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Civic Duty

A Civic hatch with the whistle of a turbo and plenty of flash!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • 1999 Honda Civic SOHC
  • Custom turbo kit
  • Around 120kW ATW
  • Full body kit and bonnet mural
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An aftermarket tuned hatchback is one of the best urban street weapons you can buy; there’s all the practicality and manoeuvrability you could ever want combined with the straight-line rip to stick it up the factory big-bangers.

But making a hatchback look trick? Well, that’s not such an easy task.

Warren of Sydney owns a hatchback that offers a heap of show and go. His 1999 Honda Civic CXi packs a custom turbo kit (good for 110kW at the wheels) and has a roadside appearance that’s impossible to ignore.

Warren purchased this Honda about 2 ½ years ago from a bloke who’d bought it brand new and drove it straight in for a thorough mod session at Croydon Racing Developments. The 1.6 litre engine was to remain stock internally but a power increase in excess of 50 percent was essential.

The stock Honda engine takes to turbocharging like a duck to water – so there was no need to consider anything but an exhaust-driven huffer. Having chosen a Garrett roller-bearing turbo for the job, an off-the-shelf cast exhaust manifold was bolted to the base-spec Honda SOHC head.

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A gradually tapered stainless pipe funnels pod-filtered induction air into the mouth of the compressor and mandrel bent stainless plumbing is routed to and from the intercooler. The intercooler is a custom Croydon Racing Developments fabrication. Oh, and there’s a GFB blow-off valve making that familiar noise on gear changes.

On the exhaust side, CRD whipped up a custom stainless heat shield for the turbo manifold and a 2 ½ inch turbo-back exhaust was fabricated by Liverpool Custom Exhaust.

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The engine management is currently a MircroTech programmable unit, which controls the standard ignition and stock injectors. Fuel delivery is enhanced by a Malpassi rising rate regulator and Bosch high-flow pump.

At present, there is no boost control system – just the hose from the compressor outlet to the wategate actuator. As a result, peak boost pressure is a very conservative 7 psi – but it’s enough to give a measured 110kW at the wheels and a handy torque increase.

The driveline is standard except for a heavy-duty full-face clutch.

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Warren says the Honda is a real thrill to drive – once it’s up on full boost it simply zaps ahead of whatever else is alongside. And Warren knows a fast car when he drives one – he’s previously owned a 1971 454ci Corvette and a Lamborghini!

The original owner also gave the hatchback body a thorough aftermarket treatment. The body kit is a Talon set-up comprising a front lip, bonnet vents, side skirts, rear bumper extension and an aluminium rear wing perched on top of the factory sunshade/spoiler.

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When Warren purchased the car it flaunted the stick-on graphics you see gracing the sides. But when Warren noticed they were starting to peel he ripped ‘em off and had the car resprayed from top to bottom.

Warren is a self-confessed perfectionist!

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And here is another one of Warren's alterations – a professional bonnet mural. The mural depicts a flying bull with the head of a lion standing alongside its ‘tamer’. And, in case you’re wondering, the inspiration for this came from a poster!

Look a bit further and you’ll notice the clear lens taillights and indicators, chrome door handles and chrome wheelarch and door strips are also installed. These small touches of chrome are complemented by polished LionS 18s wearing 215mm Falken Ziex rubber. The gap between the tyres and the body is sliced by around 2 ½ inches using King springs. A Whiteline front suspension tower brace keeps the alignment consistent under hard driving.

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Indoors, the base-spec Honda interior has been given a much needed lift in the way of Autotecnica Monza front seats and harnesses (in addition to the factory seatbelts). Colour-coded door inserts, pedals and gearknob improve the integration of the red/black pews.

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The standard instrument binnacle is supplemented by a trio of AutoMeter gauges that are mounted on the bonnet for maximum show; there’s an oil pressure, water temperature and boost gauge. Warren has also recently added a DVD audio/visual system with a flip-down 9cm LCD screen mounted on the underside of the roof.

Unfortunately, ownership of this extensively modified Honda has not been a completely headache-free experience.

Thieves broke into the car while it sat in an underground car park and ripped out most of the good bits – intercooler, blow-off valve, gauges, ECU and more. Thankfully, Croydon Racing Developments were able to restore the car to its former glory – the only alteration is a switch to MicroTech management. We’re told that the thieves cut the existing UniChip from the original wiring loom and it was easier to start afresh with a stand-alone aftermarket system.

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With its recent mechanical freshen up and newly improved body detailing, Warren is now in a position to offer for sale one of the most desirable Hondas in Australia. The price is in the high AUD$20ks – a substantial amount of money, but a lot less than the grand tally of money spent...

And what will Warren be driving once he sells his Honda?

A Bentley Turbo R!

With some engine and styling tweaks, of course...


Croydon Racing Developments                            +61 2 9648 4264

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