It's that time of year again and your social feeds are no doubt overrun by talk of the annual automotive mecca known as SEMA. From the teasers to the behind the scenes look, to the incessant complaining from builders that parts didn't come in, sleep wasn't obtained or that they'll "never do another one because it's killing them," brace yourself for the onslaught. Now, this FC1 project isn't a completely stripped down and rebuilt offering, but more of bolt-on affair and something far more relatable to the average builder looking to gradually build-up their 10th gen. Civic. At SEMA, there's certainly room for both build types and not unlike the guys and shops that just don't have enough hours in the day to get to a comfortable point prior to the big show, my simple project weighed heavily as all of the changes made in this installment of the build series happened just a week prior to Halloween—the day Honda picked the car up for its SEMA trip.
The Bay Area
PRL Motorsports - @prlmotorsports
In the previous installment, I upgraded the stock turbo for a drop-in replacement from 27WON which was backed by an off-the-shelf program via Hondata, along with a GReddy exhaust and PRL front and downpipe combo that all worked together to completely transform the way the car responded and accelerated and finally, it pulled to redline like Honda's of the past rather than huffing and puffing on the top end. So why then would I swap that awesome upgrade out? Well, partially because the Si needed a little more aftermarket appeal under its hood and with the previous turbo using factory heatshields (an excellent thing if you like avoiding unwanted attention), I wanted the car to stand out a bit more for Honda at SEMA. More importantly, this car serves as a test mule to throw different parts at and get a feel for how they feel, how they fit and how complex their installs are, and being hands-on is the best way to convey that to you, the reader.
PRL Motorsports has been a major player in the 10th gen. Civic line up parts development since the beginning and offered up their 1.5T Big Turbo Upgrade Kit, which is now also compatible with the factory electronic wastegate (PRL also offers a conversion kit for owners of their original version turbo kit). Rather than using a modified factory turbo or direct bolt-in replacement, PRL's turbo kit relies on a Garrett turbo of which you have 7 different options, dependent upon your budget and your goals. For this car, a GTX2860R Gen2 was selected and falls right in the middle of the options line up.
Garrett's GTX Gen2 features a 8mm dual ceramic ball-bearing cartridge for excellent response and with a reduction in shaft movement; reliability won't be a factor. In addition, this turbocharger series is also armed with a new, high-flowing compressor housing—all things you want in a small turbo mounted to a small engine like Honda's 1.5 L-series.
Also included in the kit is a Turbosmart Plumb Back blow-off valve which recirculates any of that excess pressure right back into the intake system. The PRL silicone pieces have ports for the BOV and it's simply clamped into position behind the passenger-side headlight.
In the previous story I walked you through some of the installation and for PRL's kit, it's the same story. Removing that under tray via far too many clips along with the heat shields, downpipe and factory plastic crossover pipe is all mandatory, but this time around I also pulled off the upper radiator support to grant a little more space to work with. With the crossover pipe and turbo removed, the PRL flange adapter is installed and is fitted with a factory Honda metal gasket that's included in the kit. Prior to bringing the car to the Motor Trend Tech Center in order to use one of the lifts, I pre-assembled the turbo and all of the proper fittings and included lines in order to get a head start on the process.
Before the Garrett turbo was bolted in place, the new PRL downpipe was bolted to it and the entire unit dropped in from the top, followed by the process of connecting coolant and oil lines and adding the heat shield before the new crossover pipe went on. And about that shield and piping...
Chapman Concepts - @chapman_concepts
While the PRL kit's crossover pipe is Jet Hot coated to fight heat, I wanted to customize the kit a little bit in order to personalize it to the car. I contacted my friend Fred Chapman of Chapman Concepts, who specializes in the process of Cerakote.
Most notably used in the firearms industry, Cerakote is somewhat similar to powder coat in that it provides a shield of protection against corrosion, chemicals and even impact but is ceramic-based. I've had a few parts for various builds done in Cerakote and loved the matte texture and how it seems to lay on much thinner than powder coat. In addition, unlike powder coat, it can be applied to plastic...
Get used to it—plastic is being used for everything under the hood, including intake manifolds and valvecovers, and the Si falls into that category. I'd seen wrinkle finish 1.5L valvecovers from a popular Japanese brand made available for astronomical pricing, especially when you consider that an OEM cover is only about $80. PRL's crossover pipe, heat shield, cold side piping and a new OEM valvecover were sent to Chapman Concepts and he mixed a custom grey color that's understated enough to not be completely in your face, yet plays well against the Aegean Blue paint of this Si.
