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J1000
J1000 New Reader
6/1/18 8:51 p.m.

About 10 years ago I had a 1987 Honda CRX Si that was completely stock with 300k miles. It was my daily driver and was a lot of fun and great on gas. I ended up getting smashed in the rear by an inattentive driver that totaled the car. I bought and then built up a 1986 Honda Civic 4-speed 1.3L with parts from the CRX. I rebuilt the 1.5L fuel injected motor with a huge port and polish, a hot cam and pistons from a same-year Integra. Rebuilt the 5-speed transmission with new synchros and bearings. Gutted the interior and put some 15" EP3 wheels on it. Was 1846lbs with me in it and half tank of gas and made 110-120hp? Was a lot of fun, good on gas, and great on the track but ultimately there were many drawbacks such as: complete rattle trap tin can, horrible in cold weather, completely and utterly unsafe in modern traffic, obnoxiously loud and generally uncomfortable. Also it had no cat and stank. At the time I had a Miata and was racing SM so after a couple years I sold the Honda to focus on those things. I had a thread on the Civic build on this site under a different account I can't seem to revive.

 

(The Miata is the comfortable, quiet car in this picture)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia0DeNi56E8

The few next years I daily'd my Miata until I turbocharged it, then I needed a dedicated daily. I got a Subaru Forester XS, boring but utilitarian. Then I bought a Nissan LEAF. Was a great daily driver and served my commute for over a year, but the limited range started getting old. At the same time other factors influenced me to sell it such as rising prices in the EV market. I sold it for more than I bought it for, am happy.

 

 

 

I decided to get myself another fun car for my daily 70 mile commute. Requirements: fun, hatchback, good on gas. I have always loved the Honda EP3 body style, and I love Honda Sis so that was the first car I narrowed in on. I also thought about: Celica GTS, RSX Type-S, Integra GS, Prelude SH, 2g CRX, 4g and 5g Civic hatch, 318ti and even some oddballs like '90/91 Audi Coupe or DSM. Logic, reason, and nostalgia for my old Si basically solidified my plan to get an EP3.

I was not going to settle for a crap heap and I had strict requirements that the car had to be blue. There are a lot of silver EP3s out there and lots of slammed and dented ones too.

 

(240 miles from purchase location to home location crossing Continental Divide. EP3: 32mpg, Mazda2: 36mpg)

 

In the end I found this little EP3. It is a 2005 (5-lug, nice!) with 84k miles. The newest model with the lowest miles of any I looked at. Ended up being a match made in heaven. The interior is in excellent condition, unfortunately the exterior is not. Once I fix a few little issues, I will take the car to a good car rubber and have it professionally rubbed all over. Yes, the VTEC logo is pink.

 

Elephant in the garage:

 

 

First things first, it had a fart cannon muffler and an aftermarket hot-and-dirty air filter. I ended their existence by hitting up craigslist and replaced them with the stock units. I swear the car is faster now. After that also replaced spark plugs and changed the oil to fresh 5W-20 synthetic and new NAPA Gold oil filter along with new engine and cabin air filters.

 

 

The previous owner used this car's paint to hold her coffee, keys, books, bags, and it looks like she used the rear bumper as a parking sensor. On top of that it was hit and run in a parking lot which broke the rear tail light and scuffed the panel and bumper and lost the reflector light.

 

 

A few craigslist friends later and this is the result. The new (to me) bumper cover is not much better than the original, except it doesn't have the large scratches from the impact. It goes a long way to clean up the look and for $40 it can't be beat. I am always keeping an internet-eye out for another replacement cover in better condition, but it seems like people treat their Hondas poorly :(

 

 

At the same time even the non-smashed tail light had a small crack and was in pretty worn condition. This car came from the desert and even though the paint looks good, all of the plastics are cooked. I ordered some sweet Civic Type-R! tail lights from Europe. Dang, they sure look sweet!

 

 

Now this Honda is humming nicely and looking sharp down the highway! This car is going to be my daily driver but I also want to do some auto-x events with it. Next will come some limited mods.

Run_Away
Run_Away HalfDork
6/1/18 9:26 p.m.

Love the 3g hatch!

Lovely colour on the EP3, is it electron blue like the 99-00 Si and 5g Preludes?

J1000
J1000 New Reader
6/2/18 12:13 p.m.

