The B16 is a divine engine. Why? Because it’s arguably the opening ceremony to Honda’s golden era. In fact, you know what? It was so good, that it caught the attention of God himself. Yep – he heard the angelic sounds of vtec… and it pleased Him. God then laid His hands upon the B16, and blessed it for generations to come. Matter-of-fact, there have been just ‘3 topics of conversation’ since the dawn of creation where God & the Lucifer can set aside their differences, find common ground, and buy each other a drink. Radical engines are one of those 3 topics. And EVs – are the urinal cakes they aim at when they break the seal. But back on topic: Other iconic (and more potent) Honda engines were built upon the B16’s DNA. But the B16 was the first… the alpha. 

B16 vtec

And perhaps we’re at a point today, where the Honda B16 engine has come full circle. 

B-series vtec engines were the hot Honda swaps of the 90s & early/mid 2000s. Then the K-swaps came through the scene & took the reins – understandably so. But now that we’ve had enough time for nostalgia to set in, the appeal of a B-series is coming back around… and a B16 encapsulates all the golden era energy that Honda had at their peak. For guys ‘that were there’ in the 90s & early 2000s, it’s nearly impossible to mentally separate B-series engines from Honda engine bays. When you close your eyes & imagine EFs, EGs, EKs lined-up with their hoods popped… you just picture Bs. 

EK shaved bay B16

Statistics do not back me up here… 

Because statistically, a K is better. Performance-wise… a K is better. Even emotionally, a K-series engine is equal or better in many ways. But there’s a nostalgia value about a Honda B-series that’s just… undeniable & real. It’s what defined Honda in Honda’s strongest era. And it sparked a new generation of hot-rodder & car enthusiast. The B16 is a perfect match for heavy-footed, unapologetic, aggressive driving. It makes the most out of every horsepower. Vtec encapsulates the simplistic & underrated mechanical genius that Honda possessed. Where pure driving thrill meets pure, un-exploited efficiency. It’s a dog pulling on the leash. The mechanical feel, the brappy exhaust tone, and the high-revving characteristics of a B16 is a time-warp back to what spirited driving was all about… when it was defined by sounds & senses… & not statistics. 

golden era Honda

As I was talking to Brandon Elste about his Civic here…

I realized that our stories line-up in a lot of ways. We both have golden era Hondas. We’ve both owned them for well over a decade. We both have B16s under the hood. And… we both also have hot K-swaps sitting in our garage… that we never got around to actually swapping. Our K-swaps turned into the back-up, upgrade engine that we never needed. And now that more time’s passed, we’ve begun getting nostalgic about our B16s (which are getting increasingly rare & OG to see). And we’re both wondering if the K is even the right move anymore?

purple civic

I had a Honda buddy tell me (referencing my CRX) 

“I hate to say it, but I almost feel like something catastrophic needs to happen to your B16… for you to ever put the K in your car.”

And he probably ain’t wrong. But in the same breath, he confessed that while he absolutely LOVED the K-series power in his personal CRX & would do it over & over again… there is a part of him that daydreams back to the B16. Something about it just hits you in the old-school feels. Even some of the aftermarket brands & logos associated with B-series dominance are starting to get nostalgic & retro. I have another west-coast Honda friend that urged me to keep the B16 in my CRX. From a style standpoint, he says claims they’ve just become super authentic, period-correct, & old-school cool. Anyway, I’m getting off-topic, but I’m trying to illustrate a movement within a group of people who have been messing with Hondas for a long time… a movement to preserve the roots of simplistic timeless B-series vtec engines. And as I spoke with Brandon Elste, that’s where the conversation led. 

Honda shaved bay

Brandon’s owned this EK Civic since 2006…

It was his very first car, and he’s stayed committed to it for the past 15+ years. At some point roughly 10 years ago, he got motivated to build a top-tier Honda. Something you’d see in Honda Tuning back in the day… graced with the most highly acclaimed parts. And the icing on the cake, was the Domani front end conversion in from of the beautifully shaved bay. In fact, he built the car up so thoroughly, that it became kind of a garage queen.

Unfortunately, that was the case with a lot of the prominent cars in the 2012-ish Honda scene. Their quality & attention to detail… ultimately took them off the road. And I think in a lot of ways, it killed the natural momentum & energy of where the culture was going. But see… Brandon’s now at a point where he realizes the waste in that. The waste in NOT driving a fun car, and treating it like a Fabergé egg. Especially when it comes to a Honda! It’s not like Hondas are delicate… or priceless. There’ really no excuse not to drive the hell out of ‘em! I’ve said repeatedly now… 

JDM EK Civic

Golden era Hondas are a unique, visceral, undeniable, and virtually indestructible driving experience at any price point…

And the fact that Honda (in the 90s) could deliver that much punch at such affordability – is brilliant! Especially when you consider the versatility & swap-options. So the keyboard warriors that put down Hondas because they’re cheap… can go pound sand while they get their rod bearings replaced again. I honestly feel sorry for anybody who thinks they need to outgrow Honda culture. You’re jipping yourself. It’s like when some punk tells a kid/classmate there’s no Santa… and you see a little magic die in their eyes. It’s what happens when you break to social pressure, and you feel like you need to impress people you don’t know… with the perceived status of a car badge. 

EK Civic coupe

At this point, golden era Hondas are an addiction… 

And some of us are just addicts. We need that fix: Building, ripping, driving, escaping, and prioritizing fun & purity in a world where cars are getting less & less fun & pure. And that’s it… nothing else factors into the equation. Golden era Hondas are youthful. You look back on your youth & yearn to go back to simpler, better times. But you made the choice & left… it never left you.

Photos by Ben Battles / Battles Digital

EDm civic got light



B16a2 motor swap

Titanium intake with Gruppe M filter 

Skunk2 intake manifold

Shaved valve cover 

Titanium hardware

Supertech valve train 

Skunk2 stage-2 camshafts & header 

Tanabe Hypermedalion exhaust 

Innovative motor mounts 

Tucked brake lines & engine bay

OEM shaved wiper cowl.

Civic SI cluster


Ek4 RHD conversion 

Bride Japan Stradia 2 seats 

Takara harness 

Autopower roll bar 

CTR shift boot 

2000 Civic SI gauge cluster 

Keys Racing steering wheel

Works Bell flip hub

Cusco door bars

Mugen wing EK

civic wide fenders


Plum Crazy paint job 

Honda Domani front end 

Jblood front bumper 

Stage 21 wide fenders 

Mode Parfume mirrors

CTR thin side molding 

Mugen spoiler 

EDM rear fog 

VTI rear lip 

Custom front grill 

PCI side skirts. 

Body & Paint by Josh Croll – Crolls Customs

Advan TC4 16x8

Wheels / Tires / Brakes / Suspension

Advan TC4 wheels – 16×8

Falken Azenus 215/45

Wilwood brakes

D2 coilovers 

ASR subframe brace 

Beaks tie bar 

F7 control arms

ITR 5-lug conversion

Titanium lug nuts

Purple civic

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