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1996 Honda Civic Hatchback - White Hope

A Turbocharged Hybrid Hatch That Runs 12s

Photography by Henry Z. Dekuyper

Respect is important on the street. You could argue the guy who pays $150,000 for a Ferrari is looking to buy respect, and we would agree. You could also argue that a guy boosting his Civic to 30 psi just to smoke his brother-in-law's Mustang is looking for respect, and we would agree.

Then there's the guy who slams his pick-up over a set of hydraulic pistons, fills its extended cab with 15-inch subwoofers and covers the thing in airbrushed fire-breathing skulls. He's also looking for respect. We just think that guy's a retard.

So. Cal. resident Billy Keleman built this hybrid Civic hatch for respect, because as an anemic factory stock CX, it just wasn't getting any. Now, it's a street monster with the clean, street-level appearance of a JDM Civic Type-R.

"Many people told me the car would make no power and I wanted to prove them wrong," Keleman says, echoing the sentiments of hundreds of Hondaphiles before him and hundreds more to come. "Building it was very costly, but well worth it."

All in all, Keleman estimates he sunk a good $28,000 into the project. He collaborated with his good friend, Jacob Breymann, on the build. Together, the two did all the work on the car except the paint. Breymann was responsible for the engine and planning its forced induction system, while Keleman was responsible for everything else.

For his part, Keleman began beneath the Civic, pulling out the old springs and dampers and installing a slick new set of VIS coil-overs. He pulled the diminutive front brakes, too, and replaced them with equipment taken from a junked Si. The stock wheels also went out the door in favor of a 16x7-inch set of SSR GPOs, wrapped in Toyo Proxes FZ4 rubber.

With the car's underpinnings tuned to his liking, Keleman turned his attention to the exterior and the vaunted Type-R makeover he intended to effect. Body components from a CTR-front and rear bumpers, front and rear bumper lips, grille and taillights, folding rearview mirrors-were combined with a JDM-spec roof wing to give the car a Japanese flavor. Keleman then turned the car over to the painters, where the majority of it was sprayed in Honda championship white. The only components not treated were the carbon-fiber pieces, the VIS hood and a CTR front lip.

Keleman also made a few JDM-spec changes to the car's interior, replacing the front seats with OEM Recaro buckets and the backseat with an imported unit from a CTR. Other authentic Far Eastern touches include a CTR carpet kit and JDM gauge cluster.

As the Civic was getting its cosmetic makeover, Breymann was busy building the motor at his shop, Import Life, in Whittier, Calif. He began with a modified B16 block, which was reinforced and sleeved by RS Machine Works, and linked stock-sized JE Pistons to the factory crank using forged Crower rods. The head is the factory cap from an Integra GS-R that's been ported and polished for full flow. Breymann replaced the critical valvetrain equipment with heat-treated stainless-steel valves from RS Machine, and complemented them with JUN dual valve springs and RS titanium retainers.

RS Machine is also responsible for constructing Keleman's exhaust manifold, a beautifully fabricated stainless-steel tubular piece, which currently supports a Turbonetics T3/T4 hybrid turbocharger. The rest of the forced induction system incorporates full custom plumbing, a GReddy blow-off valve, beefy HKS wastegate, JG Edelbrock intake manifold and Type-R throttle body, and a Spearco intercooler core to assist system efficiency.

For engine management, Breymann decided on a P30 ECU for its OBD-I emissions programs and user-friendly tuning properties, and a cabin-mounted A'PEXi V-AFC for fine tuning. Fuel enrichment is physically enabled by a set of RC 370cc injectors, a new Holley fuel pump, Vortech FMU and a Turbo XS pressure regulator.

With the engine built and hung with its various performance parts, Breymann and Keleman reinstalled it with a complete Integra GS-R five-speed transmission. A Clutch Specialties six-puck clamp was installed to mediate between the high-powered engine and stock gearbox.

Oshimo at Zero Factory performed fine-tuning on the fuel and forced induction systems. According to Keleman, Oshimo tunes all of Erick's Racing's cars. That would be Erick Aguilar, IDRC stalwart, who pilots one of the world's fastest all-motor Hondas. Apparently, Oshimo does turbos, too. The end result?

"The car put out 316 hp to the wheels at only 12 psi of boost," Keleman relates. "We were very excited."

Elated with their results, Keleman and Breymann took the car forthright to the dragstrip to get some real-world numbers. On street tires, after a full day of launch practice, they were finally able to whittle the day's low e.t. to a 12.98.

The hatch's next test and tune session was held at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and this time Keleman showed up with a set of drag slicks. He and Breymann ripped off no less than 23 runs, and claim the car made 19 of those runs in the 12-second range. Its best run, accomplished the same day, stands at 12.1 seconds at 108 mph. Aside from the front slicks, the car made the run exactly as it would on the street, sucking the familiar 12 psi of boost, and burning 91-octane pump gas-with a full interior.

Even better, the next day Keleman pulled the slicks off and drove the car to work like he always does. We can respect that.

Engine Code : B16 block, B18C head
Type : Inline four, aluminum block and
    head, turbocharged and intercooled
Internal Modifications : RS Machine cylinder sleeves,
    JE pistons, Crower rods, Type R
    cams, RS Machine valves, RS
    Machine titanium retainers,
    JUN dual valve springs
External Modifications : RS Machine tubular exhaust
    manifold, Turbonetics T3/T4
    turbo, HKS wastegate, GReddy
    blow-off valve, manual boost
    controller, Spearco intercooler,
    JG Edelbrock intake manifold,
    AEM fuel rail
Engine Management Mods : P30 ECU, A'PEXi V-AFC,
    RC 370cc injectors, Holley fuel
    pump, Turbo XS fuel pressure
    regulator, Vortech FMU
Layout : Transverse front engine,
    front-wheel drive
Drivetrain Modifications : Integra GS-R transmission,
    lightened flywheel, Clutch
    Specialties six-puck clutch
Front : VIS II coil-overs
Rear : VIS II coil-overs
Front : Civic Si rotors and calipers
Rear : Stock
Wheels : 16-inch SSR GPO
Tires : 205/45R16 Toyo Proxes FZ4
Body : JDM roof wing; CTR front and
    rear bumper lip, front and rear bumpers, grille and taillights,
    folding rearview mirrors; VIS hood
    Recaro seats; CTR back seat and carpet kit; JDM gauge cluster
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