This 2000 Honda Civic Coupe is 20 years old and at a quick glance, doesn't look like much, minus a sweet set of Volk Racing TE37 wheels. If we're being, if you were to put it up against top tier Honda builds at mainstream shows or even park it at a local meet, the majority of people would walk right by it without even batting an eye—especially with its hood closed. It's only upon close inspection that you really begin to understand the gravity of this build and the years of experience the owner has brought to the table...
It's a street legal car on street tires; however, notice the J's Racing front fenders, Spoon side mirrors and calipers, and JDM headlights and side moldings? Okay, maybe this guy knows his shit, right? Well, dig a little deeper once that dark paint hits the sunlight and it's in actuality a stunning color known as Midnight Purple Pearl found on limited NSX models. Then, get to the rear bumper and hood, and you can't miss the race diffuser and cutout for the turbo inlet pipe. This subtle Civic isn't so subtle after all and when we were finally able to see turbocharged K-swapped engine bay... Game over.
This is a legit Honda build that holds its own under the microscope of car show judges but is also a nod to the hay days of import drag racing with 800hp on tap and a 10-second time slip to prove it. A build of this nature with the balls to back it up is hard to come by these days, which is why it's with great pleasure we're able to give you the exclusive story on Mike Andrada and his boosted EJ Civic.
I met Mike last summer when I organized a curated car show of modified Japanese and European cars called Super Street at LeMay. It wasn't your typical affair as only 120 best entries were allowed, and the awards presented by Meguiar's would only be given to the "Ultimate 12" in terms overall quality, cleanliness, theme and execution. While there were some obvious heavy hitters on hand from previous cover cars, like Huy Hoang's Mugen RSX turbo and Mark Wang's time attack R34 Skyline GT-R, Mike's EJ8 really stood out to us above the rest, not just because of its A+ craftmanship, but it also had a theme and vision that you simply don't see from a Honda street car in this day and age. And once we learned that all the fabrication and mechanical work was executed by the owner and how the project has seen three all-motor setups before this turbo K20 over the course of 13 years, we knew Mike was our guy. After finally coordinating with our Pacific Northwest shooter, Daniel Piker, we're able to show you those photos as well as share my one-on-one interview with Mike.
INTERVIEW WITH MIKE ANDRADA
Your Civic is a beast! But before we get too far, what other cars have you owned before?
I had a four-door EK with a JDM Type R swap, also owned a four-door Integra with a K20A Type R swap, and currently I'm building an EK hatch intended for the road course. Back in 2013, I was fortunate to be a part of the Scion Tuner Challenge with Walter Franco which really opened my eyes on the car show side of industry since that was my first time at SEMA.
Did you look up to anyone when you first got into cars?
Majority of the influences came from legends like Stephan Papadakis, Ed Bergenholtz and currently the guys at SpeedFactory for continuing the passion for import drag racing. They are local to me so that makes it even more inspiring. But I also can't forget RJ DeVera in Fast & Furious who had a big impact on me, too.
What's your history in drag racing?
I've been drag racing since I could drive. I was always trying go to events or Test & Tunes on the weekends, and I was very fortunate to be a part of ASP Headers' race car program for about eight years which fueled my love for drag racing even more.
Can you explain a little bit more about the race program?
ASP Headers had an All Motor Pro race car which competed in IFO (Import Face-Off), BOTI (Battle of the Imports), hence the reason why my car was also all-motor for a while before jumping into the turbo world. ASP developed race headers for the K-series, so I got to learn a lot of different setups - mild ported heads to the wild stroked 2.7-liter monsters. It definitely helped me understand the concept of making a custom header suited for the engine and its purpose, which for an all-motor guy, squeezing every horsepower out of the motor is crucial, whereas in forced induction, you can adjust your boost controller or hit a few strokes on the laptop to turn the boost up.
We're told you're quite the fabricator...
I was actually a diesel mechanic by trade, so a lot of my mechanical skills come from that background. I ended up getting hurt from the job and needed to find a different trade. I happened to do a lot of welding at the time, which I really took a liking to, but I wanted to do more refined welding. Stefan at ASP gave me the opportunity to work on my TIG welding skills while I was moonlighting for him building custom headers. I thank him for giving me that opportunity which helped me get certified to weld for an aerospace company. I've always tried to do everything myself since my dad use to tell me, "If you don't know how to do it, you better have the money to pay for it." By combining all the skills that I've learned throughout my journey, all the fabricated parts on the car are built by me. The engine was assembled by me with the help of good friends who supplied me the materials and parts.
Alright. Let's dig a little deeper with your Civic and your overall goal...
The idea for the build started as me wanting a really clean street car that I can take to the drag strip on the weekends. Its vision also has a lot to do with the era I was blessed to witness in the tuner world—1995 to mid-2000s.
When did you pick up the car?
I purchased it back in 2006. A lot of the mods I wanted to do first were to make it fast. I started with a JDM B18C swap, then it started to escalate from there, wanting more power, I swapped over to a fully-built 2.0-liter B-series, then to a 300hp all-motor K24. At that time, I mainly paid attention to the power mods, so with this car, I wanted to do something about the looks of the car. Then came the idea of a color change...
