Teo was among the first to source and install OEM CTR cams into his B18C-powered Civic in
HT: What year did you have that swap refereed?
JR: October 1999. It read: “1993 Honda Civic, 1994 Acura 1.8L engine.”
AT: I remember when you got that sticker.
JR: That was a big deal because a lot of people didn’t want to be hassled. They weren’t street racers. They were just people who wanted to have a faster car but didn’t want to have the car impounded or pay fines. I kept that car for a long time. Eventually that one got crashed by a friend of ours named Tam!
JR: It got parted out and all the parts went back into the Hybrid pool. Almost like an ecosystem, you know? Nothing goes to waste. It got recycled back into the system.
HT: Most Honda enthusiast weren’t online when the Hybrid Page first started, no?
JR: At the time, it was only really geeky people, college kids, and other computer geeks who were online. A lot of the knowledge was coming from street racing and kind of thuggish guys who really wanted to look hard and wouldn’t share information. I did PYR’s [Peter Yem Racing] web page and was hanging out at his shop for weeks, taking pictures and learning stuff. I swear I heard somebody order a transmission, and they said, “We don’t have it in stock right now, but we’ll have it for you in the morning.” I was like, “Wait, it’s a Saturday, tomorrow’s Sunday. How’s that gonna happen?” Lightbulb! Oh! [everyone laughs].
HT: Adrian, talk about your relationship with HaSport. You weren’t located too far from them.
AT: We posted so much information that they took that and made swaps a part of their business.
JR: Those guys probably made out the best of anyone who has touched our site [laughs]! People go to them first when they wanna find out if something’s gonna fit in something. We were probably sending a lot of business their way.
AT: HaSport was running a wrecking yard, and I’d hop over there to get parts. Brian Gillespie set up a shop to do swaps because he found out that we provided that information. Then I did some design work for them, and they started making engine mounts. It was a combination of Gil’s [Garcia] engine mounts plus whatever modifications I suggested and a whole bunch of other stuff.
HT: You helped HaSport design some of its early mounts?
AT: Not directly. One of my friends was like, “Hey, we should do this in billet.” He drew up everything and gave it to HaSport. That’s how they started making billet stuff. They’ve grown so big that they’ve gotten rid of their wrecking yard. But we learned from them, too, like wiring issues. They helped solved a lot of wiring issues, and they published that information. Being a shop, they had access to detailed Honda wiring diagrams. We posted all of that online.
HT: Did you have relationships with any other engine swap manufacturers?
JR: I was hanging out with Gil [Garcia]. We were pushing the DIY thing, so we were, in some sense, competing with the shops. We were trying to show people that you don’t need a shop to do it. What you need is, as Adrian said, a six-pack of beer, some knowledge from this page, and one of the people here who’ve done it. People were driving three, four, five hundred miles to help someone do a swap because they did theirs a month ago. That was the community aspect of it.
(Upper) An impromptu Hybrid meet at an early SoCal SEMA International Auto Salon. (Lower)
HT: Besides the guys from HaSport, who else was on the Hybrid Page early on?
JR: Doug from Hondata. I’d hang out with him. At the time, I was also good friends with Jeff Matthews, who did Zdyne. These guys were direct competitors. I was playing double agent a little bit, talking with both of them. They were so deep into it, though, that it wasn’t like I was giving information to them.
AT: And ScottDR [DeRuyter]. We basically walked through everything online, telling him how to do his swap.
JR: He did Fastbrakes for a while. Before you could get any kind of brake stuff for a Honda, he was figuring it out. He was going to AutoZones and Kragens, bringing in his Honda calipers and having the guy bring out whatever Honda ones he had. That’s when he found out the Acura ones have the twin pistons and bolt right on with bigger rotors. The Civics and Integras, they were like Legos [laughs]. The five-lug swaps were a big deal because you could actually get Type R stuff on your car. A lot of people were wrecking Type Rs, but at the same time, I sometimes wonder if part of the reason there are so few Type Rs out there today is because of us making it known that those parts so easily bolt on.
AT: At one point, the Acura Integra was the most stolen car.
