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Affordable Speed - Coopers J-Swapped Civic

Austin Cabot

Photos by Austin Cabot | Story by Cooper Pierce

I first met Cooper back in 2013 when we were both running Global Time Attack at Road Atlanta.  I had driven my FR-S down from Chicago and Cooper had driven his old hatch (not this one) down to compete.  I think we were probably the only people stupid enough to drive the cars we were competing in from more than 5 hours away.  I tapped a wall with the FR-S and drove home.  Cooper won his class then drove to South Carolina for a wedding - like a bauce.  Cooper and I became friends that weekend and have stayed in touch online and run into each other at various events over the past few years.  The guy has a habit of taking simple builds and making them go really fast around a track. I've always admired him for that.  You rarely see him tinkering with things at the track.  He just goes out and drives.  And then drives the car home.  The weekend I caught up with him in New Orleans for Global Time Attack, he ended up driving the car over 1600 miles to the track and back.  When it came time to think of our first feature car for the website, Cooper and his build perfectly exemplify everything we value here at tracktuned.com.  I can't think of a better car to help kick things off with the site.  We were pressed for time designing the site and writing content, so we asked Cooper for some help.  Read his own words about his build below.


When thinking about time attack one doesn't immediately think budget car. Building a competitive time attack car often requires a huge investment and can get very expensive with all the maintenance costs and engine rebuilds. With time attack rules, generally there are no horsepower restrictions so many teams are running fully built NA motors making 300HP.  Some even run 700HP turbo/supercharged builds.

This car goes about setting fast lap times a little differently though. Let me give you a little info. Originally it started it's racing life as a drag car in Wichita, KS. The car has been through several motors starting with the original SI motor - a d16z6.  From there, a b18 turbo, and then a fully built K24/K20 high compression build running e85. The last motor to go in is what you see now. It’s a stock V6 out of an Acura TL Type-S tuned on a full standalone AEM EMS ECU. The motor was bought from a junkyard for $500 and on the same dyno it made exactly the same WHP as the fully built K24/K20 build but with more torque and on 91 octane gas, not e85. Not only did it make similar HP numbers but on the drag strip it was actually faster by a few tenths and managed to run 11.8 with a full interior including the glass sunroof. It is not a slow car by any means.

Over the winter of 2014, with the help of a local shop in Wichita - Fusionworks Racing - I turned this car from a drag car to a circuit car with the intention of finding out just what a simple swap could do. I added bigger front brakes using an ITR caliper setup with mini cooper rotors and swapped over my 4 year old JIC coilovers from my old B18c1 track car.  I also added a 24mm rear sway bar, a GSR 24mm front sway, and added a Sparco Sprint bucket seat.  Fusionworks Racing helped me with building a sunroof delete, mounting the Speedfactory tucked radiator, and helped corner balance the car. Also, the bushings were completely redone, but rather than using spherical bushings I opted for polyurethane since the car is still driven on the street to and from track events. 

All this leads to what the car has now become. What was once a drag car is now a full on time attack car within a reasonable budget. I always thought a V6 setup could be fast on a road course. Hasport has continually proved this with their J35 CRX in the FF battle series but I never really got to see video of the car or get that many details from the car build. So far this Civic SI has only been to 3 road course events. It ran one test day at Hallett Oklahoma with a lap time of 1:28.0 and the pro rounds 1 & 2 for Global Time Attack at both Road Atlanta and Nola Motorsports Park. For reference the car ran a 1:38.7 at Road Atlanta in the street FWD class on 225 Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Specs and Nola Motorsports Park it ran 1:55.7 on the same setup. This alone proves that J swaps have the potential to be very quick. Also, I should mention that this car was not trailered to any of the mentioned events. It was actually driven from Wichita, KS to all of the mentioned track events. That’s over 4000 miles of driving and roughly 20 sessions of hard driving on track. Is it reliable? I would say so.  

Overall, it was a great year in 2015 for this car. I’m very pleased with how it performed. By all means a turbo B series setup would be faster or even a fully built K series motor. After all there is a lot more aftermarket support for those motors, but the overall cost of a J swap is so much less considering nothing was done to the motor. It’s hard to say where this car will end up in time attack but I’ll continue to build this car for the Global Time Attack series and try to push the limits of the swap.

 

 

 

 

Specs

  • Car: 1993 Civic SI
  • Engine: J32a2 w/AEM EMS ECU
  • Power: 250whp/220tq
  • Transmission: TL Type-S 6Spd
  • Weight: 2100lbs
  • Suspension: JIC FLT TAR 10k F/ 7k R single adjustables
  • Sway: 24mm Rear sway/ 24mm Front
  • 1/4 mile (reference): 11.8 @ 116mph
  • GTA Class: Street FWD

 

Special thanks to:

follow Cooper on Instagram @Guess_Work_Racing and Facebook: Facebook.com/guessworkracing