B18C in a CRX

B18C/B16A in an EF Civic/CRX

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This is not a swap for the faint hearted. It involves major custom fabricationwork and a lot of skill. Let's take a look at how it's done, courtesy of HASport Performance in Phoenix, AZ. 

First of, the following components were used in this swap: 

  • B18C1 engine
  • Y1 tranny from a JDM CRX
  • Passenger side B18C axle
  • Custom driver's side axle.
  • Engine mounts from Place Racing
  • Shift linkages, also from Place Racing
Place Racing engine mounts
Place Racing Shifters

Preparing the Chassis

As the mounts had to be welded in, the chassis had to be prepared first. The existing mounts were drilled off using a spot weld remover. These included the driver's side mount, the tranny side mount and the mount on the front crossmember. Next, a hole was cut into the driver's side fenderwell to accomodate the custom mounts. 
Hole in fenderwell
Test fitting the mount
As the B18C/B16A engines sit higher in their stock form they have to be shimmed lower to accomdate the lower hood. This was achieved with an aluminium shim on the driver side mount and spacers on the tranny side mounts. These shims were included as part of Place Racing's kit. 

At the same time, the B18C was mated to the Y1 transmission to make the swap easier, eliminating the need to fabricate the necessary modifications to get the hydraulic clutch to work. 

Meanwhile, the mounts were then welded in place and painted to match the car's original paintwork. 

Doing it in reverse

Brian, of HASport does motor swaps in a radically different manner compared to most places. Instead of dropping the engine into the car, he drops the car over the engine. 

To accomplish this, Brian lifts the car up (on a lift of course) and for an EF CRX/Civic, he removes the front crossmember. This frees up a ton of room so that the engine fits in there very easily. the engine is then bolted up from the top side and the cross member is replaced. The final result of the work is shown below. 

Electrical work

Next, came the difficult part, wiring it up right. For this swap, Brian took a simple approach He used a B18A ECU that came off a 92 Integra which plugged right into the CRX's harness. In addition, the VTEC circuitry was replaced by an MSD rpm activated switch. The same was done to the Intake Air Bypass (IAB) hardware. 

Putting all of it together

The final stage of this swap was to put it all together. The suspension members were bolted back in place using the custom axles and the shifter replaced the stock units. General fitment was good but there were some concerns about the clearance of certain suspension members, which I will talk about later. 

The exhaust piping had to be extended so it was improvised with a clamp and adapter pipe for the moment, until Brian could get it welded together correctly. 

Too close for comfort

Even though it looks like the engine fits, there are several serious clearance issues that need to be addressed.  The best way to do this swap, is with the JDM Si-R hood, or a custom 'bump-up' hood.  The center portion of the US hood bumps down, and this is why the US cars don't have the clearance necessary to install the B18C/B16A with the stock JDM clearances.

NOTE:  the JDM Si-R has an entirely different headlights, with a different headlight shape. you will need the entire JDM Si-R front clip to do the hood conversion cleanly.


See how low the engine hangs
In order to clear the stock hood, the engine must hang extremely low. With everything put together, the engine hangs about 2" below the lowest point of the front crossmember 

This is a serious concern, and because of it, the B18C/B16A swap is not one of our recomended swaps, unless a custom hood is used.  With the average lowered car, the oil pan and header will only have about 2" to 2.5" of room from the road.  This is hardly enough clearance for street driving.  Speed bumps, raised manhole covers, deep pot holes, rocks, trash, and any manner of road kill will be obstacles that must be swerved around to avoid denting the header and oil pan. 


Secondly, the engine sits so low that the radius rods have only 1/2" of clearance to the transmission housing on one side and the main pulley on the other.  These rods need clearance, because the suspension members move about to accomodate irregularities in the road.  Would 1/2" be enough?"


Main pulley is only 1/2" away from the radius rod
The same for the tranny side

The initial test drive quickly showed us that we had a problem. 1/2" of clearance is not enough, and there was a gash on the radius rod caused by the pulley to prove it.  Its a very bad thing to have the pulley that protects our precious belts smashing into the radius rod over and over. Luckily, Brian had a pretty cool solution...

To circumvent the possibility of massive damage, curved radius rods (from an old Accord) were used to give the area a little more room. the holes had to be redrilled to get the rods to fit, but the material was so hard that two cobalt drill bits were destroyed in the process. 

They fit right in there, and gave the entire suspension more room for play.


Murphy's Laws revisted

Yes, if anything had to go wrong, it did, and at the worst time. As if to remind us that we are at the constant mercy of road debris, the game had ended before it even began. 
The car was due to be delivered to the owner but the exhaust pipe had to be welded in first. So, Brian takes the car out to a nearby muffler shop to get it done. 

Along the way, Brian is following a low-loader carrying a forklift. The top of the forklift hits an overpass and a bar (2"X4"X4ft) is knocked loose from the top of the forklift. 

Unable to avoid the bar, Brian can only drive over it. The bar hits the bottom of the engine taking out some parts with it. 

The headers were badly dented and so was the oil pan. surprisingly, the oil pan did not spring a leak. Upon inspection of the internals, nothing was damged too. I guess you get a lucky break now and then. 

The passenger side wheels were dinged and the tires blew out. So much for BF Goodrich... 

Dinged up oil pan and header
Another view of the damge
Click here to see the rest of the pictures.

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