A Civic Misfit, The Rust Bucket Wagovan

In this day and age of ultra-high-speed-perpetual-Internet-connection-at-all-times there isn’t a whole lot of stuff that comes through the pipeline the surprises me. This is especially so with cars, something I’ve dedicated a good portion of the last decade of my life to the investigation and reporting of. Rarer still is coming across a car that I cannot quickly define.

When I stumbled upon this rusted Civic at The Infamous last month it was a breath of fresh air in what was a mostly mono-thematic show. In fact I was intrigued so much that I reserved a good chunk of the latter part of  my post to a spotlight of the car. At first glance the exterior of the car sets the tone quickly and I’m sure pretty much all of you will have an immediate love/hate reaction.

But if you can look past the exterior, which wasn’t actually what caught my attention to begin with, you start realizing that there was a lot of time and effort put into this build. This car really can’t be placed into a genre or a scene which is really cool. It’s too ratty and old school to fit in with the Honda crowd, too slammed and slow for the performance guys, too new and Japanese for Hot Rodders to understand it. It’s a misfit.

Yet somehow there’s nothing about the car that is particularly unique or innovative – I’ve certainly seen everything on this car done before. But I’ve never seen so many seemingly unrelated pieces thrown together in such a thoughtful and coherent way. While some will surely be quick to write it off as junk, I think it’s quite brilliant.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice at Infamous was that the car was wearing Arizona tags, the state where I received my first driver’s license and turned my first wrench. I immediately ran through my mental rolodex to see if I could conjure up a guess as to who the owner was but I came up blank. Fortunately after the Infamous post went live I ended up with several emails from people who said they knew the man that built this machine.

One of the emails came to me from my buddy Chris who currently works at K-Sport but was one of the founders of the Arizona-based Honda forum AZHT. As it turns out James Rasmussen is not only the owner of this Wagovan, but also Chris’ roommate. As much as I enjoyed peeking around at the show I was dying to do this car more justice and lined up a proper feature.

In a bizzarre homecoming I decided to meet up with the guys at my old stomping ground, an industrial area in the heart of central Phoenix which served as the location of some of my very first paid photoshoots. Being familiar with the area I knew that it would provide the perfect backdrop to further contrast the incredible colors and textures of the car.

Although the rust may not be appealing to some, in fact it’s not my first choice in finish, it does seem to get cooler as you get a little closer. And getting closer to a build like this is an absolute necessity because the more you look around the more interesting the car becomes. For example, from a distance it’s easy to overlook custom-built wheels, Mooneyes fender mirrors and the retrofitted Honda Ruckus LED lights turned sidemarkers.

Getting closer still, even those turned off by rust can begin to appreciate the beauty of this living organism. “Living” in the sense that the rust is constantly changing shapes and colors all by itself. Looking further still and you can start to pick up on some of the intentional details, like how the car was painstakingly reduced to bare metal by hand, making sure to leave hard painted edges around all the trims and openings.

In addition to the factory painted seams, James had the car custom pinstriped adding a further level of detail. He told me that when he initially took the car in to be striped it was already rusted, but the painter insisted that he take it back down to bare metal. A day later he returned to the shop with a Civic he described as “looking like a DeLorean” and the lines were laid down. Once the paint cured the car was then left to rust again, giving a very interesting final aesthetic.

But the quirky creativity doesn’t end there, it quite literally flows from the outside, via a full-length sliding rag top, into the interior. The first time I saw the car I couldn’t help but smile at how looney it is, but when I took a second look I realized that there was more to the inside than a cheesy theme.

I’m not denying the loudness of the Mexican blanket seat covers, they’re almost overbearing, but appropriately so for a car from Phoenix. Moving past that, the next thing you’ll notice is probably the astroturf carpet which has been secured by individual stained wooden slats and finished off with heel plates comprised of old license plates. But there’s more still…

Take for example the Grant Walnut steering wheel. I can’t imagine another car on the planet that this would look good in, yet I can’t think of a better solution for this one. Peering out behind the chrome bullet horn button is an equally shiny tachometer from Mooneyes, providing a bit of old school cool validity to the cabin.

Underneath each of the custom glitter-vinyl door panel inserts is a skateboard wheel window crank. But the skateboard theme doesn’t end there…

While I didn’t spot it the first time, I thought that the matching third brake light was daring. The car is a bit like a good movie in the sense that I think I could go back and look at it a dozen more times and continue upon new findings.

Virtually everywhere you look there is something not quite stock about it. Take for example the sun visors which were fashioned out of a reclaimed stop sign, a contribution from a friend. In fact James tells me that almost everyone he knows has donating something to build. How cool is that?

