The sheer strength of Honda’s performance offerings and aftermarket support often means that its mid/lower products are often left alone by the majority of enthusiasts. If its bang for your buck that your after – and it should be – then who can blame them?
Here’s a build that I think could be done on the cheap, but will land you with a unique little car that is fun to drive, curiously hi-tech, extremely flexible and very subtle.
First start with Honda’s second generation City. Dubbed model code GA1 or GA2 for the facelift, neither will be common so just pick up whatever you can that is in good condition. Although fairly rare these days, the City won’t be expensive either. To me this is one of those builds that will be so much more satisfying done cheap and smart.
CRi & CZi models could be found with an injected SOHC 1.3, outputting 100bhp in a car that weighs well under 800kg! Rumour abound the CZi is fitted with a Cusco LSD.
Of course, if I found either of these models in good condition I’d be leaving them close to stock: the joy of originality is always going to last longer than the short lived excitement of a power increase.
The purpose of this piece is to swap the engine though, so lets assume you’ve found a low spec model. As all the engines offered in the City are part of Honda’s ‘D’ series, there is a seemingly endless array of engines to choose from (seriously, check them out HERE
For me there can be no other option but the D15Z7; an extremely impressive little engine and a technological showcase. Featuring a 3-stage VTEC system it can operate in 12 valve mode before switching over to the full 16 at 3800, followed by the normal VTEC switch at higher RPM.
By opening just one of the 2 intake valves at low RPM, intake velocity speeds can be increased, and mixture swirl is greater, allowing the engine to use far less fuel – an operation know as lean burn. This also improves low-speed throttle response and torque and with it’s very low weight the City could be used as both an economy and performance car when running this engine.
One of the best thing about the D15Z7 is that unlike its 2-stage VTEC relatives, its rocker cover drops the VTEC casting, simply replacing it with Honda. You’d have no idea what was inside if no one told you!!!
Carrying over the theme of subtle high technology, as well as still riffling through the honda parts bins, lets move onto what rims we’ll run.
Hmmmm, how about some Honda Magnesiums? The first time I saw these I thought that they were just plain old hubcaps: flat faced, with small outer fins. As I got closer I realised the fins were rifled, the rims were an alluring gun-metal bronze color, and the sizings were stamped on the outer face.
No, these were something special.
Browsing the net turns up very little, but they appear to have been an option on a high-specced 2nd gen Prelude. Whereas ‘mags’ are a generic term for alloy wheels, harking back to days when they actually featured the rare metal – these actually ARE magnesium, and are therefore extremely light-weight.
High tech, race derived technology veiled in a subtle ‘nothing to see here’ veneer – that’s Honda!