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Zen and the Art of Hybrid Building
My personal experience with a 5G swap

By Adrian Teo


Hybrids. The idea sounds good, real good, but it isn't as simple as it sounds. Planning is the key before attempting any swap, and it was no exception with my buildup. 
With a 70 HP Civic CX with a failing transmission, I found it better idea to go for a swap instead of getting it fixed. I was torn between the B16A3 and the B18C1 but eventually, decided to spare no expense and go for the more powerful GSR motor. 

Being a big fan of road and (tarmac) rally racing, it was a bonus for me as I aimed to build my own WRC-F2 spec ride, which meant that the motor will be normally aspirated but tweaked to max out the power output (eventually). 


 The Swap

Putting the B18C motor into a 5G civic is not difficult as the 3G Integra is based on the EG series Civic. For the basic working swap, the following components are needed from the GSR. 
  • B18C motor with Y80 transmission
  • Axles
  • Shift linkages and shifter
  • Motor mounts (all)
  • Catalytic converter
The price of all the above parts is around $3800 or below. Some of the engines come with a power steering pump too but since the CX does not have any power steering hardware, I excluded it. 

For owners with other bolt-on parts like intakes, be prepared to invest in new ones. Almost everything else will need to be modified to fit. 

B18C powerplant with transmission
Axles and shift linkages
Empty engine bay
So, in addition to the basic stuff, you'll also need the following. 
  • 92-93 GSR header

  • from 1.7L DOHC VTEC 
  • Intake

  • try your old one first 
  • Cat-back exhaust

  • definite must for CX and VX
The first section of the B-pipe on the cat-back exhust system may have to be extended or shortened (as in my case) depending on which header/catalytic converter combination you end up with. 
The next tricky thing is the wiring. On early 1992 Canadian made Civics, the wire harnesses were imported directly from Japan, and so, all but one wire is absent. The B18C harness matches up with the 5G Civic harness exactly. Information on later models is quite limited, but just for the sake of making sure everything is wired up correctly, there are 7 wires to check. If the wires are missing, thy will have to be hardwired in and connected directly to the ECU. 

Use this chart and the ECU pinout to help you figure out the wiring details of the swap. 

If you have everything planned out carefully and have all the parts at hand, the swap can be done over a weekend or can take as long as a month or so. As I have mentioned, do as much planning an research as possible, Find a good and competent mechanic (i.e. not some redneck) if you don't intend to attempt this yourself.

Victor (Belaray) dropping the motor in.

The Ride

With the swap completed, I had the long drive from Riverside, CA back to Tempe, AZ get a feel of my car. Was I in for a surprise. Even with the tiny stock exhaust piping (1 3/8") the car pulled very hard, all the way to redline. As expected, I had fun with a Porsche 911C2 along the way back. 

It's a comlpetely different car. All traces of it's initially mild character had disappeared and a completely new beast had posessed the car. 

Clutch tension is stronger, resulting in a very improved clutch feel. The 5-speed transmission snaps confidently into gear. No more rubbery stick shift. Gear ratios are optimal for the street, giving that seat pressing acceleration thoughout the powerband. Throttle response is almost instantaneous. Tires chirp as I move off and switch gears. 

VTEC. The roar of the valves switching over to the VTEC lobes is menacing. Coupled with the Trust exhaust I put in, even more power seemed to be on tap. After 4500 RPM the engine seems to get a second wind and the car accelerates even faster towards redline. 

Power delivery to the ground is always a problem. The car is slightly front heavier (compared to stock) and the sagging springs (ST) in front did nothing to make it better. Opting for a better handling setup, I went for Ground Control adjustable coilover adapters and added up to 75% to the spring rate. with my experienced gained in tarmac rally setups, I spend two days adjusting the cornerweights to get a nuetral handling car. Still it pushed a little when cornering under power. The solution - brake late, downshift, brake hard, take turn and apply power smoothy as early as possible, coming out of the turn. 

Rain sucks. Arizona roads suck. Too much power, too little grip. It's always a bad combination. Driving smoothly while watching the speed is the key. It's way too easy to get tires in an endless spin, even on 2nd gear, sometimes 3rd. 

Empty highway on a Monday night. I'm driving along when a Z28 zooms by. A new C5 Corvette followed behind. Now there's an invitation if I ever saw one. Downshifted to 3rd and floored it, taking after the Corvette,  At 120mph, I catch up with Red and pull alongside. The driver sees me and takes off. I pull behind him again and follow suit. I'm at 7000 rpm on 5th gear and the speedo is offscale. Speed keeps climbing in the chase. and I almost reach redline on 5th. Having proven my point, I peel off and slow down. Don't want a ticket or even worse. Never again on an open, public road. What can I say... I'm yellow. 

Verdict? Nothing beats a well built hybrid. Reliability has not been sacrificed in the search for power. The car drives like a dream on the street. All I can say is that I need more practice getting everything right. Not that I can get as good as Michael Schumacher or even Piero Liatti, but every bit helps. 


I'm one with my car. I don't need laughing gas, nor do I need turbo.  I may not be the fastest around, but I don't care. I have my car, I have my life, I enjoy what I'm doing and that is all that is important to me. 

Drive responsibly and safely. There is a proper place and time to race. Keep it off the streets.

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