For all of their popularity here, Hondas are vastly under-represented in contemporary coverage of Irish car culture. I’m not really sure why either, as I’m as guilty as anyone else for not pointing the spotlight in their direction.
Normally, when I don’t cover a particular aspect of car culture, it’s because I’m actively trying to avoid it. The strange thing here is that I really like Hondas, and in particular the EK9s and DC2 Type Rs of the world.
Here in Ireland, EK-series Civics did have a reputation as the de facto car of the local bell-end, but these were shopping-spec SOHC examples with exhaust systems clearly too large (and loud) for them.
The Type Rs and SIRs were typically always enthusiast-owned and well presented, so I’m sure it was a relief when the SOHC brigade moved onto TDIs…
For as long as I’ve documented Irish car culture, there’s always been a particular group of people I knew who never strayed from the big ‘H’, even when being associated with Honda was far from the most popular thing. Their continued loyalty to Honda always impressed me, and they continue to serve as prime examples of people wholly dedicated to doing their own things, for their own love of cars and a beautiful ignorance of what other people might think
Yon is one of these people. That’s not his actual name, for reasons which will become apparent later in this story. Actually, there’s no point in putting this off… Yon is as committed to the Honda brand as he is to driving his car hard. And when I say ‘hard’, I really mean it; the type of driving that none of us would dare admit to in 2020, but which many still indulge in. We all know it happens, and we might talk about it with our friends, but somehow it has become taboo. Evidently, not for the Hiro Racing crew though.
I will preface the rest of this feature with this: drive within your limits, know that there’s a time and place for everything, and always judge your speed by your car’s ability to stop within the distance you can see before you.
Traditionally, most Honda enthusiasts here are die hard N/A men and women, just like our Blake. That’s still the case for the most part, but there is an ever-increasing number of Honda drivers here turning to boost to close the gap between the aging ’90s and ’00s Type Rs and the contemporary modern day turbocharged hot hatch.
To extract 300hp from a naturally aspirated B-series engine requires a considerable amount of time, money and research. To get the same from say a Mk7 Golf GTI, requires a free afternoon, relatively little expense, and someone with a laptop who will upload some fancy software to your ECU.
Some might bemoan that modern cars are a bit too easy in this regard, but that’s progress for you.
Yon didn’t just want to just keep up with this new breed of car, he wanted to blow them into the ditches from behind the wheel of his B-series EK9. There was only ever going to be one course of action.
Strapping a turbocharger to a naturally aspirated engine is simple idea, but making it a reality requires a considerable amount of work. The turbo conversion was arduous for Yon, with the engine build throwing problems at him at every step. He could have given up – and I’m sure he thought of doing so a number of times – but he persevered.
With a Hurricane Series Turbonetics 7268 boosting the now fully-built B16B to 500hp, the circa-1,000kg Civic boasts a power-to-weight ratio on a similar level to a Ferrari Enzo or a McLaren 650S. We’re talking properly fast here.
As I’ve written above, it was a long road to get to this point. While the B-series engine still lives here in spirit, it has been expanded to 1.8-litres with a GSR crank. There’s Manley connecting rods and Wiseco 9.0:1 pistons to withstand the pressures of forced induction.
On the top end, you’ll find Supertech valve springs and retainers with ARP head studs in use, a Skunk2 Ultra Series intake manifold, a K-Tuned 74mm throttle body, and Grams Performance 750cc injectors paired with an AEM fuel rail.
The car doesn’t rev to its factory limit of 9,000rpm anymore, but still reaches an impressive 8,700rpm.
The Go-Autoworks cast iron exhaust manifold flows into a 3-inch turbo-back exhaust with a K-Tuned down-turned tip at its furthest extremity. Meanwhile, a TiAL wastegate vents excess boost through an external screamer pipe.
500 horsepower is a lot to try and put through the front wheels of a lightweight Honda, particularly with the relatively small contact patch the Nankang NS2R 225-section tyres afford. These are wrapped around 16×8-inch RAYS Volk Racing SE37s, with Yokohama Advan AD08Rs on 15×7-inch Racing Hart CP035s out back. When it comes to finding traction, an even bigger help is the boost-by-gear function mapped into the Link G4 ECU by AP Performance.
Getting the power to the wheels in the first place was a challenge, too. What raised my eyebrow the most was that Yon is still using the EK9’s standard S4C LSD gearbox, albeit with an Action ‘Stage 5′ clutch and Insane 500hp driveshafts.
With regards to braking, things have been kept in the family with Accord Type R callipers, 300mm ATR discs, and EBC Yellowstuff pads.
The interior is a bit Jekyll and Hyde; from the B-pillar forward it’s almost factory, but behind the posts it’s as spartan as can be. A Bride fixed-back with the stock Recaro reclining passenger seat is a great combination.
The two innocent-looking buttons beside the AEM UEGO wide-band AFR and boost gauges activate launch control, and swap between low and high boost.
There is no radio.
The exterior isn’t subtle, but it is in keeping with the intended use of the car. It’s very much non-apologetic in this regard, which for me gives a genuine vibe of Japan without reverting to the typical JDM style we normally see associated with the EK9.
The Cusco GT rear wing might be divisive, but serves a purpose on a car which has very little weight over the rear wheels otherwise. The rear bumper is by C-West.
The front end is a little bit more what we’re used to; a carbon J’s Racing bonnet is another piece in the puzzle with regards to offsetting the (moderate) weight of the turbo conversion. The canards, too, are J’s Racing items, and the front lip is by GReddy.
The front fenders have been cut, with Tracklife Composites cut-outs hiding their modesty. As always, I will include a considerable gallery of extra detail images below of the interior, exterior and engine bay.
Glancing through the remainder of the spec list, there’s only the suspension left to mention. BC Racing coilovers with Hardrace adjustable camber and toe arms, front and rear, are the highlights, with Spoon rigid collars throughout.
Photographing Yon driving around the idyllic village of Inistioge, the car couldn’t have been more out of place, but I enjoyed the contrast. In reality though, the car belongs on the open road and that’s where it can normally be found, most often under the cover of darkness.
But we don’t talk about those things.