EF It: From Mopar To Honda With No Regrets

Do any of you remember the Chrysler Cordoba? No? I don’t blame you, it was a fairly forgettable Dodge ‘luxury’ car that had a short, two generation run from 1975.

By 1983, sales were abysmal and as a result the nameplate didn’t live to see ’84. The only reason I know anything about the Cordoba is because there was one on my street growing up, and in a futile attempt to make the car sportier than it was the owner slapped on American Racing wheels and SuperTrapp mufflers. As a result the car was loud – obnoxiously loud in fact – so obviously seven-year-old Dave thought it was incredibly cool among a street full of mundane family haulers.

I usually have no cause to bring up that car because really, very few outside Mopar circles even remember the Cordoba existed. So you can imagine my complete surprise when Devon, the owner of this remarkable Honda Civic SiR, listed a white Chrysler Cordoba as the first car he ever modified and restored.

While he didn’t know it at the time, that car would become the catalyst to an intense EF Civic obsession that would welcome more friends and experiences into his life than he ever imagined.

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So how does one transition from an undesirable and somewhat obscure Dodge to a sought-after Civic? With a simple question, that’s how.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

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It was in grade nine when Devon was faced with the easy to ask but hard to answer question: What do you want to be when you grow up? At that point in his life Devon was more concerned with which ledge he was going to skate after school than life goals, and as any freshman would he dragged his heels for weeks before providing a response.

Eventually one of his teachers suggested he take classes that, at the very least, would be practically useful. Growing up in Selkirk – a small town outside of Winnipeg, Canada – owning a car was a given, so Devon elected to take some automotive courses. Even if cars were not what he wanted to do long term, he’d at least be able to keep his personal vehicle on the road while he figured out what came next.

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Devon’s high school was a trade-based institution, and as a result offered up a wide variety of mechanical courses. Devon decided to enroll in all of them and in the process fell in love with auto body. Motivated fiercely by his newfound passion, he rose to become one of the top students in his class by the second year.

Wanting to make sure he was sufficiently challenged, his teacher, Mr. Roscoe, suggested Devon pick up a project car to practically apply what he had learned to something he owned. The project Devon acquired was a 1983 Chrysler Cordoba.

It was the first car Devon fixed, prepped and painted by himself for himself, but it was far from the last.

From Barge To Schooner

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With a fuel-devouring 283ci V8 backed by a 3-speed automatic, the Cordoba was a rather poor daily driver for a student on a modest budget. Draining Devon’s wallet at every opportunity, it was clear something had to give. His frequent stops to the local gas station made him a familiar face to those manning the till, and eventually he and a Honda-loving employee named Ward struck up a friendship. It was Ward who suggested Devon consider a Honda as his next mode of transportation.

At this point a die-hard Mopar fan, Devon scoffed at the idea of driving any car with an ‘H’ on the hood. His hesitation can’t be faulted either; it was 2007 at this point, peak time for absolutely terrible Hondas wearing elaborate body kits, fender gills, and the prerequisite Folgers can sized mufflers.

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None of the above was appealing to Devon, but that all changed the first time he saw a near-stock CR-X pull up to the gas station. Familiar only with Civic hatches and sedans, the attractive angular CR-X flipped Devon’s Mopar world upside down.

Less than a year and $5,800 Canadian later, Devon held the keys and title to a Tahitian Green, B16A-swapped EF CR-X.

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A domestic owner in a Honda, Devon enjoyed the car but never really realized its full potential. That was until his friend Dave Wade decided enough was enough and took Devon for a proper drive in the car, keeping the tachometer needle near-pegged throughout the duration. Devon recalls fearing the car would fall apart being driven so aggressively.

Before handing Devon back the keys, Dave gave him a few simple words of advice: “Keep up with the maintenance and you can drive it as hard as you want. But remember: fast, reliable, and cheap – you can only choose two.”

Getting EF’d

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The CR-X served as Devon’s point of entry into the EF chassis, and he racked up 42,000km in just nine months. Unfortunately, the car met an unceremonious demise no thanks to the acts of an impaired driver. Insurance deemed the Honda a total loss, so Devon pulled the parts he could and sought out a replacement.

With CR-Xs becoming harder to find by the year, especially in regions with actual (read: copious amounts of snow) winter weather, Devon settled for a 1991 hatch. Fitted with a JDM SiR front end, this was one of several EFs Devon would end up owning in the years to come.

Now an auto body technician at a local Ford dealership, Devon did a driver-quality restoration on the car, painting it Championship White and badging it as an SiR. Inside and outside he converted the car nearly completely to JDM EF9 spec.

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There was of course, one major difference between Devon’s clone and the real deal – the driver’s seat was on the wrong side. Many could have lived with this, especially considering we drive on the right here in Canada, but Devon wanted authenticity. This desire was only worsened by the fact that Rajiv, one of the friend’s he wrenched and drove with, had a proper imported SiR. As friend’s often do, Devon said to Rajiv if the car was ever for sale he ought to be the one to buy it.

