These days it's not so easy to find a chunk of time to sneak away to the garage in order to get some much-needed wrench-time on Project K24 - our 1992 Honda Civic VX hatchback that was originally pieced together in SOHC form by Import Tuner almost a decade ago. In fact, it's almost impossible with daily family and work routines that seem to be starting earlier and earlier, and more often than not, extend well into the night hours. And even though the work hasn't changed, the time spent on the road to and from various happenings are now a distant memory as I, like all of you, have been instructed to stay home as much as possible during the global pandemic. I'm fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to work from home, and in the current situation it lends itself to at least a little bit of time dedicated to working on the project car.
After getting the car back from DTM Autobody, who did a complete color change, I recently installed a Chase Bays radiator and brake tuck kit. Adding the factory pedal box back in place and buttoning up the brake lines along the firewall, I was able to install a new/used black dash that I found on eBay to replace the factory blue version. Originally, I'd planned on adding an S2000 gauge cluster but decided I wanted something that would display far more info than a standard cluster and I had no intentions of adding rows of gauges. Instead, I want my info all in one place
AEM's digital CD-7 dash made its mark a few years ago, followed by their smaller CD-5, and has rapidly become the "go-to" dash solution for street and track cars. Incredibly versatile, it can be programmed to read various OEM and aftermarket sensors in just about any configuration you can come up with. Their user-friendly Dash Design program was recently completely revamped as Dash Design 2.0, which offers even more flexibility and end-user control, so you can layout exactly what you need and even pick and choose the colors that you want.
Depending on your particular set up, you can opt for a 7in (CD-7) or 5in display, like this CD-5. The dash opening on the EH/EJ/EG won't fit a 7in display within the factory bezel without some cutting, but the 5in fits quite easily in terms of dimensions. Making a mount is up to you to figure out, but there are a few companies offering brackets, AEM offers some suction cup-style options to mount to your windshield, and of course, you can always lean on your local fabricator to whip something up for you. I recently caught wind of a new option from Classic Dash that offers a factory like fit and doesn't require any sort of modification.
Pulling the factory gauges is an extremely easy process on the 5th gen, with just a few screws removed and the gauge/vent surround clips released. A few harness plugs on the back of the cluster are released and the cluster comes right out.
In place of the actual gauge cluster is this molded ABS panel from Classic Dash. A direct replacement using the 4 factory mounting tabs that hold in the OEM cluster, new screws are provided, and the ultra-lightweight piece goes right in the factory cluster location.
How This Project Began:
Project K24 Civic VX pt. 1
How it Went from Blue to Khaki
DTM Autobody's makeover
The Classic Dash panel centers the CD-5, doesn't block any portions of the screen or its indicator lights, and is pre-drilled to accept the four mounting screws on the back of the AEM unit. In addition, there's a square section cut out that allows the AEM harness connection point to be free of any interruption and even the Comms Cable outlet is wide open, so you don't lose any functionality from the AEM dash.
Bolting the CD-5 to the Classic Dash takes just a few seconds and all four holes are slotted so you can make adjustment to get it perfectly straight. If you have an extra gauge or two that you want to add, there is enough space on either side to allow that, as well. The black molded piece ties into the factory surround nicely and the fit couldn't have been any better - it's just like a factory piece and is the perfect solution for mounting the CD-5 securely.
Everyone is familiar with NRG's quick-release steering wheel adapters and there's a pretty good chance you already have one installed on your car. I've used the gen 2.0 on a few of my past projects and what originally sold me on NRG's version is the how stout the connection is once its locked in. Years ago, having used a quick release from a very popular brand which offers a number of safety equipment parts, I was disappointed when I started to experience some "play" in a pretty short time frame, and it seemed to only get worse. Fed up, I gave the NRG quick-release a try and the "snap" you get once the ball bearing system locks in place is unmistakable. It feels every bit as solid as it sounds and offers a safer locked-in position. Over the years of pulling the wheel on and off on those previous builds, I never once had an issue with play or slack creeping in.
This time around I decided to move up to NRG's newer 2.8 series in anodized red (SRK-280RD). It's got a little extra grip area and the self-locking feature is a nice touch to keep it ready to attach quickly and easily with that familiar "snap" that reminds you its securely in place and not going anywhere.
Wanting to keep the steering wheel in the stock location, I opted for NRG's short hub kit to mount the wheel with. The extension provided by the quick release combined with the short hub equate to the OEM steering wheel distance. These are crafted in aluminum and right out of the box, feel incredibly solid. Installation is as simple as it gets, requiring just that you remove the retaining nut that holds the factory steering wheel in place, and the NRG hub slides directly over the OEM splines and even has a white mark to indicate where the top is so you get it lined up straight the first time.