Yes, the Midnight Purple Pearl is gorgeous!
I was fortunate enough to cross paths with a friend who paints cars, so I stripped it down and dropped it off to him. I told him I was not in a rush so he could take his time. I got the car back close to a year later and at same time, life changes happened and the car was put on the back burner for a while. I started to lose interest and I even put the car for sale on Craigslist as a freshly painted rolling shell with the K-swap components. It must have been fate or destiny because I had it on there for about a year and no one even came in person to look at it.
Thank goodness no one did.
Two years had gone by. Then, with the support of my close friends egging me on to finish the car and get it running again, that's when I swapped over a stock K20A2 to just get it back on the road. It was the fire I needed started to rekindle what was inside me to build again. And this time, I knew I wanted to do a turbo build since that's something I have not explored personally on my own personal project car.
Can you elaborate more on your power goals?
When I started the turbo build, it was to push it to the limit, like I always like to do, and have a 10-second street car. I didn't set a specific horsepower number but I knew I had to go with something that has been proven countless of times. Key components are the Darton-sleeved K20 block, Manley Turbo Tuff rods, Traum forged pistons and Precision 6270 turbo. Incorporating sufficient supporting components got me 742hp to the wheels and 465 ft-lb of torque at 35psi. My current best at the track is a 10.8 at 137mph with the full interior in the car. I think keeping it simple is the key and just like my friend Kevin at SpeedFactory said, let the turbo do the work.
It's a crazy jump to go from three all-motor setups to a boosted 800hp engine, no?
It was a big change on how you get it to hook up, so I had to retrain myself how to drive the car. The characteristics of the all-motor was raw instant power compared to the current setup where there's little bit of a delay, but the top end pull is night and day. Turbo setup just wants to keep gaining miles per hour up top. It's like I went from a rollercoaster to the slingshot ride. Biggest change I did to handle the power is the BLOX drag suspension setup. It definitely helps put the power down at the track, but on street tires they just go up in smoke. Ha!
What's the coolest thing on your car?
I get asked a lot about my turbo manifold I built and why I didn't go with the traditional sidewinder turbo manifold for this engine. My mentality has always been that I will not sacrifice function over aesthetics when it comes to the that type of component. K-series are notorious for boost creep and the only way I was going to alleviate that is to build a top mount wastegate priority manifold even though it is buried under that nice shiny turbo. It's always overlooked but it plays a big role keeping the engine together.
Care to comment on the subtle styling you've opted for?
As far as interior and exterior go, I like what you call OEM+. I have always loved simple and clean builds. In my eyes, if it doesn't need to be on there, I don't use it. Less is more to me, but have the essentials. I guess I like the sleeper look per se. A lot of people ask me where all fancy the gauges are when I tell them how much horsepower the car makes, but I monitor a lot of it on my phone or laptop since engine management has evolved. My favorite thing is when a domestic car sees me on the road not expecting to get gapped by a Honda. Always puts a big grin on my face...
So, road racing is next?
I am going to enjoy the car as it sits; maybe get more seat time at the drag strip and try to beat my personal best, but I'm currently building a 1996 Civic hatch that will be powered by a K24A2 and ITBs for an entry-level road course car. I will also be building a 2000 Civic Si that will be a full drag car powered by a K-series with all-wheel-drive.
Sounds like this won't be the last we hear from you! Anything else you'd like to add before signing off?
I have had this exact Honda Civic since I was 22 years old. I am now 35. My passion for Hondas pretty much started when I arrived in the US with my family. I was 14 years old when we relocated to South San Francisco. My cousin Ed, who was a few years older than me, had comics and car magazines in his bedroom and I can vividly remember picking up Super Street magazine and turning the pages as I admired the cars in it and read the articles. Ed used to take me with him when he would go pick up new issues of the magazine which always got me excited. Ed and I used to say, "Someday, we will be in there." Even though we only lived in the Bay Area for a year, Ed definitely had an impact on why I still continue to build Hondas. My family decided to relocate to another state and so Ed and I somewhat stayed in touch.
I do remember a specific conversation we had over the phone, it was like a few months or so after we moved and he was telling me about the Civic Si that was coming out and he knew all the specs and the colors that it was going to be available in. Ed was very hyped about it and said he would want one someday and told me to read up on it when I got a chance. I told him I would. Time went by, we were fast-growing teenagers, and I was in a different state trying to find my own path. We lost touch for a while until we received a call from my aunt... My dad told me my cousin Ed was gone. I was shocked and heartbroken, I felt terrible for not keeping in touch with him, but that's when I knew I had to honor him and get a Civic, even if it was not an Si. From there, my Civic started out as daily driver with a few bolt-ons and it slowly escalated. It took 13 years to get to its current state, but I am honored and humbled to finally say, "Ed, we made it."
More hardcore Honda builds from inspirational enthusiasts:
Another EJ Coupe with OEM+ Styling
Another car we discovered at our LeMay show, this 1st-gen Civic widebody from Canada
RC Garage's EM1, former Honda issue cover car that's won several top awards