Travel back with me to a much greater time, a time when life was simpler. A time when we didn’t have K20’s and we knew not of the struggles that would lay ahead. The year 2014, Eric had run into some money and he wanted to make a car that would pull double duty, Not only did he need a daily driver but also a fast exciting car. Since Eric was a baby he was involved in all my automotive debauchery weather he was aware of it or not, he’s experienced at all: street races, helping me in the garage, holding lights, getting tools, bleeding clutches/brakes, me taking money out of his piggy bank to pay for gas so I could go to the street races, driving around in cars that had no passenger seats, getting pulled over, road rage, and all the other trials and tribulations that come with the quest to modify cars. All that time there was a bond growing and a form of trust, much like a brotherly bond but more. He was able to watch me over the last 20 years, honing my skills, blowing up engines, rebuilding engines, building cars that would time and time again prove to be some of the most exciting cars around really getting to build my resume of automotive awesomeness. yes he has seen lots of bad stuff too: exhausts falling off, installing cams in my friend’s car with the timing 180* off, racing someone on the streets then pissing off another person in a car and having him pull a gun and threaten to kill us. (mind you at this time he was only 9-10 years old) then he proceeded to chase us I had to run a few red lights but we were able to make it onto the 710 freeway and lose the guy. im sure these moments would not have made my dad too happy, the fact that I was involving my brother in such illegal and dangerous activities. im also sure my brother had a lot of fun, and was able to make great memories. He also was able to realize that he could trust me in any situation involving cars, and he knew that hands down I could be his go to for any and all automotive related things. We aren’t just talking about Honda’s ether. anything from Prerunner trucks, to airbagged trucks, Drift cars, stock cars, (remember the probe Eric? or gutting the cat out of your 1984 accord, and putting that shift knob on it) he has been around it all.
Ok now that you know the backstory of Eric’s existence as my brother it should come as no surprise that I was able to talk him into building a civic. Now at first he wanted a LS3 swapped 240sx, which we were almost going to do but my brotherly love kicked in and I decided that it was going to be too much of a car to handle for someone that hasn’t really had a lot of actual behind the wheel experience. Being the passenger of a car and just being a long for the ride alone isn’t going to give him the hands on experience of operating a really fast car, and a 2500 lb 400hp RWD car wouldn’t really be the best way to start, especially since this was going to be a daily driver for him. He also wanted an STI, but at the time he was active in the navy so he lived on a base and the car would be parked outside. I explained to him that it wouldn’t be a good investment if the car was going to just be parked outside, on the east coast, dealing with harsh elements, door dings, drunk military guys, and who knows whatever else takes place on the parking lots on these bases.
So it was settled a nice tastefully modded EG civic with a stock JDM DC5 motor swap from HMO. this was going to give him the excitement he wanted, and the reliability that I wanted him to have. I knew that if we just did the common bolt on’s: RBC manifold, intake, header, exhaust, and kpro the car would be more than sufficient. It wasn’t going to be a street dominator but it would be able to hold its own, making light of pretty much any situation that would be thrown its way. Another goal was to keep the car looking as stock as possible, since it was going to be a daily and be parked everywhere stealthness was going to be of the name of game. Just looking at it from the outside I wanted everyone to think it was just a stock civic with some wheels, even though im sure the more seasoned enthusiast was going to take note of the NT05 tires, the exhaust tone, and if you looked close enough you could see the Ktuned no cut shifter even though the car had full interior, the keenest of eye could tell that wasn’t a stock D/B series shifter. Here is what the car looked like.
And here is a Link to the full write up on his car with plenty more pictures and a complete spec list of everything done to it.
Because after all this Post isn’t about the build of his car but rather the “RE build” of it. Now that you’ve got some back story, and a little history of his life with me as a brother. let’s go into the reason why a rebuild is necessary, after all I told him that I could build him a reliable car and that a Honda would never let him down.
