I didn’t do a very good job of taking photos as I built this car. A few people have asked some questions about some bits, so I hunted down what I could find for Photos. So this is a bit of a tour, and maybe Ill do a better job photographing the new work that happens.
To get into the EM1, I probably have to start with my 96 four door. We bought it ages ago for my wife to drive back and forth to work. Eventually I realized that a 4 door 96 civic with full options and a stick was really cool to me, but not so cool for her to drive back and forth to work. We bought a Volt for commuting, and I got the 4 door for auto X and track days.
I found a wrecked 99 SiR EM1, and bought the complete car. The 4 door got the Motor, trans, front LCAs, dampers, Brakes, sway bars and exhaust. I slapped in some lowering springs, bought some some Rotas and put some Falkens on them and off I went to Auto X and track days when I could. I also figured out the damn thing was leaking water into the cabin, which is a whole other story. This picture is me finally putting it back together after resealing the whole damn car. The car was lots of fun like this once it was finished.
After putting in the effort to reseal it, and having some good fun with it I decided to get a little more serious about the build. So the next step was getting real about the suspension. I also felt if I was going to keep the car, the rust that was starting to form needed to be sorted in the wheel wells. That was a nightmare as well, but it was done by a professional as a side job. He actually ended up forming his own inner fenders because you cant really find them for this car. Once I got the car back, the redo of the suspension started.
This setup was a full ES Poly bushing kit all the way around, with a Delrin bushing and spherical bearing in the Skunk 2 Alpha Rear LCA. Rebuilt SiR brakes with hawk race pads and Russel braided brake lines. ASR rear bar and brace, front SiR bar with SiR front LCAs. SPC rear adjustable UCA and Toe Arm. Front UCA was a OEM with ES bushings and an adjustable upper ball joint, which was almost imidiatly changed to a Tru Heart UCA. Ultra racing Strut bars were added front and rear. Old dampers and lowering springs were tossed for a KW two way competition setup.
The car was now handling really well, but I was sliding out of the garbage factory seat on every corner. I pulled the Mugen S1 seat out of my EF (which hadn’t been on the road in years, at this point) and put it in with a Buddy Club Rail along with an old Momo wheel and a Mugen Shift knob. Again, this car was a ton of fun like this. Handled well, not a much power, but great to drive.
After dragging my butt in and out of the Mugen seat on a regular basis and realizing it was now worth too much to screw up in a car I was now driving regularly, I ordered a Buddy Club Seat and found a buddy club shift knob to go with the Buddy Club Seat rail I was already using.
The seat construction was actually surprisingly good, but I found it pinched me in the ribs. I’m not a huge guy so I got the smaller size, that was a mistake.
Now on to some EM1 Content.
So for a few years I have been telling friends that I thought the EM1s were going to shoot up in price. A couple EM1s came and went in my group of friends, and I always held off buying them. Finally one night a friend had sent me a few pictures of an EM1 he had picked up that he said he was probably just going to flip right away. I got it in my head that I could buy it, keep the stock motor and have a good runner EM1 to Track day/Fun day, and not have to put in so much time and effort into it. With Kids, house, work, etc. time becomes pretty valuable. I checked into the history, it had some shunts but not written off. I hardly looked at in person, and got it for a pretty good price. This was just before they started going up in value. Here is how it looked when I grabbed it.
This look is not for me. Also notice the front fender isn’t the correct red?
Regardless, got it home, and the tough decision was made to sell both my 96 four door, and my EF that I have had for about 15 years or so. To get the EF back to how I wanted it was too much time and money, and frankly finding EF parts is becoming a pain in the ass. Hats off to those with nice EF builds.
So first things first, I swapped all my suspension and brakes from the 4 door to the EM1 and vice versa. Everything on my white 4 door was already from a EM1, had been cleaned, had all my Poly bushings, etc. so it made sense rather than trying to recreate what I had already done a second time on the new EM1. The EM1s suspension, arms, etc. were not in great shape. To someone this had just been a daily driver, so it made sense.
This meant I was dropping Trailing arms, UCA and LCA, Toe links, brakes and sway bar setups, and the Coilovers in both the front and back. Literally everything i had done to the white car came out other than the B16 swap, and was transferred over to the red car. The red cars gear was then swapped into the white car and sold as a 96 four door with all factory EM1 parts. I put it up for sale and it sold in about 3 hours.
I picked up some freshly refinished EM1 wheels to finish it off as part of the deal when i sold the EF.
As I was swapping everything over and the white car was sold, I had started to realize maybe there was a bit more that needed work on this car that I had realized. The car had obviously been a daily driver, and treated like a Civic for most of its life. Which is fine, I understand this type of car doesn’t mean anything to most people.
