Hello and welcome to a thread completely and entirely dedicated to the process and people involved in building my latest project, a 1991 Civic D16z6 SI swapped hatchback.After selling my daily driver, a 1990 Honda Accord EX due to damage from a reckless driver and maintenance issues, I decided I was in need of yet another vehicle. Thus, I purchased my Civic on January 13th, 2017 from a local seller I found on craigslist for what I deemed an acceptable rate. After wading thru moving money around and having my good friends Zach Talbot and Corey Grimes take a look at it to verify my suspicions we went and purchased the vehicle. I bought this vehicle as a project daily, mostly something to have fun with while I can keep my 1994 Integra weather and rush-hour safe. From here one, I will be listing the major events of modifying or repairing/maintaining the vehicle in days, not necessarily congruent with calendar days (although I have been working on it nearly non-stop),
DAY 1 :::: cleaning up the doo-dads
My project begins with simply removing stuff I didn't like and cleaning up stuff I thought needed to be cleaned up. This included but was not limited to; Removing the duct tape front lip, attempting to restore to original plastic and giving up after the fourth layer of duct tape, removing offensive window stickers and adding my own, replacing front tinted corner signal light housings and guards back to original clear/amber counterparts, and cleaning the interior.
DAY 2 :::: new wipers & wheel issues!
My troubles began to set in when I inspected the rear passenger wheel which the seller claimed had a slow leak. Come to find out it was not only a slow leak, but also had terrible dry rot, a serious bend and an even more serious crack. Considering the cosmetic condition of the wheels, despite the decent tire life (80-90%) on the other three I made the decision to
sell them to a local buyer for $150. I did this confidently knowing that further down the road they would only cause me more issues and I wouldn't likely find another buyer.
In addition, I also (with the help of Corey) installed fresh wipers, as the ones with the car were so old that they had rotted and stuck to the windshield.
DAY 3 :::: ls mesh wheels get plasti-dipped!
I still had a set of stock alloy Acura wheels from my 1994 Integra laying around collecting dust so I decided for the purpose primarily of passing MD inspection (MD's vehicle inspection is very rigorous) I would dip them to make them look more presentable.
For those of you unfamiliar with the process of plasti-dipping it is very similar to spray painting however to achieve best results it's all about layers. In order for dip to adhere and maintain it's look and finish properly you must have a minimum of 4-6 base coats before applying the actual final color/finish layers which are normally 1-3 additional layers. Although this is time consuming, dip dries much faster than spray paint (15-20m per coat) allowing for it to be done in a fairly short amount of time. I masked using the popular index or playing card technique: google it. For more information on dip check out www.dipyourcar.com.
DAY 4 :::: headlights get resealed/cleaned!
Along my Honda adventure I came to realize my headlights were not only foggy but very much filled with oddly colored liquid, so I called the only man worthy of the job, Zach T. Together, we dismantled the headlights, cleaned, refinished, and resealed my housings and assembly in order to once again meet MD inspection requirements.
DAY 5 :::: bumper modifications!
After getting the housings back in the car, I decided that the best time to build a lip for the car would be while the bumper is off, so I went to Home Depot and purchased an 8' long piece of door trim. I also bought some black gloss Krylon spray paint and painted it black. Then using self-tapping screws, I attached it to the old (gross) duct tape lip.
While the bumper activities were taking place I also took the time to get my mesh wheels inflated and then put them on the car as well.
DAY 6 :::: surprises in 4x100!
I went to work as is customary for a Friday morning through afternoon, and came home and just happened to open my facebook up to an ad for a local seller. The ad contained four 15x8+40 Rota Slipstreams for sale for a very reasonable price all of which were in good condition. Now, being a man of my nature I first thought, "I wonder if he will lower his price", but in the same line of reasoning, due to the nature of myself, I further pondered, "I wonder if he will accept any trades". And so I asked him and much to my delight (and extreme surprise), even after hearing of the somewhat obscure size of both diameter, offset and bolt pattern* he was still very interested, So I drove to Southern Maryland and made the exchange and I must admit that I am very pleased with the look, although somewhat familiar from my other car ;).
* The wheels in question are the wheels pictured on my white Accord. They were originally designed for vintage Datsun 260z's and thus came in 15x7+0, giving them a very deep lip while still comfortably fitting the rather slim wheel wells of the Nissans. Additionally, 260z's came unanimously in 4x114.3 bolt patterns, while most Hondas run 4x100, so the resale market for this particular set was somewhat slim.
DAY 7 :::: it's the little things (feat. Corey Grimes!)
