I remember towards the end of high school a friend had the special privilege of buying his first car with quite a substantial budget.
While the majority of us had to endure the boring nature of Japanese mainstream econoboxes, a select few were able to scour the limited source of advertisement to find that special “first car”.
At the time there was an influx of used sports car dealers and many of us would venture onto Parramatta Road in Sydney to do some window shopping.
Among the many visits to these car yards a bright yellow Nissan S15 caught our attention with its fancy racing additions of a T Wing and aftermarket wheels. Not knowing anything about boosted cars, the sleek profile of the Nissan coupe left us salivating with the thought of experiencing boost for the first time.
Much to my dismay what ended up in my mate’s driveway was still a yellow car, but a red H badge which had some of us scratching our heads in confusion.
Now at the time Best Motoring videos were slowly filtering into our teenage lives and with this particular friend persuaded his decision away from the Nissan and towards the 2001 Honda Integra Type R.
As I glanced around the car’s exterior and interior i knew straight away that this was much more than the grocery getter Hondas that were going around the neighbourhood.
The explanation for his unique choice in car was simple, the DC2R was in every sense a better car stock. Its fined tuned chassis and racing ethos brought forward a package that would embarrass a lot of other makes and models with much more power.
So when it came to experience what the fuss was all about, I knew then and there a dangerous seed was planted in my mind about these red badged Hondas.
Fast forward to the present day and I can say that I still love the Nissan turbo coupe and they are considered the staple cars that I aspire to create content with for trak life. However a few Hondas have crept into our lives throughout the years and these experiences have somewhat cemented the make as a must have in our stable.
Phil’s Honda EP3R which was heavily featured last year was the first Honda to grace our fleet, and its inception as a reliable B car while our Nissans were destroying themselves mechanically quickly turned into somewhat of a phenomenon among us and the car community.
I have touched on the type R’s ability to take on the utmost abuse and still soldier on which in hindsight was much of a relief given the constant breakdowns of our hero cars. The Type R heritage has to be driven in person for someone to realise the racing ethos instilled into it.
Here we found a chassis that responded so well with very little modifications and could play with the big boys and keep them on edge. When we eventually reached the bottleneck of the EP3R the next phase came down to two options; pour more money into it to go faster or find a new platform.
We toyed with the idea of of a K-SWAP Civic as it would allow us to go faster in almost all departments due to the improved power to weight ratio.
A weekend at Honda Nationals and seeing the damage these K-swap cars did to the competition set forth the motion to genuinely find a clean example of our own.
So without further ado, I would like to present to you our 1998 White Honda Civic CXI promptly named “Frosty”.
Gone are all the creature comforts we take for granted on a daily basis such as power windows, remote central locking or even air con. Instead the vision of the previous owner is executed in such a high quality of state that it would feel unreal that we would have something that mimics that of a hot version tuner car.
What Phil’s EP3R has taught us was that the Type R running gear was a pivotal element to the whole equation. Sure the high capacity K24 hybrid conversion was a popular choice and would have propelled the project to greater heights, but we felt a sense of nostalgia and paying homage to those early K-swap projects was more inline with our philosophy of OEM raw driving pleasure.
Much to our dismay, the harsh reality of a K-swap car becoming both a fun daily and track warrior went out the window when we got to drive it more frequently on the street. Some might say these comments are from old grumpy enthusiasts, but I would beg the differ as it would take someone with extreme tolerance of extreme vibrations (due to the stiff Hasport mounts) and loud drone (3inch titanium exhaust) to smile and say it was nothing after a proper drive.
When the time came for Frosty’s first shakedown on the track, the cliche “transformed into a beast” couldn’t have been said any better.
Out on the open track is where these Hondas show their true colours with the countless chassis modifications working in unity to elevate the sense of rawness being felt behind the wheel.
What we have ended up in Frosty is a great base for those who want to step back from the power game and fall into a rhythm of nailing those basic driving skills lap after lap.
To date the EK has ventured out to its home track at Wakefield 3 times and has matched the EP3R’s time on entry level semi slicks.
Like all project cars the weaknesses have been identified and a list of “to do’s” have been drawn up to setup a timeline to get it finely tuned.
The real reward lies in the notion that we can take this small hatchback anytime we want to any place and feel the day will be rewarded with relentless reliability and massive dials on our faces due to its ability to keep us on the edge but not quite as dangerous as our Nissan cars felt.
By allowing your mindset to be more open to other makes and models can be rewarding and in this instance the EK has felt right even if some call it the “wrong wheel drive”.