First the interior needed to be cleaned. Badly. I figured out the person who used to drive it took their dog with them everywhere in the back seat. I couldn’t believe how much dog hair was in here. So the interior was pulled out, and everything got cleaned.
I was literally pulling dog hair from behind the dash. Enough to make another damn dog. The back seat was so bad I ended up tossing it and sourcing a good used one. Carpets and seats got cleaned with hot water, simple green, and an extractor.
I also noticed that the center vent had a crack. While looking to source one it suddenly dawned on me I had never turned on the lights in the car. Sure enough, once the lights were on, the center and radio all lit up green. Someone had at some point swapped in a replacement unit out of a regular civic.
I had a spare EM1 radio with the amber background ready to go, but I also had a Special Edition Honda Double Din CD and Tape player that also lit up amber that I wanted to use. So I sourced a good vent and surround, ordered new amber replacement bulbs, and swapped it all in.
Off to the alignment shop for a funday/trackday setup (Camber at 2.9 Front and 1.9 rear currently, but I think I’m going back to 2.5 front and 1.5 rear now).
The car was now clean and drivable, running all the same parts out of my 4 door. I hadn’t done anything about the terrible seats in the EM1 yet. They are a little better than some Civics, but the bolsters are more suggestions than anything, and you spend at least some effort under hard driving keeping your butt planted. Also with the revised suspension, harder springs, aggressive dampers, and poly bushings all the way around, you get bounce out of the seats. It took me a while to figure out what the hell was going on when I was setting up my rebound on the dampers, but I couldn’t get rid of the bounce. It took me a little bit to realize it was my butt bouncing around in the 20 year old foam seat, and not the car moving. A race bucket solved that issue.
I didn’t want to use the Mugen seats as I would tear them up too quick, and the Buddy Club seat pinched my ribs. So I sold the original Buddy Club Seat, and pick up a Buddy Club P1 version in the large size. New OEM floor matts and my Buddy Club Shift knob finished the interior for the moment.
While all this was happening, i was also putting in some work on the engine side of things. The Motor was leaking everywhere underneath, and after cleaning it up I realized it was both motor oil, and oil from the AC compressor.
I cleaned that up as well as possible, and went to work cleaning the engine bay up top. Earlier I had removed the air box, and found some nit wit had gone to town on one of the mounting bolts for the box, tearing a chunk of metal out with it… The same very talented body guy who fixed the rust in the white 4 door car, fixed this as well.
While all this was going on, a friend had decided he wanted to sell a B16B he had recently acquired. I have always wanted one of these motors. The idea of a hand built factory race motor was always very cool to me. The tech used was way ahead of its time, and it appealed to me to keep it a “B16” in the car.
So I purchased the setup from him. It came with the CTR motor, trans, ECU, and the exhaust setup he was using. The motor had seen better days and was abused a bit before he got his hands on it. He did seals and timing belts and such, but I sent out the head anyway.
It ended up having a bent valve, so that got replaced. Skunk2 LMAs were installed, new valve seals etc. It got cleaned up with a repainted valve cover, and Hard Race Engine mounts were used to replace all the old factory engine mounts on install. Various hoses and seals were replaced, a new Exedy clutch was used, and I also sourced a Mishimoto rad and slim fan. I got a seal kit for the AC compressor and resealed it too. After install, the Ultra racing strut bars were reinstalled. OEM size battery was replaced by a PC680 in a PWJDM mount.
The car saw a couple of track days during 2020. The only change I make for track days is running the old Rotas and Falken tire setup, and I go up two “clicks” on my compression all the way around on the dampers. I should be able to get one more year out of the Falkens.
I’ve been trying to find a set of the Buddy Club P1 wheels in a 15 x 7 , but apparently they haven’t made them in a while, no one has any left over stock, and no one seems to be selling them. I only want the Buddy Clubs as my OCD is telling me to match my seat, shift knob, and oil cap. Someone locally is selling a Buddy Club header too…
Regardless Ill probably end up with RPF1s.The 15x7 is only 9.5Lbs and priced well. They look great too. But Id still like to find those Buddy Club P1s.
And now the car sits in the garage while I do some minor changes to end links, and make sure everything is tight and ready to go.
Up coming is just oil change, brake bleed, and maybe some slight camber adjustment for the upcoming track days. The first is early April.
Up coming minor projects include a radio delete with a bluetooth receiver hidden behind the dash, maybe a header install, and down the road an EK9 Mugen intake install that will mean a custom AC line.
Ill try to keep up with posting updates.