So I still had some questions regarding the swap and generally the overall maintenance of the car via the previous owner (p.o): As previously stated, the engine came from a 1992 Civic SI. This creates irregularities, however, because from 91 (the year of the shell) to 92 (the year of everything else in the car) the sensor generation increased from OBD0 to OBD1 (I wont be explaining this in any more detail - but Google can!). Thus the p.o had completely refitted everything that used to be OBD0 to OBD1. The problem that was created was when I looked in the engine bay, saw a OBD0 connector, and ordered a OBD0 O2 sensor thinking it was an easy fix. You can imagine my reaction when this did not in fact clear my Check Engine Light. SO with the help of my good friend Corey, we identified the following issues:
- Severe exhaust leak near Cat due to missing bolt/possibly bad gasket
- Very loose lower motor mount causing "walking" of transmission while accelerating or engine braking.
- Two CEL codes: 41 and 22. 41 is for the O2 sensor and 22 is for the VTEC switch. Code 22 is yet to be resolved.
- Loose exhaust hanger.
BUT most importantly, Corey also located the updated OBD1 O2 sensor receptor and a new O2 sensor was ordered!
DAY 8 :::: Less Orange, More Yellow (feat. Corey Grimes!)
The day has arrived: the civic is check engine light (CEL) free! After a few weeks of tinkering with it myself and experimenting with various Oxygen sensors I decided to get help from someone who actually knew what they were doing. Corey took charge and ran completely new wires from the O2 sensor and the vTec pressure switch, which ultimately ended up clearing the codes. Now on to insuring, inspecting and most importantly: driving!
DAY 9 :::: Final Touches?!
Well there's been a mild dry-spell as I took time to gather funds, but we are finally reaching the final stages (for the immediate future) of the civic's build. Today I did the steering wheel, but over the last few weeks I also did some small touch-ups that I will also include.
The first thing I had to buy was lug nuts. I ended up stripping out two lug nuts and needed to use a tap and die kit to rethread my studs. Also in the photo are the pancake spacers I have to run in order for my wheels to clear my camber arm (due to high offset - +40)
Additionally, I went to my local hardware store and purchased a sink plug for around $3-$5 and used it to delete my rear wiper, which was both saggy and dry rotting.
And finally I had bought an NRG hub and quick release from [http://efparts.bigcartel.com] and also bought a no-name suede deep dish steering wheel from a local. The one cool thing I noticed when removing my OEM wheel was that for one, there was no airbag in '91 gen Hondas, so it made the process 2x easier than what I had to do on my '94 Integra. Secondly, the fact that there is no SRS system (for the airbag) also means that there was room for Honda to include a small metal tap that contacts the back of the NRG hub, meaning that my horn button will work with zero modifications. On my Integra, I had to tap into the horn wire, run the wire up behind my dash to a small metal clip (which I had to build) that rubbed against the back of my hub. Eventually the contact degraded and I have yet to rebuild the clip. Might go to a junkyard and see if I can't pull another tab from an older Honda...
DAY 10 :::: But wait! There's more!
Seeing as this is in fact one of Sam's cars, the project will never actually end. And why not start the end of a project by not finishing it?! If you're as confused by that sentence as I am then we will get along great. Moving on to pertinent information:
Not three days after I had purchased my suede aftermarket steering wheel I met a great guy named Gage who offered to trade for a used personal wheel. I had already had concerns as to the depth of the suede wheel so I traded for the leather one and the fit is much better. Not only does it sit flatter to the hub, but it is also notably larger which makes driving with no PS slightly more comfortable.
In addition, I had failed to note that my good friend Bret had also provided a shift knob for the civic, one of the few things that was not in good working condition in the car (I bought it with a eBay knob that was corroding pretty badly.)
And finally I purchased two more tires (195/55/15) from Corey's dealer. The tires I had purchased the car with (225/40/15) were completely shot so I knew I was going to need new ones. The only issue was that because of the width of the wheels (they are 15x8+40) they were rubbing my rear quarter panels pretty severely. I fixed this easily by asking my friend Jon Bark to come over and work his magic with his fender roller.
Finally, I ran into some obnoxious squeaking when depressing the clutch pedal so I adjusted the dampening bolt to where I wanted it and applied some white lightning lubricant to the hinge and spring and it quickly went away. I hope the next update installment will be me registering and tagging the car! Road trips here we come.
DAY 11 :::: COILOVERS!!
I pulled the trigger and purchased a set of coilovers from Yonaka once again (this is my third set) for the sum of roughly $470. I installed them immediately and much to my disappointment after setting them to the lowest setting they sat uneven. The rear sat much lower than the front and even after adjusting preload and other things I couldn't achieve the ride height I wanted. Therefore I was forced to purchase a set of MPC drop forks, which for those of you who aren't already aware, are shortened forks which essentially shorten the entire height of the front suspension assembly.
These forks support the coilover and mount to the lower control arm in the front of the car.
The ride quality is so much better. The bounce in the car is almost completely gone and cornering feels much more settled. I have already taken it backroading twice and I honestly don't know how I survived without a real coilover setup.
Finally here are some photos of how the car sits now. In the future I have plans on painting the car along with some other small appearance alterations. Thank you for all the help that my friends and family have given me over the summer in getting the car to where it is.
Sam's 1991 Civic SI
Est. Summer, 2017