Robert Tellez’s Honda Civic


Super Street - - Contents - WORDS Ro­drez PHO­TOS V

You’ve read about it time and time again, and as the im­port en­thu­si­ast gen­er­a­tions tran­si­tion to adult­hood and es­tab­lish them­selves, the story be­comes all the more com­mon. We’re re­fer­ring to the phe­nom­e­non sur­round­ing die-hards who pour their pay­checks into their Honda build early on, be­fore be­ing forced to deal with life’s pres­sures or opt­ing to sell their car in search of some­thing a lit­tle more civil­ian-like. Try as they might, once the taste of Honda’s un­in­tended, al­most syn­er­gis­tic OEM cross-chas­sis part­ner­ship is dis­cov­ered, along with a bot­tom­less af­ter­mar­ket parts bin, it’s a tough grasp to es­cape and al­ways lives in the back of their mind. Later on, they re­al­ize some­thing is miss­ing and start search­ing for that car they never had a chance to build or per­haps the one that got away. Robert Tellez is all too fa­mil­iar, hav­ing al­ways had a thing for the Honda brand, cut­ting his teeth with var­i­ous Ac­cords and Civics. But like so many oth­ers, grow­ing up and tak­ing on more re­spon­si­bil­ity, like fam­ily du­ties, mort­gage pay­ments, and bi-weekly trips to Tar­get, can of­ten over­shadow week­end-wrench­ing marathons with your best friends. Robert adds, “Grow­ing older, I moved on to other plat­forms, like a BMW 335i, Evo X, and now a 991 Car­rera S, but I al­ways loved the Honda plat­forms. Ever since I sold my last Civic Si hatch­back, I knew I had to get an­other some day.”

That some day ar­rived rather un­ex­pect­edly when Robert was scrolling through the “EF Heaven” Face­book group page and be­came smit­ten with a ‘90 Civic for sale. It was mod­i­fied taste­fully, in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion ac­cord­ing to the pho­tos and info posted, and even pos­sessed the sort of power he was look­ing for. “I came across this hatch­back with a K-swap for sale, and it was per­fect since my last hatch­back had a B18C swap and I knew the K en­gine was some­thing I wanted,” he re­calls.

The only prob­lem Robert could find was the car wasn’t any­where near his home­town of Mon­terey Park, Cal­i­for­nia, but rather 2,200-plus miles away, in In­di­ana. “Us­ing my travel points, I flew to In­di­ana and drove to a corn field air­port hanger to meet up with the owner and builder, Joe G. I fell in love with his work. He knew dur­ing our test­drive that I was the right per­son for his baby.” A deal was struck and an ar­range­ment with Re­li­able Car­ri­ers Inc. had Robert’s new K20 Civic de­liv­ered to his drive­way in Novem­ber of last year.

Joe G’s work on the ‘90 chas­sis in­cluded the afore­men­tioned swap, but it’s not the hack job you might as­sume when you see an older Honda for sale on so­cial me­dia. In fact, it was quite the op­po­site, with work that was de­tailed and well sorted enough to make you im­me­di­ately un­der­stand why Robert jumped on a plane and flew across the coun­try.

Pop the car­bon-fiber J’s Rac­ing hood and the K20A2 is cer­tainly the at­ten­tion-grab­ber, but as you take a closer look, it’s the cus­tom ad­di­tions in the bay that end up steal­ing some of the spot­light. Ad­di­tions in­clude a Shayspec dim­ple-die core sup­port that plays off the coil pack cover, pie-cut in­take pip­ing, and, on a smaller scale, the con­toured dip­stick that re­places the plas­tic OEM piece. A Wire­worx tucked en­gine har­ness snakes through the shaved bay and keeps a low pro­file while the valve cover, re­worked in gloss black, re­ceived a cus­tom old-school touch with some pre­ci­sion pin­strip­ing.

Hav­ing spent so many years around Hondas, Robert knows that in most cases, less is more. Rather than tak­ing on ag­gres­sive aero mods that wouldn’t trans­late well to street driv­ing, the clas­sic, boxy lines of the ED/EF chas­sis are mildly ac­cen­tu­ated with a car­bon lip and Newb­speed add-on wing that won’t look out­dated years down the line. Fen­der-friendly 15-inch Volk Rac­ing TE37S cod­dled by Falken’s RT615KS of­fer a per­fect fit thanks to Koni shocks that carry Ground Con­trol sleeves fit­ted with QA1 springs.

Get­ting caught up with a racethemed build is all the rage these days and, if not nec­es­sary, can in­ter­fere with a func­tional in­te­rior. To that end, this ED’S cabin has all the na­tive trim and pan­els Honda deemed nec­es­sary—but with a few twists, like the JDM rear seats and CRX dash trans­plant. To com­ple­ment the OMP steer­ing wheel, Robert bolted in a set of old-school Re­caro ad­justable buck­ets that help keep the Civic as user-friendly as it is ca­pa­ble.

Com­ing full cir­cle, Robert took some time off but even­tu­ally went back to fa­mil­iar ways with a Honda build that has plenty of op­tions for pro­gres­sion. He even noted that he’s amassed a list of up­grades that will soon be mak­ing their way to the Civic, in­clud­ing a lit­tle aes­thetic, like the J’s Rac­ing rear wing and steer­ing wheel he’s proudly hoarded, while on the per­for­mance end, a shiny set of ITBS is slated for in­stall. Try as they might to step away en­tirely, in the end, they al­ways come back.

Iconic not only in the Honda com­mu­nity, but in the im­port en­thu­si­ast mar­ket as a whole, the fourth­gen­er­a­tion Civic hatch­back is still mak­ing an im­pact al­most 30 years after its in­cep­tion.

Re­caro “fish­net” buck­ets, JDM rear seats, and a CRX dash of­fer a mod­i­fied look and feel with­out sac­ri­fic­ing com­fort.

15-inch Volk Rac­ing TE37S wrapped in Falken Aze­nis RT-615K cover Mini Cooper rotors and Spoon twin-block calipers. Un­der the J’s Rac­ing hood, the K20 swap is joined by a cus­tom cross­mem­ber, coil pack cover, cold-air in­take, and cus­tom pin­strip­ing on the valve cover.

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