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2003 Honda Civic Si - Dormant For Over A Decade

A speed junkie returns for that familiar exhilarating rush

By Jonathan Thompson, Photography by Nick Parker

Bill Master comes from a background that might be a little surprising to most. He grew up working on late-’60s and early-’70s Corvettes with his father, and his first car was a Chevy Chevelle. A far cry from the incredibly well-built EP you see pictured. Dad drove a two-door version, and stepmom cruised the convertible edition. The family unified their fleet with a laser blue, white-vinyl top theme for all three of the classic cars. Bill’s four-door hardtop produced over 400 wheel horsepower, and being that he was a young kid, he simply couldn’t resist the thrill of driving fast. Dad decided to do the responsible thing and take the speed machine before Bill could get into bigger trouble and accumulate even more speeding tickets than he already had. Reluctantly, Bill handed over the keys and picked up an ’89 Civic hatchback as a replacement. Yeah, out went horsepower and raw torque, in order to make room for reliability and fuel economy.

Ten years of somewhat safe driving and an unmodified engine passed by. While you’d think that Bill must be pining for that feeling of acceleration, he was far too busy living life as a disc jockey. He devoted the majority of his time and energy to late-night brouhahas. Eventually, he stopped spinning records, became entirely too bored with the ample amounts of spare time and wanted a new hobby. With thoughts of the old, reliable hatch engraved in his mind, he purchased an electric blue ’03 Si. Noting that “most people hate the little egg,” Bill began modifying his ride, with the first three years revolving around basic bolt-ons. Like anyone else, once he became used to the slight bump in power, he grew frustrated with the slow stock engine. As quickly as he exited the go-fast lifestyle, he was right back in the blink of an eye, begging for another hit.

ERL Performance out of New Albany, Indiana, sleeved and assembled the bottom end of the K20A2 long-block with JE pistons and Manley rods, and even bored the block for a bump to 2.1 liters. Up top, a Supertech valvetrain and Garage Autohero headwork help manage the additional air of a Turbonetics T3/T4 50-trim. HT alumnus, SpeedFactory Racing tuned the Hondata K-Pro ECU and found over 400 whp and over 300 lb-ft torque at 16 pounds of boost.

The hatch’s interior identifies more with a model home than automotive transportation. The 30th Anniversary CTR left-hand-drive interior pieces command attention at first glance. Bill pieced together a nearly complete special edition set by sourcing parts from the United States and Germany. “I wasn’t really wanting to go all JDM. I wanted to do it the hard way with German CTR parts that were left-hand drive.” The ensemble is missing rear seats which he does not want or need due to the physical obstruction of seat harnesses. The initial throng of parts came from a local friend. Next, Bill befriended a fellow Honda enthusiast in Germany, and the two Honda heads sourced parts for one another in their respective homelands.

In the not so distance past, we featured an immaculate white EP from Bill’s neck of the woods, owned by one Mel Diego. Not surprisingly, the two are friends. Mel is what you might call an enabler, according to Bill. “He makes me spend more than I should on Mugen goods, lol! It’s all fun and we take pride in the fact that we have two EPs with some of the rarest Mugen parts round, and live just four blocks away from each other.” Bill’s list of Mugen goods includes the hood, rollcage, rear wing, and assorted goods spread throughout the hatch. Oh, and about that rollcage that Mugen designed for a Civic Type R, which doesn’t come equipped with a sunroof. Well, that left about an inch of excess cage being that the Si comes with a sunroof, so Bill had that extra inch removed and properly rewelded in order to squeeze the cage into the car’s interior. After we discussed Bill’s buying behavior, it’s easy to understand why this build’s total has reached astronomical proportions. Discontinued and rare are two intoxicating (and pricey) words. “For some odd reason, those words magically open up my wallet,” he laughs.

There was another fitment issue along the way, and one that many Si owners might not be aware of. The Mugen rear spoiler does not fit the USDM-spec EP3’s hatch. “I was really reluctant to cut up a $1,200 wing, so I began to search for a CTR rear glass in Japan.” Bill began the hunt in December 2010. He found out there were three new versions left, and the first glass broke in transit. Ouch. In February 2011, he placed a second order, then the tragic earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan occurred. It took Bill nearly half a year to acquire the correct rear glass that he needed to properly fit the Mugen wing.

Unfortunately, the burly engine dramatically gave out on a state highway in a plume of smoke recently. ERL Performance, the shop that sleeved and assembled the failed powerplant, was kind enough to cover half of the rebuild costs, even though the actual cause was not identifiable. Bill took advantage of the mishap and turned the ordeal into an opportunity. He moved forward on long-term plans and slapped on a Full-Race sidewinder turbocharger. He’s now aiming for 500 horsepower. “I want it to be somewhat streetable.” Bill might be due for more speeding tickets, but at least dad can’t take away the keys this time!

By Jonathan Thompson
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