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Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week it’s Andy Boyle’s tuned Honda Civic EK-9 Type-R from 2014…
9000rpm, 1090kg and 186bhp – Honda’s EK9 Civic is the perfect Type-R straight from the factory… so how could you possibly make one even better?
Ask most die-hard Civic fans what the best Type-R model is and they’ll tell you the same thing – the JDM-only EK9. This was the first Civic ever to wear that elusive red badge and even by today’s standards it packs a mighty punch – 186bhp from a 1.6-litre N/A screamer, LSD-equipped gearbox and a chassis weighing just 1090kg! It’s the epitome of a Type-R model: track-ready performance with all the refinement of a daily road car.
Take all of this into consideration and you’ve gotta ask yourself the following: why modify something so good? It’s over 15 years-old and EK9 upgrades are still a must for EK owners, from the brakes and bumpers right through to those figure-hugging Recaros. It takes a brave owner to try and make the EK9 even better, especially when keeping to Honda’s original ethos. Go too far and you’ve built a track car. Choose form over function and you lose the point of the EK9 altogether.
One man embracing this challenge is Andy Boyle, and it’s safe to say he’s showing some promising credentials. For a start, Andy’s always owned Hondas – he’s a member of multiple forums including EK9.org and he’s researched just about everything you need to know.
Secondly, Andy’s worked for Oxford’s Johnson’s Honda since 2006, now specialising in their parts department! So chances are he’s not about to fit an electronic supercharger to his engine’s intake…
“I’ve always wanted an EK9. In fact, we’ve always sold loads of EK9 upgrades at Honda,” says Andy. “The advantage of the EK9 compared to other Hondas is that it’s lighter from the factory with no sun roof, rear wiper, or sound proofing. It features a shorter steering rack and limited-slip differential as standard – not forgetting the powerful B16B motor. It’s in another league compared to say the EK4.”
But power wasn’t the reason for Andy’s purchase. In fact prior to the EK9 he owned a twin-turbo R33 GT-R packing more than enough horsepower to see off just about anything on the road. Unfortunately the R33 GT-R ended up being a write-off, and while waiting to find a replacement Andy decided to scratch that EK9 itch until another Skyline came up. Needless to say, Andy never bought another GT-R, and the EK9 soon became his number one priority!
“You can’t compare the two cars, but honestly even in standard trim the EK9 is so much more fun,” Andy adds. “You can throw the car around and hear the engine use every last RPM. It’s addictive, nothing else comes close to it.”
But modifying an EK9 isn’t something you guess at. Perfected by Honda to give the best balance and handling, it’s all too easy to spend money thinking you’re making it better, when in reality it’s just a damn-good car to begin with.
This is where Andy’s knowledge and experience came into play, researching the benefits of specific upgrades and creating a list of must-have parts to buy. What’s more, Andy also had a team of Honda Master Technicians on standby to offer advice and help with any new parts being fitted or rebuilt. “I wanted to make sure that every modification added something to the car – horsepower, handling or reliability,” he explains. “It’s hard to pick a favourite modification, but let’s just say the front Mugen lip is, to my knowledge, the only genuine one in the whole
Using EK9.org as a resource to see what other owners recommended, Andy made sure his Civic not only performed better but also stood out from the crowd. The spec list is a JDM wet dream – Bride Zero III bucket seats on Buddy Club rails to sit lower to the ground, Spoon Sports brakes for improved stopping and super-lightweight Rays Engineering CE28Ns for reduced upsprung weight over stock. That’s not even taking the engine into consideration, where Andy’s done a bit more than just bolt-on mods…
“I decided to swap over to a B18C engine purely because the B18 gives you better mid-range power and overall better torque without losing the revvy nature of a Type-R engine.” He continues, “In addition to this, I swapped the gearbox to a DC2 Integra one as it features a bigger diff and 4.7 final drive to get through the gears quicker without losing top-end speed thanks to a tall 4th and 5th gear. It’s an easy swap to do as the original B16B is basically a de-stroked B18 so there’s no real weight gain,” he adds.
Utilising upgrades including an AEM V2 intake, Skunk2 Pro Series inlet manifold and Buddy Club exhaust, Andy’s EK9 puts out a healthy 202bhp and 146lb/ft or torque, backed up on the rolling road at Eurospec in Guildford. It may ‘only’ be an extra 16bhp over stock, but the extra torque and improved chassis means that the EK9 driving experience is completely transformed for the better. Mission complete, right?
“I don’t think a car is ever finished!” laughs Andy. “There’s always room for improvement. My next step is to get it poly bushed and fully undersealed as the EK9 doesn’t come with any. I’d love more power, but that leaves me with two options – swap to a K20 from the JDM DC5, or supercharge it with a low-compression B18 engine. Both will require a LOT of work, and I’m yet to decide which route to go.”
