Ultimate Honda: little old Civic transformed into a mid-engined, rear-wheel beast
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Some will say that websites like ours are writing more about Hondas and other old Japanese cars because that's what the kids are into these days. And while there's a good argument to be made there, it's worth noting that the love for these cars extends well past the so-called 'Instagram generation'.
Some 20 years ago American builder Andy Barcheck embarked on a project that probably still ranks very high up there in the 'so crazy it just might work' stakes; a third-gen Honda Civic with pumped arches, a mid-mounted V6 engine, and rear-driven wheels.
In today's world of 'internet points' and hopes of going viral, there are plenty of nutso projects like Barchecks. The difference here is that Barcheck's labour of engineering love wasn't a pursuit of likes and followers; it was simply an engineering challenge.
Barcheck's creation is at the centre of Forza Motorsport's new Along for the Ride video series. To mark the occasion, current owner Eric Schmidt brought the car to Barcheck's shop — a reunion 20 years in the making. The full video can be viewed above.
"I think it still looks great, not much different from the day I finished it. I've wondered for a long time what happened to it, it's one of my favourite builds that I've done and I took a lot of time and design work [on it]," Barcheck says.
"I'm glad to see it again, and see that it's in good hands."
There are obvious comparisons that can be made between the wild Civic and Renault's illustrious wide-body Group B rally battler; the R5 Turbo. But, that's not to take away from the originality and finish of what's clearly a well-sorted and reliable car.
Little has been changed on the diminutive hatch in those two decades (the 'Acurahonda Legivic' or 'Hondura Civigend', as Barcheck says). The main difference is one that current owner Schmidt has made; replacing the unoriginal original 2.5-litre V6 with a larger and more powerful J32A SOHC V6 engine from an Acura CL Type-S. Stock, it's an engine that makes 168kW of power and 294Nm of torque — a huge amount when paired with such a small and light platform.
It's current owner treats the Civic as a special, true one-of-one vehicle. But, for Barcheck, it was just another day (or series of days) at the office.
"I'm not a very emotional person, and cars aren't very emotional to me. They're a project for me, I enjoy working on them, designing them, building them. I sell them, they move on down the road," he says.
"I'm glad someone's come along and improved it. He's done it just right ... just what Andy would do."