By this point I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d written off the car as some sort of weird semi-show car, and as such presumed that the engine bay was forgotten. I know that’s what I had though when I saw it in Long Beach, but we’d both be wrong. While it isn’t making one thousand horsepower or have the latest and greatest bells and whistles, it does show further inventive problem solving.

As you might guess, Mooneyes doesn’t make a single part for an ’89 Civic, so if you want to use their goods on one you need to get creative. But as  you can tell from the smiling Tiki dipstick, creativity is something that James seems to have quite a bit of.

In order to get parts like the Mooneyes breather and oil cap to fit, James had to do some customization to the valve cover. This included some cutting and welding along with a pinch of thread pattern manipulation. With all of the serious metalwork taken care of the valve cover was powder coated to match the wheels and finished off with a Mooneyes badge and some spiked nuts.

But the coolest modification in my opinion is probably the easiest to overlook – the spark plug wires. Since there wasn’t anything off the shelf from Moon for a 4-cylinder Honda, he grabbed a set of V8 wires and went to the proverbial drawing board. In the end he had to cannibalize a set of NGK wires and, using their donor bits, fashioned his own set of Mooneyes cables for the Civic. If that’s not badass, I don’t know what is.

Then again I might be wrong, I certainly have been before, but I find this to be a very interesting re-think of what a Civic is and can be. Although he’s built a bunch of cars prior to this, he decided to just cut loose and have fun with this Wagon and in the process created something I find terribly interesting. While I might not like everything he’s done, I do like most of it and I’m glad that it exists and is daily-driven at that.

I’m sure many of you reading this started the article hating it, but I hope that after a further look you can appreciate some of what’s been done here. It’s a car that doesn’t fit any particular mold and celebrates what I love most about cars at the core – having fun. I think that’s exactly what’s so great about it, it stands for doing something for the simple fact that you love doing it.

In a way it’s a rolling metaphor for Speedhunters and in my opinion an excellent ambassador for what we stand for… vehicular diversity.

1989 Honda Civic Wagon

ENGINE
Stock D15; Energy Suspension engine mount inserts; SoCal Speed Shop aluminum finned air cleaner welded up to fit the stock throttle body; Megan Racing header with DEI titanium wrap; Magnaflow muffler with custom piping; NGK spark plugs; Mooneyes/NGK hybrid spark plug wires; Gates Powergrip hose clamps; Jagermeister overflow tank; modified valve cover with Mooneyes oil cap and breather; Tiki dip stick; mild wire tuck; Downstar inc. spike nuts

ENGINE MANAGEMENT / ELECTRONICS
Mooneye’s Half-sweep Tach

DRIVELINE
New Honda reman axles; Exedy Clutch kit; Hondamatic shifter extension; Energy Suspension shifter bushings

SUSPENSION / CHASSIS
Ksport Kontrol pro coilovers w/ 14k/12.5k springs (f/r), adjustable rear UCAs, rear LCAs, adjustable toe links; Skunk2 adjustable front UCAs; DA Integra swaybar powder coated green; -6.5deg camber front, -5.8deg camber rear, zero toe

WHEELS / TIRES
15X8″ +0 / -6 Custom Smoothies wheels; Falken Ziex ZE-512 195/50/15 tires

CABIN
Grant Classic Walnut wheel with a Bullet horn button; custom Tiki bar decoration shift knob and e-brake handle; Mexican blanket seat covers; glitter vinyl door inserts; synthetic grass flooring with wood slats and license plate heel plates; skateboard wheel window cranks; Crown Royal shift boot and ebrake handle boot; reclaimed stop sign sun visors

BODY
Rusty orange exterior; 90’s Volvo wagon front lip; Universal 55in Ragtop w/ powder coated green frame; custom hood louvers done by Hot Rod Central; Pin-striping by Tom Schmid; JDM EF2 sedan headlights; Drow Sports Ruckus LED sidemarkers; custom skateboard wheel 3rd Brake lights made by Machine-13; Factory BMW HID’s with LED’s throughout ; Mooneyes fender mirrors; 1981 Honda Accord hood emblem, 1971 Honda Life fender emblems
THANKS
Thanks to all my friends that helped me work on this crazy car and gave me so many ideas! Thanks to Ramsey and Will at Import Power House, Jin at Kyoei-USA, Nick and Chris at Ksport, and Hien Le aka “Hondamatic”

More stories by Sean Klingelhoefer on Speedhunters

More car features on Speedhunters

-Sean


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,



98 comments
Jen
Jen

WOW. I mean, just....WOW! Only a year late to the conversation, but so glad you did a feature on this, just had to comment! Had an '88 myself, and always loved that car - smallish, but tallish mini-4WD, with some supremely nerdy details. This takes it all the way home - great re imagining of a car that was a 'misfit' even in its time! Was just looking around to see if I could find one to buy (actually, keep wishing that Honda would bring it back) and found your fantastic post - thanks!! Enjoyed every detail of your photo-description!!

robzor
robzor

What's up with all the Arizona love lately!? Lovinit! Can we get a night where all the speedhunter featured cars and fans can meet up somewhere in town? I wanna check out this and the dragn kaiser in person!

