Project Civic Si Coupe: Part 1 – Spec Stage 2+ Clutch Upgrade

by John Naderi

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Nads (I know, worst nickname ever). I’m new here. Truth be told, I’ve been working off a gambling debt, er, contributing to the Q for about a year, but this is my first contribution to the content collection. I guess you could say I’m a long-time listener, first-time caller. Aside from some light janitorial services and shuttling Mr. Kojima to his optometrist appointments, I serve as the chief Nerd Herder around these parts. You can read all about me here. Or not. It appears I have yet to earn the right to a place on the MIQ About Us page (or as we like to call it, Justin Banner’s “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em” page). Updating this page is on my list of things to do, along with Jeff’s laundry.


Of course I took a picture of my car in front of a salsa warehouse. That’s because I think it’s muy caliente. Even for a stockish Si with 86,000 miles on the clock, various dings, scratches, rock chips, curb rash and all manner of food residue lining the rear of the passenger compartment.

This is my car. It’s a 2008 Honda Civic Si Coupe. I bought it as a daily driver when my former project, an RSX with a complete Toda motor, became too gnarly for Gymboree and the Whole Foods parking lot (Namaste). Any new car purchase wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory buyer’s remorse, and I had it in spades. First of all, why did I buy a daily that is essentially the same K20-powered, FWD, coupe as my project? Secondly, as a father of two adorable, yet sticky, sloppy, crazy kids (they’re pretty much like tiny, drunk adults), why didn’t I opt for the Si Sedan? In addition to the increased room the two extra doors provide (as much as I try to stunt them, my kids just keep growing), the styling of the Sedan is much more appealing. I’ve yet to see any FG builds (Honda-geek chassis-speak for the Coupe) that give me side pipe, aside from the odd stance build or those Compass360 World Challenge Touring Cars. If I had opted for the FA Sedan (more geek-speak) I could throw on one of those sexy JDM CTR front-end conversions. Not that I would, but it’s nice to know that I could. During my tenure here I’ve also become insanely jealous of our own Project Civic Si Sedan.


The Rahal Letterman ALMS GT BMW M3 knows what’s up.

There is, however, one thing I absolutely adore about my Si – the six-speed manual gearbox. It seems a bit anachronistic in this day and age, but I prefer to row my own gears. I’m not ignorant (much). I understand that Porsche fitted a PDK twin-clutch gearbox to its latest and greatest 991 GT3 and the R35 GT-R couldn’t defy as many of the laws of physics without its six-speed sequential dual-clutch box. Even Schumi (should I say, Kimi now?) can’t perform a manual gear change in a Ferrari as quickly as the seven-speed F1 dual-clutch gearbox. But none of that matters. Finger-banging through the gears just doesn’t do it for me as nothing compares to the engaging experience of a true, manual transmission. 


Spec’s Stage 2+ Clutch.

I wasn’t planning on modding my little Civic, but working at the Q tends to have strange effects on you (much like a date rape drug). After nearly 87,000 miles my stock clutch began to lose its bite. Rather than go the route of a factory or OE replacement unit I looked toward the aftermarket and found this sexy little number from Spec Clutch.


Spec Clutch’s own Dave Norton and his time attack record-setting S14 complete with a 700hp SR20 and of course, a Spec Clutch. Image courtesy of Global Time Attack  via Chris Harrington.

I like the people at Spec Clutch and while I’ve never used one of their products, I do appreciate how they aren’t afraid to put their gear to the test on the track. This is one of Spec’s chief officers, Dave Norton, an accomplished road racer and time attacker performing his own brand of product testing at a Global Time Attack.


Normally the Porsche purist in me would be offended. But is a 944 really that “pure” of a Porsche. No matter because my argument is invalid. Why? Because LS swap as the drift kids would say.

This picture has nothing to do with anything in this story except as an extension of the point I just made about the street cred of the Spec crew. This is Dave Norton’s latest track toy – a Porsche 944 with a 630hp LS swap. I found it in the Spec Clutch booth at the SEMA Show. A more ringing product endorsement I cannot imagine.

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Friday, December 20, 2013 10:28 AM
I've never been a fan of Honduhs. I would assume you took the opportunity to upgrade your transmission fluid to something more "performance" oriented. Especially if you're going to head down that slippery slope.
My light weight flywheel was the best bolt-on upgrade I've performed to my 350Z. The stock flywheel is ridiculous and the engine comes alive with the reduced mass. Kojima calls you a wuss for the NVH, but the 350Z has a distinctive "rattle" from the transmission. I can handle it and it's worth the price of performance, but worth noting.
Friday, December 20, 2013 10:32 AM
Good writing. My girlfriend needs one of these in sedan form as a daily.

You captioned the removal of the pilot bearing as the replacement of release bearing! D'oh! Greasy kids replacing clutches on Civics everywhere are going to be misled!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, December 20, 2013 12:40 PM
Friday, December 20, 2013 2:16 PM
Poor Nads, the magic never happens at his place.
Friday, December 20, 2013 4:08 PM
Logic implies that the magic has happened twice. But probably only twice because I don't want to think on this subject too hard. Good stuff Nads, enjoy you're new found zing through the rev range.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Friday, December 20, 2013 5:41 PM
John - I'm laughing because my first thought was "Didn't Nads toast the clutch on said RSX project around 2005, before upgrading "the car"?" Haha! Anyway, what are we leaning toward, best Civic SI on Motoiq(still won't look better than Aaron's ;-), one of the nicest FGs out there but Motoiq way, beefy daily?
Saturday, December 21, 2013 10:47 AM
@jeffball610 To be perfectly honest, I'm not much of a Honduh fan either. I've always been a Toyota man (with three - two 2WDs and one 4WD - SR5-era trucks, an FX16 Corolla and a third-gen Supra to my credit). I just sort of fell into them in my previous stints at Overboost and Super Street. As for fluid I have an old hook-up at Motul that helps matters in that department. However, no matter what fluid you use, the six-speed boxes in these K20-equipped H and A cars are a notorious weak point.
Saturday, December 21, 2013 10:49 AM
@SM_Clay72 good catch, my man. Yes, your GF needs the sedan. She would instantly be that much hotter and by extension, that much cooler than me. @Mike Kojima thanks for the fix. I needed it. I needed it badly.
Saturday, December 21, 2013 10:52 AM
@rawkus Alas, poor nads, we hardly knew ye.
Saturday, December 21, 2013 10:53 AM
@Der Bruce I know I don't stand a chance against Aaron but just once I'd like to go fast, instead of sucking.
Aaron LaBeau
Aaron LaBeaulink
Sunday, December 22, 2013 11:11 AM
@ DerBruce - thanks man, I did the best I could with what I had to work with.

@ nads - I don't know about not standing a chance, you're thrown into the fray way more than I am up at the MotoIQ HQ. I'm getting way more pressure from my better half these days to get an old Surburban tow beast or Truck for family recreation adventures which could also be a fun project.

Kojima's over-persuasive suggestion of going fast or sucking has been the source of crazy decisions for many of us ;-D Chris aka (Shaggy) and I were having some good laughs over those decisions last weekend.
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