A Civic Shuttle That Proves There’s More Than One Way To Have Fun
Odd Over Obvious

At last month’s Offset Kings at Fuji International Speedway, we were given the opportunity to pick one car for a Speedhunters #FeatureThis award. Obviously, an event like this presents a few happy problems – with so many great machines on offer, how could we single only one out?


After plenty of debate between the team members, in the end we chose something a little left of field. While yes, there were plenty of big-power show and street machines on display – all modified to within an inch of their lives – there was something about Daisuke Nakayama’s fun EF3 Honda Shuttle; it just felt right. There’s no extreme body modifications, no monster forced induction setup hiding under the hood and no rollcage criss-crossing the interior – that’s not what this Shuttle is about.


Daisuke had come up all the way from Nara in the south, so although we were very quickly running out of light at the end of the day and the dark of night was only minutes away, we weren’t going to get another opportunity to grab some shots of this cool little wagon any time soon, so out came the cameras.


Daisuke, who runs a shop in Nara called Dice Garage, built his EF3 as a simple, fun little run-about car. He says that ever since he was a teenager, he has been into Hondas and, for some reason, the weirder, more unusual-looking cars that most people ignore. The tall, boxy Honda Civic Shuttle is perhaps the perfect car for Daisuke, then. When the opportunity came up to grab this example for next to no money, he jumped at it and quickly began building the odd little people mover into the cool daily driver he had always wanted.


Visually, the Honda is a strange sight. The perfect paint, J’s Racing front lip, subtle pin-striping and USDM lights are unusual enough to see on a Shuttle, but its tall windows, high roofline and extremely low ride height seem to trick the eye, giving it a distorted yet strangely appealing aesthetic. Unlike many builds in Japan, this zero-ground clearance comes by way of air suspension, not static coilovers.


The AirREX set up, which is hidden away in the boot of the car, is electronically controlled via a remote and provides a good balance between versatility and handling for Daisuke – a necessity for a car that gets driven every day.


The suspension allows Daisuke to tuck up two very cool pairs of wheels up into his guards. On the left side you will find Work Equip 01s custom-finished in a cool bronze and gold colourway.


While the right features Work Equip 03s in the same scheme. The front wheels measure 15×9 inches and the rear 15×10 inches – extremely wide for an EF – but they just slip under the guards thanks to a healthy amount of camber.


Though it’s not too hard to swap to a B-series VTEC motor in these cars, Daisuke decided to keep it simple, instead going for the ultimate in ’80s Honda motors – the venerable double overhead cam ZC. The 1600cc four cylinder is a bulletproof little motor, and provides plenty of grunt for running around the streets of Kansai Prefecture, especially when the inhalation and exhalation is freed up with a simple intake pipe, set of headers and aftermarket 2-inch exhaust. Despite appearances, the Shuttle weighs in at just over 1000kg, so while it’s no dragstrip-destroyer, it’s not an overweight, wheezy sack of potatoes, either.


And what about the interior of the car? An aftermarket steering wheel, shifter and a set of somehow incredibly appropriate Hawaiian-themed seat covers are all the Honda needs.


Daisuke’s Honda is a lesson in creating something simple and fun from a car most people have completely forgotten about, and probably never thought of as particularly cool in the first place. Maybe we all could benefit from looking a little further a field when searching for a new project?

Peter Kelly
Instagram: pedey_kenmeri_creative

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino

Cutting Room Floor


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Nice little Honda. Good to see more people using air suspension to combine stance and functionality.


Love it!

Also, cool that it has a sunroof---we didn't get that in North America. And it's always hilarious that they love our ugly orange reflector corner lights in Japan. The USDM rear lights (which have the red reflector at the end instead of the amber going to the edge) actually fit this car better, though, and good job on shaving the sidemarkers (or using USDM fenders?).


I love that engine bay is left alone, exposing all the wires and tubing. And that engine! I'm so envious right now.

Gianluca FairladyZ

Simple and clean, always a good way to have fun!


Just cool this car, and I guess the consumption must be quite low aswell, a pretty cool daily driver!


I'd like to see a Q & A with an air ride company here at some point to really dispel some of the myths around them and to better understand the limits and operating standards.


Great looking and very different.Less is more!!!!!


The airbag once again ruins a cool car, not to mention the spiked lug nuts.