Oompa
Oompa

I think this guy has the right idea. It's his car done by him FOR him. It is done well with a lot of creativity. Love the skateboard wheels, so obvious and yet not done before. I think it is very easy to get a bit too precious about our cars. I know we love them but eventually they will be gone or we will. Sorry but it is the truth. All the more reason to enjoy them while you can!!!

apex_DNA
apex_DNA

Just imagine what it would like without the rust, like maybe in kandy blue or something, including the bumpers.

MREStranger1980
MREStranger1980

awesome civic i just hope my ek6 will end up with half as much character as this thing! if you don't love it then don't build it :) 

BigGuzz
BigGuzz

@gakbrenti suka SW tp tuh Civic aneh ya

Mac
Mac

keeping cars fun and individual, how it's suppose to be  

xIRISHx
xIRISHx

I am not a civic guy... I am not really even a JDM guy but I love this car! This car is pure Traditonal Hot Rodding... this is not a rat by any means! Hot Rodding in the beginning wasn't all about big engines & bonneville. It was guys & gals taking old unwanted cars & adding all kinds of different things to it to make it "cool" & make it their own ride. I love all of the little touches this guy added. Sure it may look "ratty" but it's really Sanitary! (Btw Sanitary is 50s slang for a really well built rod) I love all the effort that was put into this & definitly see the minitruck & hot rod influences here along with JDM style! Its cool to think how styles & taste have come full circle & their are builders out there that can blend very differnt styles so well! Kudos to the builder! This is one of the Koolest cars I've seen in awhile!

666DAN
666DAN

As an owner of a Civic Shuttle/wagon I already liked this, the ragtop is wicked and my favourite touches are the skateboard wheels! Not a huge fan of the completely rusted look but to each their own.

It really is the smaller toches that make this a badass wagon!

teruo88
teruo88

I think its mind blowing that you sean even took the time to feature this car . Both your track ek and daily ej are so genuine  with functionality that it almost seems out of your own taste . and that is exactly why im glad you jump ship to speedhunters . and speaking of your ek were the hell is a feature on it ?

HeathvanderWaerden
HeathvanderWaerden

My first impression is that I really don't like it overall, but once I look at the details I find I dig some of the little touches. Overall still not my thing but the little details make me not hate it.

Dirty
Dirty

Has more style than most things I see

tenpennyjimmy
tenpennyjimmy

Dipstick is my favourite bit... but i hope he doesn't catch fire under there!

KeithCharvonia
KeithCharvonia

Well put Sean.  I prefer this car to an old skool rat rod any day, somehow it seems less poseur.  The real genius lies in the extensive use of Mooneyes parts though:  A Japanese company that makes hot rod parts is the perfect fit for this car!

hityoutwo
hityoutwo

What an interesting build, great article!

thatringokid
thatringokid

Finally, something different!

 

A breath of fresh rusty air.

Vilko
Vilko

This car is stupid. He's wasted so much time on a car that is impractical, uncomfortable, looks like crap, slow, handles like crap, chews through tyres, cant get over speed humps, and is barely worth anything in scrap metal. And I love it! Obviously represents a lot about the person who built it. Volvo front lip, fender mirrors and that steering wheel, THAT STEERING WHEEL! So sick...

Robo_No1
Robo_No1

I dont see how anyone could not appreciate the level of effort and thought gone in to this build!? Regardless of how much they're gonna hate on its style or scene(s). Great article Sean, I'm completely with you on the vehicle diversity, its the reason I'm here! It must be a good car for you to love it and have a complete post whithout the 'Klengelhoefer  scene cynicism" we all know and love haha!

Dshu
Dshu

When you build a car for yourself and not the internet; what other people think about it doesn't matter. I say keep doing what you're doing and do it the best you can. I like the little details in this car, most of it I wouldn't of noticed if it wasn't pointed out.

Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan

You have got to be kidding me. It looks like a turd. I don't care how much "work" went in to it. It likes like a sack of shit.

