Monday, June 01, 2009

Project Civic ~ the Story

*Warning long post ahead, about boring guy’s talk. Don’t bitch yah!

She’s the 1st car I’ve owned & I’ve had her for almost 4 years now. Decided to get a car not long after I started working; during then, I was contemplating between getting her or a classier E36 318i Beemer ~ with low mileage, in mint condition & at a bargain $$. The mod bug got the better of me & considering the long term maintenance of the Beemer which commands a premium, I finally opted for the humble Japanese workhorse, acquired for a bargain price of 17K.

She didn’t look all that great when I first got her. Her cosmetic bodywork was a mess, the paintjob looked worse than my dad’s then 10-year old faded Iswara, the interior all worn out, came with an ailing ZC engine leaking oil badly & the gears felt like popping out at every gear shift, and even the silver alloy rims accumulated so much dirt to the extent that they looked like painted in matte black. Only the chassis or structure was about the only thing of it that was immaculate.

I only had her for a night on my front porch before sending her away for a heart transplant & paint job make over ~ out came the engine, transmission, brakes, wheels, dashboard & everything that is detachable. So it could be concluded that I bought an EG chassis for 17K.

The thing is, I’ve sourced for a whole EG6 half-cut with the venerable B16A2 powerplant & manual transmission, the disc brake conversion kit, the fuel tank & exhaust a good couple of months before I even got the delivery of the car. Paid a ridiculous amount for that so-called upgraded half-cut which turned out to be quite stock on the inside; in short I got ripped! Sometimes shit like this happens ~ me being a newbie at the tuning scene & not having any relevant reliable inside contacts.

Trusting the right person with the capability & integrity to do the conversion job was also an important, hard learned lesson for me. I put my car in the wrong hands, and that fella fucked up the conversion job; the gearbox turned out pretty screwed up as engaging the 1st & 3rd gear was almost impossible; how to drive like that??! It took a hefty repair job by a VTEC specialist before my car was even drivable again, and footed that goddamn bill. Aside from shudding away any responsibility, that loser fella also fleeced me into purchasing some over-priced used parts that turned out to be unsuitable for my ride i.e. non-matching muffler & some strut bars ~ so much for me being ignorant, easily influenced & not doing enough research on the stuffs.

So far the story of Project Civic has taken bumpy twists after another right from the start. I’ve dealt with the inconveniences of enduring long vehicle down time in the workshop, a couple of bad costly investments in the tuning journey of this project. During the earlier days, I haven’t documented much about each upgrade process, where most I made most of my so-called misjudgments. I’ve experimented with quite a few bolt-on intake & exhaust setups; from the initial loud mismatched oversize fart muffler (that is meant for a 2,000cc or bigger capacity vehicle) that got me pulled over by cops (loud coz it’s already spoiled inside ~ reduced muffling capability) to the current Mugen twin loop replica I’m still running (coz it’s silent when it needs to be, under civilized driving manner); but darn til this day, I have yet to get my whole exhaust piping setup correct! (Still at 2”). Had her hood painted black, & then had a carbon fiber hood mounted for a day, before reverting to the stock bonnet look coz I found it to be a tad too attention seeking. Then some drunken motorcyclist rear ended her, and I made a horrendous decision to install an ah beng custom bodykit ~ what was I thinking??!! That’s pricey bad investment number#2. With that, I had to live as an ah beng ricer for almost 2 years. Well, some people like to bling up the exterior of their rides, some examples turn out nicely, where as most don’t. Maybe I was just going thru that fad phase of exterior personification, but I’m still pretty much an old school JDM enthusiast. Keep it stock, keep it simple. Function over looks. If it’s not going to make my car run faster, then I don’t want it.

Only after I met up with my current mechanic & bunch of kaki-motor did Project Civic get a proper kick-start. It took quite a few servicing & repair visits before I got well acquainted with the guys at Gencool Enterprise, enough to trust them with doing up my ride. Had my ride’s frontal undercarriage fixed to eliminate the alignment caster problem its had since the conversion. Not long after that, I committed to have a proper engine overhaul-cum-rebuild on my car; spent a good 1 & ½ months in the garage for the big job which also includes oversized piston installation, head port & polish job, flywheel lightening & adding reliability upgrades i.e. engine block guide, stiffer valve springs & timing belt upgrade. And then I’ve also upgraded the suspension system by installing a set of used fully adjustable coilovers from CST, definitely money well spent. My ride never felt more responsive & livelier to drive. Towards the end of last year, she gets a major exterior makeover in the form of a new paint job & getting JDM-ized.

Since the mishap I’ve had earlier this year, there hasn’t been much progress for Project Civic, except for tire replacement & air filter upgrade. And there may be no more upgrade, as the days of Project Civic roaming the streets of Kuching are numbered. So I’ll sum up the highlights of my tuning journey with Project Civic

  1. What if(s) ~ had I been knowledgeable & resourceful enough to opt for a B16B (Civic type-R) half-cut, my project journey would have been a shortcut & more cost efficient in the long run. This should have been my dilemma.
  2. Best bang for buck upgrade ~ invest in a good set of coilovers, you’ll be impressed by how much better & capable your car handles
  3. Buck down the drain ~ flimsy over-the-top custom fiber body kits, they’re heavy, crack easily, create more drag if not designed properly, god knows if you’ll still like the way they look 6 months from now
  4. Top speed attempted ~ way past 190km/h, can’t tell how fast exactly coz the needle has shot past the max speed gauge
  5. Summoned by cops? ~ been chased once for doing 170km/h near residential area in the wee hours
  6. Most exciting moment ~ track day 5/04/08; even a fairly stock B16 can be put to blistering paces at the hands of an experienced tracker
  7. Possible future upgrades ~ an oversized throttle body, higher flow capacity intake manifold, upgraded valve train, racing cams, balanced & lightened crankshaft, heavy duty clutch, LSD gearbox, oil pressure regulator, oil catch tank, triple core radiator, ECU reprogram, brake pads upgrade & 2’3” exhaust piping system.

My journey of car modification has taken me a long way since I first got my car ~ it has been a steep and exciting learning curve, though frustrating at times, and surely time & $$ consuming; but it gives me a passion I can strive to live out. Since I’ll be embarking on a new chapter in my career soon, maybe it’s time to put a foot hold on Project Civic. Perhaps I should just keep & maintain it as my daily workhorse, & when my $$ capabilities expand in due time, then I’ll look a new proper project car to work on ~ one that fits the bill of a high performance breed of machine; one that I’ll spend more effort in mastering the beast & derive maximum driving pleasure from, I hope. That has always been my dream… =)


faithlovechocolate said...

That's a bumpy & full of twists journey u hav there! What's life without drama rite? and Dreamz DO come true!

cal81 said...

ha, so that i'll have plenty of adventures & stories to tell my grandkids someday... heheh =p
dreams do come true *BNR34 GTR V-Spec II* yeh, babeh! ^_*