Friday, August 31

Along came a Civic Si

Call me unambitious or unimaginative, but i love the Honda Civic like i love the Porsche GT3 and i want to drive one for the rest of my God given life (at least while i'm drivin a million miles to work). Thanks to my remote job, i've purchased what i think is the perfect daily driver (The civic what else?) and have gotten to know the symbolic cheapo car well. Back in the day, i used to think; who'd wanna drive that? Of course back then i was driving an Eclipse Turbo, one i couldn't really afford. But back then (at age 21) the coolness factor was all that mattered. Nevermind that i was living paycheck to paycheck and that sometimes i couldn't take my wife out to a fancy dinner, i had a Turbo! Blasting through the Coronado Peninsula Highway (i used to live in San Diego) became my favorite hobby-- well until they caught up to me. Got a ticket for doing 135 mph Doh! (but not many can say that...). All the coolness soon dissipated however once i crashed the car, resulting into a sky rocketing insurance premium that was already pretty steep to begin with. At that point i began to despise the cool car. But fortunately i got divorced several months later and she demanded to keep the car-- headers and exhaust included (and a 2-inch drop lol).

The Civic, i've learned, is a mighty fine car in terms of value and durableness. Best of all it is relatively maintenance free and when it does need some work, the replacement parts are fairly inexpensive (i.e. new clutch=$395, labor included...). I was quite happy with the car of course. That said, the thought of upgrading to a new (or newer) one had never left my mind. Besides, (to belabor the point) the car is relatively maintenance free and relatively inexpensive. It was really just a matter of which car i was willing to part with (sell or trade). Obviously I need to keep the truck for my hobbies so i was leaning hard towards the getting rid of the 97' Civic. Plus i thought about something other than a Civic. I thought about the Acura TSX or the new MDX, possibly the wagon-like Mazda Protoge5 or even the new and somewhat radical FJ40 Cruiser. But thats not the way it works, does it? At least not for me. My heart has to be set on a specific verhicle, otherwise i wouldn't bother shopping. But then towards the end of 2004, i came upon this influential article in Honda Tuning Magazine (I subscribe to it-- but my knowledge in tuning cars is purely theoretical. But still...) about the upcoming redesigned, re-engineered, tuner icon 2006 Civic Si. Promised among many other things was a sleek new body and a High Revving (to a whopping 8500 rpm-- that's Ferrari 430 country!) 2.0 liter, 197 hp motor and what they call a helical limited slip differential (this is a much needed addition especially with the added power). Basically the same unit from the Acura RSX Type S (minus 4 hp's), just a smidge less revvy. The tuner-world revered Si has always been a favorite of mine (The 1996 model in particular. 2002-2005 models being my least favorite). And i just loved the article...

To sum it all up -- the car is basically, fun, fun, and well, more fun! At least on paper... Of course when the car was finally unveiled (at the Detroit International Motor show i believe) in North America and test driven, it did not disappoint. It was everything it was suppose to be and then some (audio system, navigation, MP3 Jack etc etc). And according to many many tuners and import car enthusiasts; it is the best handling stock Civic Si ever conceived... I was excited! I was excited because there was finally a car (within what i was willing to spend) i could actually set my heart and mind to. There was no more haggling in my head and questions to be asked. All was left was the color of choice and whether satellite navigation and the 18 inch wheel was worth my money (17 inch wheel is stock). Those were the only options (The interior comes only in black...). Yes, just two options available... It's kind of cool actually. It's got that Rousch Mustang or Porsche GT3 feel to it-- no radio or ac available. Just racing stripes...

All the excitement aside, i was going to wait until the beginning of 2008 to purchase the Si. And it's not even a matter of not having the means to obtain one now but rather a matter of self-control. You see I've spent so much money on stuff in the last several months (Big TV, expensive mountain bike, and Philippine vacation etc...) that i thought perhaps postponing the car purchase for severals months might do me some good. Well until some idiot white guy in a bright red Si revved me outside the parking lot Church ( i had my Civic) a week ago. In Church man! We can't have that...

