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Old 29-Nov-2015, 10:26 PM   #1
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Help! Virgin honda builder, 1990 civic hatchback fun

Good evening, I just bought my first honda to build on. First off heres what I got....1990 Honda civic hatchback std, with what I was told, is a D15B1 and a "l3" transmission. Vin: 2HGED6343LH507598 The motor does not run right now, so I plan on pulling it out tomorrow. I have 1200 dollars to spend on motor and tranny. What is going to be my best bang for my buck? By that I mean, do I need to spend that much to achieve say 150hp or say a 12 second quarter mile? Best options for that block? Should I do motor or tranny swap? Could I just bore it out and add a small turbo? I'm looking for practical.... this is not my daily driver and i have a month or two and a excellent machine shop. Im not looking for hwy milege. Let me know what other information I should add to this please. Let your knoledge flow to me please.
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Old 30-Nov-2015, 10:35 PM   #2
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First off 150hp is not gonna get you anywhere near 12's. Sure my teg is a few pounds heavier but I have about 200 at the wheels and run 14.2 best. I'm also gutted and have more than $1200 in the wheels alone, traction bar etc. 100lbs of weight reduction gets you about 0.1 faster, I'd need to lose the weight of your car to drop to 12's.

If you make 150 with a turbo, you're doing something wrong. Even the old D in that car should get you to 170-200 on safe boost levels stock internals.

All that said, gut the car, get a traction bar and good wheels to suit your purpose. If the motor is salvageable and you wanna be a single jingle underdog, then save it and build the trans with Mfactory/synchrotech goodies.

$1200 isn't gonna get you a motor swap worth the effort, or a turbo kit that would last for any real amount of time, if it'll even get you a kit. Used maybe...

Thing is there's more to it than HP, two other major factors, TQ and gearing.
Horsepower is like how fast your going when you hit the wall, torque is how far you moved the wall when you hit it. In the D series defense, they can make more tq vs hp compared to a B series sorta, for example SOHC VTEC D's (D16Z6, D16Y8 or D15B-VTEC's) make around 125-130hp and 105-110tq, give or take, the B16 would be the same 1.6L as a Z6 or Y8 and makes 160-170Hp (180ish for the type R) but only around 115-120tq, you still gain HP, but not much tq, the thing is tho, a B16 has seriously close gears. My old Si trans (SOHC VTEC) turned about 3000 rpm or a little less at 100kp/h (60mph) where as at the same speed my B16 trans is doing a little over 4000. This is better mechanical advantage so you can use your power better in relation of speed, vs the d series is meant for fuel economy in any trim level including the less common ZC SOHC and DOHC d series motors.

Long and short of it is, take a D and a B, make them somehow the same HP and TQ, and you'll still need to build the trans on a D series just to run the same 1/4 times. Converting my 2.0L B series to VTEC netted the same amount of gain as changing from B series LS gears (tall but still shorter than most or all D series) to a B16 trans.

Good machine shop, find a used B16/GSR swap, rebuild that. Because you're going from a D to a B it's probably cheaper to buy a complete swap rather than piece by piece.

$1200 I think you're options would be find a DOHC ZC or a newer Z6/Y8 swap and drop that in, later on boost that or get a gear set and LSD from the aftermarket.
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Old 30-Nov-2015, 11:57 PM   #3
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Thank you, that's what I needed to know. I just sold two of my older project pickups for 2000 today so now I'm up to $3500 for motor and tranny, I have 3000 set aside for tires, suspension ect. . . And can be tapped into. I work 60 hrs a week so have aome resources. I have several more projects for sale and my piggy bank can grow as long as I'm building towards something I can throw on the trailer and be proud to take out and not break down every time i drive it hard. I reside in Vancouver, wa and the car will mostly see the autocross track at Portland international raceway. I removed the motor today, removed the head, oil pan, disassembled block, there is no cracks in the block and the head looks fairly clean. The car is already gutted for the most part, I removed both front seats, and rear seat. If weight is a huge issue I'll take the dash panel out and reconstruct a simple aluminum dash. I have a mig/tig, stick and plasma at my diposal.
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Old 02-Dec-2015, 11:38 PM   #4
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Well, there is a huge difference now in the budget so this changes a lot, but also before you wanted to run 12's, now you wanna autoX and circuit?

This changes the direction of the build severely.

Running the 1320 vs autoX/circuit is gonna be seriously different needs for power, suspension, gearing even weight distribution.

Depending on power, you may want taller gears for the 1/4, generally for the Honda's topping out in 4th as you cross the line is where you wanna be, a lower power car you're gonna need gears to get you up there fast enough, but a higher power car you may need tall gears to help you not just spin thru 1-2-3.

The weight distribution will change for each as well, a drag setup will want as much weight over the front as possible to keep the fronts planted, softer springs up front and really stiff rears to again, help plant the front end. Traction bars will help a lot, but they're a great addition to any car for any performance use period.


