Home-Built Honda Civic: From Daily Driver to GS-R Swap

June 30, 2017 / by Bradley Iger

This Honda Civic was originally purchased as a daily driver, but it quickly became a frequent sighting at the drag strip. Check out the details on this build here.

When Anthony Phillips of Schenectady, New York purchased his 1997 Honda Civic back in 2006, it initially served a noble, if modest purpose. A mechanic by trade, Phillips used the stock, automatic equipped Civic as his daily commuter for the first few years of ownership. But eventually the urge to modify the car eventually won out, as it often does with these cars.

When he took possession of the Civic nine years ago, Phillips says its initial role was largely utilitarian, getting him to and from work on a daily basis. Over time the mods started to come in though, starting with a swap from the stock automatic gearbox to a manual transmission.

The sixth generation Civic is, as many have already discovered, a great canvas to start from: Light weight, affordable, eminently reliable and well-engineered, the mid-90s Civic gained no shortage of praise from the enthusiast community for its class-leading handling due in part to its front double wishbone suspension configuration. It was also ripe for easy modification and helped usher in the tuner trend that would dominate automotive performance landscape at the dawn of the 21st century, which led to one of the most well-supported aftermarket environments that any modern vehicle has seen.

“I slowly started changing things,” Phillips recalls. “The first big change I made was to pull the automatic transmission and convert it over to a manual gearbox. From there it just kept going, eventually leading to the B18C1 engine swap.”

The B18C1 gets a steady flow of fuel from a set of Injector Dynamics ID1000 injectors, which provide a maximum pressure capability of 7 bar and smooth response at low flow, making them highly adaptable to a variety of applications.

The 1.8-liter, dual overhead cam mill initially served as the power plant installed in the third generation Acura Integra GS-R, where it made 170 horsepower and 128 lb-ft in stock form.

Working in his kitchen at home and with the help of his wife, Phillips’ motor now makes substantially more than that thanks to a rebuild which included a full port and polish, Crower Stage 2 All Motor camshafts, Ferrea 5000 Series flat top valves, Eagle connecting rods, ACL bearings, and Wiseco 81.5mm 11.8:1 compression pistons and a port-matched Skunk2 Tuner Series intake. Injector Dynamics ID1000 injectors feed the GS-R motor a steady diet of fuel, while an MFactory limited slip differential with a 4.9 final drive sends the grunt from the gearbox to the wheels.

Along with Eagle connecting rods, the bottom end of the GS-R received additional bolstering from Wiseco 81.5mm, 11.8:1 compression pistons featuring valve pocket designs that allow maximum flow around valve, in turn providing better performance from oversized valves and high-lift camshafts.

These days the Civic still sees an occasional commute during the warmer months of the year, but its main domain has largely become the drag strip. “I still take it to work in the summertime, but I also compete in the “Street Stick” bracket class every Wednesday at Lebanon Valley Dragway,” Phillips says. “We compete in the Import Face Off once a year as well.”

The fresh rebuild hasn’t yet seen track time, but Phillips tell us that the car formerly ran a 13.41 @ 103 mph using a stock bottom end and smaller cams, and he expects that the new setup will be much quicker in this coming year. “I was super excited about using Wisco pistons on this build,” he adds. “They were my first choice from the moment that the plan came together for this car and motor.”

Find a set of Wiseco pistons for your build here.

Phillips tells us the Civic ran a mid-13 second quarter mile previously with less aggressive cams and a stock bottom end, so he expects a big jump in performance in the 2017 race season.

With a stout bottom end and the new hardware up top, the Civic’s future is looking brighter (and faster) than ever – not bad considering its humble beginnings as a stock daily driver when Phillips brought it home nearly a decade ago.

All buttoned up and nestled into the engine bay, the freshly rebuilt B18C1 is ready for another season of racing – and daily driving duties, when the weather is cooperative.



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Written by Bradley Iger