The Beastie Hatch: Hillclimb Honda Civic

Story and Photography by Tara Hurlin

The wide stance and giant wings make it the one Honda Civic that Batman would drive. And like the Batmobile, this one goes out in all kinds of weather. “Snow makes for great rooster tails,” Cody Loveland, the car’s builder, says with a grin.

The Civic, lovingly called the Beastie Hatch, is now his muse for aerodynamic experimentation. “An aero car is designed from the tire up,” he explains. “We fit the largest, widest tires we could in order to handle the aero loads, and then we built the largest aero kit ever fit to a Civic.”

The Beastie Hatch’s aero concept is based on the CFD-designed and real-world-proven front and rear wings found on Cody’s Enviate Hypercar program. This gave Cody a solid base as well as a road map for the radical underbody aero.

Cody and Aric Streeter, the Civic’s current owner, are just starting to tap into the next stage of development: getting every component to work seamlessly. In fact, wet fall testing in 2017 proved that the aero was working, but Cody didn’t know to what extent until he drove it during our photoshoot. That’s when he discovered that the 700 lbs./in. springs could bottom out under downforce on Northern Michigan’s weathered roads.

Since then, he’s resolved the issue with Eibach 1450 lbs./in. springs in the front and 1100 lbs./in. rear main springs. He also added helper springs inside of the main springs: an additional 2000 lbs./in. of support in the front and 1250 lbs./in. for the rear. The helper springs only activate under significant suspension compression, such as heavy aero load or extreme weight transfers.

This setup proved successful during a light shakedown at the Empire Hill Climb. “We were able to measure the ride height compression at speed and work backwards through other known variables to find real-world downforce,” Cody explains. “In short, it’s a lot. We won’t publish actual numbers until we hit a wind tunnel with load cells.”

Quite Powerful, Too

Nope, not a K-series. Not a B-series, either. The Beastie Hatch is powered by an Acura V6 paired with a Garrett turbocharger

Nope, not a K-series. Not a B-series, either. The Beastie Hatch is powered by an Acura V6 paired with a Garrett turbocharger

You won’t find one of Honda’s inline-fours under the Beastie Hatch’s hood. Instead, it’s a V6 out of an Acura TL Type-S, force-fed by a Garrett turbo.

This isn’t just any turbo, either. It’s the very unit that endured an intense impact on Pikes Peak in 2013. That was when Cody wrecked his original Enviate, the one based on an Acura NSX.

“I wanted to see if it legitimately held up from the 2013 crash,” he says of the turbo. So far, so good.

Since our photoshoot, Cody adopted a Link ECU. During a quick dyno session before last fall’s #Gridlife Track Battle at Michigan’s GingerMan Raceway, Cody tuned the new setup on his Mustang chassis dyno. At 14 psi of boost, the Civic made 497 horsepower along with 426 lb.-ft. of torque at the wheels.

 

A Public Shakedown

The secret sauce used to make the Beastie Hatch mixes together math, testing and home-brewed aero aids. Now comes the next step: sorting out the creation and overcoming the last few issues.

The secret sauce used to make the Beastie Hatch mixes together math, testing and home-brewed aero aids. Now comes the next step: sorting out the creation and overcoming the last few issues.

Cody headed to that #Gridlife event for a public shakedown, knowing that some issues still weren’t fixed due to time constraints. One of them involved the steering, as the car was still running the stock Civic CX rack, a setup designed around 165-series tires. Not only was the car now wearing 335-series rubber, but it was making another Civic’s worth of downforce, too.

The current dampers were the second major unknown, as Cody knew their valving wasn’t ideal for the giant spring rates. But with winter approaching, Cody and Aric just wanted to record a baseline to help them map out their winter workload.

Cody was right: The steering was so heavy that his hands and arms cramped up during the 7-minute sessions, and accelerating induced porpoising as the Civic powered through the tighter-radius apexes.

He still managed a 1:41 lap-on a low boost setting–before the skies opened up. At least the outing confirmed the car’s problems and that the aero and suspension worked as planned.

 

Now What?

Cody Loveland, on the right, built the Beastie hatch; Aric Streeter now owns the car. Together they have been tweaking and developing the Civic into a worthy competitor.

Cody Loveland, on the right, built the Beastie hatch; Aric Streeter now owns the car. Together they have been tweaking and developing the Civic into a worthy competitor.

Cody admits that he doesn’t work with cookie-cutter designs. There’s always a first draft with more variations to follow. “Constant improvement is my motto,” he says. “By the time I’m done with Beastie Hatch, it will be an insane track machine.”

 

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Comments
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GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/24/19 9:56 a.m.

Those look like factory front shock towers, I'm surprised they survive those spring rates, especially once the inner springs are engaged.

te72
te72 Reader
5/25/19 12:12 p.m.

I have to keep my cars from ending up at this level of insane. It's VERY tempting, but combine incompatible roads, lack of venues that would highlight an aero car's capabilities, and perhaps most importantly, I have no idea beyond theory what I'm doing with aero design, and... you see where I'm going with this.

 

Love this little Honda though, definitely has a presence!

BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon SuperDork
5/25/19 1:32 p.m.

Be sure to follow Tara on Instagram she has a great feed.

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