Taking a look at this 1999 Honda Civic SiR, dressed appropriately in its native Electron Blue Pearl paint with a smattering of aero, you wouldn't think "winter beater." In the beginning, however, owner Alex Markovic purchased this EM1 for that purpose specifically, but about 15 miles into driving his new car home, the plan began to change.
Back in 2014, Alex found the sort of used car that most people daydream about. Just one aftermarket mod made by its 76-year-old original owner, the car looked to be in outstanding condition. So good, that Alex didn't even bother test driving it once he laid eyes on it. He adds, "I bought it on the spot, even with the ugly Wings West three-piece spoiler that was on it, ha-ha! I came back later that night and picked up the ride, and leaving the old man's farm, I couldn't believe how beautifully this thing drove." Having lived a mild service life, the original B16A probably hadn't seen much high-revving action, apparent by the ring lands that were toast after Alex put the car through its paces on his way home. "I couldn't help but laugh. I wasn't even upset."
And So, It Begins
Rather than rebuilding the 1.6L, a call was made to friend and JDMSource owner, Shoaib, who located a JDM ITR mill that seemed innocent enough but had a few surprises on board after taking the engine to Jackie at Balance Auto Garage to perform the swap. Alex adds, "We decided we should refresh the B18C and upon ripping the engine apart, we started finding Spoon Parts everywhere - Spoon clutch/flywheel, throttle body, cam gears, header and possibly cams, which we never did end up confirming." A 5-lug conversion, Spoon calipers, fresh suspension and a few other changes made their way to the car and it was driven happily all through the winter, right before moving into a new house, which meant spending money on the car would have to stop for a bit.
The following year, Alex made his way to his first track event on a whim after the constant urging of his friends and that's when things changed dramatically. "I just went and shit-kicked it a little... well, that track day is when all hell broke loose. I came home and was hooked! I wanted back on the track ASAP!" The "winter beater" EM1 was moved into full project mode and Alex picked up yet another car to replace it for daily duties.
Making a Good Thing Better
The coupe was brought back to Balance Auto Garage where Jackie had a complete K20Z3 available, but after pulling the B18C out, the car was sent to Marenello Auto Refinishing for a complete respray. The original paint, still in good condition, just wasn't up to Alex's strict standards. He notes, "Gerry and his son Dominic did their thing and the car came out looking better than when it rolled off the showroom floor - along with all new seals and gaskets and a brand new old stock OEM windshield." Once the bodywork was complete, Balance Auto had become inundated with work for the upcoming season, but Darren, a mutual friend of both Jackie and Alex, volunteered to tackle his first K-swap and had the car, engine, and ancillary parts delivered to his garage. In no time at all it was complete, and Alex headed right back on the track with his new setup.
In 2018, the build saw a bit more power. The bottom end remains mildly modded with FD2 Type R pistons, ARP hardware and a 4Piston Racing ported oil pump. Up top, 4Piston Racing was once again called upon for one of their legendary 156v2 heads, stuffed with their recommended Ferrea valvetrain and a set of Toda A3 cams. An SBS Performance modified RBC manifold and 80mm throttle body are fed by Unobtainium Welding's 3-inch titanium intake tubing, who also provided the 3-inch exhaust and matching muffler that trail the R Crew race header. The combination produced a healthy 248hp (tuned at 3,700-ft. of elevation) and perhaps, more importantly, Alex gained some considerable seat time at the track with the more potent setup.
Wings 'N Things
With enough available power on tap and feeling comfortable behind the wheel, Alex began exploring aero changes. He reached out to Matt at ICB Motorsport and sourced a J's Racing 1,550mm carbon fiber rear wing intended for an FD2, and in order to even out the front with the rear, a First Molding carbon-fiber front lip and canards were bolted on.
Other carbon-fiber pieces include the Spoon side mirrors and First Molding vented hood. Pictured with 16-inch gunmetal TE37, Alex has two other sets of Volks in 15-inch sizing, one set wrapped in Nitto NT01 and the other in Hoosier A7, depending on what type of track event he's attending. Effective Alcon 4-piston calipers peek through the spokes and get a workout regularly.
Winter Beater Days Long Gone
The car pulled double duty for quite some time, but with a stable of cars that includes four BMWs, a Porsche GT3 and Toyota Tundra, not to mention a pair of DC2 Type Rs (both restoration projects), Alex has more than enough cars to get around in. With that, he yanked all audio out of the Si as well as the clunky factory seats and now hits the track in Recaro RS-G ASM-edition buckets laced with Willans harnesses that pass over the harness bar of an Autopower 4-point rollbar. Other changes inside include a highly sought-after Spoon EK9 gauge cluster and matching steering wheel.
So, what's next for the SiR coupe that went from a slow-moving, ancient 3-pc. wing toting, farmer-owned commuter vehicle to a full-blown weekend track car with plenty of potential? First, bringing down the weight of the factory sunroof-equipped roof, which puts additional pounds at the highest and least favorable part of the chassis, is underway as Alex works with Speedfactory Racing on a carbon-fiber version this winter. Beyond the new lightweight skin, the goal is to hit the track as much as possible in the new year and put this EM1 right back to work.
Throwback - 2014
Alex kept the clean OEM lines and of course, rolled on a set of white TE37 for the outside while under the hood sat a 2.0L Dart block with an ITR head stuffed with Ferra and Supertech valvetrain components. And just like his current EM1 build, it featured a few parts from Unobtanium Welding, as well.