We always enjoy sharing the passion that goes into our customer builds. A typical product of that passion? Countless hours of wrenching. But the lesser-celebrated outpouring of skill, perserverance and resourcefulness? That comes in the form of the hunt for parts. In the case of Travis Weaver of the Pacific Northwest, a hunt for 20-year-old OEM and Mugen parts took him around the USA, then internationally. He became so good at it, he even made a living at it for a time.
Travis recently shared a pic of his Mugen EF exhaust - which he said took him nine years to find. Nine years! That got our attention, and we contacted him for his story.
My older brother first got me into Honda's back in the late 1990's when he purchased a teal colored 1992 Civic VX. He ended up swapping in a JDM B16A engine with a GSR tranny back around late ‘98. We had a lot of fun at the local street races in our early teenage years. I eventually bought my first Civic as well in 1999. It was a 1990 Civic STD 4 speed. Back in the earlier days they were largely frowned upon due to their square, boxy look.
I eventually sold my first car and purchased a 1990 Civic Si in 2002. I fell in love with that car. From when I first purchased the car, I wanted to do a complete JDM EF9 conversion on it after seeing pictures of one in California. In the earlier days if you wanted to find parts you were limited to your local importer (which typically only sold engines), eBay, or do what I did and contact a wrecker overseas and import parts yourself. I found a company in Malaysia back in 2003 with a complete EF9 front clip. With a very risky bet, I sealed the deal and five long months later had my first JDM clip complete with B16A and EF9 conversion. I ended up painting the entire car Milano Red and was the first local person to do a JDM EF back in 2003.
I eventually landed a job working for the largest indoor Honda/Acura Auto wrecker/JDM engine importer in 2005. Soon after I became their Inventory Manager and JDM parts specialist -- which was a great experience but after a few years I got tired of killing Hondas and became more focused on preserving and restoring them.
A few years later -- feeling the pressure of the economy and the unsure feeling of my own personal future -- I decided to sell my 1990 Si. It ended up going to a good home to a guy in East Coast Canada. I must say it was the biggest mistake that I made. I ended up driving a Mitsubishi 3000GT for a few months to focus on school but I got the itch again. I had so many regrets and so many things that I dreamed about doing to my old Si that I decided to start from scratch and do a full 1989 Civic Si USDM restoration. That way I can do things right the first time and go in a slightly different direction so it would not be like history repeating itself. Now I specifically chose the 1989 Civic Si because in the USA it was a one-year-only car, much like the 1997 Integra Type-R. I began to put out ads looking specifically for an ‘89 only.
Eventually I found a good clean shell with perfect seats, straight body and in overall great shape. The only problem is the engine was bad. I rented a trailer and made the three hour drive in the snow to buy the car. Upon arriving the owner informed me it still ran but made a horrible noise from the timing belt area. I towed it back and had my mechanic Thomas Strom diagnose the problem. Turned out to be a bad water pump. With a new factory pump and timing belt, mixed with a valve adjustment, I gave this 1989 Civic Si a new chance at life with 187k miles on her. I sold my 3000GT and with further inspiration from Thomas I decided to make a goal, take my time and stick to it.
My goal was to do a complete factory restoration on the car. We began tracking down rare USA accessories along with new old stock (NOS) parts from Honda. Almost all of the parts were either discontinued or no longer available. I then started contacting specific dealers to see if they had old inventory that was never reentered into the system when Honda changed its part numbers from HondaCode to what we have today. After I exhausted all of my resources here in the States, I then turned to Google Translators. I began contacting dealers all over the world. I managed to source new rare parts from Malaysia, Germany, UK, New Zealand, Spain, Japan, and even Canada – despite the challenge of different part numbers and inventory systems with many of them.
I used to have a Mugen addiction with my original 1990 Civic Si but finding parts for an EF were very hard and very expensive. I was able to source a real EF9 Mugen header along with some Mugen RNR's and a set of MR5 Final Versions. The one item I could not find was a Mugen EF exhaust. I managed to find two different ones that popped up for sale between 2006-2008 but was outbid both times on Yahoo Auctions. With my current restoration I told myself that I have to be true to both the year and the USDM theme that I am going for. It becomes a slippery slope once you diverge from your intended goal. All was fine until my good friend Moe from EFparts presented me with a USDM brochure from 1988 which showed the Mugen CF-48's as a factory option for the fourth gen. I knew that the pre 87's were offered with some Mugen goodies but this little piece of Honda literature gave me a valid excuse to go MUGEN WHORE again while still maintaining the factory look.
I managed to secure a set of crusty 14" CF-48's with aero discs and preceded to restore them. I have been keeping in touch with a few owners of the Mugen EF exhausts over the years in the event that they may want to part ways with it. Eventually I got a taker and finally brought home my current exhaust. Soon after I decided to give Scott Zellner a call at King Motorsports to discuss the Mugen spring rates offered with the sports suspension. After chatting with him for almost an hour he informed me he had two new sets of the old Mugen suspension still in stock. I could not believe that after all these years they were still around. I quickly purchased both new sets.
I could not be happier with how everything turned out for this build. I now have a true time machine that to me represents what Honda of North America was all about.
You can also follow the car's progress on Facebook. I created a page specifically for it here:
Here are pictures Travis shared with us from his build! Thanks Travis, we can't wait to see what you do with it next!