Project Honda Civic EJ Gets a Full Body Makeover

By Annie Sam
Photos by Joe Lu


What was supposed to have only been a simple six month project to boost Project Civic EJ's performance with basic bolt-on applications has turned into a two year journey down the long, long rabbit hole when we blew our head gasket at Buttonwillow Raceway. Since then, countless dollars and hours have been spent chasing down the logic of the infamous "while you're at it, you might as well…"

Fast forward two years, and the light we were wondering if we would ever see finally manifested itself at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Project Honda Civic EJ was finally turning the corner to focus more on finishing the build. But then again… as any gearhead would question, are you really ever finished?
Although hellafunctional is more of our mantra than hellaflush will ever be – there is just an unspoken requirement about making the car look as bad ass as it drives. On the flipside, we are also more of the camp that likes to speak softly while carrying a giant stick. Flashy has never been our style, and we prefer to let our time slips do the talking for us, which is why we decided to keep most of Project Honda Civic EJ's styling clean and subtle. 
 Why hello there Mr. Fastbrakes big brake kit
Besides the Enkei PF01's rims wrapped in Nitto NT01's and Skunk2 Megapower Exhaust, the only other major visible modification we opted for was a carbon fiber hood from Seibon Carbon Products. So although our goal was to have a vehicle that looked fairly unassuming from afar, we wanted a look that would intrigue a fellow gearhead up close when they would notice the details such as a Fastbrakes kit hiding behind the spokes, or the beefy ASR rear sway bar that peeked out from the undercarriage.
Let me rewind a bit so that you can get a greater appreciation of how far this project has come by showing you where it came from. Project Honda Civic EJ took me to my junior and senior proms, saw me graduate high school, then college. This car had been with me for over half of my life, and it had the miles and wear to show for it. At the beginning of this project, the chassis was pushing 270,000 miles on a clutch that had about 120,000 miles on it and a stock B18C1 which was swapped into the car at the same time. To put things in perspective, the miles I had driven with this car could've taken me on 34 trips around the earth. 
This photo was taken over a decade ago. Joe Lu and I were 12 years younger, Chuck Johnson was 30 pounds lighter, and our digital cameras back then had 10 less megapixels than the ones we have today.
 Peeling clear coat, cracked trim, and door dings plagued my now 16 year old car.
The paint was faded, the trim was cracked, and the door panels battle scarred and war-torn from years of parking in undersized stalls next to oversized SUVs. Throw in a couple of track battle scars collected at places such as turn 10 at Streets of Willow Springs, or turn 15 at Auto Club Speedway and you can only imagine how beat down my little Civic looked. But, contrary to her aesthetically fatigued exterior, she always ran like a champ (until Buttonwillow Raceway).


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Tuesday, April 09, 2013 3:43 AM
Nice, the opening picture pays homage to Chuck's s13 from back in the day in SCC. I always wondered, did you use floor jacks to get it in position?
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 4:52 AM
I hope to do this with my IS300 some day...once ridiculously clean....a few years off layoffs and now college...its looking rough. So sad.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 4:52 AM
Also, is it me or does the hood fit poorly round the grill?
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 5:05 AM
I've never seen a Civic of that vintage with what I thought was a good gap around the grill. It always bugs me. The car looks awesome!
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 5:21 AM
Where did you source your trim and mouldings? It is good to see the exterior get some love on a project car finally. They can't all look like dave coleman specials.
Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnsonlink
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 10:37 AM
@Tom- the questionable fitment, if any, is most likely caused by our super cheapy grill. Annie is saving her pennies right now for an OEM Honda SI-R grill.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 11:25 AM
My old 4th Gen Prelude is getting a similar treatment atm. Our local Maaco isn't nearly as fastidious, so it'll be a self-shoot. I'm not keen on doing a full strip on the thing so it's going back stock white. Still going to skip the anal-retentive treatment we give the classic cars for similar reasons. (That and my father-in-law's already going to strangle me when I annex his paint booth in the name of my '59 Ford retractable, don't want to give him any motivation to take me down early)

Looks great! Understated yet badass. The coat job on the hood is a great extra little somethin somethin, and stands out in a good way.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 1:22 PM
This article needs better "after" photos.
Joe Lu
Joe Lulink
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 4:43 PM
@halbritt - for sure, we're planning to take the car out for some more overall photos after it gets a tune.
Thursday, April 11, 2013 6:35 AM
Just imagine all the boogers that are gonna stick to that fresh paint when you hit the track!
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