Jill of all Trades
Aisha Christian’s 97’ Honda Civic Hatchback
Story | Phillip Pratt
Photos | Ralph Gabaldon
We’ve all seen the decal “Built not Bought” pasted on windows at every show, meet or parking lot we’ve been to in the last five or so years. In reality (where most of us live), very few can say they performed all the work on their car. And by “work”, I don’t mean installing a new intake, or even painstakingly swapping out the spark plugs on a Subaru. It’s the reason why shops exist and professional technicians can charge upwards of $50 an hour in labor. While we are all enthusiasts, most of us don’t have the expertise, confidence, or patience to acquire the knowledge necessary to build our dreams into reality. Now that we’ve outlined that small minority of enthusiasts, take that image and turn it into a woman. Crazy, right? Ok, just for kicks, let’s name her Aisha Christian and imagine she built, with her own two hands, one of the most awe-inspiring complete, turbocharged B-series, Honda Civic hatchbacks you’ve ever seen. Got it? Great, now start subtly nodding your head in respect, because every word you just read is true.
Honda Civics are a plentiful breed in the tuning ecosystem. They are so plentiful, in fact, it is hard to find standouts among the throngs of coupes, sedans, and hatchbacks. It really isn’t hard to make a Civic look good (funny though, spend enough time in Pep Boys, it’s easy to make an ugly one). What makes Aisha’s 1997 hatchback special has more to do with its builder than its bolts. Many moons ago, the alternator of her first car, a 1990′ Civic, did what alternators normally do when you don’t have the money to deal with it. It died. After shelling out what she believed to be too much for a simple repair job, Aisha purchased a Honda repair manual and never looked back.
“They charged me $250, not including the cost of the alternator,” she remembers. “I was so upset that I had to pay someone that much money to do something so simple. Something that I was capable of doing myself.” If you’re not aware of what’s inside that book of spells, it covers everything from basic maintenance, to a complete engine tear down; obviously, a chapter Aisha didn’t skip a single page of. She’s responsible for everything on her car, short of machining and bodywork.
Like everything else with the Honda breed, deciding on the power plant can be one of the most daunting of tasks. These days, many builders choose the newer, larger displacement, K-series motors. In Aisha’s case, she decided to be more of a traditionalist. She went with the tried and true B-series for her hatch, and not just something sourced from another car. Under the hood, you’ll find a B16 head married to a B18C1 (GSR) block; a classic set-up among Honda enthusiasts, especially those that have forced induction on the mind. In preparation for the snail, the lower half of the engine was expertly fitted with a set of Supertech 9.0:1 pistons with Eagle rods, crank, and a Golden Eagle block guard. Legendary names like Skunk2 and AEM join in on the fun supplying the EJ with an intake manifold, fuel rail, and pressure regulator as well as cam gears that Aisha always seems to keep spotless. Fastened to a Blackworks manifold is a Borg Warner S200SX-E T4 turbo, mated to a T3 turbine housing. A Tial blow-off valve and wastegate handle the expulsion of excess pressure from the system, whilst a Treadstone intercooler brings the charged air to lower temps. A Competition Stage 5 clutch and X pressure plate help transfer all this power the floor, and there are a handful of ego-thrashed natives of the West Palm Beach International Raceway that can attest to this fact.
If you look at Aisha’s hatch and it reminds you of something else, it should, if your V-Dub fan, anyway. The eye-catching spicy hue is named Magma Orange, sourced from a Fahrenheit Edition 07′ VW GTI. The 97′ front end underwent surgery and was upgraded to that of a 99′-00′, EDM power adjustable headlights, and sports a JBlood bumper with a gorgeous, one of its kind Kevlar lip. Adding a couple angles to the car’s particularly rounded rear is a Bomex wing. The Civic is equipped with a set of 15×7 Work Emotion CR Kai wheels, wrapped in Hankook Ventus R-S3 rubber, proving that Aisha wanted nothing less than the best for her ride. Stopping duties are handled by Wilwood DynaPro series 4-pot brakes. Allowing the hatch to hover securely above the pavement are a set of Function& Form Type 1 coil-overs, enhanced with FRP Eibach springs. To better manage body roll Aisha installed an ASR subframe brace, Beaks tie bar with front and rear cambers and a traction bar provided by Hard Race.
The interior of the EJ is no less impressive than anywhere else. The dash and trim look as new as they did rolling off the showroom floor. Her gauges aren’t squeezed into every crevasse possible, but tastefully and functionally placed in the most appropriate of places. Ensuring she’s securely planted inside while pulling Gs, Aisha installed a lovely pair of Recaro seats, and color matched the inserts of the doors with the same sexy red. Her ‘racecar meets street-dream’ approach is completed with an NRG quick release hub and a Momo steering wheel combo.
By no stretch of the imagination is Aisha’s Civic a secret in the South Florida scene. She’s pulled down awards from Wekfest, Clean Culture, and Honda Fest, while still managing to snatch wins in front of thousands at SRMS track events. But she’s not satisfied, nor does she plan to slow down. Aisha harbors aspirations to install a roll cage, lighten the body, and get into Circuit Racing. Like I’ve heard from so many before her, Aisha doesn’t do it for the accolades or recognition. “My biggest achievement is ‘self- achievement’, it’s such a good feeling knowing to myself that when I look at my car, I did that.” It’s a sense of accomplishment, setting out to do something and completing it. Even though I consider my car as still ‘under-construction’. It’s a never-ending project. I always want to do more…”
Amen, sister. Amen.