Sometimes you don't need a set goal in life in order to make the most of things. Certain individuals do their best work when they fly by the seat of their pants and just make shit up as they go along. It may sound like complete malarkey to some, but this easy-peasy approach to getting a project completed really works for numerous folks, and there certainly is something to be said for spontaneity.
Jonathan Palafox's prolonged assembly of an EM1 Civic Si pulls from both schools of thought, with an extremely timeless end product being the result. What began with being inspired by builds seen in Super Street way back in the early 2000s turned into a constantly revolving door of bolt-ons, component swaps, and teardowns. Both man and machine have stuck to strict build lists and strayed into spontaneous fits of inspired reimagining, with almost a decade and a half of time spent serving up sumptuous amounts of sleek Si sex appeal.
What began as father-and-son bonding time as they cleaned the old Jetta GLI quickly turned into garage time. Being this was an '84 model, it constantly was in need of some sort of fix. Then when it finally came time to get his permit, a 1990 CB7 Accord emerged in all of its indestructible glory, thus piquing the youth's interest in automotive alterations. On went the trusty intake/exhaust combo, along with a thumping stereo system and loads of "tuner attitude - something most of us did as well in our youth, but rarely admit to.
After interest in the bulletproof CB7 began to wane, Jonathan snagged a naturally aspirated '95 Eagle Talon and proceeded to learn firsthand what not to do when building a car. Rocking ugly alloys, a body that came slammed on lowering springs, a raspy intake and exhaust, enough lights to safely direct aircraft traffic, and a white spray painted interior - it was an abomination on all fours, and he knew it.
Despite having all of the most desired mods from the early 2000's, every time Jonathan drove his DSM jalopy he knew deep down it wasn't what he wanted at all. Most of the cool kids his age were driving Hondas, and all that Jonathan pined for was a Civic of his own. It was a thought that became permanently affixed after a quick trip to the 1999 Chicago Auto Show.
While in attendance, an "Electron Blue Pearl" EM1 Si parked next to an unassuming black Civic EX pulled the young man in and refused to let go. Completely unaware of the fact that Honda made an Si model, Jonathan was intrigued as to why the blue one looked so much better than the black one. Later, upon discovering what an Si badge fully entailed, the fledgling enthusiast became obsessed with the augmented alternate, a fixation that unfortunately was hampered by high school wages. Four lifetimes — errr — years later, and the exact Si Jonathan had first seen at CAS was his for the taking, and the man's enthusiasm refused to be contained.
After a few months of ownership, Super Street features focusing on Jonathan Wong's Civic, the FF Squad, and all of Jay Smith's builds from the early 2000s had left Jonathan hooked on the notion of a JDM-inspired build. After combing over the same issues countless times and memorizing what mods each car rocked, it was time to turn to the forums for endless hours of research.
Over the following few years the car went through a multitude of stages, and in retrospect Jonathan admits that he could have probably bought another car with the amount of money that had been wasted swapping out parts. Hell, even now the Si is receiving additional interior, wheel, and brake upgrades, so rest assured the tuner bug continues to bite.
It's now been 14 years since Jonathan first took possession of his Si, and since then he's purchased numerous cars in order to keep the coupe as minty as possible. There was a 2010 Civic Si sedan, a 2014 STI hatch, and a 2015 WRX STI, all of which were modified, but only mildly, in order to justify all the cash getting dumped into his blue Si.
Nowadays the car only comes out of slumber for car shows or well planned cruise to stretch its legs, thus making it a dedicated garage queen. Future modifications only entail subtle changes, such as different wheels and tires, and some minor engine and transmission updates. When asked about the future and what else he has in mind now that his precious Si is pretty much complete, Jonathan smiles and says that an Integra Type R is his next dream machine, and that he can't wait to start the build process all over again in order to reap the rewards.
Our take? We love that Jonathan went for timeless over tacky, and we can foresee another 14 years from now this Civic is still going to look like a million bucks.