The intricacies and attention to detail applied to every aspect of this eighth-gen. Civic Si sedan "street car" are the types of touches you'd expect to find on cars at the annual SEMA event, showcased inside of a booth. Brimming with pamphlets and bewildered show-goers wondering why it's not a Ford or Chevy, its fresh paint, ultra-wide front fender treatment and cleverly reworked, fabrication-heavy engine bay certainly have all the makings of a booth car, but the difference here is that unlike the majority of those in Vegas for the annual automotive pilgrimage, this sedan runs and runs well, and if you know anything about its owner, Ken Suen, then you know it's not a matter if it will hit the track, but rather when and how often.
Go ahead, make your snide remarks about its street car designation, but compared to Suen's other eighth-gen. sedan, known as "Big Red," this project, dubbed "Big Red Jr." is certainly a toned down version of his obsession with the red FA5 chassis.
Big Red was originally his daily driver that we featured back in 2012. A few years later, he'd go on to convert the sedan to Time Attack status and he worked his way to the Street FWD lap record in 2015. As Big Red became a more serious affair, street car duties were then passed on to a ninth-gen. sedan that he'd modified and tracked as well, though it didn't seem to quite fit Suen and he ended up selling that car in 2016.
With his full racecar project deep into its rebuild after an unfortunate fire, Suen got the itch to get back into an eighth-gen. He adds, "I was missing having a red FD2 converted street car so I purchased this car back in 2018 from a friend of mine. I spent three months trying to convince him to sell it to me. The car was in a perfect condition—stock and Rally Red with 78k miles on it."
Forget the old "I'm just going to add wheels and a drop" speech that everyone gives before being sucked into a full-blown project; Suen's track ambitions were apparent from the very start. "The plan is to be the fastest street-tire car at Buttonwillow CW13 and also use [it] as a test car for my own curiosity, since I've started my Data Analysis career with few a motorsport teams." A knack for the fine details, Suen keeps busy gathering and analyzing track data—something he picked up over the years and has a talent for.
Another talent he's uncovered unexpectedly in recent years, and only scratched the surface of, is fabrication. The micro-details that flow throughout his latest build are all a result of his hard work and clever thinking, and all done in his home garage—much of it through trial and error. "I learned how to do a lot of it through my friend Pete Yeung who used to work for Design Craft. He showed me how to do it but design wise, it's all on my own. I think I can sometimes see what other people can't see haha!" Based on the unique setup under the KSR (Ken Suen Racing) vented hood, we'd have to agree. Some of the urge to create rather than rely on fab shops came after his original build was damaged and he wanted to figure out how to fix and create things on his own. That led to various parts solutions, and today he's often working on builds owned by friends and customers right out of his home garage.
As loud as the exterior is, you're wanting to dive into the engine bay and we're right there with out. With Eman at NA Performance taking charge of the engine build, the original block's been ditched for a Darton sleeved and O-ringed RSX bottom end that's been fitted with a JE Pistons and Saenz 4340 rod combo and topped with a Ferrea-loaded RBC head. Tucked behind the engine is a Full Race manifold supporting a BorgWarner EFR 8474 regulated by a TurboSmart internal wastegate.
Before you shake your head at the choice to use an internal gate, consider this: Suen was after simplicity, and, as he mentions, "it's simple and everything is proven to work with high boost levels and no creep issues. When I remove my intercooler pipe, I don't need to remove an extra vacuum line off the BOV as if I had an external." That last part is an important piece to understanding Suen's train of thought with this build ...
At a glance, the layout seems complex, but in reality Suen simplified the act of removal and installation of critical components in search of ease of serviceability. The center-feed Hayward intake manifold, for example, carries an Autosport quick-disconnect responsible for a number of sensors that include injectors, MAP, intake air temp, and various pressure sensors. "My idea of building a car is if I want to remove a component, I don't want to be forced to remove another component just to get to it. When I take out my intake manifold, I don't need to remove eight thousand plugs. Now everything comes out in one piece."
And speaking of sensors, Suen's FA5 has a considerable amount to constantly monitor any- and everything that takes place under the hood, but also tire pressures and temps, suspension changes, braking, and more. Harnessing the information is MoTeC M150 engine management with their C127 digital dash and logger. It sounds overwhelming but Suen seems to relish in the algorithmic dance and credits his friend Frank Yueng of FYM for furthering his motorsport data education. "Frank taught me all the data tricks and also gave me a job in Data Acquisition. With his help and my curiosity, we started putting on all the sensors we could possibly think of."
Frank was also at the helm during tuning, and the Civic, at 1.6 bar, produces a peak of 606whp with 410 lbs.-ft. of torque. That's not to say there aren't options, as maps were created for 450-600whp in 50 horsepower increments—meaning it's manageable on the street and will be very capable for various track lay outs.
Before the engine teardown and build-up even began, Suen started the process from the outside, just six months after he'd picked it up. Wider FEEL's front fenders are made even wider with the brand's additional flares added on and Suen's signature "speed holes" treatment along the fender tops, in slotted form, help to increase air flow. They also allow for a massive 18x11 Advan GT wrapped in 295/30s up front and 18x9.5 and 235s in the rear.
The Mugen RR front bumper that you assume is a knock off, given that only 300 RR sedans were ever produced and no one in their right mind would ever source a legit bumper then hack into it, is in fact authentic. A lower lip was molded in place, some material strategically removed and custom ducting added along with clear plastic block-off plates. A KSR front splitter gets some assistance by way of trimmed and fitted Voltex canards as the pieces work together to battle physics at speed. Along the sides you'll find ING+1 side skirts that lead to an FD2 Type R rear bumper and atop a Seibon carbon fiber trunk is a Voltex GT wing perched on a set of swan neck pedestals. Moving away from the lighter factory red, the entire car was resprayed, including the carbon pieces, in deep Milano red by Valencia Custom.
Rather than a completely gutted interior with little more than a dash and seats, Suen's Big Red Jr. maintains a much more streetable approach. The heavy stock buckets were replaced by carbon-shelled Bride Zeta III and an Autopower 4-pt. roll bar bolted in place. He insists the factory Honda shifter is the best but has ditched the airbag-equipped steering wheel for a Personal and all of the collective data that he's constantly gathering is relayed through the bright digital MoTeC cluster just behind it.
All of the factory paneling and the rest of the interior are completely intact, including a head liner that he had to replace after removing the heavy sunroof and its motor, and replacing the skin with a closed roof version. By now you know that removing weight is always a plus but removing it from the highest part of a vehicle has an even greater effect.
In the trunk space, the spare tire well cover has been removed and in its place rests an SP800 surge tank and a series of stainless hardlines that Suen bent to build his one-off fueling system that relies on AN fittings from SpeedFlow Australia.
In the time that Suen's spent building, rebuilding, and then rebuilding again a few more times, his original Big Red FA5, he's managed to piece together a ninth-gen. Civic before picking up this Si for an extensive build that pretty much qualifies as a street car, at least if you compare it to his original project. Recently he's also picked up a Honda Fit that he's planning to K-swap soon but before that snowballs into yet another project for his ever-growing resume, his immediate plan involves putting the now fully broken-in sedan to work. "The next chapter of this car will be track testing and the goal will be mid-1:40s at Buttonwillow CW13 with Yokohama A052 tires."