So, dr. cliff is starting up another 'project car'. This will be my first online effort; really I'm just keeping myself busy until I can afford to get started on the Lincoln. You know, the Lincoln that I don't even own yet. It's been in the planning stages for a couple of years, and next year I'll be ready to buy a starter car. I've learned a lot from building cars and dickin' around with them, and as I've grown up a little, I've come to realize that the planning is the most important part. It's not always the most fun part, but it's always the most important. Nobody ever got discouraged and scrapped an unfinished 'project car' because they did too much homework before they started cutting & hacking. Planning is everything. Go to a car show, or a local drive-in 'hotrod night', and look at the cars. You can tell which ones were thought out before the work started, and which ones were cobbled together.
Enough preaching. What's the car? It's my daily driver while I'm here in New Orleans- a 1987 Honda Civic Si Hatchback. So much for dentists all being rich, right? This car has a checkered past, and seems to have been put together from boneyard parts. Somewhere along the way, the 14-inch Si alloy wheels were down-traded for regular old 13-inch Civic steelies. It's been swatted in the front end- not enough to wrinkle any structural sheetmetal, but the hood and front fender have been replaced. The car was treated to a repaint that makes Earl Sheib look like DaVinci. They even painted right over a rust hole about the size of a dime!  
  So, cosmetically, it's, erm... humble. But mechanically it's pretty sound. It's a light, stiff unibody with struts & torsion bars up front, and a beam axle in back Real simple & effective. The stock 91hp 12-valve motor is almost sporty, but after 150,000 miles, it's starting to use oil. The car's no rocketship but it's fun to drive and it seems reasonably sturdy. The transaxle case has a couple of cracks, and I know one day it's just gonna split apart. So I started doing some homework, wondering if anyone had ever swapped a beefier engine/transaxle into this generation of Civic (third generation or 3G)...
I stumbled into gearhead heaven, and the project was born. Late-model Hondas are today's version of 50's hot rods- it's easy to make them go fast, and lots of people are doing it. Products & information abound! Turns out a couple shops even make mounts that let you drop in a late-model VTEC motor, some of which make 180hp IN STOCK TRIM! 180hp in a 3800 pound 60s musclecar with drum brakes is not very exciting, but 180hp in a nimble, 2500 pound Honda sounds interesting... especially because that's in stock trim. Simple bolt-ons should add another 15hp or so, and the car will still be bone-stock reliable. Sounds good so far.  
  So, take a mildly sporty little car, and double its power output? Without lumpy cams, leaky carbs, or short-lived race parts? Sign me up! I call it Project:BOMBER because I grew up calling very plain-looking but very fast cars 'sleepers' or 'bombers', and the new VTEC mill will be a B-16 model, so B-16 bomber it is.
Again, because I'm a little older & wiser than I used to be, I'm doing a lot of homework. Also, I'm putting the car together the right way- that is, the beefy drivetrain will be dropped in when the rest of the car can handle it. This is my daily driver, so I'll be doing system upgrades that don't mandate crippling the car for more than a day or two. As ideas for the project swirled around in my head, I started thinking of a focussed battle-plan, a clear picture of what I want and what I don't want in/on my car. The philosophy page spells that out, but is subject to change at the whim of the author.  
  First up, is a page with a few 'before' photos. When the work begins (soon!), each system will be featured on its own page, including a discussion of the philosophy and some pics of the actual work done.


Front Door