K swapped: EF3 K-powered Civic

Posted in Cars, People
The EF might not be the most desirable Civic platform, but that hasn’t stopped Ollie Mcchesney building one of the country’s wildest Hondas from one

There are those people who walk among us that like to build things a little different to the norm. They have no interest in following the sheep and doing what everyone else does just because it’s easy. No way, these guys are forging ahead and doing things the hard way, simply because that’s the only way to achieve their vision. But when you end up with a car like Ollie Mcchesney’s EF Civic, you damn well know the path taken was the right one.

Yip, that’s right, hidden somewhere under the aero is an EF Civic that Ollie picked up four years ago for the measly sum of $1800, already half stripped and fitted with a B18C. “I wanted to do something different from the usual DC/EG route, and the EF is a light chassis while still retaining the trailing-arm rear end,” Ollie explained.

The original build plan was for a cheap track hack to contest Honda Cup, but of course what you’re looking at here is not a cheap hack, nor is it powered by a B18C, it’s in fact one of the wildest Honda builds we have set eyes on here in New Zealand in a very long time.

As you would expect, the EF was lightning fast with the B18C thanks to its featherlight weight (under 900kg), but with plans to compete in the Honda Cup, Ollie looked at what would be the best power-plant option to fit within the classes, and purchased a B16B to build up. That plan wasn’t going to stay on course for long, as he explained.

“When my dad upgraded the K20 to a K24 in his Honda Cup DCR Type R, we decided to swap the K20 into my EF.”

He sourced a set of off-the-shelf mounts through a friend in the US, otherwise the conversion required a small notch in the chassis and the removal of the front cross member to convert the car to a traction bar set-up. This modification rendered the car illegal for Honda Cup.

“I decided I would then build it up to compete in SS2000, which allowed me to build the much wilder car that I had always wanted to eventually do.”

Ollie began thinking up a wild aero-equipped EF, making numerous sketches, with inspiration coming from the likes of the Tactical Art EG6 Civic from Japan.

“I took the car to a panel beater with a set of Buddy Club P1s mounted, and told him to build everything around those.”

When it came to aero parts like the front and rear diffusers, Ollie got into the build after plenty of research — when you work seven-week stretches out at sea things like this can fill in the time quite well. Alongside the research, some serious online retail therapy saw Ollie returning home to stacks of boxes filled with plenty of engine bolt-ons from companies like K-Tuned, and suspension components from the likes of Hardrace.

But there are some parts that are best built not bought, like the custom headers put together by Ollie’s flatmate, Brendan Duncker, who just happens to run his own fabrication shop. The headers are really a piece of art, with plenty of function built in. The sweeping equal-length runners collect ahead of an expansion chamber, then lead into a three-inch side-exit pipe. The combination gives some great mid-range gains in both the power and torque curves.

At this stage the block and head remain internally stock, but with the supporting bolt-ons, including the RRC intake manifold and Blox 70mm throttle body, the AEM EMS-4–controlled K20 is producing 165kW to the front wheels. That’s a figure Ollie plans to increase to 180kW-plus with a set of big-lift cams and some head work in the near future. But in the meantime the 165kW combined with a well-thought-out suspension package, a 1.5-way MFactory LSD and a kerb weight of 880kg is proving to be a rapid combination.

When it came to the suspension package, Ollie enlisted the advice of some of New Zealand’s best FWD guys to ensure it would work as desired. Looking underneath will reveal a set of custom-valved Fortune Auto coilovers, a swag of adjustable arms fitted with spherical bearings, and J’s Racing roll-centre adjusters and adjustable ASR sway bars.

That advice from the likes of Grady Homeward must have been good, as the Civic has really hit the ground running. With only a few track days under his belt and the obligatory teething issues sorted, Ollie nabbed his first podium in his first-ever race in the Classic Japanese Series, lapping a best of 1:16 around Pukekohe even when forced to deal with slower lap traffic.

These lap times should slot the Civic into the mid to pointy end of the SS2000 field once he makes the jump over sometime next year. But considering that was his first ever race, you can expect those lap times to improve over the coming meetings, which should ensure the EF’s a very competitive car.

What makes this car so damn cool is not the fact the spec list would be like a wet dream for most Honda-heads, it’s how those parts came together to create such a wild machine, so much so that you almost forget it’s an EF Civic hidden in there somewhere. It just goes to show what you can create in the shed at home if you plan out and research every step of the build.

We suggest that after reading this you go and Google EF Civic, you will be shocked at just how different they are, we certainly were.

