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 |   |  1993 Honda Civic Coupe (EJ1) - From Hot Wheels To Hot Laps
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1993 Honda Civic Coupe (EJ1) - From Hot Wheels To Hot Laps

Rhett Baruch
Oct 15, 2013
Photographer: Patrick Lauder

Most of us start at a very young age to take on a hobbyist liking to different objects, characters, and desires. We are presented something new and fresh almost constantly throughout our lives and much of the things we latch onto are temporary. With so many distractions in our busy schedules, stimulation from a multitude of sources, and influences from every angle, it's often difficult to choose a solid path. Many often move on, knowing the possibilities of failure in pursuing the completion of a project. I admit, I'm guilty. I can be impatient; it happens. While some of us have the luxury of jumping ship and moving onto the next good thing we're thrown, others commit and roll with the punches no matter what level of pain is inflicted. This Civic coupe was created in part because Ivan Rodriguez said no to the new train set. He said no to Stretch Armstrong, and he most certainly swatted away the monster truck presented to him on Christmas morning.

  |   1993 Honda Civic Coupe (EJ1) - From Hot Wheels To Hot Laps

Originally influenced by Hot Wheels and other fast four-wheel machines as time went on, Ivan knew functional aero and flamboyant color combos of Porsche's peaked his interest. Not born into a royal family, Ivan makes due with the econoboxes we love so much. The 9-to-5 grind at a sheetmetal fabrication shop and the immense influence and help of his older brother, Juan, allowed this car's four-year build time to bring all this business to the local tracks and streets of Modesto, CA.

Ivan, like many West Coasters, was exposed to great builds and had the opportunity of tons of support locally, from shops to meets to friends acquired along those paths. It keeps one motivated and keen to stepping correctly. That is exactly the formula that created this track-inspired EJ1 to the neck-breaking flare it so gracefully wears and uses. Ivan admits that younger enthusiasts not in the know point and laugh, and disgracefully label the vented Chargespeed fenders as "flea market finds". If these naysayers only knew what he had brought it from to what you see today, they would likely be jocking the original teal body and 17-inch chrome wheels . . . but what are you going to do. Ivan followed an aesthetic he knew he loved, not what anyone else wanted. He obtained the car from a trade; his mainly stock Integra DA was offered up in favor of the poorly modified Civic coupe. Yes, the car had debatable styling and an engine stuck in limp mode (limiting to 3,000 rpm and 55-mph top speeds), but what it did offer is often overlooked by the typical Honda tuner, a straight OEM body. With a game plan already brewing, his vision of the final result was vivid.

A car that could provide the ability to get from point A to point B was the key feature that he kept in mind. This car had to be everything he imagined, while firing up everyday to stack the cheese required to outfit the car properly. Ivan knew that the car was old enough to purchase cigarettes. He satisfied the craving by stuffing some Energy Suspension bushings into both ends of control arms. The chassis is further refreshed by the addition of Skunk2 Pro-C coilovers, front strut bar, and Cusco rear upper. To combat the typical trait most front-wheel-drive Hondas have, the turn in and rearend rotation was increased with an ASR rear sway bar and endlinks. What really holds all this madness to the tarmac are the staggered bright red Volk TE37's. The bright wheels contrast the ever-clean earth tone provided by BMW; Space Gray metallic covers the inside and out. This must be the calling card for the Nsidius car crew that Ivan belongs to; it follows suit to Jorge Sandoval's hatchback that we featured in February, Spoon Twin Block calipers sitting behind Volk's in rare colorways. A solid look for sure.

  |   1993 Honda Civic Coupe EJ1 Chargespeed Fenders 04

A near-death experience is the main contributing factor in providing a healthy and reliable heart for the soon-to-be-abused track beast. Ivan and his girlfriend were on their way back from the grocery store and traveling through a sketchy part of town. Downshifting to a stop sign at a corner full of harassing thugs, Ivan's transmission had found the proper burial grounds for itself and let go harder than Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. Without much hesitation he found reverse and utilized its synchro-less beauty to trek the 30 minutes back home. Ivan had enough of the drag-built 85mm LS/VTEC and let that minor up in horsepower be a valuable lesson for all practical purposes. By this time he desired a motor that could safely spin to and from track events and back to work the next morning, understanding that Honda factory knew best was crucial. A GSR long-block mated to a '98 Integra Type R transmission made for a setup that was more than usable and put a stop to any possible future gangster altercations. That's right boys and girls, nothing too fancy here. The inner workings, as many of you know, are just right inside these factory VTECs; they just work. With the minor breathing additives, such as the Skunk2 Alpha intake manifold and throttle body and the excavation of gases handled by the Mugen header, the motor sings properly out of the Mugen Twin Loop mated to a custom B-pipe.

