1998 Honda Civic CX – The Good Times and the Bad


Most builds are not long term, despite requiring massive amounts of resources such as time, money, labor and energy and, of course, just a little love. Although car purchases, along with the sometimes staggering additional costs associated with project cars, are for many the next most expensive purchase of their lives-with a home purchase being the single most costly. With cost almost always a factor, some choose to keep builds short-term; gain a goal after which move on to another project. Others become short-term due to unforeseen events liketheft and collisions, or financial uncertainty. For Jonathan Tanguay ofTennessee and Knoxville, his 1998 Honda Civic Hatchback CX started off and thankfully, is still a long-term project. The adventure began in 2004 once thisas much as 2009, every time a two-car garage became available and, having amassed a solid collection of high-end and rare parts through the years, he turned it in to a weekend warrior. Parking options at work didn’t provide ample security from theft, so Jonathan decided to find a daily driver, and this proved to be a drastic alternation in driving behavior. Going from daily doses of dopamine derived from high-revving shifts to grocery getting confinement is hell to many, but Jonathan is satisfied with his decision. I am OK with only driving it very little because I have got had the automobile for such a long time. It form of makes me enjoy it more when I drive it.

What’s not to enjoy? A well-rounded build, just about every inch of Jonathan’s Civic has seen some kind of update or upgrade. A slew of OEM EK9 exterior and interior pieces, a variety of J’s Racing and Spoon Sports parts throughout the build, and the list goes on. Like any complete build, the powerplant wasn’t untouched, nor was it gingerly massaged. Not until after the bottom end was fitted with RS Machine pistons and reworked GS-R rods, though instead, an entire B18C1 swap was performed. Up top, a set of Skunk2 Stage II cams sit inside of a ported and polished head, and both ends are held together with ARP hardware.

Many emotions were experienced over nearly 10 years of ownership, including plenty of frustration. For example, following the engine was installed and everything seemed to check out, the auto wouldn’t run properly. The engine was idling rough enough to go out of Jonathan and his friends completely puzzled. They went back over their work, but everything looked at visually. Thankfully, someone suggested checking the transmission ground. Jonathan quickly dove within the chassis and noticed the transmission ground bolt was loose. Closer inspection stated that paint had entered the transmission ground bolthole and was preventing solid contact. He used a wire brush to completely cleanunderwent a great ordeal to own a set. He saw a hatchback with these exact wheels two years prior and fell in love with the mix. Someday those rims could be on his Civic, he thought to himself. Upon initial research, he realized the ten-spoke version had not been offered within a four-lug bolt pattern. No worries, he placed a purchase for a five-lug conversion kit to make this combination work. The CTR five-lug setup was ordered through an importer in Canada. A package arrived simply a week after ordering but contained merely one item. Where was the remainder of the order? The vendor was not responding to repeated attempts of communication and the parcel service was confused. Eventually, he discovered that the seller had shipped the order in four separate pieces to reduce shipping costs, but this was not stated beforehand. After dealing with the 5-lug fiasco, he placed a purchase order for the made-to-order wheels through another shop. It was during this time period that a massive earthquake hit Japan and, as a result, global supply lines saw instant strain. All told, Jonathan waited four months and spent upwards of $5,000 to obtain the wheel and suspension setup he had dreamed about. Regardless of the setbacks as well as the expensive cost, he enjoys the setup and loves the way they complement the overall look and feel. These are the little hang-ups which everybody faces when building a car, and no matter how minor, they always manage to drive us crazy.

All setbacks and tribulations aside, Jonathan’s Civic was built exactly the way he wanted and has recently experienced several changes. The build will continue to progress toward a more track-ready vehicle as plans to get a local autocross track unfold. Although the Civic’s presence is in a constant and gradual state of change, one variable that remains constant is his desire to make it and never let go. There are no plans right now. I need to save as much as get the rest of the [current] parts I want. The never-ending story, and the adventure that goes along with it, continues.