Building More Than A Car: Huy Hoang’s 1996 Honda Civic DX

A commonly overlooked aspect of the automotive industry is the people we associate with so routinely. Throughout our obsessive journeys with our project car, we create everlasting friendships with countless individuals. Whether it’s through online message boards, late garage nights, or in-person gatherings, the friendships we’ve developed through automobiles are treasures in our lives. Back in 2005, Huy Hoang didn’t plan on building a stunning Honda Civic to ignite the relationships in his life, but that’s exactly what he did.

At the time, Huy’s main focus was an Acura RSX project he nicknamed Redrum. However, the RSX was undergoing a massive makeover that got his itch for immediate modification reward going. Not interested in waiting around for Redrum to be completed in all of its glory, Huy figured he would buy a Civic as a project car for his now ex-girlfriend. A perfectly understandable excuse to anyone with an affinity for building cars.

“Like many of my builds, I never really had a true vision because it is constantly changing. What I can say is that I know what parts I wanted the car to have. With such a broad spectrum when it comes to modifying a car, it’s endless,” says Huy.

“When I picked up this civic from a buddy of mine, it had a D-series motor, replica parts, etc. The only reason I wanted the car was because of the paint color. I didn’t really care for the motor or the parts on it because I knew I would end up wanting a K-series motor swap and to get OEM Honda parts — if not some of the aftermarket brands I like.”

K-swapped vehicles weren’t as prevalent then as they are now. We’re not even talking about reworking intricate rear-wheel-drive conversions. We’re talking straightforward front-wheel-drive transplants. Parts were much harder to source as things like a swap header, proper axles, or exhaust hadn’t been crafted and offered by the aftermarket yet. Whether waiting for something to be created or the research to figure out the solution, most of these items required time.

Huy considers himself fortunate to have found the people he did throughout this project’s assembly time, which has built everlasting friendships in his life since.

“I think that is what inspired me to build cars. It’s not just the end result, but the relationships I’ve gained and built over the period of building the project. The end result is like the icing on the cake where everyone who has contributed and was involved gets to feel the same gratification and satisfaction as I do. It’s mainly my appreciation for their small and big involvement with the cars,” says Huy.

Initially, Huy worked out a deal with a local junkyard to purchase a Civic hatchback shell and a K-series engine together. However, as time progressed, Huy fell in love with the color of his friend Joe’s Civic. The beautifully colored Civic also had a clean title, which weighed heavily on his mind, and eventually, Huy bought the painted car from his friend just for the shell.

Countless changes were needed because he wasn’t happy with the current status of the car. Huy began on a journey ending with every nut and bolt of the vehicle overhauled except for the paint. This campaign introduced him to an even wider group of friendships.

His favorite piece of all is the Jackson Racing supercharger. Originally, a spare part taken from his RSX, he recalls being one of the first people to make a supercharger work properly on a K-series swapped Civic. Although, the SARD STACK cluster displaying the instrument panel’s readout is a close second based solely on its cool factor and being his most recent addition.

However, all the parts weren’t as readily sourced as the spare supercharger. Others have been on his desired list since the onset of the build and still elude him to this day. Pieces like an authentic passenger side Mugen seat rail are no longer in production, and anyone he knows that owns a set isn’t willing to let it go. The rest, as with any new build, has all been trial and error.

“The only way to be successful is to keep trying different ways to modify and workaround. I think that’s the fun part. Even though at times, it is very costly, time-consuming, it causes you to curse and hurt yourself in the process. But these are the things that create gratifications and build your attachment to the car — knowing that every hour you have spent pulling out your hair has its purpose.”

After getting the build underway with the junkyard K20A3 engine, Huy stored and worked on the car in a friend’s garage for over three years, meeting more people along the way. After a bit, the car received a second engine transplant, this time a K20A bottom end with a Z3 head. While the new engine was fitted, Huy switched up significant pieces, including seats, axles, brakes, exhaust, harness, etc.

After a little more time, the hatchback received an overhaul to the OEM Honda EK9 Civic Type R interior, a Cusco 6-point roll cage, brakes, suspension, wheels, aero pieces, and some Recaro SPG bucket seats.

“To really sum it up, the car took two years to have a K-swap and supercharger, another six years of revamping things, and another three years to get where I am somewhat content,” says Huy.

“There are so many people I would like to give thanks and shout out: My family, Bill and Mel at BHM, Yoshi, Joe, Nina, Thuy, Larry, Andy, Jeff, Ryan, and Sean at JMI Motoring (now AeroCoating INC), Joey at Stickydiljoe, Sam at Super Street, David at Hybrid Racing, Sheng and Jason at JHPUSA, Matt at ICB Motorsport, Colin and Ryan at AutoFair Honda, Mikee at M-FAB, Derek at All-in-Fab, Stefan at ASP Headers, Ray at Garage Auto Hero, Scott at King Motorsports, David at EvoGarage, Albert at Function Werk, Ben and Mike at Ktuned, Brian at Karcepts, Brian at Hasport, Josh and Ahmed at Vivid Racing, Chuck at Show Stoppers USA, Xavier at Wireworx, Raffi and Geoff at Full-Race, Rob at Flip Side Customs, Pavin, Rob, Chris, Sherri, Rick, and Charles at Acura of Lynnwood, Minde at MP Built, Toto at Team2to, Terry, Pow, Tai, Darnell, Steve, Tam at Trikspeed, Ronald at LCM, Nick at Boeing, Jose at MercRacing, Robert at Tractuff, and Cullen at Cullenchuengphotos. For those who didn’t get on this list, I just wanted to let you know I am grateful for your involvement and my friendship with you. You know who you are.”

When building this incredible Civic, Huy might have set out only to pass the time and remedy his boredom while his RSX was finished. However, he learned invaluable lessons about the company he keeps and the relationships he’s built in the process. While I’m sure he and anyone involved with this car is proud to stand back and look at the accomplishment they’ve achieved together, I think they’re more rewarded by the human connection they created for the future.

Photography by Sergio Mendoza

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