The idea of building a Honda, whether for track, street, or “just because,” can carry as much anxiety as it does unadulterated excitement. On the one hand, you’ve got what is essentially a blank canvas, ready for its owner to create something sensational, and, more importantly, something personal. Along with that rush of creativity comes responsibility, both in time management and critical financial planning. Most want everything done yesterday, rather than waiting and slowly chipping away at their proposed masterpiece. Then there are guys like Mike Guillen of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who take their time and let the chips fall as they will, all the while knowing that, in the end, the patience will eventually pay off.
Long before Guillen had ever taken hold of the paperwork for his little SiR, he’d spent a number of years scooting through the streets of Tulsa in a boosted ’94 Civic coupe. Grunting its way to almost 400 whp with nothing more than an FMU and archaic (by today’s standards) VTEC controller, he explained that his taste for big-ticket items like aftermarket wheels has changed dramatically since those early days. “Back then there wasn’t much a of a scene here in Tulsa. There was maybe one shop in the whole state, but they seemed to be ahead of the game, at least around here. I picked up a set of TSW Hock Rs—they were the biggest wheels I’d ever seen, ha-ha! Later I swapped in a B16, and eventually went turbo.” Jump ahead eight years, and though Tulsa hasn’t experienced a massive influx of import enthusiasm, there’s no question that progression has indeed taken place in America’s 47th largest city.
In ’05, a local shop by the name of Xtreme Autosports had barely made their way through the proverbial red tape that surrounded a ’90 Civic SiR defector when Guillen stepped in and plunked down enough coin to call it his own. Like many imported Japanese vehicles, the condition of the hatchback was less than stellar. “When I got the car it was completely trashed. The carpet had a bunch of stains, most of the plastics were broken, and the seats were a total mess. It looked like it was used as a family car with a kid’s seat in the back and toys everywhere,” he recalls.
The goals for the car weren’t unlike that of most builders. He wanted something functional, nice to look at, and, most importantly, fun to drive. Forgoing the complexities of artificial inhalation, Guillen chose to maintain the car’s natural aspiration, and focused his attention on areas of pure restoration. After completely gutting the cabin and concluding the seats were a total loss, he jumped online for a virtual hunting expedition. From eBay to nwp4life.com and back, he searched high and low for replacement interior pieces and eventually landed a set of EDM buckets. He adds, “The hardest part for this build is the fact that it’s a real EF9, and in Oklahoma, there are really no parts available. I pretty much lived online trying to find replacement parts.” After what seemed like a lifetime, the car was finally up to presentable standards. A fan of the EF’s factory lines, Guillen opted to add only a smidgen of flair to the exterior with an authentic J’s Racing front lip, and a set of highly sought after Mugen MF10 wheels.
With a good chunk of income already thrown at the iconic chassis, the build slowed considerably. Guillen explains: “Since it snows here every winter, I decided I’d just do a major upgrade every year, and then enjoy it when the weather was nice.” This plan of attack would afford plenty of brainstorming, and a lack of any deadlines meant the work would never be rushed or sloppy.
The beautifully restored interior was also fitted with a set of Recaro Speed buckets and S
A B16A outfitted with HKS, Spoon, and ARC upgrades maintains the car’s originality.