For circuit a drag setup will spin the back end around when you so much as lift off the gas into a corner, you need to dial in to your driving style, and move weight around, and spring rates, sway bars etc to your liking. Tires as well is a huge difference depending on your goals as well. Even brakes, a drag car the stock small brakes are all you want, unless you wanna spend big bucks to reduce a very little weight (tho rotational mass is something else to learn about) where as for circuit, you may wanna do the ITR/MINI conversion or some willwoods etc along with good pads and rotors, brake fluid and SS flex lines are almost a must.

4 best mods/upgrades for a circuit/autoX car, easy

TIRES - Look into what you're doing, maybe tire regulations for leagues or whatever you wanna run is a factor, keep tire price/availability in mind, and bigger might be overkill. On a lower power car a 195 or 205/50R15 might be perfect on a 7 or even 8" wide rim, or higher power you might need a 225, but won't really see much gain from the tire unless you go up to a 15x9 rim, and then the choices get even slimmer and the price of tires and wheels go way up. And don't cheap out on wheels either, cheap wheels means heavier and/or less reliable. People do brake wheels at the track just driving hard.

See what's readily available to you and base your wheels off that. Having rare wheels isn't cool when you can't drive cause you're waiting 3 months for one rim.

Brakes, pretty much said it already, but stock brakes can't track for any real length of time. Rotors crack, pads burn off, and fluid boils, making it and the flex lines spongy and the last thing you want going hard into a corner behind someone else, is to press the brake pedal, and feel it just keep going down.

You really don't need bigger brakes, unless you're making some serious power and need bigger wheels. Just get good rotors, don't need to be lazer cut carbon depleted uranium synthetic drilled and slotted rotors from mars, just some reputable brand name blanks like brembo will be ok, but get DOT approved SS flex lines, something like Motul RBF600 brake fluid and a good track pad up front, OEM pads/shoes rear. Too many people put the same track pads on the rear as the front and lock the rears in tight corners and spin, even most factory race teams just use OE spec rears.

SUSPENSION. Again you don't need to break the bank here, but knowing what you're buying can be very important. Don't go cheapo eBay stuff and end up with blown struts after a day, but you don't need some crazy race suspension either. The DA guys really like Ground controls kit for Honda's, it's Koni Yellow's adjustable valve struts with a eibach made coil sleeve, which I would have recommended against, but after 2 years of my sk2 sleeves holding up to the abuse, as long as they're not cheap sleeves they seem to be alright. GC's honda kit includes extended top hats, this kit is similar to what I run but with cheaper tokico blues and sk2's and extended top hats, I plan to go to the GC setup next but then again the options for a entry level track suspension aren't quite as good for a 91 integra as they are your civic. Skunk2 does make a Pro Comp setup for yours, only Pro Street for mine, so this is why I'm not staying with their product.

Set up correctly with camber and sway bars you can make a civic handle like it's on rails cheap, you just need to dial it into your style, so read up on techniques and play around with them, heck watch initial D and you might get some idea's.

4th and most important, SEAT TIME.

The number one most important thing about tracking a car, is doing it. Get a camera on your car and record yourself to watch later. Youtube vids of others on the same track and compare faster cars to yours and see what they do differently. Talk to other racers and learn from people who know your track. You'll learn way more about your car and yourself driving it to the limits than you'll learn from forums, and that's coming from a mod on a forum.

Speaking of seats, get a decent racing seat, if you wanna go fixed bucket, I'd strongly recommend a roll bar and harness bar at the least. Safety is a top priority and should go without saying, but people don't know enough about seats. You want to get a real seat, not a rep, can be a reclining or fixed, but learn about them. They'll make a track day easier on your body, give you better control of the car and if you really wanna nit pick, they're usually lighter than stock too!

Most of this was directed more at circuit/autoX because that's what I use my car for, and have more info about, but you can sorta direct this to drag as well, these parts are the most important parts to work on, then start adding power.

That said tho, the D series might be a little slow and the gearing not great for anything, a turbo would change all that, but might not be the best use of funds to start when building a circuit/autoX car

If it were me, I'd look into a complete B series VTEC swap, B16 or GS-R. Leave it stock just refresh things like new timing belt and other wear items. It'll be a good balance to learn on, kinda like tires, you should go out on something of a performance all season tire or maybe like falken rt-615's or Bridgestone RE-11a's or RE-71's (I think the 11's are discontinued) to get to learn the car and yourself better first before going up to slicks. By which I mean you might find it better to learn to drive a slow car fast than get in a 400+ hp monster and eat a wall ploughing thru the first corner.

Probably a ton more advice I could give you, but I'm writing a book here, and need to go to bed. Hopefully I've given you some direction here and I know it'll probably bring more questions so feel free to ask.
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Old 03-Dec-2015, 03:13 PM   #5
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Thorough write-up...nice work, ol Dusty.
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