Honda is a brand pretty much known for their reliable high revving performance engines. Unfortunately, the D17 engines which have come in our beloved EM2's don't really feature any of those abilities. It's a decent engine for daily use in lower RPM's but it was certainly not made for racing as Stanimir, our today's feature, figured out the hard way.
Stanimir is a fellow car guy from Bulgaria who managed to K-Swap his Honda Civic on a very limited budget. But back to start, when he started his journey pretty much without a clue what he actually wants.
There was only one requirement. It had to be Japanese. After looking through tons of Mitsubishis, Subarus, and Hondas he found something that caught his eye. A '01 Honda Civic EM2, powered by a D17A8 non-VTEC engine. He knew that it wasn't perfect but he fell in love with it and knew it'll be his car from that very moment. The Civic offered almost everything Stanimir was looking for. Obviously, it wasn't the most powerful car but it was spacious unlike Preludes and it was pretty rare compared to other Civics out there.
The D17's Last Ride
Have you ever had the desire to drive your car fast and push it to its limits? Well, that's exactly what Stanimir wanted and he finally got his shot at the Bulgarian Honda Brothers meet in 2018. He was curious to find out what the EM2 was capable of. Driving the D17 constantly in higher revs resulted in a major engine failure during the 6th lap and giving the track day an early end for him. The rod bearing crashed and the engine was pretty much totaled from there.
While he was still hoping to fix the engine and get it back running, his friends declared the engine dead. Unfortunately, there was even more bad luck waiting for him. Fired the next day, he was left with no job and a car he couldn't drive anymore. Out of question, the budget was tight and a K-Swap was unthinkable for Stanimir. He needed something less expensive but yet powerful enough to push his EM2 forward.
K-Swap on a limited budget?
The K20A3 which came in the Civic Type S models caught his eye while he was browsing through car marketplace websites in the UK. Originally, his plan was to buy a donor car and get the relevant parts from it. After swapping them over he wanted to sell all leftovers to get some money back in his pocket. Luckily, a guy from England made him an offer to supply the most vital parts for the build which made the initial costs of the swap more affordable and the whole process a bit easier.
With all the necessary parts handy, highly motivated Stanimir got his hands on the car. But soon he realized that his skill set is not sufficient enough to tackle the swap on his own. Using YouTube as his source of help, he found K-Powered to guide him through the most challenging parts and to overcome the obstacles he faced during the process. Alone or with a hand or two from close friends. Especially wiring in the ECU was a really hard and confusing part where our Wiring Guide helped him out.
The Final Steps
Besides all technical aspects of the K20 swap, the owner also cared about neat looks in the engine bay. That's why he gave it a shiny black paint job after he had mounted the engine mounts of a Civic EP3. Unfortunately, you're most likely never done when you think you are. After the engine was swapped and everything set up and running, a custom exhaust system was built and new keys were getting programmed.
After hours of hard work, Stanimir finally felt ready for his first car show after a long off-season and he made his way to a meet near the Black Sea. Barely. He kept losing his clutch on the way down there, so he replaced the high-pressure clutch lines with those from a 7th generation diesel Civic. This sounded quite unconventional for us when we first heard about it, but it fixed the problem.
We're excited to hear more from Stanimir and his K20-powered Civic and we're curious to see in which direction this amazing build is heading to.
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