The Jash
The Jash

Haters gonna hate. I'm pretty sure the guy didn't build it to appease a bunch of 12 year old trolls on a website. I think its great.

ClassyNate
ClassyNate

Looks to me like an air cooled vw guy got ahold of a civic wagon. Cool build minus tiki stuff.

Sergio V
Sergio V

it seems more and more people are being influenced by Kustoms/Hot Rods. Awesome build too!!

Hotcakes
Hotcakes

The rust doesn't bother me, what DOES bother me a little is the random additions like the fake grass, number plates, stop signs and so on do seem a little, well, random. Like the owner put them there "just because". That being said, I can definitely respect the guy for doing what he wants no matter what, and there's clearly been a LOT of effort put into this build. Kudos. Nice feature all up, regardless of whether I like the car.

otar
otar

This is probably my favorite on speedhunters! I mean, I love myself I good vw, but this is too cool to not love. The rust paired with those wheels and pinstriping are awesome. The interior is just as cool, although I might've used a shag carpet or something instead of the turf. I wish he would have done something with the the rest of the interior, that grey/tan plastic doesn't do the rest of the car justice for me. 

 

Still my favorite car on here!

JDMized
JDMized

It's definitely not my cup of tea, but I gotta hand it to the guy for being unique and different, for that, good job Sir!

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

 @robzor It just so happened that I spent some time in Arizona and decided to shoot a few cars while I was out there. 

gakbrenti
gakbrenti

@BigGuzz gw aja baru tau ada civic SW kaya gitu

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

 @Dusty Monkey Very interesting and thought out response. I didn't really think about Hot Rodding in that way, but you're right. Cheers. 

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

 @teruo88 Ya this is very much not my normal cup of tea, but I thought it was something that needed to be shown to people. And again at the end of the day I can't knock anyone for having a good time putting together a car and it's refreshing to see something a little different.

 

As for my EK... well... it's coming ;) I have plans to introduce it to the audience before the end of the year and then go crazy with it for 2013. Keep your eyes peeled!

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

 @Vilko Haha too funny, but it's totally true. He obviously didn't build the car to be practical, aside from the astroturf which was put in for when he hauls his dog around in the car. 

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

 @Robo_No1 I literally lol'd when I read your reply. I have to admit this was probably the easiest car to write about in some time, it's just so different and interesting I had no problem finding things to talk about. That alone (and my lack of cynicism) I think speaks volumes about what's been done here. 

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

 @Dshu  Ya there are just so many little touches hidden all over which is what I like the most about the car. It's like playing where's Waldo on a car. 

CL
CL

You have to go to be kidding me with this comment. Why would you even waste your time to post a worthless comment? Sounds like someone is mad because they hate what they don't understand. 

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

 @ClassyNate I definitely see some VW in there, but I think if I had to pick one scene that this seems the closest to it's Minitrucks, but there are influences from all across the board here. 

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

@Hotcakes yep I totally see where you're coming from. But I think it's great you guys can still have some appreciation towards it. If I made this post five years ago I'm certain it would have been flamed to eternity. Hell I probably wouldn't have even shot it, but it's cool to see how far we've come towards accepting other styles and cultures in such a short amount if time.

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

@JDMized I totally respect that, in fact there are a number of things I don't particularly care for about the car, but I think it's interesting. I think part of my job is to find cars like this and let you guys form your own opinions.

robzor
robzor

@sean klingelhoefer Oh I figured as much! Mostly just wishing I could have made it out to irwindale this weekend.

Dandin
Dandin

What is their to understand? Its a rusted car with neon wheels, and it looks like a hobo designed the interior. Not much to understand.

kog
kog

 @sean klingelhoefer  @robzor  @sean

 It's pretty neat, I was admiring this car for a while before I saw it pop up on "the Infamous" thread - then the full write up. One of the shop guys at Right Honda in North Scottsdale owns this beauty. I work at the Chrysler dealership next door andI love seeing this Wagovan.

Trackbacks

  1. Anonymous says:

    […] car. Links to coverage from last year! http://jccs.smugmug.com/Events/JCCS/…4152&k=w9wZGpg A Civic Misfit, The Rust Bucket Wagovan | Speedhunters Yea Andy, sorry bro! […]

  2. […] dude, probs for going all out I certainly don't have the balls to do the same. Some inspiration – A Civic Misfit, The Rust Bucket Wagovan | Speedhunters Originally Posted by Nakai-San RAUH WELT Begriff Whether people's opinions are good […]

  3. […] him a hood to louver that was a bit out of the ordinary for a hot rod guy. This wasn’t the first import he’d worked on […]


OFFICIAL SPEEDHUNTERS SUPPLIERS