It's been a few months since I put together an update on the Civic VX that, if you remember, once belonged to the staff of Import Tuner about six years ago. At that time it took on a second life, still sporting its original, anemic 1.5L, it was purpose-built to smash MPG numbers. Now as it enters its third iteration, I felt it was long overdue for a makeover, and I couldn't shed its blue exterior-white interior color combination soon enough.
DTM Autobody @dtmautobody stepped up to take on the color change and fix a few issues at the same time. I definitely wanted a single color inside and out, and I wanted to get as far away from blue as possible. Usually when I'm picking a color for a project, I take note of other OEM colors on the road. One color that really stuck with me was Subaru's Desert Khaki, used most commonly on their Crosstrek. A flat, understated color that I think really goes well with any contrasting colors I might choose later on down the road, especially black.
To get the car ready for paint, I pulled the factory engine out and then continued removal of just about everything under the hood, from the harness to the brake lines, and anything else that might get in the way.
DTM repaired a gash in the passenger shock tower that looks like it might have been a result of someone in the past trying to remove the factory airbox mount and just going to far, eventually tearing through the thin metal. The shop did an excellent job fixing that issue along with cleaning up the area just below it, once occupied by the D-series transmission mount, which I removed previously to make room for the Innovative K-series mount.
I cut off a group of studs that occupied space on the firewall for the brake line clips, factory fuel filter and more, and DTM's crew sanded the leftover "stumps" that I couldn't get all the way down, which makes for a much better look. Just a note, I elected to not shave or fill anything under the hood as I wasn't interested in the ultra-smooth look that's incredibly popular, but if that's your style, DTM is more than capable of taking care of your build and making your vision happen. They're experienced in OEM style paintwork and repairs and they have a ridiculously long resume of show car builds under their belt as well.
The cabin of the car was resprayed white when Import Tuner had it, but since I wanted everything a single color I pulled what remained of the interior and it was donated to a friend's project as I had no intentions of ever using pale blue plastics. I pulled the dash, harness, and pedal assembly and after a significant battle, eventually got the aftermarket A/C system and its seized hardware out.
The crew at DTM went through every inch of the interior to scuff it up and address any problems. No carpet, rear seats, or panels will make their way back into the car, so it was important to me the cabin be on par with the exterior.
On the outside, the car was in pretty good condition overall. Civics of this era typically face issues of rust in the rear quarter panels and wheel wells, but being that it was originally a NorCal car, rust wasn't an issue. The Seibon carbon fiber tailgate had spring loaded fasteners riveted to it but I was able to repair the factory latch assembly and asked DTM to remove the rivets and fill the small holes left behind. The hood is also carbon fiber and was set to be painted both top and bottom.
After dropping off the car, DTM promised to have it done in a timely manner and they didn't disappoint. When stopped by on multiple occasions to grab a few progress pics and see how things were going, the car appeared to be in a constant state of progress, and before I knew it, they called me to come see the final product.
It's a massive change going from a bright blue to a lower profile khaki, and as soon as I saw it on this day, fresh out o the booth, I knew I made the right decision, even on the temporary wheels (couldn't use the factory VX wheels due to the EX brake upgrade).
The factory fenders were cut to make room for a set of Track Life fender cut outs and I asked DTM to attach the trim without the exposed hardware that's included or the badging they come with. Since I have two sets of factory side skirts, I had the slightly scuffed pair smoothed and painted along with the car.
The quarter panel windows were replaced by FAL plastic versions when Import Tuner was on a mission to shed weight and I wanted to keep those in place. However, the factory rubber window surrounds were aged and getting brittle, but fortunately I found a brand new set of OEM seals on Instagram thanks to @checkerdsports.
Hunting around online, I also located a complete kit with BNIB OEM Honda front windshield moldings, clips, and inner and outer moldings and seals. The two flat moldings that run down the channels of the roof on either side were also updated with Honda OEM pieces.
Fresh paint and new OEM moldings always make for a much better combination.
Completed quicker than I would have imagined, I headed back to DTM for my last visit, this time accompanied by a flatbed for pick up.
A few hours later and the Civic project, sporting its makeover, arrived at my house. Paintwork and dealing with body shops can sometime be a complete nightmare and trust me; I've had a few "episodes" with shops in the past that drove me crazy. With DTM, who isn't just a body shop and repair specialist, but also heavily involved in the enthusiast aftermarket both on a business and personal level, you're dealing with a group that will actually listen and understand what it is you're trying to do. They've got countless projects under their belts from OEM Plus to full blown, handcrafted widebody kits that they've designed, installed and painted. Furthermore, they also have access to countless OEM and aftermarket parts that they can incorporate into your project if needed or desired.
That's it for Pt. VI as I turn my focus toward the 2018 Civic Si build for SEMA, but I'll be back to working on this build soon enough.