Project Civic EF Racecar: Part 1 - Introduction

by Clint Boisdeau

I’m sure some of you are curious as to how a 1990 Civic hatch has now become a part of the MotoIQ project car fleet.  Others who are fans of the 88-91 model range of Honda front wheel drive cars might be excited to see the old and gold econo car on the pages of this very site.  Regardless of your preference, this former grocery getter is going to make a run in the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championship (read more about the MPTCC race series here) for 2015, but that wasn't always the plan.

My MPTCC “Tuner Under” class race car was supposed to be a 1999 Civic hatchback which my friend sold me.  I was extremely excited about it since the “EK” chassis was my personal favorite out of the 90’s wishbone suspension front wheel drive Hondas.  Despite the fact that 92-95 “EG” Civic’s and 94-01“DC2” Integra’s are considered to be the highest potential chassis’ because of their wide array of aftermarket support, the EK hatch was the route I wanted to go because it still had enough race oriented parts to be a competitive car.  As I was gearing up to hunt down a suitable motor and transmission swap, an unexpected car went up for sale.

The original chassis I was going to use was this 98 “EK” Civic hatch which I purchased from a good friend looking to buy a truck.  The car was mostly stock and mechanically well taken care of.  Some mild aesthetic imperfections, but no big deal for a future wheel to wheel race car.

Enter this 1990 Civic hatchback which I found for sale from a fellow track day goer Jon Via, a regular NASA Arizona region time trialer.  The champagne “EF” hatch (even though technically it’s an ED6 chassis for you Honda sticklers) came equipped with a 1999 JDM Integra Type R B18C and matching S80/N3E 5-speed transmission that I had planned to purchase to swap into the EK.  This drive line combination from an OE standpoint has the best power output within the B series engine family, optimum final drive ratio gearing at 4.7, and a helical LSD.  Tuned with a Hondata S300 programmable ECU by UMS Tuning in Arizona, the stock engine made a solid 192 wheel horsepower with just an AEM cold air intake and custom side exhaust.  Other positive attributes of the build included a roll cage from Fathead Fabrication, well thought out suspension upgrades, proper water and oil cooling heat exchangers, and an array of aftermarket gauges monitoring all the correct vitals. 

The front and rear brakes and knuckles were also upgraded to a factory “DA” generation Integra setup, which sports larger front calipers/rotors and replaces the stock rear drum brakes for a more ideal disc setup.  With all of the factory suspension rubber bushings replaced with either polyurethane or spherical aftermarket replacement parts, a custom built set of Fortune Auto 510 coilovers, and a stout ASR tubular race rear sway bar, the car already has a track oriented chassis tune.  Testing on local Socal tracks will give me further insight as to the integrity of the suspension setup and what needs added attention.


It took 14 hours round trip to Phoenix and back in a single day to pick this thing up.  It was a tough drive and I couldn't have done it without my lovely girlfriend Ashley DeLuca by my side.  Only stops that were made were for fuel/bathroom, and quick food.  Having been on track the day before at Willow Springs in Project 370Z might not have helped my energy level but oh well. 
Sporting JDM Integra Type R power, a good roll cage base to work with, and track oriented suspension upgrades.  This EF Civic hatch has high potential and saves a lot of labor and development time leading up to the first MotoIQ MPTCC race end of February 2015.

The gold wheels are temporary for now since they are too narrow at 15x6.5 for the tire I plan to run.  I have them on the car currently just to be able to move it around in the garage and driveway.  While the EK hatch body is my favorite style FWD Honda, the EF hatch is my second favorite.  Even though most people gravitate toward the CRX body when it comes to the 88-91 civics, the EF hatch has its own appeal.  Also the CRX wheelbase is very short which makes it less stable in sweepers and more difficult to drive fast for repeated laps during a sprint race.  The EF hatch being 8 inches longer in wheelbase (but still short over all at a total of 98 inches) should make for an easier to manage package with superior high speed cornering stability than the CRX chassis.  

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Wednesday, December 03, 2014 1:29 AM
Nice start!

I'm excited in seeing more about this project, especially one done for this particular race series.
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 2:12 AM
Cage color = flat black. Colors will look nicer but will always mess up your vision with reflections or catch the corner of your eyes when you start getting tired.
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 5:23 AM
If you're keeping the car gold, how about a matte gold or brown? I'm in favor of lighter interior colors since it's easier to spot dropped hardware and spilled fluids. I don't necessarily think colors are distracting, but glare off of glossy colors sure can be.