Not two days later, filled with rage and indescribable envy, i found myself seeking for deals online for a bright red Si (but also considered white and silver). I had to have one, SOON! I was able to put together some stuff online but couldn't really convince myself to drive out to a dealership. It's that damn mark-up these shameless dealerships tack on (lol). You see the MSRP for a new Si's is listed just under 22K and around 24-26 after dealer markup (found an Si Sedan for 29K in Lancaster, wow!). With that in mind, i thought of an alternative plan. Maybe i can get a used one instead, i thought. Not just any used one, but a 2007 used one (trade-in's). Hmmn is that even possible? Do people really get rid of their cars that quickly? Even a specialized car like an Si? You wouldn't think so, right? Right... Well i found a lot of 2006 models and a grand total of three 2007 models in a 300 mile radius (except all the Si's were in the wrong color). I made appointments to see all three...

On Thursday evening, as i was leaving for work (having already set my appointments for the evening and even the weekend), i decided to check online one more time hoping for a new-posting for an '07. And wouldn't you know it, there was one just posted not a few minutes before. And best yet, just 8 miles from work. A nice immaculate looking Silver Si... The interesting thing about this particular posting was the fact that it was traded-in at the Rusnak Porsche of Thousand Oaks for -- ya you guessed it-- a Porsche 911 (That's a hell of an upgrade... I wanna be that guy!). What's so interesting about that you say? Well not so much for the fact that the old geezer (according to the sales guy) traded the old Civic for a Porsche but because my 1998 Honda Passport was also traded in for a Porsche (at a Santa Monica Porsche/Audi used car dealership). I'm starting to feel like i'm driving hand-downs lol. I thought it was a sign, a sign that it was the right car (it even felt right...). So anyway i went out there to Car Country in Thousand Oaks to check it out. I had to park like a half a block down because i felt kind of out of place. I mean i drive a tired Civic and i was going into a Porsche dealership to purchase a used Honda-- how would you like to be that guy? It was one of the most surreal moments of my life ya know (especially because i am nuts about Porsches--). I wasn't sure whether to feel happy or sad when i finally spotted the Silver Si (priced at an incongruous $19,000) amongst a sea of Boxter's (Base price of $50,000), 911's ($62,000+), 911 Carrera S, Carrera S4 ($90,000+), and 911 Turbo Targa (priced at an impressive $120,000.00!). This is not just going to be a regular car purchase, i thought. It is going to be something of a religious experience. I'm going to be saving that Civic Si from the ostentatious Germans...

Anyway, i walked into the Porsche dealership rather incognito and asked for Adam (who seemed overly excited to sell a Civic...). Adam was very cool i must say and seemed genuinely interested and somewhat Si-learned (his buddy and co-worker drives a 2003 Honda S2000 that was parked up front. Same K-series motor line as the Si, so...). First things first, right? Test drive! Best part is that Thousand Oaks isn't like the Dealerships in the Valley where the surrounding highways and local roads aren't exactly ideal for test driving. You'd have to drive 20 miles north east to the Angeles mountain ranges to get some open road ahead of ya. In Thousand Oaks, the local roads are very wide and long, winding and hilly. In other words, perfect! Adam insisted he drove the car out of the dealership though. Odd, maybe it's a Porsche thing (but who cares?!)... I drove gingerly at first. I wasn't really sure if Adam would allow me to open her up (i mean come on, he drove the car out of the dealership... and oh Melissa "open her up" is a reference to the throttle, meaning flooring the gas, k?). One mile down the main street, we took a left and approach a red light. A brand new Lexus 350 awaited at the light on the left lane like a present from the drag racing Gods (and no police anywhere in site). This is gonna be a hell of a test drive, i hoped... I pulled up slowly next to the Black Lexus. Damn it, it's a girl-- she's not gonna wanna race me, i bemoaned... I revvv it up to 7000 rpm's anyway to test Adam and the girl and luckily for me his only response was-- its suppose to revv up to 8000. "Actually, 8500" i corrected Adam. When i saw Green -- i dropped the hammer-- then i yanked the short-ratio 6 speed short-shifter to 2nd gear once the RPM tapped 8500. The DOHC Vtec screamed "Whooooomp --- whoooompp" as i shifted (and you know when that Vtec kicks-in at about 6500 rpm. The car sounds like a different animal). In what felt like just a few seconds, i was doing 85 MPH in 5th gear around a nice long bend but soon run out of driving room (red light coming up, fast!). I meant to down-shift to 4th gear but i miss-shift and yanked it into 2nd gear instead Doh!(I gotta get used to this 6 speed stick thing). The non-violent sounding 5th gear vrooooom instantly erupted into a frightening Whooooooomppph in 2nd gear (Haha what a dork...). Oops. Adam remained quiet but his ashen face said it all lol. Good times...

