Have you ever come across a build at a local meet or event that you saw in passing, but didn’t see again for months or even years? No matter how hard you tried, you were unable to locate that build again, and no online resource would reveal any information on it. You ask around to see if anyone knows the owner, but to no avail. The next time you spot it, for whatever reason, you’re unable to get a closer look at it. It happens. There’s always that one car you want to know more about after first spotting it, but it seems the harder you look, the more difficult it is to get any sort of info. You would think that in today’s day and age, social media outlets would easily take care of all that for us, but when it comes down to it, there are still some individuals who just are not very active on the web and totally uninterested in any sort of online social interaction. They probably have accounts on your favorite local automotive Internet forum, but they are most likely lurkers and don’t post much, if at all. Occasionally they will pop up to buy or sell some car parts, but not enough for you to immediately recognize their screen name.
A Mugen S1 bucket contrasts the bright blue exterior.
If you find the Captiva Blue Civic on these pages familiar, then you may have seen it show up at various events. It hasn’t attended too many, just enough to capture our attention. At a glance you may think it’s just another Civic that bears that similar hue of blue. The color and combination of the K swap and 949 Racing 6UL wheels might jog your memory as it somewhat mimics Raul Ramirez’s real-deal EG4 (featured in April 2011). While it bears a resemblance to Ramirez’s Honda, they definitely aren’t one in the same. The similarities exist because Ramirez served not only as an inspiration, but also lent a hand in helping to complete this ’92 Si. You probably won’t be familiar with the name Zee Chen. He’s the owner and the man responsible for putting this build together. He’s not associated with any Internet celebrity status, nor is he very active on any of the popular Honda web forums. Zee is brand-new to the Honda community, and this Civic is the first project he’s spent an extensive amount of time on.
“When I first bought this Civic, it was basically stock,” Chen explains. “It had some stock shocks and coilover sleeves, but the rest of the car was untouched, and the body had just been repainted Captiva Blue. One day, I decided I didn’t like the way the rear seats looked, so I pulled out the rear half of the interior. The previous owner took some shortcuts and just spray-painted the inside of the chassis black, and it looked awful. I cleaned it up, repainted it to match the exterior, and I was happy just driving the car around.”
Chen isn’t shy about admitting to an occasional spirited drive. Living in Reno, Nevada, he had plenty of space to roam about. One problem he noticed about his Civic right away was the soft, saggy ride coming from the stock shocks/coilover sleeves. He ditched those and purchased a set of TEIN Monoflex coilovers to update the car’s stance. Once he was happy with how the car hugged the road, he noticed the stock motor had begun to leak oil, probably due to its old age.
Even new- comers know the K-series motor is potent, even moderately tuned.
“I’ve always wanted to build a Honda that was fun to drive and that had some power behind it. I just wanted to be able to beat on the car a little bit while I drive it every day, you know? I knew if I was going to do anything to this car, I would have to do an engine swap—I just didn’t know what I wanted! It came down to the standard B-series swap or going all out with a K motor. Not many people in Reno were doing K swaps, so I went for it. My friend Raul (Ramirez) was selling a K20A Type R engine around that same time, so it just worked out.”
K-series motors aren’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination, so it took Zee a chunk of time to save up for the complete swap. He hadn’t planned on putting a K into his Civic when he first got the car, so the plans for the build went in an entirely different direction. Having a strong powerplant to work with motivated Chen, and he began collecting more parts from companies such as R Crew to give his Type R motor some added vigor. It didn’t hurt to have Ramirez as a friend, either. Not only did he supply the engine for Zee’s build, he also helped him perform the transplant. “One of the most difficult things about this entire build was delivering parts back and forth from my place to Raul’s house. We lived in a similar area, but he’s about 30 miles away from me. Reno and Minden, Nevada, snow like crazy during the winter, so the drives to and from were a little sketchy at times, but I have to say that it was all worth it in the end,” Chen says.
“I want to get the car out to the track (road course) like Raul and test out the K20A motor to feel its full potential. In the meantime, I want to keep the car looking clean, and that’s why I just kept the exterior simple with the BYS front lip and spoiler. Raul also hooked me up with the entire product line from his company, Checkerd Sports, consisting of parts made for this chassis. I’ve spent a lot of my hard-earned money on the swap and everything, but no matter how much money I put into it, I’ll never get tired of it because I’ll always want to add something new to my Honda.”
Zee Chen may be a rookie on his first project, but at the rate he’s going, fellow enthusiasts will start to recognize him and his Civic wherever he pops up in the future.