I saw this Civic on Craigslist the other day and it was dirt cheap. $650 for the whole car, the body looked straight in the pictures and it appeared to be in pretty nice shape. The car had a lot of miles on it but that didn’t matter to me, my wheels were turning!
So I immediately looked to see how much an engine swap would cost. I know it’s just a civic, but it weighs nothing, about 2000lbs and If you can bump the power for a small amount of money, we could have some serious fun. No wonder these kids keep modding these cars! I found that the typical B-Series Honda swaps were quite expensive, not ridiculously so but more money than I currently have, but I did happen to stumble upon the B20B motor out of a CRV! The B20B motor makes 146HP and 133 LBS-FT of torque if you get the one out of the newer model CRV. That’s more than double the original Horsepower in the Standard model hatchback that I was looking at! Plus the price point of this motor is only about $500, which makes this a project that I may be able to complete with the amount of cash that I currently have!
So now I am researching parts that I need to actually perform the swap. The transmission in that car will not work so I will need a transmission. Any B-Series transmission will work, but I would prefer a manual. Believe that you would want to get the cable type transmission to keep costs down, but the hydraulic clutch one would probably also work. I have seen these anywhere from $250 on Craigslist to over $850 on various other sites. I would go the Craigslist route, especially since I found a B18A with transmission for $850 while researching this article, but for reality sakes we will estimate the cost to be equal to the motor at $500.
This sounds too good to be true, and of course it is. For less than $1700 I can perform a motor swap on an EF style civic and have a little street monster? Unfortunately there are a lot more parts that need to go into this. Tto just complete the swap you will need a quite lengthy list of part. Motor mounts, Innovative has these for cable transmissions for around $550. You will need a clutch and flywheel, be mindful of the year transmission that you will be putting in the car due to the clutch splines being different between years. I have seen clutch kits new for around $150 and flywheels for around the same. You will need the shift linkages, again you can get these at Innovative for around $125. An OBD0 distributor as well as ECU will be required, a 91 Integra Distributor will work and for the ECU you will want a PR4 unit. You can use other combinations, but to maintain an OBD0 vehicle the aforementioned setup will work. Axles from a 90-93 Acura Integra will be needed; you can get these for less than $50 a piece. The intermediate shaft from that same year will also be required; this will cost around $80. I’ve seen B-series headers for under $100, since this will be custom and may not fit precisely, I would go with the knock off headers and not spend a ton of money. The money has already been spent on the motor! I would also put a cat-back exhaust system on it, Yonaka makes a system for this car that costs around $300, add another $300 for a high flow cat and the total would be $600. It may not be necessary to get the swap running but I would do it if I went this far. The last piece of getting the swap to work would be the intake manifold, an Edelbrock Victor X Intake Manifold will run you around $250, add a Skunk2 Throttle Body on top of that for $120 and the entire engine swap is costing me around $2800! If I add the car into the mix I’m looking at $3450! So much for being able to complete the project with the cash I have…..Of Course this is buying all this stuff new, I’m sure I could source some of it used and save a lot of cash. $3450 is really not that much money for a completely custom car that should perform quite well.
I would also want to beef up the suspension. I would like to get a nice set of coilovers as well as an upper strut tower bar and a rear lower sway bar. Tein makes a set of coilovers that run about $700. For $50 you can get a no-name upper strut tower bar and for another $200 you can pick up a good Rear Sway Bar. For brakes I would just upgrade the front rotors with either slotted or cross drilled, get the Stainless Steel Brake Lines, and good brake pads. That should allow me to stop in plenty of time! That would leave me with one more thing to do, wheels. I found a used set of Rota’s for $300, they are 15X7’s and found 4 new Falken tires for around $360. This would bring my total build price to around $5500 not including any paint or other odds and ends that may be required. This is obviously for all new stuff, and I think I have the itch for doing one of these cars. I’ve owned a 1991 Civic Hatchback and a 1988 CRX and loved them both. They were very fun cars and that was before any serious modifications and both were using the low horsepower motors.