JR: It’s still very high. It’s still in the top 10. I know because my wife has one.
HT: Which leads us to my next question: Do either of you still own a Honda?
JR: I inherited it from my wife. I actually have a motor for it that I just can’t get the time together to put it into the car. I’ve had a ported cylinder head in the trunk for the last six months [laughs]. Half the time I’m like, “I need to take it out, take pictures, and sell it” and the other half I’m like, “I just need to go get it installed.”
AT: I had a Honda Element up until about two weeks ago that my wife was driving around. We’ve got an Acura now and a Beemer. I drive an M3.
JR: That was the nature of it—you start with a Honda and you move up to an M3.
AT: No other car drives like an EG but perhaps the M3. They feel exactly the same [laughs].
HT: Talk about the Hybrid Page’s track days.
JR: That was a big thing for the community. I think the first one was with the MR2 guys at the Streets of Willow. I talked to the guy who organized it, got all the numbers, and was like, “We could do it ourselves.” We did it cheap, with twice as many cars. We had like 60-plus cars for Streets of Willow, which was crazy.
AT: It was crazy! But everybody got to run.
JR: Everyone took pictures and put those on the site. Nobody else was doing that. They were having meets, maybe—but they weren’t renting out tracks. We did it again at Buttonwillow and then at Laguna Seca. You can’t rent any of those tracks anymore for the money that we were doing it for. Having everyone together also ended up being really good for the information, because you could see what other people had done and take pictures. We’d do our little feature articles based on cars that would come out to these events.
AT: It was a meet of sorts.
HT: Adrian, what was the Honda performance scene like in Arizona in the mid-1990s?
AT: There wasn’t much. It was pretty ricey, to be honest. I was probably the first one out here with that [hybrid] kind of car. Wherever I went, I always got tons of people coming up to me like, “Oh, you’re that guy. Can I check out your car?” Slowly, the scene did grow out here.
One of the many track days attended by the Hybrid Board family.
HT: You guys started long before sites like honda-tech.com. Did you ever fathom the potential monetization or enormity of sites like that?
JR: Oh, no, but we got burned early on. There was a company that was paying a dollar a banner ad or something like that. We got with them, were running their ads, and they’d send us an update of how much money they were going to send us.
AT: They eventually folded and are still in Chapter 11. Whenever they get money, they are supposed to send it out.
JR: They were supposed to send us about $1,500. We kind of got burned by that and were hesitant about jumping in with both feet again. We felt it made us look bad because, here we were, we ran the ads and made people look at them when, at the time, most sites weren’t completely surrounded by ads like they are now.
AT: Suddenly, we had ads and all that stuff.
JR: Some people didn’t like it but, we were like, “If we get paid, we can do so much more.” We were dying on our servers. The two servers we had were both desktops. We were trying to run the web page on one and the forum database on the other. Every night I had to take the forum down and redo the tables. The site would be great for about an hour, and then the next day it would slow down [laughs].
AT: That’s basically how much traffic we were getting. We didn’t have the money to put into expensive technology, which is now very common.
JR: We kind of gave up on the site in turning it mainstream a little too soon because all these other sites were bought out by big companies that basically run these kinds of sites. We missed that by about a year, I think.
HT: What do you think of Honda as a brand today?
AT: They’ve changed a lot but they are still like Legos.
JR: They still do parts-bins engineering, but they definitely lost their way for a while. I don’t know if it’s boardroom engineering decisions and lack of leadership… But they didn’t know what they were doing either in the EF, EG, and DC days. They didn’t know that parts-bin engineering would make it so easy to take a motor out of one car and put it into another. Did it make sense to make the motor mounts exactly in the same place so that you could pull it out of one and into the other? There’s gotta be reasons that don’t make sense to us—manufacturing reasons that made sense to them.
AT: Back then and even now Civics are international models, so they come with everything from a 1.0L engine all the way up to 2.4L VTECs. It made sense to do a standard platform, and then, from a manufacturing standpoint, you only need to make one set of everything and then make adapters that mount stuff differently. The Japanese are very big into that.