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Vintage Views: Honda Civic Si

The end of an era is upon us: The Honda Civic Si no longer features VTEC, as the automaker has replaced its trick variable valve timing technology with turbocharging. The makers of those “VTEC inside” decals will have to find new subject matter.

Back in the very early ’90s, VTEC was almost the stuff of science fiction. Honda had created camshafts that featured the best of both worlds–a pair of cam profiles, with one for improved performance at lower engine speeds and another for high-rpm work. Switching between profiles happened magically, and the system was nearly foolproof, too.

VTEC made its American debut with the 1991 Acura NSX, the brand’s then-new supercar. Thanks to VTEC, the car’s twin-cam, 3.0-liter V6 engine produced 270 horsepower–still a strong figure today for the displacement.

When Honda unveiled a new Civic lineup for the 1992 model year, VTEC was part of it as well. The sporty Si model came standard with a VTEC-enhanced, 1.6-liter, single-cam engine that produced a max of 125 horsepower, a 20-horsepower bump over the 1.6-liter engine previously offered.

This new Civic Si again only came as a three-door hatchback–this was before the coupes and sedans of late–and the rest of the package contained the usual upgrades: better brakes, a sportier interior and stiffer suspension. Other familiar Si traits remained, like the manual gearbox, glass moonroof and orange lettering on the gauges. Steel wheels topped with snazzy hubcaps, another Si staple at the time, carried over, too.

The EG-chassis Civic lasted through the 1995 model year, and the Si didn’t receive any significant changes along the way. Fortunately, that EG chassis was good out of the gate. Like the previous Civic, this one featured double-wishbone suspension front and rear. Handling was still spot on, and lowering the ride height didn’t upset it.

Whether built to Si trim or not, these Civic hatchbacks were capped with a clamshell tailgate. The glass opened up while the lower half folded down.

This Civic Si generation didn’t initially make a big impact on the motorsports world, but today it’s common to spot EG-chassis Civics–usually lower-line models with engine swaps–at autocrosses and track days. Interest in the Si model is increasing, though, as it makes such an excellent daily driver. A dozen years ago, we purchased a clean, original 1992 Civic Si for $2800. Earlier this year, Bring a Trailer featured a stock 1993 model spotted on eBay with an asking price of $9000.

Practical Guidance

We’ve been playing with wishbone Hondas since they were brand-new, so enjoy some Civic Si wisdom from the GRM editorial braintrust.

A lot of EG Civics were modified, cut up and worked hard–and that’s before they were stolen. At this point, we’d work on saving the remaining stock Si models. A lot of these cars were painted red. The green ones should definitely be preserved.

That said, some modifications are helpful. Thanks to that double-wishbone suspension, lowering the ride height doesn’t cause major problems. In fact, it adds some desirable negative camber. While fitting your lowering springs or coil-over kit, install good dampers, too.

These chassis like more rear anti-roll bar, but be warned that the tub is a little weak back there–a thicker rear anti-roll bar can tear out its mounts. Fortunately, the aftermarket has responded with bolt-on anti-roll bar braces that distribute the load more evenly. The old Comptech braces were great, but that company’s gone. Progress Technologies and A Spec Racing still offer rear anti-roll bar braces, though.

A 15×7- or 15×7.5-inch wheel fitted with a 205/50R15 tire is perfect for the street.

Expect some brittle interior parts. The salvage yards used to be full of EG Civic donor cars, but they’re becoming rarer.

Back in the day, everyone ran the factory front lip spoiler from the Civic EX coupe.

Engine swaps are super simple on this chassis. We’re fans of the old B16A, but a newer K-series engine easily fits in there, too. Hasport has all of the mounts you’ll need. Still, we’d lobby that a real Civic Si be kept stock. Do the swap on a lighter, base-model hatch.

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Comments

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t25torx
t25torx Dork
11/21/17 6:06 p.m.

Another one of those "man, when was the last time you saw a clean one of those?"

Takes me back to the Gran Turismo days of my youth.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/21/17 9:57 p.m.

Mine was a clean one. I shouldn't have sold that one. 

Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
11/22/17 11:39 a.m.

Great and accessible automotive engineering-

 

The turbos are still V Attck YO!!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/22/17 11:50 a.m.

Sigh. Vintage views, but it's still a generation newer than the Si I drove to work this morning.

Matt B
Matt B UltraDork
11/22/17 12:51 p.m.

Ah the memories... I had a 93 Si when they were still new-ish.  It was my college hoon-mobile and is largely to blame for starting a lifelong habit of separating money from my wallet in search of "faster" (whatever that means at any given time).  I will always miss that one.

red_stapler
red_stapler Dork
11/22/17 12:55 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Sigh. Vintage views, but it's still a generation newer than the Si I drove to work this morning.

Wouldn't it be two generations?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/22/17 2:27 p.m.
red_stapler said:
Keith Tanner said:

Sigh. Vintage views, but it's still a generation newer than the Si I drove to work this morning.

Wouldn't it be two generations?

Son of a bitch, you're right. The third and fourth gen cars are apparently the same thing in my mind.

I used to have a 1993 Civic CX hatch. Base Canadian model. No vee-taks, but it was a really good little car. Just nailed the design brief.

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