You don’t have to be a Honda aficionado to think about this 1996 Honda Civic Coupe and realize that it’s about much more than a swap of engine and fancy rims. Details abound on this EJ build and there isn’t a single part of this car that hasn’t been cleaned up, replaced or reworked, all in the name of the pursuit of perfection.
Thirst for knowledge
Rather than relying on others and tossing the car from shop to shop to assemble his vision of the ideal restomod, owner Moe Drennon took matters into his own hands and proudly takes credit for building almost all aspects of this project. Having built Hondas in the past with help in various aspects, this one would serve as a turning point. “I wanted to teach myself things that I had never done before,” Moe says. “I was able to learn how to paint a car on my own! I always wanted to learn how to paint a whole car rather than miscellaneous little things that friends ask for help with. That’s the big difference and I decided that I wanted to go beyond to learn.”
Scroll through Moe’s old IG posts and you’ll spot another 6th-gen Civic from the not-so-distant past in sedan form. Having just finished this car, he felt like something was missing. The hard work was there, but he was convinced he could do better, and just a week after the sedan was considered complete, he bought this coupe for just $200.
Now, in all honesty, it wasn’t a shining example of a coupe and the price reflected that. He adds, “Drove all the way to Georgia to pick it up. The owner had a forklift and just put it on my trailer – I didn’t even have to push it! The body was completely original and straight for the most part.. Perfect for teaching me body work, bait steps, direct metal steps, blocking and blocking and blocking – then some more blocking, until that I have a straight panel. No interior, no wiring – it was basically a blank slate and saved Moe the time needed to disassemble the car while also saving money on items I he wouldn’t use anyway.
Serving as its first official full paint job, the coupe’s finish is exceptional. The paint was continued into the cabin and engine bay, and also covers some choice parts that needed to be found. “I wanted to add things that I had always wanted since the early 2000s, like the Mugen Ferio spoiler, the Veilside bonnet and the old state plates.” All-new Regamaster Evos have been bolted to the 32mm ITR 5-lug conversion and the skin of the car has been tuned with Riaction coilovers backed by a host of suspensions that replace worn parts and spice up the EJ’s handling .
Once an H-series guy, Moe has since switched to Honda’s do-it-all K24. Fitted with a K20 oil pump, ARP head studs and 50-degree VTC, the refreshed 2.4L has no problem producing power above 8,000 rpm, in particular with its Toda cams and valve train in service. Moe added a titanium intake and Skunk2 manifold up front, and a DTR header on the hot side. He sized his exhaust system using a K-Teller piping kit and incorporated a Vibrant resonator and Burns Stainless muffler to muzzle some of the exhaust noise.
Cut the rope
Rather than sourcing the proper fuse boxes and associated wiring, Moe decided to keep things simple and useful and opted for Rywire’s solid-state fuseless PDM system. With 14 channels available to activate the basics, like fuel pump, starter, headlights, etc., the mass of wiring you’re used to seeing is non-existent. In an environment where conveniences are not on the menu, the simplicity and serviceability of Rywire’s PDM keeps things remarkably tidy and easy to install. Ultimately, on the test bench, a solid 252 Whp and 188 lb-ft. of torque was dropped with Hondata’s KPro V4 pulling the strings.
Moe broke away from traditional fuses and awkward wiring, but ensured it could capture and display vital engine components. “It’s all linked via CAN. It’s very cool and easy to track vehicle data with everything showing on my AIM MXP dashboard,” adds Moe. Much of that missing interior that featured in the car’s ridiculously low price was never replaced. In the rear, a four-point roll bar with additional gussets was welded in place before Moe’s paint job was applied. Up front, the dash and center console are pretty much the only reintroduced OEM elements. Bride bucket seats replace the less-than-stellar factory versions with a Mugen suede steering wheel on board. Hybrid Racing’s V3 shifter kit and racing cables have their way with the RSX Type S drivetrain and those missing door cards aren’t missing at all, that gap now filled by LRB aluminum panels.
A small investment of $200 turned into the lesson of a lifetime for a builder wanting to add automotive skills to his resume. “All of my friends who I call family who I named on my shout out list (below) really pitched in and helped with the build. I was able to produce this vehicle straight out of my garage with my own hands and my knowledge.. No shop has touched this vehicle other than fabulous work with the cage, exhaust work and tuning!”
1996 Honda Civic Coupe DX
Engine K24A Swap, K20A Oil Pump, 50 VTC Cam Gear; ARP head studs; Unit2 baffled oil pan; Hasport EKK2 mounts; Cams, valve springs, retainers Toda High Power K20A; Skunk2 Ultra Street Intake Manifold; DTR K-swap header; STL Fab 3.5 inch. titanium intake; K-Teller 3 in. stainless steel exhaust pipe; Burns stainless steel racing silencer; Ultra-quiet Vibrant Performance resonator, -16 AN lines; concealed ChaseBays radiator; 1050X Dynamic Midspan; AEM 320lph fuel pump; Hybrid Racing fuel rail, return -6 AN; Radium fuel pressure regulator; Management Hondata KPro V4
Transmission RSX S-type gearbox; KAAZ limited slip; Competition Clutch 6 pucks, ultra-lightweight flywheel; Hybrid Racing V3 shifter, Race Cables
Suspension Riaction USA coilovers; 24mm ASR stabilizer bar, subframe brace, D-brackets; Truhart bushings, fore/aft adjustable arms; ASC Speed Metal 3 points. shock tower bar; Kirk 4 points. welded roll bar with additional bellows
Braking ITR conversion 5 lugs 32 mm; APG Performance 6-piston calipers, pads, lines
Wheels and tires 16×8 +35 Desmond Regamaster; 215/45 Falken Azenis RT660
Outside White taffeta paint; Exceed the front/rear lip of Japan; Mugen Ferio rear wing; Veil side hood; Racing side mirrors; Thin side moldings EK9
Interior Bride Zeta III XL seats; Renegade x Willans 6 points. harness; ASR harness retractors; Mugen 3 suede steering wheel; Checkerd Sports Center; the FEEL gear lever knob; AIM MXP digital dashboard; reversing camera; LRB door panels; Military spec Rywire harness; PDM 12 Chassis Harness, Charging Harness
Thanks Premium Garage Krew PGKALLDAY! Papaya Motorsports, Hybrid Racing, Riaction USA, Falken Tire, Deft Motion, Rywire Motorsport Electronics, Import Alliance, Exceed Japan, ChaseBays, ShowstoppersUSA, Renegade Motorsports, EBTEC, Smithson Speed And Engineering, Freedom Automotive