One of the most unique aspects of this build is its location—Puerto Rico. The Honda community is indeed growing in this region, but isn’t quite commonplace. At least not yet. Most companies don’t want to supply this area with parts; perhaps they feel it won’t be profitable enough. The unincorporated U.S. territory’s physical distance from Japan and the mainland U.S. drives up shipping costs from companies and third-party sellers who are willing to do business here. These two factors alone increase the difficulty in customizing a Honda, as well as create part scarcity. Some wait extended amounts of time for just one part. Others opt for knock-off parts, slap on illegal logos and claim they’re using legit stuff. Of course, there are the purists who believe a real car should have real parts—despite costs and delivery time. One such person happens to be Johnel Maldonado Donate of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. He built a well-rounded street machine despite the unfavorable conditions.
This particular Civic build started as nothing more than a family gathering at his grandfather’s home. Johnel and his brother noticed the stock Civic in a neighbor’s backyard. Johnel needed a commuter car for college, and at only $3,200 as the asking price, he was quick to jump on the deal. A year of college classes had passed, and Johnel began to notice that his family and friends were becoming completely engulfed in fixing up their Hondas. He couldn’t help himself as his friends were having too much fun and he wanted to share in their experiences. The gas-friendly hatch quickly became a race-inspired attention grabber—daily driven from day one.
As mentioned, finding high-end parts in Puerto Rico can be pretty tough. Johnel took to the web to track down a number of authentic parts for his build. To be quite frank, the amount of Spoon goodies on this Civic hatch is downright ridiculous! Just look at the Spoon Sports–built engine and transmission that were purchased from an auction site in Canada. Originally, the plan called for a K-series swap, but the auction was far too tempting to resist. Johnel frantically tried to verify the legitimacy of the engine before placing a bid. Fortunately, the specs checked out, and it was in fact a real-deal Spoon B16B long-block from Japan. As if to accentuate the highly sought after Spoon motor, all unnecessary extras under the hood were ditched, leaving that signature yellow valve cover to shine in all of its glory.
More than just a pricey powerplant, the bright red hatch sports some tough-to-find white with polished lip 16-inch Sprint Harts wrapped in 205/45-16 Yokohama Parada Spec 2. Johnel also worked hard on sourcing a number of EDM exterior pieces to help set his car apart from the typical U.S.- or JDM-style hatchbacks that he’d seen online. A Mugen front lip and side skirts sporting a flat black theme tie into the OEM door moldings to accentuate the Civic’s rather aggressive street style.
A well-rounded build includes interior enhancements as well. The highly coveted Mugen instrument gauge cluster might draw your attention away from the CTR seats and door panels, if only for a moment. An EK9 navigation system allows for smooth travel around the island’s various hangouts using the coveted Mugen FG360 steering wheel and sport pedals. Depending on his mood, a Spoon Sports or CTR shift knob handle shifting duties, while various bits and pieces throughout the interior were swapped for their JDM or EDM counterparts.
Johnel set out to build a Civic that would be highly respected in Puerto Rico and widely recognized beyond. The project lasted five years and included the efforts of dozens of individuals. “I give thanks to everyone who helped and hope they enjoyed it as much as I did,” he says. In the end, he spared no expenses and patiently waited for ultra-rare parts. For his efforts, his well-crafted build earned the nickname, “Le F!@#ing SiR.” No doubt a confirmation of a job well done.
I’m sad to report that this high-quality build is no more. Ivan Soto, die-hard Honda aficionado and main Honda part hookup for many enthusiasts in Puerto Rico, hosted a farewell meet before the Civic was parted out and sold. It was more like a funeral. Gearheads from all over the various islands came to the gathering to pay their last respects to a job well done. Some even pleaded to spare the unnecessary slaughter. However, the amount of love and money poured into the hatchback ultimately killed it. A problem many on the mainland face as well, Johnel couldn’t drive it daily anymore with all of the rare and expensive parts. Much like enthusiasts everywhere, the constant threat of thieves was enough to cause an ulcer.