What Dreams Are Made Of
Another season of Formula Drift is under way and it looks like this is going to be a good one. With over 60 drivers this year, a fourth of those being rookies, you can say with fair certainty that these men are living their dream. From tuning away at their cars to the focus and skill required to drive them, everything plays together in this competition of controlled chaos. While other motorsports have drivers getting into the latest and greatest high tech super cars, most drifters run cars you might typically see out cruising the streets - of course with beefy modifications elevating them above the average daily driver. That’s all part of the dream of a tuner, taking a simple car with potential and pushing it to limits and beyond. Tuners come in all shapes and sizes. Not everyone seeks to create a track-ready, sideways smoke-maker - some go for performance, some for show, and others just mix it up however they want. There’s no wrong way to be a tuner, as long as you take pride in your work and are motivated to fulfill your dreams. This feature will take you inside the dreams of one such tuner. Dreams that started back when in a time when boom boxes were still a thing, when kids still played with Nerf balls and Super Soakers, and everyone had a Tamagotchi, whether you would admit it or not. Without further ado, Jonathan Wong (aka JDMWong)’s 1990 Honda Civic EF9… This project started for Jonathan sometime around 2008 when he set his goal to turn a “rust bucket” into a fully restored beauty - styled with an old school theme with some JDM flair thrown in for good measure. Jonathan has gone through a couple other builds in the past, but this one was his dream car from his high school days and his goal was to stay true to styling of the 90’s, with a few inspirational cues here and there. While he did do an engine swap, he kept it simple with a bone stock 1992 B16A SiRII engine with hydraulic transmission conversion. He outfitted the engine with a DC Sports header, leading to a custom stainless steel 2.25” mid-pipe and a very rare Mugen Power EF muffler. The dual tips may look tame, but when it rumbles it sounds mean. The perfect wheel is needed for the perfect look. Definitely nothing gawky. Subtle design and, this goes without saying, perfectly fitted. Although Jonathan usually sports 16” SSR Superfins, this time he’s been helping Barramundi Design showcase their Toman wheels. Whether wearing SSR or Barramundi, the car sits ever so nicely; it doesn’t need to be slammed or have extreme negative camber like some of the cars do today. All of the fenders were rolled to ensure there isn’t any rubbing while cruising around with those meaty tires. The suspension modifications include SPC performance suspension arms, Suspension Techniques sway bars, and TEIN SS coilovers. He also did a rear drum to disc brake conversion, upgrading everything to bigger Integra sized rotors to finish his footing. By first glance you would think it’s just your average old Honda Civic, but there’s something about it that you can’t get out of your head. It’s like any other car... yet it’s not. The slightly tuned style does well to highlight the original features of the Civic. From bumper to bumper and spoiler, Jonathan has successfully done a full JDM conversion on the exterior. I always found it funny how cars in Japan look for USDM parts while us here in the states go goo-goo over JDM parts, go figure. On the inside Jonathan got a new interior by going older. While his driver seat was replaced with a Recaro LXA seat, the front and rear passenger seats were sourced from a limited edition JDM Honda Civic EF3 (1988-89). While the rear seats plopped right in, both front seats needed some extra work to fit perfectly, but the results are well worth it. The Recaro seat needed a modified bracket from a Honda Civic EK (1996-2000), while the EF3 seat needed to be retrofitted using his stock seat brackets. The stitching is an original Honda design, but stands out so well, it’s just one of those attention to details. This subtle interior is finished off with a Momo steering wheel, Techno Toy Tuning hub extender, and Mugen Power horn. One of Jonathan's most recent influences in the underground culture of the Osaka Kanjo racers popular in Japan. Known for favoring smaller more agile cars, just like this Honda Civic EF, rather than higher powered monsters - most Osaka Kanjo racers keep stock engines, making only slight modifications such as an internal throttle body. Which just so happens to be on Jonathan's list, a Kinsler ITB set to be specific. In case you’re wondering why this particular Honda looks familiar, Jonathan’s EF9 may not see the light of day on a regular basis, but it has been spotted at numerous shows through the years, most recently at Tuners and Tea earlier in the year. And guess what? You will be seeing more of him around these parts as he’s one of DrivingLine's newest contributors. Go check out his first article on his exclusive test drive of the new Subaru WRX STI! While you're at it, be sure to bookmark the site and check back this week for more Formula Drift race and car show coverage.