Totaled Civic Brought Back to Life

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Honda Civic

Most folks wouldn’t undertake a project of this magnitude. But Honda-Tech members ain’t most folks.

For most people, wrecking an older car is often the end of the line. The insurance company cuts you a check and the car heads to a scrap yard where it’ll be sold for parts or crushed, unceremoniously. In the case of Honda-Tech member Jesse1920‘s friend, a wrecked Civic hatchback presented an opportunity to use the car as an engine donor for another project. But he soon changed his mind, and the car landed in the hands of the OP.

“Long story short, I bought a wrecked ’94 Civic hatchback from a friend who had plans on pulling the motor and putting it into another car. He ended up going in another direction and the car ended up sitting for about 6 months. He bought the car already wrecked from someone we knew. The car ran fine, cranked fine, all good, even drove it 1/4 mile or so.

So six months later, I get it started. It made some tapping noise, like metal tapping, so I cut it off. Did a compression check. Three out of four ran 175 to 182 psi. One cylinder ran zero. Pulled the head and it had an exhaust valve stuck open. So everything else “motor wise” seems to be pretty solid. I’m needing some advice on where to go from here with the motor. I’m not planning on putting a ton of money into it, but I do want it dependable and I will do the necessary repairs to make that happen.”

Honda Civic

“For extra insurance, I’ll be installing ARP head studs and a Cometic head gasket. I’m going to use the engine for a DD. Whether or not I fix the hatch or put it into something else, I need a daily driver when I’m not driving my work truck. Since it’s apart, should I change all the valves? Springs? Cams? Currently I’m in the process of trying to find a machine shop in my area. So far no luck. If you guys have any suggestions let me know.

Basically wanting a dependable B16 with a little more power than stock. I still can’t decide if I want to continue to work with this hatch. If I could find a clean shell I may go that route. The car was just painted before it was wrecked.”

The original plan sounds innocent enough. But after several weeks passed and work began, things started to get a little more serious. And the OP started a new thread to show off his incredible work.

“It’s been an exhausting eight weeks, working during the day and working on this car at night. Well here it is, almost done. Still working on the rear quarter panel trying to get it straight right now. I don’t want to know how many hours I’ve got in this thing, or how many Benjamins.”

Honda Civic

The OP even had to replace the front crossmember. Which, combined with the rest of the intensive work, was more than most folks would have undertaken on a car like this.

“The owner at the time rear ended a BMW and totaled it. The front radiator support and front bumper was toast. I bought those off of eBay. If I had to do over again, I would have tried to find an OEM one. I spent about 6 weeks crawling around in the mud and the dark before I was able to move the thing into a garage. Nice having light and not having to cover everything from the elements when I got done each night.”

It’s impossible not to admire the incredible work done to bring this Civic back to life. And even though the OP might be questioning his decision to do so now, we’re guessing it’ll all be worth it in the end. Be sure and keep up with the latest on this amazing project by heading over here!


Brett Foote has been covering the auto industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ popular Auto Group websites, including Corvette Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among others.

Foote has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles and every other type of automobile, Foote had spent several years running parts for local dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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