VX ecorun followers 12 Photo 12/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

Physically and mentally exhausted, we challenged ourselves to drive late into the night, as strong winds tossed the lightweight Civic around the highway. A combination of heavy headwinds and treacherous mountain roads were killing our fuel economy. But the worst came at approximately midnight—about 200 miles from our destination it began raining followed by a spectacular lightning show. If you haven't noticed in the photos, we are driving without windshield wipers, all in the name of minimizing drag. Luckily, the showers were light and we were able to make it into Springfield at 1 a.m., nearly 13 hours total on the road. We're talking some serious truck driver hours here!

1992 honda civic VX charles trieu james yim scott tsuneishi cale bunker 13 Photo 13/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip
1992 honda civic VX project sipper 15 Photo 14/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

Did you know it is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon? We had no idea until the attendant nearly crapped in his pants when he saw us attempting to fill our Civic.

No self service sign 14 Photo 15/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

Day 3: Portland to Klamath Falls, OR

Our 8 a.m. wake-up call was greeted by heavy rainfall. We filled up fuel and made a trip to the local auto parts store to pick up some Rain-X before we were once again back on the road. No trip into Portland is complete without a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts. As first timers visiting this establishment, we were recommended by a former colleague to order the "Cock-N- Ball" doughnut. After a few bites of the phallus-shaped delight, it was decided that this Bavarian creme-filled monstrosity was overwhelming—even for Charles.

James yim 17 Photo 16/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip
Cock n ball 16 Photo 17/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

We made a trip to tuner shop Portland Speed Industries (PSI) and were thoroughly impressed by the sheer size of the facility as well as custom project cars currently under the knife. Portland marked the summit of our drive as we made a U-turn and headed southwest toward Klamath Falls to end the third day of travel.

Portland speed industries garage 18 Photo 18/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip
Portland speed industries garage 19 Photo 19/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

Day 4: Reno, NV to Bishop, CA

While driving though the forest roads of Oregon, we found ourselves caught in the middle of a fierce forest fire that had been burning for more than a week. There was little we could do to wean off the thick smoke and pungent odor. We hightailed it out of there, but not before taking the opportunity to snap some scenic views alongside the Civic. A drive though Reno, NV, was on the agenda as requested by the polls before we decided to push ourselves and make the long drive back into California territory to save us time for the last and final day. Traveling for more than 500 miles, we finally arrived at 2 a.m. in Bishop, CA.

1992 honda civic VX project sipper 20 Photo 20/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

Day 5: Home Sweet Home

On the last leg of our trip we found ourselves sweltering in the desert heat as we made our way past Death Valley and through Victorville, CA, toward our final destination back to Fontana. From extreme cold a few days prior to current 100-plus degree temps, we drove though the dry wastelands without using our A/C to stretch our mpg, knowing the topography of the land was the flattest we had encountered since we first began our trip. Sweating buckets and downing water, we coasted along the Sierra Mountains before relenting to use the A/C. Driving in this type of weather was the main reason we kept the system intact.

1992 honda civic VX project sipper 24 Photo 24/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip
1992 honda civic VX project sipper 26 Photo 25/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

Here's a grim reminder why you should always pay attention while driving. This Mitsubishi was one of two vehicles caught in a head-on collision.

Mitsubishi accident 25 Photo 26/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip

Oh, what's that you see? That's correct. We accomplished what we set out to do and averaged 60 mpg on the last leg of our trip. More importantly, we didn't turn a wrench underhood. A true testament to Honda and the engine tuning performed by Doug Macmillan of Hondata. The Civic drove over 2,500 miles in a five-day span, running like a champ day after day without any issues. We met our goal and look forward to transforming our fuel sipper into a pure street machine. Stay tuned!

1992 honda civic VX MPG guino gauge 27 Photo 27/27   |   1992 Honda Civic VX - Project Sipper Road Trip
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Sources

Energy Suspension
San Clemente, 92673
888-913-6374
http://www.energysuspension.com
Blox Racing
Fremont, CA 94538
510-440-1605
http://www.bloxracing.com
DC Sports
City of Industry, CA 91746
800-237-7560
http://www.dcsports.com
Innovate Motorsports
Irvine, CA
714-372-5910
http://www.innovatemotorsports.com
Goodridge
Torrance, CA 90501
310-533-1924
http://www.goodridge.net
Mackin Industries
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
562-946-6820
http://www.mackinindustries.com
Circuit Hero
San Diego, CA 92111
858-874-2585
http://www.circuithero.com
Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
800-723-2553
http://www.falkentire.com
Hondata
Torrance, CA 90503
310-782-8278
http://www.hondata.com
More Japan
Torrance, CA 90501
310-782-0040
http://www.more-japan.com
Seibon Carbon
City of Industry, CA 91745
877-473-4266
http://www.seiboncarbon.com
Koyo Cooling Systems
Irvine, CA 92618
949-727-7054
http://www.koyorad.com
Sparco USA
Irvine, CA 92614
800-224-7223
http://www.sparcousa.com
RC Engineering
Torrance, CA 90501
310-320-2273
http://www.rceng.com
Evasive Motorsports
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
626-336-3400
http://www.evasivemotorsports.com
ST Suspensions
Sanger, CA 93657
800-445-3767
http://www.stsuspensions.com
Braille Battery
941-312-5047
www.braillebattery.com
ASPEC Products
626-618-1100
http://www.aspecproducts.com
Special Projects Motorsports
Orange, CA 92865
714-998-1258
http://www.specialprojectsms.com
A'PEXi USA
Orange, CA 92868
714-685-5700
http://www.apexi-usa.com
Chuck's Creations
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
562-696-5757
http://www.chuckscreationsautobody.com
GPRauto
805-290-8252
http://www.gprauto.com
FCS Race
818-355-2113
http://www.fcsrace.com
By Scott Tsuneishi
247 Articles

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