A Civic Modified One Lesson At A Time

I’m going to go ahead and say that next to catastrophe-driven resurrections and family heirloom stories, tales about unintentional builds are some of my favorite.

Because while anyone can build a car with a clear end vision in mind and a well-crafted shopping list of parts, it takes a special individual to start with no real direction and still end up with something incredibly purpose built.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6687

There are countless four-door Civic race cars that exist today, but remarkable lap times were never Honda’s true intention for the responsibility-oriented, D-series-equipped cars. But, even in their lowliest form, ‘golden era’ Hondas have always been fun to drive.

The ‘ricer’ era proved that it’s easy to take these cars left, but with decent prodding you can also take them very right. This car, from wing to front spoiler is done right.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6724

As the intro alludes, this didn’t happen overnight. Nor did it happen by following a gospel written by tuners running the streets of LA or Japan. Its current state of being is the result of 10 years of fettling with lower lap times in mind.

Have You Ever Heard Of Autocross?
Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6435

When Chris Acosta bought his EJ6 Civic sedan, it was the first car of nine he’d owned by that point to actually hit the road. Previously, he bought almost anything that he came across with a conservative price tag. He’d fix these cars up a bit before selling them, and then do it all over again.

Life and family responsibilities eventually intervened though, and Chris found himself in need of his own reliable method of transportation.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6694

“I had a job mostly to pay for insurance,” Chris explained, describing the early days of owning the Civic. Between errands he found time to give it a small drop, some Enkei wheels and a few other small modifications. Nothing extreme, but just enough to stand out from the other Civics running the rat race.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6603

The Honda stood out to the point where a co-worker took notice and one day at lunch asked a bit of a loaded question: ‘Have you ever heard of autocross?’ That was a Monday; the following Saturday Chris pulled up to a closed parking lot full of cones “not really knowing what I was getting myself into.”

Chris’s co-worker happened to be part of the Porsche Club of America and a well-respected member of the local autocross community. Impressed that he showed at all, he saw to it that Chris got a proper introduction to performance driving.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6688

After a few laps with an instructor, Chris was hooked. Autocross proved to be the perfect introduction to motorsport in general, and at an affordable cost.

Like most, Chris was eager to get knee-deep in modifications, but several people suggested he value seat time over wrench time.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6435

“If you drive a car enough, it will tell you what it lacks. Rather than doing thing twice, I’d listen to the car and act on that,” he says in retrospect.

Time To Think
Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6577

After a handful of years running autocross and a few modifications along the way, Chris followed an invite to a lapping day. Again, it was a well-organized event, and the groupings placed like drivers together, mitigating the risk to everyone involved.

Chris can’t stress enough how appreciative he is of his local racing community for guiding him along the way. Each lap day was a learning experience, and the community was more than willing to share their knowledge when it came to car set-up and driving style.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6565

During his first track day, a fellow Civic driver was surprised to see the D-series engine still under the hood of Chris’s car. ‘You’re going to have a whole lot of time on the back straight to think about swapping to a B-series,’ he said with a smirk before heading out for his own session.

No lies detected, the D-series, while faithful, revealed that despite being solid enough for a tight autocross course, didn’t have much to offer on a longer track. In the engine bay now is a ’98-spec’ Integra Type R B18C engine. On the induction side, a 70mm throttle body has been paired with a port-matched Integra Type R manifold; on the exhaust side, a Spoon Sports header runs into a Spoon N1 axle-back system.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6534

A Fidanza 7.5lb flywheel and Exedy clutch transfers the power to the transmission, which itself had been fitted with a GearX 4.9 straight-cut final drive and Synchrotech carbon synchro kit.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6456

An autocross background fostered an appreciation for momentum over horsepower, so naturally the engine remains NA. Further performance gains were sought in the simplest way possible – by removing weight.

The interior has been stripped almost entirely. A lone Spoon Sports bucket seat sits on a PCI bracket, and a Takata Racing harness keeps Chris strapped in behind a Spoon Sports Gen2 steering wheel.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6403

The factory tachometer has been replaced with an Omnipower equivalent, which has seen its needle pegged all the way past 11,000rpm after an accidental full-throttle 4th to 3rd gear shift at Limerock Raceway. Pulling off the track after the mishap, Chris let the engine idle cool, keeping a close eye on the matching AEM oil pressure and air/fuel ratio gauges.

No harm no foul; the motor turned out to be OK, and it’s the same motor still in the car today.

Still A Street Car
Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6678

While the Civic most certainly has race car mannerisms, it is still license-plated and registered in its hometown of New York. One of the key components that allows this car to remain legal on the streets is a roll cage that’s functional but not too obtrusive.

Chris drew the 8-point cage himself and had Soul of the Street take his design and make it reality within the specifications for the various series he competes. Once it was complete, the cage and engine bay were painted Frost White to match the exterior.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6429

The RAYS Volk Racing wheels are – if there was any question – green TE37s wrapped in 205/50R15 Toyo Proxes R888R tires. Ground Control Special Purpose coilovers specced with 900lb/sq-in front and 700lb/sq-in rear springs keep the tires mostly away from the fenders.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6620

Again, driving style and miles behind the wheel have seen various suspension reinforcements enter the equation. The front and rear strut bars are Spoon items, while the OEM Civic Type R parts bin was pilfered for lower control arms, shock forks, and a 26mm sway bar. Energy Suspension bushings are used throughout.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6388

Finally, behind the 15s are Alcon 4-pot brakes equipped with Hawk Performance pads.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6385

Overall, much like the rest of the car, the exterior is a combination of higher-trim Honda OEM parts and track-proven accessories. Beneath the JDM Honda Civic SiR front lip is a homemade plywood front splitter, while JDM SiR headlights can also be found up front guiding the way. Professional Awesome hood louvers help with engine temps, as does a Shelby GT500 heat exchanger and a C&R Racing three-quarter-size radiator with 14-inch fan.

