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Jul 23, 2012

Photography By: Andy Carter

Words By: Andy Carter

That Was Then, This Is Now: Two OEM+ Atlanta Civics


In 2003, as a promotion for the release of the seventh generation Civic, Honda created a series of commercials celebrating the “Civic Nation”. Originally featuring 64 of Southern California’s most aggressively styled Civics, this video seemed to be a sign that Honda was finally ready to accept the massive subculture that had sprung from its humble pedestrian model.  And while the days of neon, chrome, and loud body kits have since passed us by, that visual of dozens of Civics rolling deep was bold for the time. The release of the original The Fast and the Furious in 2001 had made tuner culture a nationwide phenomenon, but we didn’t see a mainstream manufacturer really embrace it until Toyota’s creation of the Scion brand in 2002. The Civic Nation commercials, however, connected a new product with the cars that were already on the street. The idea wasn’t so much that you had to go purchase the latest Civic to be hip–that is, it didn’t show a group of nineties-era hatches driving along only to have a fresh new EP Civic Si blow through the center with flaming tires. Rather, the point made was that if you did purchase a new Civic, you became a part of something much larger and much cooler than a frumpy-looking beige sedan would normally allow.

Undoubtedly, there are many of our readers already rolling their eyes and hunting for their scroll wheels. The Honda Civic can never be exciting to many of you. You believe that the chassis is a dead horse where those originally beating it have died of old age and been replaced by a new group armed with steel wheels and neon stickers.  The Civic model has become the (in many cases unwelcome) poster-child of this movement since before Vin Diesel used a quartet of black coupes to steal DVD players.  But cliches become cliches for a reason; the American Camaro, always the butt of domestic-targeted jokes, is the shining example of big, dumb power in a big steel chassis.  The Camaro represents the essence of American performance. Likewise, the Civic has always been the perfect example of an entry-level, lightweight econobox with great potential for sport, just like Datsun’s 510 was in the past and Scion’s FR-S will become in the future. The Civic, however, is the unchanging stalwart of the group.  Whereas many of the classic Japanese lines have evolved over the years (or disappeared altogether), the Civic essentially retains the same FWD 4-cylinder economy car DNA that it was given in 1972.

The devil, however, is in the details.  On paper, these two Civics are very much the same car: FWD 4-Cylinder coupes.  But what a difference eight generations and thirty years makes! Interestingly, just as the two machines represent two opposite ends of the same spectrum, the owners do as well.  The owner of the 1979 CVCC  is Mike, or as he’s known in the Atlanta forum community, “QD”.  Taking his name from his SCCA-prepped Dodge Neon he owned several years back, QuickDodge (QD) made a name for himself on the forums with quick wit and old-school attitude.  His lowered ’79 is the perfect manifestation of his DIY attitude. There aren’t any aftermarket parts to order from the internet, so it’s all custom or sourced through vintage Honda forums and dumb luck.  The drop comes courtesy of cut EG Civic springs in the rear and complete removal of the springs in the front.  The exterior of the car remains true to the OEM design, with the addition of period-correct dealer option striping and a custom front air-dam.

One of QD’s biggest hurdles with this car was locating a proper set of wheels to fit the car’s 4×120 bolt pattern.  Sharing the unique set-up with certain vintage Mazdas, the wheel selection is virtually non-existent. Interestingly, however, he found these 13×5.5 Carroll Shelby Reverse Daytona wheels. The name of the game for modifying this car is persistence and ingenuity, and that alone is what sets this era of Civics apart from the current models. What takes hours and hours of tedious searching to find for a ’79 can be purchased in five minutes with an internet connection and a credit car for an ’09.

The fact that Mike had a harder time sourcing parts doesn’t negate the value of this 2007 Si, however. Owned by Charlie Smith, also out of Atlanta, the Civic has been a foundation in the Georgia stance scene for as long as it has been active.  One of the first Hondas sporting CCW Classics that I recall, he has since moved through several other sets of wheels, currently settling on these 18×9 Oz Futuras.  Just like QD, Charlie has taken the OEM+ route, although he has converted his front and rear to ’09 EX pieces and added the Honda Factory Performance lip kit.

These two gentleman have taken vastly different routes with their cars, yet arrived at nearly the same destination.  Charlie has the advantage of a popular chassis with all the benefits that today’s plugged-in scene can offer: easy access to parts, modern suspensions, and a heavily-supported platform by the aftermarket.  Mike, however, makes do with a single model-specific forum and the luck of stumbling across the right part at the right time.  Even though both owners took a similar approach of subtle OEM lines accented with a low stance and motorsports-inspired wheels, there exists a rich diversity in experience.  And it’s that variety that brings us together as a community.  Whether the car is a vintage rat-rod or a new car with dealer tags still mounted to the bumper, we all have something to share and to learn from each other. Everyone has a story to tell about their car, and that’s valuable regardless of horsepower or dollars invested.


Editor: Andy Carter