I am not really sure if it's the same color. I like it a lot though :)

As you may have noticed I have changed out the wheels and tires for lighter and sticker stuff. Both are Craigslist specials I got for a bargain. The wheels are 17x8 Enkei RPF1s with 215/45/17 Nokian Zline tires. The tires are stickier than I'd usually put on my daily, but the price was right. They should be fun for auto-x also. The stock tires are put away but will be used with snow tires for winter driving.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like the color but I think it's growing on me.

Next was the brakes. The PO said they put on brand new brakes and tires and they had, unfortunately with the cheapest replacements possible. The brakes could not even trigger ABS.

I went for a set of Hawk HPS pads. Luckily the rotors were also brand new, and they will work just fine.

 

To get more lively handling I installed a nice and cheap 22mm rear sway bar from a DC5 Integra Type-R! along with new bushings and RSX endlinks. The bar was worn and rusty so I wire wheeled off the damage and repainted it.

 

That should make a big difference over the stock 18mm bar with worn out parts. 

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
6/2/18 1:29 p.m.

Nice car. 

You guys with engine bay detailing skills make me feel inferior.

ccrelan
ccrelan Reader
6/2/18 2:49 p.m.

Head over to Motoiq.com and check out Mike Kojima's project EP3.  A steering rack bushing would be the first thing to investigate.

I just sold my 2002 ep3.  The stock suspension provided an unusually bad ride on stock 15s for whatever reason.  The gearing in 5th is crappy for highway travel over 80mph.  

J1000
J1000 New Reader
6/2/18 10:11 p.m.

Thanks guys. This car came out while I was in high school right in the middle of the Fast and Furious craze and I just love the body style. It reminds me a lot of my 1g CRX Si in the character and driving dynamics. Yeah it doesn't ride that great, but honestly it's better than a Nissan LEAF haha so I'm happy. Been getting 32-36mpg on regular gas and loving it.

Yep, I've been following the Motoiq project for awhile, it's one of the reasons I narrowed in on an EP3. That bushing is definitely on the list. However this car is my daily driver first and foremost so I'm not too worried about doing a bunch of stuff all at once. I will probably be dribbling in the speed parts slow and steady. My end goal is to put RSX suspension parts on all the way around (control arms, knuckles, etc). I basically want to build a nearly-stock Civic Type R! with 200hp VTEC and 6-speed LSD...eventually.

The0retical, just get some Simple Green and a dish brush and a garden hose. Then when it dries off hit it with a microfiber and some FW1 cleaning wax and you'll look like a pro too ;)

solfly
solfly HalfDork
6/4/18 2:15 p.m.

following

J1000
J1000 New Reader
6/4/18 9:36 p.m.

The stock shift boot is a rubber accordion abomination and I hate it. I replaced it with a classic style boot and a new knob. The knob is a chinese special but feels good in the hand and I like the style. We'll see if it lasts.

 

Old:

 

New:

 

Also I was test fitting a LiFe 5Ah battery. This battery weighs about 1.5lbs instead of 30-40lbs. It is designed for a motorcycle so I will only swap it in for auto-x and swap back to the lead battery for the road. It appears to at least have enough juice to start the car a couple times in a row this time of year, and it doesn't even get warm. I has a built-in cell management system and it will automatically turn off if the voltage drops too low, and keeps all 4 cells in balance. Tattu makes some sweet batteries!

(I need to use an aluminum box underneath and a wood block on top in order to use the stock mounting system.)

J1000
J1000 New Reader
6/9/18 8:35 p.m.

China shift knob is fail. New quality en route.

Tomorrow is my first auto-x with my Si and tonight I threw on some last minute upgrades.

Spherical shift cable bushings and billet shifter mount bushings to replace the rubber stock stuff:

I got red cuz it will make my shifts .02 seconds faster. It's proven.

Installed with SHIN ETSUUUUUU GREEEAAASSOOUU

Good things on the horizon including: KPro, Delrin steering rack bushing, and a header. Oh yeah and AUTOCROSS!

J1000
J1000 New Reader
6/11/18 11:04 a.m.

Ok first autocross down. Was a lot of fun! The Si handled pretty much like I expected it too, and was slow, but fun nontheless. I was also driving a stupid fast turbo Miata on 245 tires so it was really fun jumping back and forth between such different cars. Ended up taking 13th our of 26 in class which is just fine with me. There were 3 or 4 other EP3s I think I beat two and two beat me. The bump steer and changing toe mid-turn was definitely a turn-off. The handling was pretty unpredictable in that regard. In high speed corners and direction changes the car did really well, it was the slower, tighter corners where the car just would not find front-end grip.

I will have some video up later but here are a couple photos. The red EP3 in front of me is K24 swapped and was running pretty fast in class.

