Apr 062012
 

Okay, I have gone long enough without a Honda in this spot. I am a major Honda-phile and it has taken some serious restraint up to this point to choose cars from other brands so that I did not seem to be biased. That ends now. This week’s Car of the Week is one of my favorite Hondas of all time:

1999 Honda Civic Si

Why?

 It has long been my opinion that the ’88 to ’00 Civic represents the best of the breed to this point, and that the pinnacle of that was the ’99 to ’00 model years. Sure, the EF (’88 to ’91) was lighter and the EG (’92 to ’95) was a better swap candidate, but the EK (’96 to ’00) was the most complete of the line and the facelift that came in ’99 also made it the best looking, in my humble opinion.

But the ’99 Civic also served another purpose. The return of the Si model to the Civic line that year sparked the already flourishing Honda enthusiast community in to full-on explosion. The reason for all the excitement was Honda’s decision to fill the engine bay with its B16A twin-cam engine.

The B16 was the bread and butter of performance-oriented Hondas all over the world by that point, but the U.S. market had only seen it in limited use on the Civic del Sol several years prior. This marked the first time that Honda made the motor available to mainstream consumers.

Enthusiasts, long frustrated by the limitations of the single-cam engines in the other Civics, rejoiced. Though only rated at 160 horsepower, the B16 could rev to 8,000 rpm and the sound it made on the way there was intoxicating. In addition, the motor responded very well to simple upgrades, making the low initial power numbers an irrelevant issue for most buyers.

The introduction of the ’99 and ’00 Si marked the start of the peak years for the sport compact tuner craze. Within a few years it had fallen back to much smaller levels. At its height, though, the EK Civic Si was at the eye of the storm.

About the Car

In 1999, the Civic range included CX, DX, LX and EX trims, in addition to the newly-reminted Si, and came in hatchback, sedan and coupe forms. Though the options differed greatly, the basic underpinnings of the different trim levels were all the same. All Civics, for instance, had the same four-wheel double-wishbone suspension that made it such an easy car to handle.

The Si model received a number of enhancements over the other coupes in the Civic line. These included 15-inch alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, body-colored trim moldings, Si-specific styling pieces (grille and front lip) and a tweaked suspension (slightly stiffer springs, revalved shock absorbers and more substantial sway bars). The biggest news, though, was the addition of the twin-cam B16 VTEC motor as the power source.

Because of the tremendous enthusiast response, it is almost impossible to find one of these unmolested anymore, though some examples do exist.

Other Resources

ClubSi community
Wikipedia: Honda Civic Si (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
MotorTrend magazine review
Grassroots Motorsports magazine review

Some photos in this article were freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with usage of any image, please contact me and I will remove it.

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