Back to the install, the factory electronic wastegate is removed and then bolted into place on the new Garrett turbo through an adapter, its arm attached to a billet piece that clamps in place. Any variances are overcome by adding or removing provided shims in order to space out the length of the arm. In this case, no shims were needed.
With the turbo kit installed but no time to get the car back on the dyno before it was picked up for SEMA in just a few days, Nick Zambrano of @Ososik Media stopped by and with a few clicks of his keyboard, uploaded a new, low boost map via my Hondata FlashPro so I could drive the car back home to finish everything up before SEMA and we'll get to writing a proper program after the madness of Vegas is finally over.
Details, details, details...
Acuity - @acuityinstruments
At home, just a day before the car was to be picked up, I swapped out the valvecover for the new Cerakote'd version and topped it off with Acuity Instruments' @acuityinstruments new oil filler cap. You know the name from the incredible adjustable short shifter they set me up with previously and their new oil cap features a 15mm hex pattern center which is great for a high heat area that sometimes causes oil caps to humble even the most brolic end-user.
Downstar Inc. - @downstar
Downstar Inc. announced recently that they were hard at work on a hardware kit for 10th gen. Civics and I was lucky enough to get one just in the nick of time. The OEM valvecover hardware has a shank to pass through the plastic cover before being bolted onto the head and Downstar emulated that shank with a very clever multi-piece system that integrates its signature beauty washer. Now these are raw aluminum versions but you can count on various colors being produced soon and available through downstarinc.com.
Around the rest of the bay, Downstar's 10th gen. kit replaces most of the hardware throughout and I chose gunmetal washers to flow with the Cerakote parts. It's the easiest install you'll ever do, just removing bolts and replacing them, though one part that will take a little more effort is the plastic cover that sits above the radiator, held in by plastic clips. I removed those clips, drilled the hole in the plastic and the metal support slightly larger in order to fit Downstar's rubber inserts that, once installed with their hex head screws, expand slightly and hold the panel firmly in place.
A very simple update that makes a big impact on the look of the bay.
DTM Autobody - @dtmautobody
You don't like the look of the big, faux grills that sit on either side of the front and rear bumpers. You've made it abundantly clear and while I've grown used to them, after seeing what DTM Autobody was doing with Civic Type R bumpers, I wanted to rework the factory inserts entirely. So I brought both front and rear bumpers to their El Monte, Ca, facility.
Long at DTM popped off the factory grill's and with their frames taped off, made quick work of trimming out the grill centers.
He then used a sanding disc to clean up the cuts and with a 10th gen. Civic at the shop, was able to give me a look at how much of the bumper support could be seen through the now transparent grill opening. When I got home, I degreased the ends of the support, scuffed it up with a Scotch Brite and sprayed it with a high-temp, matte black paint to disappear behind the grills.
The mesh DTM uses is very durable and actually powdercoated so that over time, as your car sees rock chips and debris across its front end, the coating will help prevent chipping and it won't change color from the sun.
Using the surrounds as a template, the shape was replicated with a paint pen and trimmed with some sharp shears before a healthy amount of surface prep was used on the back of the frames.
From there, DTM preferred to keep their process under wraps but reinstallation is as simple as popping the frames right back into their respective places, no zipties or trickery needed—just like OEM. Here's a look at the rear bumper in stock vs. DTM-spec.
In the front, the opening allows air to pass right through to the cold-air intake.
DTM Autobody offers this as a service at their facility and can tackle any 10th gen. model, from base to Type R.
Buddy Club - @buddyclubusa
Buddy Club offers the perfect solution for upgrading your steering wheel without giving up your airbag or audio and dash controls with a wheel that uses a frame identical to the OEM version. Some non-TypeR owners like switching to the FK8 wheel but Buddy Club's version is much sleeker with its carbon fiber look top and bottom portions and race-inspired flat bottom that make it easier to get in and out of your car, especially if you have high-bolstered aftermarket seats.
To get started, I highly recommend disconnecting the battery anytime you're dealing with the airbag system. It's been noted that the airbag still has the ability to activate even after the vehicle's been turned off, so don't take any chances, give it plenty of time to discharge. A pair of torx bits can be found on the back of both sides of the stock wheel, which hold the airbag in place.
Once removed, you can push the airbag forward enough to get to these little guys. I'd read that the clips were hard to remove and after a few minutes of pinching and pulling and getting nowhere, I decided to grab a pick set and gently depress one side of the clip and wiggle it a bit, followed by the other side, which was far more effective and they popped free. The ground wire was also extremely tough but a pair of rubber sheathed, needle-nose pliers helped free it.
