When starting a project car, you can never be too sure what direction you will take it. We are products of a fast moving society, and so often, we come to find that our taste in parts or style differs as time goes by. The style you may have been going for yesterday may not be the goal you are aiming for today. And while it is not necessarily a bad thing to have choice, the freedom to have choice sometimes makes us build cars we never thought we would be building. In steps Louie Arias, the owner of this 1996 Honda Civic CX, one of many victims of a “small change of plans”.
Louie set out looking for a 96-98 Civic, and after about a month of searching, he stumbled upon a 96 Vogue Silver Metallic hatch. He purchased this car at a point in his life where funds were not as accessible as he would like, but that didn’t deter him from going after the quality goods he wanted. “I learned from my previous build that replica or cheap parts were lacking in quality, so I taught myself patience and learned to save as much as I could”, says Louie.
He aimed to build a Spoon Sports/EK4 inspired hatchback, and he was definitely on that path for awhile. Acquiring items like OEM EK4 front and rear bumpers, fenders, thin side moldings, rear seats, and more, he was on the right path to building a great EK4 clone. Some more time went by and he equipped the car with Recaro Speed seats, a B16A motor, and a classic set of Carving Starks, making the car fit the image Louie was really going for. But then, the “small change of plans” occurred, and the car was sent down another path.
Louie decided it was time to get rid of that faded, Vogue Silver Metallic paint that he had and get a new paint job altogether. He drove the car up to Gilroy, Ca where he and his buddies from Team Insidious dismantled nearly everything so the car could get fully resprayed. From engine bay to interior, everything was removed and the whole shell was to be painted, inside and out.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. Louie went to pick up the car, only to realize that there was some miscommunication with he and the painter and the interior was not sprayed at all. Louie let it slide, but his dislike for the incomplete paintjob left him with an itch to complete the car up to his standards. Instead of deciding to get just the interior painted, Louie decided it was time to repaint everything. This is where the real makeover occurred.
Starting with a facelift, Louie picked up some Civic Type R headlights and built upon that. From there, he went with a Jblood front bumper, J’s Racing front fenders, and a Shift Sports hood to cap off the full 99-00 conversion. He didn’t leave the back untouched though, as a Seeker V2 wing and Sergeant rear diffuser were also added to make the car look even more menacing.
But he didn’t leave the interior untouched, as he left it all gutted for the respray. Louie, along with his brother and girlfriend, put in a team effort to remove all the sound deadening from the car and make sure every crevice of the interior would also be covered in paint. And if that wasn’t enough to make the interior stand out just as much as the exterior, Louie had a set of Bride Zeta III bucket seats waiting to go in after the car was out of paint.
And once all that was complete, Louie was back to a point where the car was ready to be sent to paint. He sent it to a different painter this time hoping for better results, but once again, he was a bit let down. The paint came out nice, sure, but he didn’t like the fitment on certain body panels. He had told the painter beforehand to do whatever he could to make the pieces work together, but the painter seemed to ignore his concerns and didn’t fix the issues at hand. Due to this, Louie let the car sit and kept saying that “next weekend” he would reassemble it.
After two long years, next weekend finally came and Louie got the boost he needed. His friend Omar offered his assistance, and that small gesture was all it took for Louie to finally make moves with his EK project. First he started with brake lines and made his own custom set of hard brake lines. He then began re-installing pieces like the dashboard and other OEM goods, making the car start showing signs of life again. But during the time the car was down, Louie sold his B16 motor. He quickly realized that though the car may be showing signs of life, in order to give it life, he needed to re-acquire another B16 motor. And thus, a B16 motor was sent to Omar’s shop, ensuring that Louie would be able to get the car back up and running.
Things started signaling a return after the motor was in. Everything was connected, fluids were going in, and the car was almost ready to turn over once again. But then, one final setback got in the way of completion for Louie’s EK. He noticed that the brake lines he hand made were all leaking at the proportioning valve. Due to this, most all the brake lines had to be remade. This proved to be the final setback though, as Louie cranked the car on that day and drove it home the following morning.
Louie may have taken the path he didn’t think he would end up going down, but in the end, I am sure he would agree it was a lot more rewarding. Many more lessons learned, many great memories due to the power of amazing friends, and a car that looks absolutely perfect. Louie may hate that he had to get the car painted twice, or that certain items didn’t fit how he’d like, or that he didn’t go with soft brake lines instead of bending his own, but I know for a fact he is ecstatic with the way the car came out. Once uninterested in the car to the point where it may never have gotten finish, but now so interested in it that it truly shows whenever he speaks about it. We are happy to be apart of your build Louie, thank you for being an inspiration to us and the many other enthusiasts out there.
Louie would like to thank: “Everyone who helped me out, especially my boy Omar for being an asshole and always talking smack on how I had given up on the hatch”