It's great to see another Honda getting some love on these pages. Looking forward to seeing the progress!
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 6:26 AM
I love it!
Connor Harrison
Connor Harrisonlink
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 7:18 AM
Awesome, this should be a great budget track beater.
Connor Harrison
Connor Harrisonlink
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 7:18 AM
Semi-gloss white is the only color for a racecar interior!
Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 8:36 AM
Car is most likely going to get wrapped another color/livery before the first MPTCC race end of Feb. Ive been in a variety of race cars with different colored cages and non seem to be more distracting then others. I do agree avoiding full gloss for reflective purposes.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 9:48 AM
I think I actually drove this car before at LVMS during the Edline Time Attack days. The owner just handed it over to me and told me to drive the hell out of it.
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 10:19 AM
How's the clutch hooked up? Was the car converted to use a hydro setup or is the transmission converted to use cable? I'm just curious.

A really nice starting point.
Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 10:25 AM
@HybridAndy, it has the Hasport Hydro to cable conversion

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 10:33 AM
Awesome base to start from here! Look forward to seeing where you take it. Flat grey is very easy on the eye distraction for a cage.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 11:06 AM
The previous owner did all the hard work for you!
Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 5:33 PM
@Dusty, that's why it was a good buy! lol
Alex K
Alex Klink
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 8:16 PM
Nice, very much looking forward to this build! Working on an EF hatch as well, starting from scratch though. Question, you mentioned you'll be deleting the headlights, any chance you'd want to part with them!? Ha my headlights and cornerlights all have rock chips in them :(
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Wednesday, December 03, 2014 9:55 PM
Red for the cage!

Don't increase weight :-( Think restrictor plate style. Detune the HP while increasing Torque. Oh, and move that Battery!
Thursday, December 04, 2014 7:36 AM
I was a bit disappointed when you said "project car" and then stated that it's already track prepped. A lot of the hard work has been done. But I'm seeing this more as how to take a track prepped car and turn it into a race car.

As far as the weight issue goes, why not leave more fuel in the tank (if you stay with the stock unit) and not worry as much about ballast. The fuel cell should be in a good central location and down low already.
Thursday, December 04, 2014 9:15 AM
@ Crousti: flat black turns into marbled brown, as it's hard to clean track dust off of the cage.

@ Jeff: I think the EF only has like a 10-11 gallon tank, so I've got a feeling he'll need to fill the tank to capacity just to make it through the race.

Can't wait to see you out there Clint. Project G20 is ready and waiting to punt you off in lap 1, as Lauren Wallace says:

"I didn't say I wouldn't go fishing with the man, all I'm saying is if he comes near me, I'll put him in the wall."

Thursday, December 04, 2014 10:40 AM
Unless they changed something in the last 2 years of production, it's effectively a 6 gallon tank. I could get mid-corner fuel starvation on street tires with anything less than a 1/3. Made for some hairy unexpected oversteer a few times, I'd have my right foot flat on the floor waiting for the engine to come back on and straighten me out to avoid a spin.
Thursday, December 04, 2014 11:11 AM
@ ED9man: Yep, pretty much any production car needs a fair amount of fuel in the tank. With the 11 gallon EF gas tank, Clint's probably gonna need to start the race with the gas just below the cap... ;-p
Thursday, December 04, 2014 12:43 PM
I'm looking forward to hearing your opinions on the Fortune Auto shocks. They're super local to me and seem to be getting more and more popular. Being somewhat new though, it's hard to find really detailed reviews of their stuff.
Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Thursday, December 04, 2014 2:31 PM
@Alex K, yeah man id be down to sell you the stock headlights, email me at Clint.boisdeau@gmail.com

@Der Bruce, red would be cool if its a dark crimson. Being that the car is a NA, high revving, high specific output engine. detuning peak HP is kind of taking away what the engine does best. I understand what you saying, but also doesnt seem like there is alot of area under the curve that can be tuned into such a setup without F/I, which i wont do for this build. In the article i mentioned i was going to relocate the battery. In regards to the ballast, even though ill have to ballast up to make the TU power to weight limit, ill still be one of the lightest, if not THE lightest car in the field.

@Jeffball, i mean all the MotoIQ cars are filed under "project cars". I get there was a high level of modifications already done to the car, but im taking it a step further as you will see in the articles. alot of things will change and im sure you wont be dissapointed. In regards to leaving more fuel in as oppose to ballast, thing is fuel level is a bit harder to measure precisely, and also liquid weight has a more negative effect under movement then static weight does. So i want to keep the fuel in the car minimal as to reduce that sloshing, but still run enough to not have starve issues mid race.

@Steve rockwood and ED9 an, car has a 12 gallon tank, i said that in the artcle :P yes im away that anything under half with sticky tires could cause issues, i will test and see where the car will be happy fuel level wise and adjust ballast weight accordingly.

