For most people, a single project car would suffice. Managing time and cash flow can easily put a damper on any multiple-car buildup, but not for Jovito La Victoria. He doesn't let pesky minutiae like a shortage of greenbacks or the waning hours in the day stop him from building potent street machines-four of them in the last couple of years, in fact.
The lengthy list of cars that the Hacienda Heights, Calif., local has owned reads like an excerpt from the Honda history books, beginning with an '89 Civic hatchback that his uncle gave him seven years ago. It's since burgeoned into a collection of every other Civic three-door, excluding the antiquated CVCC. He even had a '94 Accord in the garage at one point, but it was stolen soon after purchase.
It's La Victoria's latest hatchback creation that caught our attention, an '03 Civic Si representing a skillful union of power, handling and style. From the beginning he set out to construct a hatch like no other. "It's got to be different," he says, "but the quality's got to be good too."
With three B-series-swapped, naturally aspirated hatchbacks already sitting in his driveway, Jovito knew he'd have to leave his all-motor roots if his latest Si were to possess some individuality. Although partial to the instant throttle response of his N/A B20 VTEC (in a '91 Si), he called upon the techs at Super Autobacs in Stanton for a GReddy turbo kit. He has nothing but praise for the install.
"They did such a clean job," he says. "It looks perfect for shows."
Next, Jovito turned to what he says most people appreciate about the car: the exterior. "When you're sitting in traffic, nobody cares about what you have under the hood," he explains. "They care about what's on the outside."
Fair enough. He dropped off the EP3 at Monterey Park Auto Body, where it received carbon-fiber body upgrades from Seibon, TR and MG. Equal attention was paid to the interior, where La Victoria installed red Recaro Speed buckets, Takata harnesses and enough gauges and electronics to gather more than a fair share of attention from traffic-captive onlookers.
Building a worthy project car, regardless of the quantity, is seldom an easy task. Jovito admits as much. "Putting the Si together was like putting a puzzle together. I had to go to so many different places to find the right pieces."
But encountering adversity upon sourcing parts was not his only dilemma. Money and spare time were no easier to come by. When they did arrive, they came at the expense of the other. Late nights of carpentry work reeled in funds but also ate away wrenching hours. And there were always the other cars. None would be neglected at the expense of another, he says.
Regardless of the challenges, the Si buildup still took only one year. Were it not for his five-year-old daughter, La Victoria claims it may have taken longer.
"She's helped out many nights, handing me tools, helping me install bumpers and body parts."
Now fully tuned and belting out a healthy 231 hp, the Si has yet to debut at the dragstrip. We suspect he's simply having difficulty deciding which project car to take out.