If you haven't heard already, The Temple of VTEC recently took delivery of our own Alabaster Silver 2006 Honda Civic Si. We've had the car for about a month and a half now, and it's everything we thought it would be, and then some. When we submitted our proposal to Honda for the car, there were few official specifications on the car, so our objectives were centered around what we knew we could do with an RSX-S. In the case of the engine, we ended up with a better starting point than originally planned - our dyno testing showed an impressive baseline of 204hp (dynopack). Not bad at all.
The Civic Si is so good out of the box, it's almost a shame to start tearing it apart in hopes of improving it. Nevertheless, we've taken on this very task. The goal for our project is pretty simple. We aim to stretch the performance envelope in just about every way. We plan to perform this upgrade in several stages so we can wrap some metrics around our progress. The original plan was to build as many as three stages prior to the car's debut at this year's SEMA show in Las Vegas, but that plan was designed around a delivery date of late July for the car. There were no cars available until the end of August, though, so as you can imagine our schedule has been compressed by a full month. Our role in the project is primarily that of a "systems integrator" - we are selecting choice parts from a number of vendors in pursuit of building a serious track car without sacrificing much in the way of the car's streetability. In fact, a key objective of our project is to improve the car's fun-to-drive aspect dramatically on the street. Even though SEMA is all about the sizzle, most, if not all changes to the car's interior and exterior styling will serve a purpose in terms of bringing us closer to reaching our goal.
There's nothing really magical about our plans - to make the car faster we are going to add power, remove weight, and upgrade the chassis. It's a time honored formula. We figure that boosting the K20Z3s power to around 250 hp (at the hubs), and playing with the suspension to dial out most of the understeer will trim precious seconds off of our lap times. Our baseline time was established at the Streets of Willow where the car turned laps in the 1:38 range. Unfortunately there was a segment of track that was under repair, so a special cone chicane was set up that day, obviously having a negative impact on our lap times - we figure the chicane added around 0.5-1 second to our times. We're hoping that our upgrades will get the car down into the low 1:30 range, putting it well into 350Z and S2000 territory.
We had planned to get a number of laps on the stock Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2 tires, and then slap on some R-compound tires, but unfortunately we were unable to get wheels for our race tires in time. So instead, we hammered the car the entire day on the stock street tires and we transformed our PE2s into hamburger. In general, even though its usually not a good idea to take a completely stock vehicle to the track, the Si handled the abuse pretty well. The brakes never even began to fade, that is until the last session of the day when we discovered we had pretty much used up ALL of the material on the front pads. The PE2s performed admirably, even though the tread blocks were starting to chunk, the tires never really went fully away or felt greasy. As for the suspension, it's set up pretty well, but we think a few simple alignment tweaks would make it even better. Through the longer turns, we found that the car would carry pretty good speed, but it was grinding away at the front tires. In the slower stuff, understeer was still the prevailing theme – we hope to address that and set this car up to pivot more easily (more like a DC5 Type R). Through the chicane after the back straight, the car transitioned amazingly, and we were able to make up a lot of distance that we would give up to the big power cars on that back straight. Immediately following the chicane there's a fairly sharp left hander, and you could literally throw the Si into it as fast as it could go and it handled beautifully. With our planned upgrades, it should be insane through these parts. One thing I noticed while at the track was that the gearbox seemed to be wilting a bit under the heat. Later in the day I noticed that the shifter began feeling a bit more vague, and it even missed a shift or two even though I know I was guiding it into the proper gate. After a brief cooldown period, everything came back to normal. We'll be keeping an eye on this in future track testing - the gearbox is most likely very similar to the RSX Type-S' gearbox, and I noticed the same problems with the last RSX Type-S that I drove extensively on the track. Another thing that I noticed was that my right knee must have been banging into the z-shaped parking brake lever a fair bit during the day, because on the ride home I noticed that the side of my knee felt a little bruised.
In an ideal world, we'd already have a raft of parts ready to go and choose from to install on our project car. Since much of the chassis is new, however, there are few existing parts to slap on the car, so our car's waiting for items such as replacement brake pads, new suspension pieces, cold air intake, and engine management. SEMA's coming up pretty quick, so we're starting to get a little anxious and will probably be working late nights over the next few weeks to get the car prepared for its debut. We were planning to take it back to the Streets of Willow to test out our Stage 2 upgrades prior to SEMA, but at this point it's looking a little dicey. Stay tuned for our next update – by that point we're hoping to see dyno sheets with over 250hp on the motor. That will require the installation of IPS cams, Hondata engine management, AEM intake, and full HyTech exhaust system. As for the chassis, we've got new custom brake pads on the way, a set of custom swaybars, and we're trying to get our hands on some springs and dampers in time. The Tire Rack is contributing to the project with two sets of SSR Comp-H wheels fitted with Avon tires – one set will be 17's for the track, and for street and for showing, we'll have a set of 19's.
For now, we hope you enjoy our photos and video sampler showing our Si on the street and at the track.
Don't Miss: TOV's undercar video analysis of the 2006 Civic Si