The back half of the NRG quick-release is bolted to their hub with the supplied screws and the other end, of course, attached to the back of your steering wheel. If you're using your factory horn, appropriate wires are included and already attached to the hub, ready for you to connect (in my case I have the horn on a separate panel). Incredibly simple to install, it makes it much easier to get in and out of your car, especially if you have high bolster seats like I will. In addition, if you're using a quick-release to add a layer of security, NRG also offers an optional locking cap that relies on the same ball-lock design to fit over the base, and their version 2 system spins freely so your car can't be steered at all from the hub.
The interesting thing about Hybrid Racing and their long list of K-swap friendly upgrades is the fact that they never really stop coming up with ways to improve on things - even when it comes to some of their most popular items. Take for example their RSX short shifter assembly. After revamping it with a Version 2 system, they went back once again and improved it even further with their new Version 3. The previous model was wildly popular and beyond just the RSX crowd, many K-swap Civic owners relied on it to get the job done properly. With over a decade of short shifter R&D, the group felt they could make something even better, and with V3, they've delivered.
This version sits within a steel frame that's both lighter and stronger than the previous model and incorporates an internal spring. The intention is a fluid feel throughout each gear shift and if you've had the chance to drive a car with the V3, then you know they nailed it. Part of that fluidity is due to a four-link design that keeps things incredibly simple for you, the end-user, with less exposed and moving parts, and those crispy shifts can be tailored to your liking with the simple on-board adjustability. Everything is kept just an allen key away and you can really dial this into what meets your needs from gate spacing to knob height - even rotate the position of the knob 360 degrees, so whether you've got gorilla arms or T-rex shortys, Hybrid's V3 has you covered.
In my case, I decided to use Hybrid's solid billet shifter mounting plate and am running their Performance Shifter Cables through the firewall. This configuration places the V3 atop the factory tunnel using the mounting plate in between, while relies on 2 existing threaded holes along with 2 additional holes you'll need to drill to secure it in place. Bolted down with the first pair of bolts, it's a simple process to drill through and use the supplied hardware to finish it up.
There's even a rubber seal that goes in place to block off the open hole left by the factory shifter, so you don't have to deal with dust and exhaust fumes from under the car making their way into the cabin.
The RSX V3 shifter mounts directly to four pre-drilled and threaded holes in the Hybrid base plate. Mounting hardware for the shifter is included, but if you're not planning to run any OEM shifter console plastics, a set of Downstar Inc. hardware adds some additional flair, as you can see pictured.
If you are interested in using the factory plastics, keep in mind that you'll have to do some trimming in order to fit around the baseplate and the shifter cable support arms that come off the front of the unit.
I'm matching Hybrid's short shift masterpiece with their Performance Shifter Cables to complete the ideal shift set up. Unlike the factory cables, these use solid rod ends and spherical bushings, rather than rubber, for that crisp "snap" that everyone is after. Stainless steel cables and cable guides are joined by a protective sleeve to guard against heat and any potential friction.
With no plans for a back seat and eventually a 4pt roll bar, I decided to mount a battery behind the passenger seat area, against the rear seat's lower tray and left more than enough space for the rollbar to mount to the floor. Odyssey Battery's PC680 has been around for years and is used in all sorts of vehicles. An excellent lightweight option that's not only ultra-compact, but rugged, the AGM style battery uses pure lead plates that don't spill, meaning you can mount it just about anywhere, safely.
You have plenty of battery cable mounting options with the PC680 beyond using the internal brass terminals that I'm using. If it's an OEM style cable, terminals are available and bolt right in, or you can opt to add those along with stainless steel bolts on top to grant a little more space as needed, as well as an L-bracket option.
Being that the PC680 isn't affected by shock and vibration, I chose to solid-mount it using a Checkerd Sports dimple die mount. I drilled 6 holes and installed rivnuts, and I'm using a set of hard rubber spacers behind the top bolts to make up for the uneven mounting surface of the Civic's body.
Red anodized, Downstar V3, billet aluminum hardware was once again added, just like the ones used on the radiator install in the last update and mentioned above on the shifter base, and finishes off the look nicely.
The interior portion of the project is coming together with only a bit more wiring to complete, a bolt-in rollbar and seat brackets already on order. In the meantime, I was finally able to source a transmission after the original one was never delivered, and a custom engine stand is being built as I type this. Until then, it's back to avoiding any sort of crowds or even establishments as much as possible and I hope you do the same. Stay safe.