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!
For many of us who drive an EP3, we are proud to say that it's the King Motorsports example that inspired us to own and build one up in the first place. Debuted at SEMA 2003, this is the EP3 that more than a decade later still inspires EP3 builds all over the world. This 7th gen Civic was built by King Motorsports for American Honda.
The Nighthawk Black Pearl EP3 was based on the US-spec model and fitted with top shelf performance and body parts that showed what was possible to create from the relatively egg-shaped, minivan outline of the stock 02-05 Civic Si. In order to fit the Mugen front lip, the USDM bumper cover and rebar were replaced with JDM spec versions, which create more of a snub-nose effect in the front. The bumper was finished off with a carbon fiber radiator duct. The stock grille was replaced with a Mugen grille with JDM red badge and driver-side flared opening to allow for additional cooling to reach the Mugen air box. The iconic Mugen hood includes functioning engine bay ventilation.
The rear USDM bumper was also replaced with a shortened JDM version that allowed for the fitment of the Type-R rear lower valence. Type-R side skirts complete the lower body parts. An Mugen adjustable wing was modified for the USDM hatch and pulls out the body line in just the right places.
The changes on the pure performance side were even more significant. A DC5R motor, 6-speed transmission, Mugen ECU, the legendary Mugen twin loop exhaust... the build list goes on and on and is just incredible. It's no wonder the car has appeared in the pages of Car & Driver, Road & Track, Boost and was featured on Speed TV.
Here is the "press release" for the car:
Using Honda performance specialist Mugen's vast array of aftermarket high-performance parts, King Motorsports (the sole authorized North American distributor for Mugen Co., Ltd) has created the ultimate street performance Civic Si that maximizes the potential throughout every corner of the vehicle. Making its world debut at SEMA, the King Motorsports/Mugen Civic Si has a K20 DC5R engine and 6-speed transmission with a limited slip differential. The modified engine produces 240-horsepower.
Japan Domestic Market (JDM) K20A DC5R engine
JDM DC5R six-speed close ratio transmission with limited slip
Mugen cold airbox
JDM DC5R exhaust manifold and down pipe
Mugen stainless steel twin-loop cat-back exhaust
Mugen low temp thermostat
Mugen hi-pressure radiator cap
Mugen reserve tank covers
Mugen N-1 coil-over adjustable suspension
Mugen 25mm rear stabilizer bar
JDM Civic Type-R front stabilizer bar
5 lug conversion with RSX Type-S brakes front and rear
Mugen Micro Mesh brake line set
Mugen MF-10 forged wheels 17x8 +45 bronze
Bridgestone S0-3 225/45 ZR 17 Tires
Rear adjustable upper control arms
JDM Civic Type-R front and rear bumpers
JDM Civic Type-R side skirt kit
JDM Civic Type-R rear bumper valance
Mugen carbon fiber aero hood
Mugen front spoiler
Mugen sport grill kit
Mugen carbon fiber radiator duct kit
Mugen adjustable rear wing
Prototype Mugen digital guage cluster mounted in carbon fiber inset
Mugen S-1 bucket seat with Mugen seat rail kits
Mugen Sports Pedal Set
Mugen Race II steering wheel with Mugen hub adapter
If you are ever in Wisconsin, stop by the King Motorsports facility to see the EP3 in the showroom! Here are a few pics I took of it in summer 2010-- the EP3 is getting a quick detail and wax the day before Dyno Day 2010.
** Visit the King Motorsports online store for performance and aero parts for the 02-05 Civic Si (EP3) **