Yurisminator You don't like the ride height, or the fact that the bags exist full stop? It's cool seeing these cars getting a bit of love; this one had a certain charm about it and was getting a lot of attention at the show!


TarmacTerrorist We recently collaborated with our partners Air Lift Company to produce an article which you might find very interesting (if you haven't already read it!) here: http://www.speedhunters.com/2014/05/know-real-history-air-suspension/

These stories might interest you too:


+ We'll have another story coming up soon where Bryn goes behind the scenes for a full tour of the Air Lift Company HQ!


Yurisminator "stop liking what i dont like!"


It's so FUNctional - I still want Bisi's - or an AWD FIT w/ 6spd in the US.  HERE THAT HONDA!!  AWD FIT in the US and it MUST have a manual.


Out of all the Honda's in the world, this one was chosen because...


10's in the rear, damn! I love this and apart from the bags I wouldn't change a thing.
A little off topic but is there a way to view articles here on speedhunters as a single page rather than having to click next chapter?
Like the old layout?


Taryn Croucher Yurisminator I simply dont think bags are anything exciting.
If you want to have a car thats driveable, dont lower it as much. The airbag systems are very complicated, i get the idea of owning a showcar and driving it too and from shows.
But this can be argued alot, but this might be the reason ive stopped following speedhunters like i did for 2 years ago, the trend today is air bags and rocket bunny kits.
Oh and airbags belongs on hovercrafts and steeringwheels.


pdrift  agree on the page thing. I guess it makes sense for loading on mobile but it's annoying on desktop


"simple and fun from a car most people have completely forgotten about"
Thats definitely something more people should do! thre are many cars that are often overlooked!


mbretschneider While it's always cool to see people make tier dream projects, sometimes you need one that a bit more.... grounded.


AM81 AWD Fit with 6-speed + supercharger kit would be such a cool daily driver.


@Lou pdrift This was brought up a lot when they first switched, and even though everyone was very vocal about being against it, they stuck with it, even though it's a bit daft.


I have read them but I'll go back over them with my notebook - Cheers! - it's not how low can you go I'm after, but how high, then how low and how solid/soft I can make the ride too.


Yurisminator Taryn Croucher Why the hate for bags? The first thing I did when I saw them on a "performance" car was look up the roadholding specs which in 2014 are often better than coilovers which people love wanking on about but don't like talking about the issues many come with. When you get more comfort, acceleration, braking and cornering from bags does that make people who stick with metal springs the image based posers that they accuse bag users of being?
Yes they are dumped in pics and yes they often show excessive (excessive in my view is anything detrimental to handling but everyone has their own priorities) camber to tuck the wheels but really, if I was putting a car together I'd be choosing the best tool for the job. Being able to run track / street / max clearance height at the flick of a switch? Primo bro.


TarmacTerrorist I'm with you on this, don't want a dumped car but love street grip AND drive often on gravel for fun. Pushing a button on the fly to add a few inches when I get to something rough would be awesome :)


Aaah mines so I can get my broken body in and out of the car while still maintaining the correct physics to be able to drive like stink. I've toyed with the idea of using pneumatic jack stands but it doesn't offer the difference in hight I need. Air sus. Is clearly able to make the hights but my concern is in how rough I can be with the car and still have suspension left afterwards!


"If you want to have a car thats driveable, dont lower it as much". You've never heard of Formula One cars. Or rode in an air-suspended car. Or thought before you wrote either.


Hi pdrift. Our stories are only viewable in the chapter format now. Although it might take a while to get used to at first, when you do adjust we think it really enhances the overall viewing experience.


@Beany Did you read the story by any chance...?


hushypushy AT Civics had amber/clear corner lights too (w/o side markers) in both US and Japan (EDM Civics were the first with clear corners and amber side markers), so it only makes sense he continued the theme unto his EF.


"Daisuke’s Honda is a lesson in creating something simple and fun from a
car most people have completely forgotten about, and probably never
thought of as particularly cool in the first place."
Funny thing is an EF shuttle is like my dream car for a daily, and one of my all time favorite hondas. It has the same 95 inch wheelbase as the beloved EF hatch with like twice the cabin space and hardly any extra weight. I love this one also. It is a prime example of their potential.

Austin Ridings

Where could I get myself some seat covers that would work for MY Shuttle?