NZ Performance Car - - Contents -


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.

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