Tuning menu

Make and model: 1988 Honda Civic EF3


  • Engine: Honda K20A
  • Block: Factory
  • Head: SVM
  • Intake: RRC intake manifold, Blox throttle body adaptor, Blox 70mm throttle body, custom alloy intake, Karcepts throttle cable, billet throttle bracket, K-Tuned thermal isolating gaskets
  • Exhaust: Custom Convert Motorsport stainless headers, XForce resonators, three-inch stainless system
  • Fuel: Denso RDX injectors, Speedflow 2237kW/3000hp fuel filter, Hybrid Racing fuel rail, AEM fuel pressure regulator, Marshall fuel pressure gauge, DeatschWerks 255 lift pump, Bosch 044 main pump, custom surge tank, Mocal fuel cooler, Speedflow AN fittings
  • Ignition: Factory
  • ECU: AEM EMS-4
  • Cooling: Modified Redline aluminium B-Series CRX radiator, Trust thermostatic sandwich plate, Moroso remote oil filter, Mocal oil cooler
  • Extra: Full custom loom, custom oil catch can, custom radiator overflow, custom heat shield, Circuit Hero coil cover, Hasport alloy engine mounts, K-Tuned billet water neck, K-Tuned billet thermostat, K-Tuned billet idler pulley, K-Tuned heater line delete kit, K-Tuned anodized oil cap, K-Tuned idle-control valve-rotator plate, Hybrid Racing twin-ratchet cam-chain tensioner, K-Tuned billet alternator relocation, K-Tuned coolant lines, K-Tuned billet TPS, Moroso deep trapdoor sump, K-Tuned dipstick, Bolt Boys complete engine and transmission cap-head fitting kit, Hybrid Racing radiator hoses


  • Gearbox: Honda Type R six-speed, K-Tuned billet race-spec shifter
  • Clutch: Exedy racing clutch, custom cable-hydro clutch conversion, K-Tuned braided clutch line
  • Flywheel: Toda
  • Diff: MFactory 1.5-way plate-type LSD
  • Extra: Hybrid Racing race-spec shifter cables, K-Tuned billet shifter cable bracket, Driveshaft Shop 2.9 axles


  • Struts: Fortune Auto 500 Series coilovers, custom valving / spring rates
  • Brakes: (F) Wilwood Superlite four-pot calipers, 300mm-rotor Goodridge braided lines, Pagid yellow pads, (R) Wilwood Dynalite two-pot calipers, Type R 260mm rotors, Wilwood brake pads, custom hardline, Goodridge braided lines, OBP hydraulic handbrake
  • Extra: Five-stud HRV front hubs, 98-spec ITR rear hubs, Full-Race rose-jointed traction bar, custom front lower arms with Hardrace spherical bearings, Skunk2 front camber arms, J’s Racing roll-centre adjusters, Hardrace spherical rear toe arms, Hardrace spherical rear camber arms, Hardrace spherical rear lower arms, 98-spec ITR rear trailing arms, PCI spherical trailing arm bearings, ASR race chromoly sway bar with multiple interchangeable bars


  • Wheels: (Dry) 17x9-inch Work CR Kaiwami Ultimate, (wet) 17x9-inch Buddyclub P1
  • Tyres: (dry) Hankook Z214 245/40R17, (wet) Dunlop 03G 245/40R17


  • Paint: Toyota Hilux white
  • Enhancements: Sunroof delete, custom front splitter and canards, custom EF9 front bumper, custom rear diffuser, J’s Racing rear wing, Lexan windows, modified PCI sideskirts, custom steel widebody front guards, custom fibreglass bonnet, custom front tow hook, headlight blanks, LED high stop light


  • Seats: (F) Racetech FIA RT4009HR, Racetech six-point Hans harness
  • Steering wheel: Momo suede, quick release
  • Instrumentation: AIM MXL digital dash / data logger, lap timer, Turbosmart in-cabin fuel pressure gauge, Auto Meter mechanical oil pressure gauge, custom alloy switch panel with warning lights
  • Extra: Eight-point roll cage by Boyd Dalton at Just Caged, Billet rear vision, fire extinguisher
  • Power: 165kW at the wheels

Driver profile:

  • Driver/owner: Ollie Mcchesney
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Auckland
  • Occupation: Marine engineer
  • Build time: Four years
  • Length of ownership: Four years
  • Thanks: Stuart Mcchesney for the help and support at Mortgage Man Ltd, ph. 06 844 7214, Brendan Duncker at Convert Ltd for a lot of the custom fabrication and the killer headers! Email Brendan@convertmotorsport.co.nz, Marcus Heke for all the mentoring and support at Perry’s Auto Dismantlers, ph. 09 836 0061, Matthew Newport for all his wicked custom electrical work at Revolution Auto Electrical Hawkes Bay, Boyd Dalton at Just Caged Ltd, email justcaged@gmail.com, Adam Plews at Speed Science, Taryn at Tyretech, Jacky at Jtune, Nick and Keegan at North Shore Toyota, all the Team Fourteen crew, Kathryn for putting up with this money pit, all the haters.

Marcus Gibson

Marcus Gibson has spent his life getting a little grease under his fingernails growing up with a fascination for all things loud, fast, and low. Growing up during the boom of the import scene, the last ten years have seen him work for a few publications, as well as running his own website before taking up a role at NZ Performance Car in 2011. Marcus is as at home with a keyboard or camera in-hand as he is getting dirty in his workshop or at the track, championing that Kiwi DIY attitude.