So in 2014 life was easy, Eric ran into some money and wanted a fast exciting car. what lies ahead is the story about when life got hard, and why things were so easy before we had K20’s. In july of 2014 we went to HMO and purchased two JDM DC5 swap, then the rest of the year I was going to be building Eric’s car, while my swap sat on the back burner until his car was all the way done and out of my garage. This included: finding a clean civic, deciding what parts were going to be best for his build, ordering them, and installing them. This was an awesome opportunity for me to add another check to my resume, learning about K20’s and the I vtec system, and learning how to swap them and what is all entailed in it. I was confident in my abilities since having so much other experience in B/D series Honda stuff, and different chassis. But let me just clarify that doing a K20 swap (the correct way) is a very expensive process. Its relatively easy to do, but the cost of parts is a lot more than a B series especially if you want to make the car bullet proof. I would say to build this car you would need at least 10k which sound like a lot, well that’s because it is. If you are like me you are thinking wait a DC5 type r swap is the same price as a DC2 type r swap. so I might as well go K series. but what you don’t realize is that a B series will just drop right in. wire a few things and go. for a k series its mount kits, fuel kits ( because the k series is a returnless fuel system) swap axles ( yes you can use OEM axles but you are having to totally disassemble and swap CV sides) and with a k series you can just run cheap axles cause you will break them, real easy, radiator mounting, throttle cables/brackets, throttle body adapters to run RBC/RRC intake manifold. a swap header at the very least. you regular DC2 swap will come with all this and since it’s all made for the car and motor it will work, you can run OEM B series axles, any B series header, the wiring harness, and ecu come with the car and work. there is no immobilizer that you need to take out. and let’s not forget that a Kseries O2 sensor is not the same as a B series one, and I would recommend investing in an OEM since the life of you motor depends on a properly functioning O2. Don’t buy some cheap AutoZone one. I never once regret going K series, it’s awesome, it’s much faster than any N/A B series would be and the motor is completely stock internally and still retains that OEM reliability. Yes you could make a faster B20vtec, yes you could turbo a B series and it would be faster. But neither one of these options was going to make for a reliable daily driver. So for the rest of that summer and into winter I methodically went through each and every part of this build replacing parts with new better ones, improving the chassis with rear discs, GSR front brakes, 40/40 prop valve, front JDM type r sway bar, rear ASR sub frame brace, asr rear sway bar, skunk 2 coilover, and some other goodness sprinkled throughout. By the new year I was able to be done with the car, I would drive it around for about 1000 miles around Las Vegas putting it through its paces making sure it was going to handle anything that Eric could throw at it. Come April I was able to deliver the car to my brother who was stationed in D.C., yes I was going to drive it all the way across the country from Las Vegas to Washington D.C.
It Made the trip across the country, the nearly 2800 mile trip would be done with ease not one single hiccup. Eric bought me a plane ticket back and while flying back I knew that I had built him the most exciting, reliable, stealth car that I could. for the next 2 months the car performed flawlessly for him. Now let’s skip to June, he is taking a leave for 2 weeks, and driving the car 3000 miles back across the country to California. We had planned on him getting his car tuned at churches auto in long beach. This would also give me an opportunity to go over the car thoroughly and make sure that it’s still as healthy as the day I handed it over to him. We changed the fluids, spark plugs, and fuel filter, and then we were off to get the car tuned. OMG the car made 251 hp and 175 ft/lb tq, life was good and the car was substantially faster. when I drove it cross country to him it just had a stock PRC ecu, then he got Kpro and we got it tuned. it was so much faster, and there wasn’t that stupid 111mph speed limiter like on all JDM ecus. Now he drives the car back all the way across the country again! back to the base he is stationed at in D.C. and everything goes smoothly. For the next few months the car will continue to run without any issue, driving to the store, going to get food, take it out to local car meets, you name it the car is doing it, he even takes it on a trip to some curvy roads in the Virginia mountains. This now is where the story gets a bit, Eric meets a girl on base and they become an item. For the holidays he decides to drive to her parents’ house in Oklahoma, again driving his trusty steed of a civic all the way there. But then on his way back to D.C. somewhere in rural Tennessee late at night the civic all of a sudden starts to make a horrendous clicking noise coming from the trans, he goes to pull it out of gear but the trans is stuck in 6th gear. He rolls off to the side of the highway and into a world of depression, there is no fixing it the trans is toast. Immediately he calls me and I try to diagnose the car over the phone but in the back of my mind all I can think is BUMMER, he is stuck in the middle of the night in the middle of Tennessee. There is no signs of any oil leaking out of anywhere, there is no damage to the transmission case, the axles are properly seated in the trans, the linkage is still connected properly. What could the problem be? He ends up getting a tow truck to tow him to the nearest U-Haul where the next morning he rents a truck and car dolly and continues his drive back home to D.C. he gets back to the base and I try to help him through facetime, I try to have him diagnose the car with me over the phone but it’s no use the trans is cooked.
Now what do we do, I’m 2800 miles away and no help to him. He has no tools or no way to fix the car. The car doesn’t even roll ( since its stuck in 6th gear) he doesn’t have the money to take it to a performance shop and have the drop the trans a rebuild it and put it all back together, which I also wouldn’t want him to do since you can’t trust any shop to do as good of a job as you would do yourself. plus I poured so much heart and soul into this build that I wouldn’t want anyone else touching anything anyway. In a month or so he is going to be getting deployed to Romania for 8 months, what are we going to do?! Well we end up doing nothing he doesn’t have money to fix it, I’m too far away to fix it for him. so the car just sits in the parking lot ( as most cars do when people are deployed ) which is crazy to me. so the car sits and sits for the first few months it goes through a very harsh winter, snow and lots of moisture. which causes for some horrific oxidization of all the aluminum parts under the hood, rust on all kinds of stuff. Problems that we don’t have to deal with living on the west coast ( thank god ) now while the car is sitting the registration expires and now the tags on the plates are expired, the car gets towed!!! to an impound lot for the remainder of his deployment it just sits and rots away. With limited contact to America while he is deployed to Romania he only learns from one of his buddies back home that his car was towed. there isn’t anything he can do, since the car is broke and won’t drive he can’t just have his buddy go get the car out, it would be much too complicated and expensive for someone to get another person’s car out of impound with our proper documentation and without the car fully functioning. besides what’s his buddy going to do? get it towed back to the base just so it could get impounded again, after all the tags are still expired. So the car just sits and sits in the impound, the car is completely dilapidated left out to rot. Once Eric finally returns from his deployment he goes to get the car out of impound but is met with one last challenge, The exorbitant cost of the impound yard fees. the car has been in there for a few months and has racked up something like 2300 in impound fees. it’s beginning to feel like this car is lost and we will never see it again.
