ROTM December: Keith Maple’s ’79 Civic

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The rarity associated with seeing any of our brethren at a local Honda show is like bringing a Star Wars movie to a Twilight premiere. Almost everyone knows what it is, but dares not to mess with it because of it’s legacy. You just don’t fuck with us old-schooler’s. When Corey drove this in to the show, it sat in the lot like a wolf hiding with the pact.

We got to see this ride roll in to the East Coast Honda Meet back in July of this year and we couldn’t stop looking at it. The owner Keith Maples and his son, Corey Gray Maples, were no where to be found but the car was an attention hoarder at the event. Parked off to the side, with it’s 15×7 Minilites roasting on the hot 110 degree pavement, this little ’79 1st Generation Civic was one of only (2) 1st gens that showed up to the show.

We’ve been trying to contact Corey & Keith about his story with the ’79 and finally got the chance to ask them about their father/son experience with the Civic. It’s stories like this that really show the compassion and bonding that a Honda can bring to many. Here’s what Corey had to tell us!

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“Well my dad got the car back in ’97 from a neighbor. It was completely original, faded red paint, 200k+ on the odometer, but still ran. I was still in elementary school and my mom would drive me to school in it. We would also squeeze 5 of us in it when we would take my grandmother to dinner. I look back at that now and see how ridiculous that is due to how small the car is. Now to where the build the started.

The carbs were starting to go bad on the original motor and my dad was about to sell it to a friend who owns a Honda N600. That all got turned around when he found a motor on ebay. It’s a 1978 accord EG or EF motor I believe. It has the Canadian head on it so it wasn’t the USDM version. It came with dual weber carbs and supposedly high compression pistons. It was a done deal after that. A complete remodel was in store. We got the motor and tore it apart to make sure everything was in order and to put it together the right way. We added some MSD goodies and a magnaflow muffler. We needed an exhaust manifold custom made since this was the Canadian head.

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Now most people just think this car is just a motor swap and some body work. Nobody knows how difficult it is to track down parts in order to upgrade these things. It’s not like I can go to a website and just order these parts and have them arrive on my doorstep. The first gen civics had a 4×120 lug pattern. They don’t make any decent wheels with that pattern so we had to find a way to convert to a 4×100. This is where the internet made this build possible. A lot of thanks goes out to www.1stgencivic.org. They were the main source of info for this build. We went ahead and did a 4 wheel disc brake conversion as well. I forgot some of the Frankenstein parts for this build but I’ll try. We got the front knuckles from a 1st gen civic wagon and the front hubs are from a 2nd gen civic. The calipers and e-brake cables are from a DA integra with the rear hubs from a ’95 civic. After this conversion, it was easy to find brakes so we could get Brembo rotors and Hawk HPS pads. We also added Goodrich stainless steel brake lines.

The next issue was how to lower this bad boy. This was another difficult feat. We went with a Koni and Ground Control setup but again, they don’t make this for a 1st gen. We had to find the 1974 civic openable struts in order to use the Koni inserts. The brake line bracket had to be relocated and the perches needed to be modified for more travel. The coilovers are meant for a 1st gen CRX. Other suspension upgrades include Addco front(7/8″) and rear(3/4″) sway bars, polyurethane bushings, and custom adjustable camber plates.

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We had all of these parts for the car way before the motor was finished and even before the car went to the body shop. The car had noticeable amounts of rust and needed alot of work before it could be painted. We definitely wanted the wide look for this car after seeing old pictures of the Jackson Racing civics. We ordered some universal fiberglass fender flares that needed to be molded to the body. We got ride of the huge front and rear bumpers for some fiber glass ones. Had the shop shave the fender lights, antenna, and roof rails. This car was in the shop for over a year. We originally wanted the car to be white. It is just an easy color to take care of. After looking through the color wheels and books, yellow just jumped out and it really makes this car pop. The exact color is PPG Vibrance Yella. Dreamworks Customs was the body shop that did all of the work. They are no longer in business but they did an amazing job.

To give you an idea of the time-frame of this build, I was a sophomore in high school when we got the motor. We didn’t get the car back from the body shop until I was a Freshman in College. I missed alot of the actual putting the car together. It sounded as if everything went together really smooth. I was told the motor started up first crank, typical Honda. The car is autocrossed and it handles on rails. The street wheels are Minilites 15×7 -6mm offset with 195/45 Toyo Proxes. The autocross wheels are 13×8 +4mm Rota RBs.

The interior is pretty tame compared to the rest. Sparco Steel seats, Momo Competition steering wheel, and some gauges are the only aftermarket items on the inside.

We’ve only ran into a few problems since it has been finished. It snapped an axle so we had to get some beefier ones. The clutch started slipping, so got an upgraded clutch and found the rear main seal was leaking. It was blowing head-gaskets on a common basis, but we switched to a copper gasket and ARP studs, and it hasn’t done it since.

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The car dynoed at 93whp and 86 Ib-ft torque!”

Check out this short video of Keith auto-crossing the Civic in Danville, Va!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN8tuqUndnw&feature=relmfu]

Check out our double feature with Keith’s spec sheet and more pics HERE!

Nate Mitchell

Honda Roots Editor-in-Chief A strong SN Honda enthusiast, he currently owns an '80 XR and '81 SN Preludes, supplies parts and operates Honda Roots, Thisoldhonda.org and G1Preludes.com.

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