I used an impact gun and 10mm hex bit and after a short battle, it eventually gave up and was ready to release. I lined the wheel up as straight as possible before sliding it off.
Much of the lower portion of the wheel on the 2018 model is held on with clips, which can be pushed out from the back.
The harnesses attached to each side of the steering wheel controls are unclipped and a few screws removed. The entire frame of the control panels can be removed and again requires pushing the clips from the rear and wiggling carefully back and forth until its been completely released.
The controls are then moved to the Buddy Club wheel and everything reattaches exactly like stock. Fitment is spot on and I didn't have to trim, modify or fight with anything for it to fit properly.
From there it's just a matter of reconnecting the color-coded airbag clips and grond, and securing it with the torx bits on either side. The look is perfect for the 10th gen. interior with its red stitching, horizon marker and carbon fiber accents. Just beside the controls are ergonomic indentions that run down each side for a comfortable grip. The new wheel grants an aftermarket feel and flare but with all of the OEM creature comforts and safety that you're used to on newer Hondas.
As much as I like the factory seats in the new Si, there's always room for improvement. Even at its lowest setting, the OEM seats are a little too high for my taste. At around 5'11, bringing the seat down a few inches was the goal and Bride Stradia II, equipped with their Low Max low cushion option, was the perfect fit. Before I ordered them, I caught up with the Lot-USA booth at a local show where they had a full line of Bride display seats that I could sit in and figure out what fit me best.
Bride offers multiple size options and I went with a "regular" and opted for the Carbon Aramid shell, which you'd commonly refer to as "Kevlar" in our world, but there's also a Super Aramid black shell available that we simply refer to as "carbon."
Though the black carbon fiber version goes right along with the new steering wheel and OEM faux carbon touches, I wanted to mix things up a little bit and the Kevlar seat backs do just that—adding some additional "pop" with the bright red HFP floor mats.
The Stradia II's all-aluminum frame is rigid and lightweight and its quick-adjustment knob feels incredibly stout and never binds like some aftermarket seats. There are other models, like the GIAS II, that offer even more aggressive bolster and support, but for a street car, the STRADIA II is more than enough and doesn't require yoga skills to get in and out of the car on the daily.
Bride also included a set of Type RH rails that are already attached to the bracket, so installation is as simple as 4 nuts and bolts which are also included, and they even provided a heavy duty locking nut and bolt for the factory seatbelt if you won't be running harnesses. The bracket fitment on both sides is identical to factory, so there's no adjustment needed—they simply bolt into place.
Behind the wheel, the seats cradle you and you feel like you're sitting in them, rather than on them. They brought me down about 2in and the altitude adjustment lines up the pedal and shifter better but it wasn't so low that I was struggling to see over the dash—a very important factor for a street car. If you want to sit a bit higher, a different cushion option is available and there are other rails but for me, I couldn't be any happier with the positioning.
AEM Electronics - @aemelectronics
In recent years, the number of digital dash display users has increased dramatically. Not just the full race crowd, but street and show cars have jumped on board as well. It's tough to resist, especially with plug-and-play systems like AEM Electronics' CD-5 carbon Digital Dash Display. An ultra-lightweight, flow-molded carbon fiber composite case surrounds a full-color display that you can view easily, even in bright conditions. In addition, it's not only used with AEM management systems but compatible with hundreds of others. User-programmable using AEM's Dash Design interface, which is free, you can configure what readings you'd like to see, customize layouts, change colors, even program the string of LEDs at the top of the unit.
The idea of wiring this in with just hours before the car was to be picked up seemed pretty much impossible, but AEM makes it easy with a simple OBDII port on one end, and cigarette lighter adapter power supply on the other. Super simple, it allows you to install and remove it when necessary with just a few clips.
There isn't a specific mount for the 10th gen. Civic dash, though AEM does offer RAM mount-compatible brackets if you want to mount the dash to your windshield or roll cage. For this project, I put together a couple of simple aluminum brackets that I mounted to the factory gauge cluster visor.
The harness runs straight down, under the dash where it's met by the OBD harness from the left, and the 12V power source plug from the right, all tied up and away from any moving parts. We'll take a look at some of the customizable options when the car hits the dyno.
That's it! The Si was picked up for SEMA on Halloween and will be in the Honda booth for the big event. People often complain about not having enough time to finish up the little details before SEMA arrives and I can certainly relate. While this isn't a wild, widebody, 700hp beast of a build, it definitely took some time and effort to piece together and I can't wait to do some more.