euro cars

Building your ultimate dream car…

It’s something some of us have done, and something all of us have dreamed of. Sometimes things go just as planned – parts fit, nothing breaks, aesthetics are perfect. Other times… it can tun into a never-ending pursuit of perfection, with the finish line seeming to never quite come into view. Either way, it gets expensive fast lol. But it’s our hobby; it’s what we do. Besides….

What else would we spend our money on??

Losing lotto tickets? Save it?? None of that sounds like any fun at all. We rarely count the cost. And when the car turns out just right & fires up, does the expenditure even matter??

But with the collector car seas truly changing…

And with the tide shifting very much in the favor of the “S3Mag” demographic all of a sudden… nice EF and EG platforms are worth serious scratch, and the tide is continuing to rise. Low mile SIs, CRXs, and Type-Rs are trading for big dollars lately. Many values have literally shot up 200%… or simply added another zero to the end of the price.

With that in consideration, modifying these cars now comes with a new calculous…

Get it wrong – and decimate the value of a car that could be worth 20, 30, even $50,000 bucks in short time! Mario Torres had a singular vision when he set out to build his dream EF, and as it turns out, his build is right in line with the rising Honda market. 


Era correct paint, modifications, and graphics make this car shine right from the start. When I saw how complete the Gathers Stereo setup was, I just about flipped. Period correct touches come no better than that, particularly in a minty EF. 

The 80’s & 90’s seem almost puritanical in my memories, at least as far as modding cars is concerned. A properly tuned NA Honda engine was more than capable of producing the appropriate amount of smiles per hour. Once VTEC kicked in, these cars were all about power to weight ratio + sonorous revs rising higher and higher. Before everyone was on the hunt for giant power numbers, ‘properly balanced performance’ was what tuner cars were all about. Mario’s car is the perfect embodiment of this methodology. EFs are LIGHT! This car literally begs you to flog it, and thanks to proper tuning, it will do it over & over for decades to come… without the fear of grenadeing an expensive block because of too much boost or too lean a mixture. Mario has built himself a collectible classic he can enjoy, that will only continue to appreciate while he drives it.

A study in ‘the details’

For Mario, this build has been a real labor of love. Building the car to period-correct perfection meant the hunt for rare EF OE parts… and it’s become a bit of an obsession. You don’t spend weeks and even months putting together a full Gathers Audio build out by accident.

SiR seats were sourced, and a high compression JDM d15b VTEC engine from Japan. The wheels?? Yeah there’s a way-cool story there too. Mario explained, “I got so lucky with those wheels. The wheels were still NEW in BOX at a wheel store in Japan. They are stamped 1983 and made by RAYS. Yeah man, those were a super lucky find.”  

The car is a study in ‘the details’.

Everywhere you look, there are special low-key JDM touches. Mario mentioned, “Yeah man most people just see and old Civic, they don’t know.” 

At every step along the way, PERIOD CORRECT is the theme, and it has not only preserved this build’s value… but actually bolstered it. We don’t often give much thought to resale value, or think of our builds as assets. But Hondas of this era are proving to be this generation’s  ’57 Chevy, and it doesn’t hurt to think about this aspect on our quest to build our ultimate dream car of the ’80s today. Building a car in this manner may be the best decision Mario, or any of us could make.


EF9 hood, filler, bumpers, lips, corners, headlights, sidemarkers, bumper lights, power-folding mirrors, taillights, skirts

BNIB 90-91 usdm door visors (rain guards), and Civic body moldings with CIVIC font on the quarter panel molding


replaced dashboard, door panels, quarter panels, trunk panels, b-pillars, c-pillars, carpet, and seatbelts (to black and gray)

SiR front & rear seats

ef lower console & armrest

rear lapbelts (instead of coming across the top of the rear speakers)

Si cluster

Nardi woodgrain steering wheel, knob, and e-brake handle

Ktuned shifter

EF9 Gathers headunit tape & CD player, quarter panel speakers, cargo cover, and Gathers rear speakers

Electric daisy blinds for rear hatch



15″ Shadow Legion 10-spoke made by Rays Engineering

Custom Japan 5″ springs on KYB agx combo

Skunk2 pro-series front camber kit

SPC rear camber kit

Function 7s lower control arms

DA swaybars & front brake conversion

beaks lower tiebar

Password JDM 3pt strut bar & drilled/slotted rotors


high compression jdm d15b vtec

Rywire obd0-obd1 conversion harness

Monotech dpfi to mpfi harness

jdm ecu p08

AEM intake

DC header 4 2 1

Skunk2 racing test pipe

HKS sport full catback exhaust

CRX Si transmission

Exedy stage-1 clutch

Innovative motor mounts

mild wire tuck

…And currently working on swapping a B series itR complete motor and trans. 🙂

Text by @Tim Neely   Photos by @Benny Whiles