The 1990 Honda Civic wagon wasn’t exactly a barnstormer of a car, but famed tuner Bisi Ezerioha thought it would make the perfect candidate for an eighth-mile drag race monster. In the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, Bisi invites Jay to crawl all over the resulting car and eventually take the manic machine for a spin. Bisi is no stranger to the show, having recently brought a bat-outta-hell fast Porsche 930 911 over for Jay to drive.
In this build, power comes from a 2.4-liter K24 engine that mates a late-model Acura TSX bottom end to a 2014 Civic Si head. The integrated exhaust manifold on this head allowed Bisi to bolt on a cantaloupe-sized turbocharger. This build should handle four-figure power without much complaint—it’s running a paltry 772 horsepower to the wheels as of this video, and Bisi has plans for more. As Leno soon finds out, the net result of this turbo-build is akin to giving a nest of angry hornets a bunch of pre-workout powder and then kicking their queen.
It’s not all point and shoot from the hip—the car is actually running some pretty sophisticated software. An AEM engine management system can run any variation of gasoline or ethanol, adjusting the requisite variables within the engine to keep it running safely.
The upgrades to the rest of the car are equally impressive. Where a sleepy automatic transmission powering the front wheels once resided, a five-speed sequential manual now shunts power to all four wheels, courtesy of some CRV running gear. Bisi and company decided to cage the car as well, which added much-needed chassis rigidity. All told, the build weighs around 2700 pounds.
By far the coolest features on this build, though, are the rear wheel covers, reminiscent of the famous Turbofans that once adorned Porsche race car wheels. As Bisi explains, Honda used a similar wheel cover during the ’80s in its British Touring Car efforts to enhance rear downforce by extracting air from the rear of the car via these fans. (Our inner Honda nerd is beaming.) On this wagon build, they’re meant to do the same thing.
We can’t get enough of builds like this. Sleeper wagons are great, but when you drill down into the nitty gritty, Bisi managed to create something sublime with largely Honda-based components. It’s cool to see an engineer—aftermarket or otherwise—reimagine an entirely different sum of mundane parts. It’s cooler still to see that most of the parts come from one family tree. Plus, we’re a sucker for turbofans, but you already knew that.