SIMON DOVE DROPS TO NEW LOWS ON DISCOVERING HIS LOWERING SPRING–EQUIPPED CIVIC JUST WASN’T QUITE SLAMMED ENOUGH
BAGGED, TURBOED, AND SHAVED, SIMON DOVE’S EG CIVIC TICKS ALL THE BOXES AND PROVES AIR-RIDE SUSPENSION HAS COME A LONG WAY IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS
What is it with our undeniable obsession with cars that are sump-dragging, tow-hook-scraping header-bashing low? This passion is instantly evident in almost every car build we feature here in NZPC, so how do you top something so common that it’s almost seen as an essential feature?
Someone who has been doing so for years now is Simon Dove, a professional air-ride installer and owner of Get Low Customs. Simon’s day-to-day passion, and his job, sees him regularly slamming customer’s cars — at the expense of his own project, a 1992 Honda Civic build that’s been on the go for the better part of seven years.
Airbag suspension hasn’t really taken off in Japanese imports in New Zealand, but, according to Simon, it’s on the up and up, as the knowledge that airbags can ride comfier than coilovers — and handle better, too — is becoming more readily available. To prove this point, Simon’s been painstakingly building his wild Honda Civic EG for both go and show.
It’s not often you see a Civic fully shaved these days, but with the colour and wheel combo, it’s been done tastefully. It’s instantly evident this Civic isn’t built for circuit racing, however. Tubbed for 18-inch wheels but running on 15-inch BBS RS wheels, the Civic’s height in the flesh is almost bordering on insanity To top off the potent B18C combo, Simon has installed a Garrett T3/T4 turbo, mounted high atop a custom Sinco manifold. A drool-worthy Edelbrock intake manifold has been put in on the intake side of the head, and it looks a damn sight better than the factory option and flows better, to boot
Another cool feature of Air suspension is the Accuair e-levelling controller. If someone jumps in the back seat, it will compensate with more air in that corner to keep the ride height and damper identical. The Accuair controller allows for the selection of three preset height adjustments, controlled by varying quantities of air in the bags. Simon has his set for on the ground, slammed, and just high enough for speed bumps
He purchased his completely factory Civic Ferio 13 years ago, from a car yard in Hamilton, with the help of his parents — but it didn’t take long for the car-modifying bug to bite, he told us: “A couple of years after buying the Civic, it had an entry-level airbag suspension kit and mags. It was the first car I installed airbags into. It had lowering springs in it originally, and they weren’t low enough — coilovers wouldn’t go low enough either.” Although it took him a while to work out how to install them, Simon’s American-imported airbags saw the Civic as low as it could possibly get with the factory body and wheel tubs — but even this wasn’t enough. Having airbags changed Simon; he saw the light, as it were. Never again would a steel spring find its way anywhere near his Civic.
“It still wasn’t low enough on airbags,” Simon told us, laughing. Apparently, when your chassis is near-on scraping the ground, you need more low. What this meant for the Civic was that it would have its factory wheel arches tubbed, front and rear. The rear tubs are so large that the back doors had to be modified, but now, on the lowest setting of the newly installed AirREX air struts, it’ll tuck 18-inch wheels no problem — while putting the chassis on the ground.
The tubs were last on the list of exterior body modifications, which started out with a simple door-handle shaving. Now, fully repainted in a stunning Ferrari Silverstone hue, the Civic’s four-door lines have been smoothed down, front to back, side to side — and its seamless appearance is tastefully set off by a set of genuine, relipped BBS RS wheels measuring 15x8-inches up front and 15x8.5inches down the back. Simon initially planned to use 18-inch wheels, but, as the scene matured so did his tastes. The only problem with the street-treaded 15s, though, is they don’t provide anywhere near the traction the transplanted engine requires, as it’s had a fair tickling by means of a large single turbocharger.
When you’re going all-out on every aspect of your build, it won’t be complete without a fair amount more whack than the factory lump provides. The original D15B single-cam 1500cc engine was by no means a hard-hitter, and, after it met its maker one day in Tauranga, Simon started to come up with plans to install a B18C from a DC2 Integra. “Back when I bought the engine, K-series swaps weren’t really a thing. The B18C swap was the holy grail at the time, so I managed to track one down,” Simon explained. In factory trim, the B18C doesn’t do too badly, but, as with most other aspects of this build, Simon was after that little bit more. Well, maybe a lot more.
After the B-series swap was complete, the Civic was sent off to Sinco customs to have its turbo manifold built, the turbo fitted, and get wired up. Once done, it was ready to be fired — for the first time in a few years. Unfortunately, however, because the B18C had lain dormant for several years, it was seized and wouldn’t turn over. Devastating news for most, but for Simon it meant the Civic would once again get a whole lot more serious, as he told us: “I took the Civic to Lin at CDM [Concept Dynamic Motorsports] to have him
As Simon’s Civic is a slammed-out cruiser, he made certain to add some decent sound hardware. Six Alpine Type-R speakers have been installed throughout the Civic, along with two Alpine amplifiers. One is a four-channel item to run the Alpine speakers, and the other is a mono-block to run the 10-inch Boston subwoofer that is hiding in the trunk
inspect the motor. He told me to buy another B18C, but I couldn’t find one. In the end, he decided to bore the B18C and fit Wössner forged pistons and Molnar H-beam con rods. This also meant we could go for more power.”
With their extremely potent factory camshafts and race-like factory heads, Honda engines respond extremely well to forced induction, and Simon’s example is no exception. Thanks to the highmounted Garrett T3/T4, the now-forged B18C was easily able to churn out 255kW (342hp) at the front wheels, on only 15psi. With headwork and more boost, the B-series motor will effortlessly join the NZPC 300kW club — hey, possibly even the 400kW club. However, Simon doesn’t plan to push for more power just yet, as the Civic has been made for cruising with his mates and showing off his AirREX product, not hazing the front treads.
No cruiser would be complete without a cosy interior, and this was an area that also received plenty of attention. The original plan was to fibreglass the dashboard, but, after he purchased the current black-with-gold-stitched Momo steering wheel, he realized he had finally found a colour scheme better suited to the Civic. Retrimmed in black vinyl, grey perforated suede, and gold stitching by Waikato Motor Trimmer, the seats, dash, and door cards have a luxury ’00s European feel and provide much more comfort than the standard equipment ever did. The interior really was the icing on the cake for Simon. Although he’s nowhere near done, he tells us that the Civic will be kept for life and forever upgraded. We agree that sinking your heart and soul into a project for that long would form an unbreakable bond, so we’re excited to see what Simon comes up with next.