He didn’t actually think Rajiv would ever part with the car, but a few years later Devon’s phone rang and the voice on the other end asked if he was still serious about buying the car.

Enter The JDM SiR

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By the time Devon took possession of his JDM prize he had become a paint apprentice at a local Honda dealership. He wasn’t originally going to put the SiR under the knife, but a fender bender that bordered on a full side swipe forced his hand.

If there could be perfect timing for an accident this was it. Devon not only had the skills to do a proper nut and bolt restoration, he had the resources literally at his finger tips.

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The original B16A engine was pulled so that the bay could be shaved and the main harness tucked out of sight. At this time a second B16A running B16B EK9 Civic Type R pistons was sourced, and Devon set about building up a high-RPM screamer. The DOHC VTEC cylinder head was ported and polished before being fitted with Blox Type C cams and Skunk2 Pro Series dual valve springs, titanium valve spring retainers, and lost motion assemblies. ARP studs then secured it back to the block.

Air is fed through a custom slightlyfunked intake mated to a Skunk2 68mm throttle body and intake manifold. On the exhaust side is a Vision Technica 4-1 exhaust manifold that is joined under the car by a Tanabe Medallion exhaust. Fueling is handled by a Walbro 255lph pump, AEM fuel rail, and RDX 410cc injectors installed through K-Tuned K-to-B injector adapters.

On the bottom end a polished crank was installed along with ACL Race Series bearings. The spark plug wires, Kevlar plug wire cover, oil cap and radiator cap are all Spoon Sports fare.

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Devon’s favourite visual under-hood modification mod is the yellow valve cover that he’s inscribed with his first born daughter Abbi’s birth date and initials.

Mated to a JDM YS1 LSD-equipped transmission, Devon estimates the motor will be good for about 200whp. Two hundred wheel in a car meant to be driven to the limit is a recipe for a lot of fun. It can also be a recipe for disaster without adequate traction, so in that department Devon runs a properly suited wheel and tire package.

Utilizing Osaka JDM wide fiberglass front fenders, Devon is able to house 15×8-inch Work CR01 wheels all around. The +22 offset fronts wore Yokohama Advan AO48 225/50 tires at the time these photos were taken, while the rear was shod in 205/50 rubber of the same model.

Devon has since picked up another pair of CR01 wheels at +33 offset so he can run 225/45s next season. This will make for an even tire aspect ratio front and rear, improving the vehicle’s visual symmetry.

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Once the new rubber has arrived Devon will make small adjustments as needed to the PIC Performance coilovers to keep the tires clear of the fenders.

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In addition to the coilovers, an Innovative front traction bar, Skunk2 control arms all around, and K-Tuned rear trailing arm bushings have all been added. Stiffened by a WinSport roll cage, any unwanted flex points the chassis originally had when it left the Honda factory have successfully been mitigated. The end result is a tight car that excels in an autocross course and begs for an open track.

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The rear hatch is stripped to the metal, but Devon still wanted everything to be presentable so behind the cage he’s installed custom quarter panel covers. There’s something especially satisfying about a stripped interior that hasn’t been done haphazardly.

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In front of the cage are Bride Vios III carbon fiber fixed-back seats. Weaving through the seats are Takata Racing 4-point harnesses, and between the matching pair is a Honda Access arm rest. In motion, Devon can chose to keep an eye on the car’s various readouts via a Spoon Sports cluster or the center-mounted Samsung Galaxy Tab E tablet.

When the sound of a rev-happy four cylinder is not enough, a simple Pioneer-based audio system dutifully handles the in car entertainment.

Like A SiR

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Outside, Devon has kept his modifications incredibly tasteful. The front features a simple J’s Racing front lip, and the rear has a matching J’s Racing hatch spoiler. The entire car has of course been refinished its brilliant factory white.

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Using resources available to him as a dealership employee, Devon has replaced all the vehicle’s moldings and trim with new old stock items. Tracking down the small parts was no small task, but the visual result of not rushing the details is apparent all throughout the final product.

Devon finished off the visual resto-mod with the all-important red pinstripe that runs along the Civic’s belt line. The last piece to the ensemble were new DOHC VTEC decals applied to the lower sections of the doors.

Ever the perfectionist, especially when it comes to EFs, Devon feels the car still needs some work to be ‘done,’ but he’s not letting that stop him from enjoying the car on the open road. During the break-in period last summer, he put 1,000km on the car.

Currently it’s winter in Devon’s native Winnipeg, so the Civic is off the road and up on stands while he installs a JDM ’98-spec Integra Type R transmission. This will give the Honda shorter gearing and 4.75 final drive, but to keep the car’s seat feel true to how it was designed, Devon’s going to retain the cable-actuated clutch.

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Prior to rebuild Devon frequently participated in autocross, so after dyno tuning to hopefully hit that magic 200whp number it will be back to competition. He’s also hoping to take it to full course lapping days in 2019 as well.

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