  |   1993 Honda Civic Coupe (EJ1) - From Hot Wheels To Hot Laps

If you're the type of person who truly goes out there and enjoys a spirited drive, you should understand how key a quality and well-fitting bucket seat is to focusing on the importance of steering management. Buddy Club super low rails sandwich the proven and gorgeous Status Ring buckets while being wrapped up in the ever familiar Takata harnesses. When the speeds and limits of the car are being tested, Julian at Top1 stepped in to provide the splitter and fabrication of the wide mounted and heightened Buddy Club rear wing. The brake cooling is also provided by Top1. The ducts fit perfectly onto the Chargespeed front lip, wait, did you see that splitter!? The whole functional aesthetic is brought together nicely with classic Japanese club racer styling. For some reason, so long as the car is well rounded in this fashion, I never tire of the safety tape on glass and tire stenciling of true JGTC style. I think we can all agree, Ivan was able to bring this once half running and seemingly hopeless car back around to a very well put together and multifunctional car.

There aren't many future plans for this car, other than a J's Racing hood and a never ending execution of wheel whoring. Ivan has recently become a father and, as we discussed earlier, priorities shift and new experiences are presented. However, there are no talks of this new life stopping his tuning. In fact, it is quite the opposite. This car is now destined to become his son's, which will allow Ivan to move on to another project. We look forward to seeing the next build.

Behind The Build

Ivan Rodriguez

Ceres, CA

Sheetmetal warehouse (shipping and receiving)

  |   1993 Honda Civic Coupe (EJ1) - From Hot Wheels To Hot Laps

Nothing but cars

Build time:
4 years


"I built my car because it makes me happy and keeps me busy."

1993 Honda Civic coupe

Output: 200 whp at 8,000 rpm 135 lb-ft of torque at 7,500 rpm (est.)

Engine B18CI GSR long-block (81mm x 87mm), JDM ITR pistons (11:1) C/R, LS crankshaft; ARP head studs; Hasport engine mount; custom air intake; Skunk2 Alpha Series throttle body, intake manifold, radiator; AEM fuel rail; Mugen header, Twin Loop axle-back; custom 2.5-inch piping; Denso/NGK plugs and wires; Samco radiator hose; and Blox radiator fan

  |   1993 Honda Civic Coupe (EJ1) - From Hot Wheels To Hot Laps

Drivetrain '98 Acura Integra Type R transmission; Exedy stage 2 clutch and flywheel; Fastline shifter; Honda fluids

Suspension Skunk2 ProC coilover, front strut bar; Buddy Club front upper camber plates; Cusco rear strut bar; Eibach front sway bar; ASR rear sway bar and endlinks; Function7 rear lower control arms; Energy Suspension trailing arm and front lower control arm bushings

Wheels/Tires Red Volk TE37 (front: 16x8 +32, rear: 16x7 +42); 215/45/16 Falken Azenis; Rays extended lug nuts

Brakes Spoon Twin block caliper, ITR rear calipers

  |   1993 Honda Civic Coupe (EJ1) - From Hot Wheels To Hot Laps

Exterior A52 BMW Space Gray metallic by Modesto Autobody; Chargespeed front lip spoiler, fenders; Buddy Club rear spoiler; Top1 front splitter, air ducts; Vision Type DC mirrors; JDM EG6 headlights and clear side markers

Interior AutoPower six-point rollbar; Status Ring bucket seats; Takata long harnesses; Checkered Sport steering hub; Nardi Classic steering wheel; Spoon shift knob; Mugen pedals; S2000 gauge cluster; and Pioneer front speakers

Gratitude "My three brothers: Juan, Alan, and Nathan; my girlfriend, Berenice; Julian Cordova of Top1 USA; my Insidious family; and homies Jonathan Orozco, Danny Orozco, Miguel Jimenez, and Federico Heredia."

  |   1993 Honda Civic Coupe EJ1 Top1 Front Splitter 05


Top1 Motors
Nsidius Industries
By Rhett Baruch
2 Articles



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