Hanging off the carbon fiber trunk is a Spoon Sports GT wing that’s the final exclamation point on a truly sorted vehicle.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6394

The motorsports racing itch has led Chris to a point that he’s considering a rear-wheel drive project next. If he does go this way though, the Civic won’t be replaced – it has too much sentimental value now.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6610

From rides with his father to track days with his wife Nicole by his side, no amount of money or rear-wheel temptation could persuade Chris to part with his beloved Honda. A FR car would be an addition to the stable rather than a swap.

Honda Time Attack EK9 - Speedhunters - 20 - 11 -  2020 - Keiron Berndt-6648

A decade into an incredible journey with an honest car, Chris thanks his parents, in-laws, and wife for their support along the way. The car also wouldn’t have come together without Eddie Valez, Mill hatch, Tom and the guys at Full Throttle NYC, and his cousin David. “I’m sure I have forgot a few who helped me get to where I am today, but I am forever grateful to anyone that’s helped.”

Dave Thomas
Instagram: stanceiseverythingcom

Photos by Keiron Berndt
Instagram: keiron_berndt



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I really like how the tach sits in the factory location and looks so OEM.

Being that it's still registered, is this his DD? I want to get some stiffer Ground Control springs for my Koni yellows on my Del Sol but don't want to make my work commute unbearable...

Christopher Acosta

Hey, what’s up man? I used to run koni yellows on the civic for a while. From what I remember, the yellows are valves to handle up to a 600lb/sq-in spring. I did run a 600lb spring for about 6-8 months. Then the fronts started leaking. So to keep the shock from over working I wouldn’t go over a 600lb spring.


Wow thanks for taking time to reply to my comment!

Your car is awesome man. It's so legit. You kept it classy. I look forward to checking out your next build! Good luck out on the track buddy.


No it's not his daily anymore. But still street driven on occasion



well this is....



I am becoming too old ;;

everything is becoming stupid to me ;W;

i appreciate the hard time this person has put into his car but it just seems

goofy xD


I wouldn't worry too much about it, no one here really takes you seriously....


All over here calling it goofy when you're on your Mickey Mouse grind.


Nope. sorry.

I'm the first person to call a car on this website a shitbox.

This, Sir/M'am, is not a shitbox.


This car is to the letter what a lot of our audience as been asking for. Purpose built, affordable, vehicles that can be enjoyed driven hard.

But, SH is about balance, so if you're more into the show realm, or unattainable to the common man, we'll have some more of that soon too.


Say it louder for the people in the back


The goofiness lowered his lap times, it didn't sound like he put a wing and splitter on to pose in a parking lot.


How is this goofy? It's an extremely well put together purpose built race car..


Dude you're on the wrong page!.. with some things. I rarely have the same feeling but maybe you should go to collecting coins or something if you feel like this.. or maybe give you're life a nice purpose..


This thing is awesome and a cool story! Just doing it and living with cars and being into it is what this makes.. continue dude!


This Civic is properly done like how it should be




This is definitely the philosophy of how building a race car should be. (Of course do any mods that are noted to protect the engine/car/ yourself), but run the car first, and see what YOU feel it needs for YOUR driving style before you start throwing parts at it. Super clean civic (4-door at that too), and lots of thoughtful work has definitely gone into it!


I've always loved Hondas, but I'm not your typical Honda fanboy. THIS is what Honda is all about for me. Love this build!
I love this build. I've followed it on IG for a while now. I love people who build their car like this, and not just throw parts at it.
If he goes for a RWD project, I hope he goes for an S2000 or a well sorted E36. Anyways, can't wait to see how he builds the next one.


E36 over S2000 for me TBH. Need some BTCC vibes.


E36 would follow the sedan ethos he's running, S2000 would mean more VTEC. Love them both tbf! A DTM/BTCC inspired E36 Is a bucket list build for sure!


Why not an E36 with an FC20?


K24/20 with F20 trans would be even better, but I struggle with engine swaps not being from the same manufacturer smh! S54 would be my go to engine swap, although they can be high maintenance :(




Who you think be driving these types of vehicles? Around in the hood Ron? Ron O'Neal or sumthing...


I really enjoyed the article. Very enthusiastic and encouraging since I do love Honda's.


This makes me want to run out and get a civic hatch either an eg or ek sooooo much!


What a huge waste of effort for a Civic!

Seems well put together, and as a car enthusiast I understand all of the hours and money it takes to build a good track car. But this econobox is 20 years too late, and should have put the work into a much better starting platform.


Is it a waste of effort? His intentions from the start are not what it evolved into, but you can't say that platform isn't capable.

Many have had success in NA Hondas.


As a guy who drives a momentum car at track days etc, this car is the absolute definition of a guy trying to make the best he can with what he has. If you don’t like what Christopher has done with this, your understanding of it is the problem. In order to appreciate fine wine, scotch, food etc is to have a comprehension of what it is that makes it special. It’s so easy to just pre judge something based on your background thinking you know all the answers. It’s so tiring to read when people don’t like or agree with the way a car is presented. There are so many factors that come in to play with how a car is built. I say kudos to Christopher for building this. This car with a really good driver could probably destroy some dork who thinks he can drive in a supercar. And it’s probably a hella of a lot fun too. Great job on the presentation Dave and Keiron. Bravo!! This is why I visit Speedhunters. It ups my comprehension of why i enjoy this.


Speedhunters needs more racing-oriented Hondas!