When it was time to wheel and deal however, i came upon pretty big snag. Something i had completely forgotten about my past. Probably due to all the excitement of the past week (since that guy in an Si revved me at Church). The best they could offer was an outrageous 14.99% interest rate. This is all due to fact that my Ex Gf's car, one i had co-signed for was repo'd a couple of years ago (1 year shy of the life of the loan, ouch!). Obviously the co-signer assumes all responsibility when all else fails with the signer lol (The signer somehow failed to mention this to me). I was done...

Twelve hours later i was back at it. I felt there had to be a better deal somewhere out there. 14.99 just seemed incredibly high... I haggled all day with several other dealerships (including my credit union). Dealerships from Van Nuys to Lancaster, to Orange Grove, and all the way out in Carlsbad (north county San Diego) in the pursuit of a better interest rate (or at least something reasonable-- 7% being my target). Because let's face it, i am not going to get an excellent deal anywhere-- thanks to the repo'd car.

But at the end of the day i wound up right back where i started, among the beautiful Porsche's (I'm telling you, we have some kind of a connection). Somehow they were the only Dealership in a 300 mile radius to come-up with a reasonable enough deal. Not even my Credit Union could beat or match their offer. Basically they managed to drop the interest rate a full 8 points from the initial quote, if you can believe that. I have feeling they only did it in the interest of good riddance. The pockmark of a Civic in the face of an otherwise perfect all-Porsche Dealership...

Among Porsches

5 Comments:

At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Melissa said...

Thank you. Open her up....I'll committ that to memory just in case I ever get the opportunity to drive a Civic. Ehem. haha

 
At 10:04 AM, Blogger Marc Gabay said...

It is NOT a Civic. It is a Civic Si. There is a humongous difference. damn it lol

 
At 4:01 AM, Anonymous Andrew!* said...

I swear man.. sometimes I just can't help but read, and read, and read your blogs. I'm totally stoked that you got the SI. My buddy had one, but ran into some problems (personal) along the way, and had to get rid of it. But, nonetheless, it's a beaut. I'll definitely keep you posted as far as parts. Let me know of which, assuming you're starting to do some research on hondatech.com or something lol. But yeah.. It'll be good times. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get you the best pricing (excluding those darn EBAY prices.. but we all know that's always a "box of chocolates") and you'll start to build that sucker up. Does the SI have iVtech or Vtech? Hmm... I forget. Make sure you check out Hondata. Not too sure if they have anything for the new SI yet, but that piggyback (technically it acts as a piggyback ECU, but has some user control capabilities, so it's like 1/2 piggyback, and 1/2 standalone) kicks butt. My homeboy had an EP (previous year SI to your year) and dropped a K20a2 motor in it (RSX Type-S) with the Hondata, and a few basic bolt ons.. (not too sure if he got cams with it too). But regardless, he was able to get around 252whp in that little hatch lol. That's my goal man, one of my dream projects is to build a Honda Fit and drop a K20a2 in it....... ahhhhhhhh. Now THAT's how you do it lol.

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger Marc Gabay said...

Hey Andrew, its got the iVtec. 252 Whp? Holy smokes man...

Yes i'll have to do some research before i pull the trigger on the aftermarket stuff (took me a couple of years to finally pick up the Si, so i wouldn't hold my breath if i were you LOL). I like to read reviews and see what people are saying about the parts... First things first i guess, an exhaust system (catback?) that would compliment the already throaty stock intake system, plus maybe headers. I haven't started researching yet though...

 
At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop commenting on yer own blog, u homo... love, your cousin Adrian... you should've bought a Hummer instead.

 

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