Eric is able to go and talk with the impound yard, and explain to them that we was deployed and there was no way for him to get the car out. He was able to get them to lower the fees to a more realistic few hundred dollars, but finally the civic is free from its incarceration and is back in its owners loving care. Eric had made friends with another guy on base who had a house with a garage and Eric was able to store the car there for some time, while we were trying to figure out how we were going to get this thing back to my house in Las Vegas. Eric ends up buying a Chevy Silverado 2500hd diesel, and rents a car dolly and drives it all the way back to my house. When the civic arrives at my house I immediately wash off the 9 months’ worth of dirt, and roll it carefully into my garage for safekeeping. Now that the civic is safely at my house it sort of takes a back burner to Eric’s current life, I means let’s be honest he has a truck now so he doesn’t need transportation and with all the excitement of fixing up his truck who needs a civic anyways. Why with just a tuner and some exhaust the truck can be as fast if not faster than the civic, and with the civic out of sight and out of mind it now starts to become a relic.
The civic will go on sitting in my garage for almost two years, all the while acting as a spare parts car for me and my k20. I use some parts off his car to just double check my parts to rule out any errors, things like: clutch master cylinder, alternator, ecu, random fuses. just swapping them over to my car to rule out any problems then I would by the new part if in fact the part from eric’s car fixed it. For example when I did my whole big brake upgrade i swapped his booster into my car to see if my booster was the reason i was losing pressure, of course that wasn’t. When I put his on it had the same symptoms so now I knew I needed a master cylinder and not a booster. I also took the wheels off and put them on my 4 door, but other than that the car just sat collecting dust in my garage. There was much speculation of the fate of his car, my friends were always asking my “what’s up with your brothers car?” “what’s Eric going to do with his car?” “how long is it going to sit there?” “does he want to sell it? cause i’ll buy it” “can i buy the k20?” it became very annoying and i would end up just being snappy with them and just say i don’t know, it doesn’t matter he’s not going to sell it. Now I’m sure a lot of you are thinking why doesn’t he just buy another tranny? i see them all day for 400-800 bucks. True you do see them going for that price but those aren’t Type R tannys, those are 5 speed ones, or junk SI ones. Why would we spend all this money on trying to build such a good car to just turn around and throw a crappy tranny in it, yes it would allow him to drive the car, but it would be such a sin to mate such a crappy trans to such an amazing motor. you can’t even find a good dc5 tranny for less than 1500 but then you don’t know the history of it, and since we were going to the trouble of taking the trans out anyway I told him it would probably be best to get the transmission rebuilt. The only place that i would trust rebuilding it was going to be Ghostwerks. I told Eric that he would need at least 2000 buck saved up before we even decided to take the trans out of the car. I was unaware of how much it would actually be to rebuild his tranny so I guesstimated on the higher end just to make sure that we didn’t waste ghostwerks time. This is why the car sat for so long, it’s hard for someone to save up 2000 bucks. As the time passed by, I began to think even myself that maybe the best thing was to just sell the car and move on with his life. I even suggested it to him a few times, yet he stood his ground and was adamant about not selling it.
The day before thanksgiving I got a call from him telling me to pull the tranny out, he had enough money and that he was going to be driving to California from his house in Missouri, making a pit stop here to pick up the tranny ( and to see me of course ) then on to California to see our family and drop the tranny off. After calling him once a day for the next three days just to make sure he is for sure going to have the money, and for sure going to take it to get rebuilt. (I didn’t want to have a whole swap sitting on the garage floor taking up more space) Each time I called he said yes, “for sure” I said. For sure he said. You can’t blame me for being a bit skeptical about it I mean it’s been sitting for almost two years it was beginning to take root in my garage. So yes I pulled it, he came, and now as we speak he is dropping off the tranny at Ghostwerks in Ontario California.
Here are some pictures of the removal and some pictures of the engine bay after I cleaned it up a little. of course there is still more to clean, but this isn’t a sprint I imagine the car not being all the way put back together and driving until after the new year.
please feel free to comment, ask questions, or dm me on instagram