Sonic
Sonic UltraDork
6/11/18 11:13 a.m.

Is there any real way to fix the front suspension in these yet? 

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
6/11/18 11:13 a.m.

You have a FaceBook class?  Don't you have privacy concerns? 

J1000
J1000 New Reader
6/11/18 10:45 p.m.

All of the suspension parts from a DC5 Integra/RSX bolt onto the car, and the DC5 is generally considered an awesome handling FWD car. The DC5 has a wider track and better camber and caster out of the box. EP3s only have about 1 degree of caster out of the box which is horrible, with camber/caster plates you can get 4.5 to 5 degrees, much better. After doing that then the EP3 would basically be a short wheelbase RSX. However, the steering rack on the EP3 is electric and mounted to the firewall which is the main cause of the bump steer because it's so far off-axis. I haven't looked too much into relocating the rack, but I'm sure it's possible. There is lots of room in the back of the engine bay.

The event is PPIR Time Attack, basically a for-fun only autocross series in the summers. Run what ya brung, $50 per driver, car must have a license plate. Uses the infield of the road course combined with cones to make an awesome and fun autocross course that's different every time. Classes are basically A and B depending on horsepower to weight, then there are three more class divisions based on AWD, FWD, or RWD. I raced in FWD-B with all the other n/a Hondas.

J1000
J1000 New Reader
6/12/18 11:19 a.m.

Ok first things first here is the helmet cam video from my fastest run:

 

Here are some awesome photos of the car in action. Wow it looks so much faster than it's actually going! This photographer is good!

 

This car beat my Honda by 4 seconds lol!

J1000
J1000 New Reader
6/15/18 4:12 p.m.

Sent my ECU out for a KPro install. Not really any purpose other than just for fun. Will come in handy later down the road for an engine swap. I also installed a DC header I got cheap off eBay. Together they boosted the bottom end quite a bit, 2000-4000rpm there is definitely a big bump in torque and power. Top end is about the same but now it revs out to a 7400rpm rev limiter.

 

Also right in time for the hottest days of summer, my AC took a dump. Never seen this happen before but my AC compressor looks like it totally seized up and cracked the case! The bolt holding the clutch on sheared off:

 

Went ahead and installed a brand new compressor, condenser, and drier:

 

"While I was in there" I replaced the completely worn front engine mount. All 3 other mounts I already replaced. I replaced it with an upgraded poly mount but I think it's too stiff for daily driving IMO, might replace it with a softer version:

stylngle2003
stylngle2003 Reader
6/18/18 11:33 a.m.

thats a wholelottamiata!

J1000
J1000 New Reader
7/12/18 9:39 p.m.

Minor updates:

Pricing 200hp K20 motors + 6-speed LSD = $5000

Pricing 2006+ running and driving Civic Si cars with 200+hp K20 motors + 6-speed LSD = $6000

Interesting...

 

More modz:

K-Tuned shift knob. Wow. What a pain in the ass to get a halfway decent knob. I ordered, wait for it, 7 different red anodized K-Tuned shift knobs from every vendor on ebay and Amazon and ALL of them came messed up in some way or another. I gave up and stuck with the best of the bunch and returned all the others. Be warned, just because it's $80 don't mean you're gonna get something worth $80! I would have given up but it feels just right in your hand.

 

4.8A USB wired to radio head unit constant-on. Bet you never heard of that many USB amps! No more having to leave my key in the ignition to charge my devices while on the job. Score. No more slow-charging. Score.

Bibs
Bibs New Reader
7/14/18 12:02 p.m.

When I lived in Ottawa, a friend bought one of these new, and promptly imported a wrecked J-Spec Type R. He swapped over the entire front clip, which was a 6 speed LSD + the J-spec engine. I see others say 200HP above, but by my memory it was 220HP? My friend could have been B-Sing me, I'm not a Honda guy.

He also swapped over the amazing J-Spec seats, red tweed, and fit like a glove. 

Eventually he took it too far, with a cage, stripped interior. Ruined it for street use,but it was a beast on the track.

Great car, I don't see many of them. 

J1000
J1000 New Reader
7/27/18 12:09 p.m.

Yeah I think the JDM and maybe Euro model Type-Rs had 220hp in the later years.

I really love these cars, something about the style just doesn't look right in photos but in person there are few better looking cars on the road IMO, and maybe 0 better looking hatchbacks or economy cars.

This car will never have a cage or stripped. I will likely add nitrous and I've settled on a K20Z3 +6MT swap whenever it becomes convenient.