@Steve rockwood, in regards to your punting comment, ill make sure to qual faster then you so i dont have to deal with your shananagans during the race :P

@Option13, im looking forward to testing the Fortunes also, i feel they have come up in the last few years with positive results.
Thursday, December 04, 2014 2:52 PM
Shit, turbo torque pwns all on the start, or I could use you for brakes like in Gran Turismo... ;)
Thursday, December 04, 2014 3:24 PM
I'd be interested to hear about the plumbing and fittings for the current oil cooler set up, and your opinion on its effectiveness and reliability. Those are some pretty substantial looking hoses from what I can see in the photos. I have an EK civic that does track duty, and I'm trying to figure out the most cost effective and best way to implement an oil cooler. I'm considering an air to oil cooler like your car, as well as a Laminova style water cooler using the engine coolant circuit.
Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Thursday, December 04, 2014 3:40 PM
@Steve Rockwood, we need to make the MPTCC starts standing, so you light up those tires 1st-3rd :P Like i said, ill make sure to qual better so you can see just how wide a honda civic can be ;) I have plans for my bumpers just for the antics you're talking about hahaha

@ED9man, ill get you more info on the current oil cooler tomorrow, its not a bad setup, i just want something a little more ideal both in the lines and the core's fin design. Earls and CSF both have cores that have a more effective fin structure for higher cooling efficency, and i want the lines to be stainless braided. The first test day laster this month I will test out the current cooler to get a idea of its cooling ability and get an idea of how the car's operating temps behave.
Thursday, December 04, 2014 4:31 PM
@ Clint: LOL, our car has aero now. No more antics for me. :)

You wanna see wide? Wait until ye olde torque monster drag races you down every straight leaving it in 4th (w00t! almost 5000rpm wide powerband!), then parks it in the next corner... Oh, what, I made a mistake and lost some momentum? NP, BOOOST! ;-p
Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Thursday, December 04, 2014 8:35 PM
@Steve rockwood, I'll have aero also, but ill make sure its designed to be able to bump draft you :D all that powerband you got, ill just wait for your front tires to throw in the towel and either pass you under braking or on the outside of corners ;)
Friday, December 05, 2014 5:15 AM
Lol. Yeah, you definitely have to watch that, which is why I try not to downshift. Downshifting = wheelspin, so I usually just leave it in 3rd.

Our car is 2450lbs with us in it, so we're not too far off. Probably gonna need to add some weight and go 245s.
Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Friday, December 05, 2014 8:01 AM
@Steve rockwood, No stay at that weight, id rather you have to channel all that torque through 225mm tires and lighter over all weight then running heavier and mounting 245s :P
Friday, December 05, 2014 9:50 AM
Lol. 225-50/15s though, so more overall mass to spread that heat. Try that with your torque less wonder... ;)

Wheelspin, with the NISMO diff and a judicious right foot, really is manageable.
Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Friday, December 05, 2014 9:54 AM
@Steve Rockwood, more heat capacity sure with that 1950s size sidewall, still not alot of contact patch getting that torque to the ground. Because my wonder is torque less, i can be wide open throttle on exits without over whelming my grip, ill be on 225/45/15 myself. yeah i know it can be "manageable", you act like i didnt own a turbo fwd before :P
Tuesday, December 09, 2014 12:19 AM
Pre MPTCC pep talk? ;)
Tuesday, December 09, 2014 5:56 AM
I couldn't help but notice the impossibly tight bend radius of the rear braided brake line in the rear suspension pic. Hard to tell, but it doesn't seem kinked and might be safe, but I would not route my lines like that and would want some extra "leeway" in case it gets further bent and damages the line or at least reduces braking to that wheel.

Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Tuesday, December 09, 2014 7:24 PM
@Pj, there isnt really another way to route it i dont think, but ill be doing some brake work leading up to my first test day next weekend and see if there is a alternative, but from looking at it first hand it didnt seem like a red flag
Tuesday, December 09, 2014 7:43 PM
This is exactly how the lines are routed stock on rear disc cars. The image is a bit of an illusion, as you move to the left the line is moving away from the camera, it's not a very tight bend.
Sunday, December 14, 2014 8:24 PM
Wow literally the exact build I am working on. CRX with a stock ITR swpa and suspension/ brakes for track days. Yours is further than mine hopefully I can catch up

Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Wednesday, December 17, 2014 8:45 AM
@RenoGrimace, Nice man, looks like a fun build!
Thursday, January 01, 2015 10:36 PM
Hey Clint I have a question for you. I just picked up an EF as well. Planning on making it a track day beater for now, maybe W2W down the line. I was wondering how you like the balance of your EF with those spring rates and that rear sway bar? Obviously other factors such as alignment/tire/driver capabilities come into play, so I know you can only answer this question to a certain degree. However, I'd still appreciate your opinion! Thanks!
Anonymous User
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:39 PM
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