Rest assured though, whatever route Andy decides to take, you know he’ll do it properly.
TECH SPEC HONDA CIVIC CIVIC EK9 TYPE-R
JDM ’98-spec B18C engine & transmission, AEM V2 intake, Skunk2 Pro Series inlet manifold, Hondata inlet gasket, Skunk2 Megapower exhaust manifold, Hond-R adjustable decat, Buddy Club Pro Spec exhaust, NRG carbon plug cover, Magnecore 8.5mm HT leads Competition Clutch stage 2 carbon Kevlar clutch, Competition Clutch chromoly light (5.5kg) flywheel, Skunk2 magnetic drain plug set, billet Innovative engine mounts 75A, Skunk2 VTEC solenoid cover, Skunk2 cam pulleys, Mishimoto X-Line, aluminium radiator, Skunk2 hard anodized billet VTEC solenoid, tuned and rolling roaded at Eurospec 202bhp, 149lb/ft
Rays Engineering Volk CE28N 7×16 in bronze, Yokohama Advan AD08 tyres 205/45R16W, Muteki Neon chrome wheel nuts, Spoon twin-block front brake calipers, Spoon front discs, Ferodo DS2500 brake pads, Spoon reservoir covers, Hel brake lines, Tein Mono Flex coilovers, Skunk2 rear lower control arms, Mugen front strut brace, Mugen rear strut brace, X brace
Bride Zeta III seats, Buddyclub seat rails, Takata MPH harnesses, Nardi steering wheel, carbon fuel pump cover, Skunk2 gear knob, Teishi carbon airbag delete, rear seats and airbags removed
Mugen Type SS front lip, Seeker V2 spoiler, HR-V clear side repeaters, Mugen number plate bolts, OEM EK9 race base aerial blank plate, Tein bonnet dampers
I would like to thank Maz and Russell at Hond-R, Nigel, Stuart and Scott at Johnson’s Honda for the help with my engine and my amazing girlfriend Megan for putting up with it all!
Words Mark Riccioni Photography Dan Pullen
Following reports from the Nikkei Asian Review alleging that Panasonic and Tesla have decided to freeze investments on Gigafactory 1, the Japanese battery provider has stated that it is studying further investments for battery cell production in the Nevada-based facility.
Citing no sources, the Nikkei report claimed that financial problems have forced a rethink of Tesla and Panasonic’s plan to increase Gigafactory 1’s capacity by 50% next year. The facility reportedly has a capacity of 35 GWh today, and plans had intended for this to be raised to 54 GWh by 2020. The Japanese publication did not disclose a specific reason behind the alleged suspension of investments for Giga 1, but the news agency did cite concerns in Wall Street about the alleged weakening demand for Tesla’s electric vehicles.
As a response to the report, Panasonic stated that it is evaluating additional investments for the facility. “Panasonic established a battery production capacity of 35GWh in Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 by the end of March 2019 in line with growing demand. Watching the demand situation, Panasonic will study additional investments over 35GWh in collaboration with Tesla,” the Japanese company said in a statement to Reuters.
Tesla has not issued a response to the Nikkei report so far, though the electric car maker did provide a statement to the Japanese publication in its report. “We will, of course, continue to make new investments in Gigafactory 1, as needed. However, we think there is far more output to be gained from improving existing production equipment than was previously estimated,” a Tesla spokesperson said.
The claims outlined in the recent Nikkei report stand in contrast to previous statements released by Panasonic six months ago. Back in October, Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga stated that the company is considering “further investment in North America, keeping in step with Tesla.” During that time, Panasonic was reportedly considering investing an additional 100-150 billion yen (~$900 million to ~$1.35 billion) for the Nevada-based facility.
The Nikkei Asian Review is an established Japanese news publication, and the publication has cited insiders from Panasonic in the past. Nevertheless, some aspects of the recent report about Gigafactory 1 are a bit strange. Apart from the lack of sources, the report also notes that Panasonic will suspend its investment for Gigafactory 3 in China. Tesla is yet to announce its battery partner for Gigafactory 3, and speculations have pointed to local battery suppliers being tapped for the upcoming facility. Panasonic’s involvement in Tesla Energy was also not mentioned, despite Tesla indicating that demand for its battery storage products like the Powerwall 2 remains strong.
Panasonic is currently Tesla’s sole battery partner, with the company producing cells for the electric car maker’s vehicles like the Model S, Model 3, and Model X, as well as energy storage products like the Powerwall 2 home battery unit.
The market has reacted strongly to the Nikkei report, with Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) dropping over 4% on Thursday’s pre-market.
Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.