 

I have been messing with the K-Pro and have gained a substantial amount of low end grunt. I'm very surprised actually with how much it's improved. MPG is about the same too. Top end is a bit better but hardly noticeable unless revving past 6800rpm stock rev limiter. I'm running the K-Pro 93 octane map on 85 octane gas...plus 2-3 degrees ignition advance! No knock according to the stock knock sensor (K-Pro can make CEL flash when knock is detected). I only saw knock in higher gears at ~2500-3000rpm so I pulled .5 degrees out and it doesn't happen any more. I'm at altitude so we get to play with more ignition advance than you otherwise would get away with at lower elevation.

I will be passing 90,000 miles on my way home from work today. Over 5,000 since I bought this car. I drive a lot!

red_stapler
red_stapler Dork
7/27/18 11:25 p.m.
J1000 said:

I'm at altitude so we get to play with more ignition advance than you otherwise would get away with at lower elevation.

No kidding, mine would knock heavily on the hondata tune until I turned the factory knock control back on. 

J1000
J1000 New Reader
7/28/18 7:25 p.m.

Well don't feel bad you are making way more power. I had a laugh looking through the software when I saw that the ECU stays closed loop until 80kpa, at my altitude I get about 75kpa at full throttle :) at sea level you should get 100kpa.

Hoondavan
Hoondavan New Reader
7/31/18 11:42 a.m.

I had one as a daily for ~3 years.  Bought it at 80k miles and sold it near 160k.  I sold it last August, so  I can relate to most of your comments/experiences.

The 2005s are definitely more desirable due to 5-lug wheels and a few minor syling changes.  

Blitz Audio makes an AUX input adaptor that will fit the OEM stereo.  It plugs into the 6-disc CD changer in the back of the head unit.

These engines have a reputation for taking a dump around 150k miles...low mileage like yours is pretty unheard of these days. 

I also dumped the fart can exhaust and cone intake immediately. The sound of the intake didn't match the speed (or lack thereof) when accelerating.  Stock intake just sounded so much better.

If you're looking for better highway cruising, the TSX 6-speed has a longer 6th gear.  The RSX-S 6-speed has the same final drive ratio as the 5-speed...so no benefit there.  The Type-S engines seem crazy expensive, compared to the base EP3 enginges which seem to sell for just a few hundred dollars.

The bearings in my AC compressor nearly seized.  It sounded like someone threw rocks in the dryer.  I replaced the whole system over the course of ~2 days.

I had a leather stubby shift knob that looked OEM that was great.  When that got pretty worn out I replaced it with the OEM knob. The stock shifter action in these cars was best-in-class.

I'm interested to see what you do with this one, looks like you've already done quite a bit.  

 

 

 

 

 

johndej
johndej HalfDork
7/31/18 12:14 p.m.

I've seen a few of these pop up cheap lately, all with no AC.

How hard was that replacement?

J1000
J1000 New Reader
7/31/18 4:34 p.m.

Thanks Hoondavan, I'm going to look into that Blitz adapter. I currently use a Bluetooth FM adapter that auto starts and stops with the car's power. It's been holding me off of replacing the head unit for awhile. Pretty interesting that the motors only seem to last 150k. I know there are basically no maintenance items listed in the owners' manual besides oil changes and valve adjustment. And yes the A3 motors are a dime a dozen.

My commute is mostly rural highways so I do 50-65mph most of the time up and down hills so the gearing is fine for my every day drive. I'm pretty set on a K20Z3 even if it will cost a load more. A low mile K24 from a TSX can be had for $700 which is hard to argue with but I don't think it fits the personality of the car.

Seems like AC is a common issue on these cars, or this era Hondas in general. I read lots of forums posts about it when mine died, all going in the 80-90k miles range. It was straightforward to replace, nothing tricky. The bumper, radiator, and condenser had to be removed from the front of the car and the passenger wheel removed to access the compressor but it was easy to do. Had a local shop recharge the system.

Hoondavan
Hoondavan New Reader
8/1/18 6:09 a.m.

Great car for a rural mountain commute, for sure.

In reply to johndej :

Agreed, AC was pretty straightforward.  I bought the whole kit on Amazon for under $200.  Evap, condensor, etc.  Getting access to the under the dash components was toughest for me.  I took the wrong approach in removing the blower motor, which added a lot of time.

Some parts can be tough to buy without ordering from the dealer.  Window regulators are a good example.  Every website says they'll fit, but when they show up they're a totally different design.

Remember, the EP3 was made in England.

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