The Virtue of Patience – Rolando Toledo’s 1999 EK Civic CX Hatchback
The Virtue of Patience – Rolando Toledo’s 1999 EK Civic CX Hatchback
I first saw Rolando's car all the way back in August. While it's no secret that I'm not much of a Honda guy, Rolando's EK stood out in the crowd of cars at the third annual Motor Union hosted by our friends at 5 & A Dime. The wonderfully clean and simple bodywork, the fantastic choice and execution in wheels, and the overall style of his car captured my attention, leading me back to the car several times throughout the day.
After several unsuccessful attempts of asking the crowds surrounding Rolando's car if one of them happened to be the owner, I finally lucked out. Someone said they knew him and would send him my way. It's a situation any automotive magazine or blog guy is familiar with; you're in, but now comes the agonizing wait for the follow up. "Will he contact me?" I wondered. It's always a gamble. There's only so much leaving your information behind can do. However, luck was on my side, and by the end of the afternoon, Rolando and I were batting around ideas on where to shoot his fantastic build.
Rolando's had this Civic for almost a year, but his build starts much earlier than that. Rolling the clock back all the way to the mid-90s, we're sure to find Rolando, and his twin brother, Ronaldo, collecting Hotwheels and Matchbox cars of all kinds. A bit later, the diecast toys turned to copies of Import Tuner and Super Street, where the brothers would read about and admire the cars that captured their attention. As with any car-loving guy, Rolando dreamed of one day building a car others would stop to appreciate. Once his Junior year of high school rolled around, things got serious.
After a decade of anticipation, waiting, and patience, Rolando finally got his first car - but it wasn't entirely his own. He had to share a 1994 Acura Integra with his brother. Fortunately, both were impassioned by Japanese sheet metal, and enrolled in their high school's shop program. That carried through the rest of their high school career. "When we graduated, we enrolled in an automotive program at a community college to gain more experience and pursue our love for the scene." By the time college began, Rolando had the Integra all to himself; his brother had picked up his own, and the two began taking their projects in separate directions.
In November of last year, Rolando sold his Integra and began the hunt for something different... something some might argue is impossible. "After I sold my Integra, I was looking for an EK hatchback. It had to be completely stock, or at least close to it. I wanted a stock car because my Integra had been modified when I bought it. I wanted to build one of my own." Of course, by sheer luck, a friend happened to be selling one at the right price, and Rolando made the leap of faith.
In just 12 months time, Rolando has taken his Civic to impressive lengths. The paint and wheels are only the tip of the iceberg... but an impressive tip no less. The car itself has been resprayed to "Battleship Grey," one of the few tasks on the car Rolando and his buddies didn't complete themselves. "I wanted a color that did not stand out too much, but was still something not everyone had."
The subtle grey paint blended in perfectly with the tanks and kegs inside the Green Flash Brewery, our seriously unique shoot location. After helping clean up post-event, the crew at Green Flash was kind enough to allow us to pull Rolando's car inside. Armed with both film and digital cameras, it was a match made in abstract "oh-that's-why-these-pics-are-so-grainy" heaven. But moving on, Rolando wanted to keep the exterior of the car as simple as possible. An OEM Si front lip, grille, and hood bra take care of the front end while a CTR-style rear lip finishes things out back. Add in some rolled fenders, and you've got the makings of one very pretty Honda.
If you somehow missed it, the rolled fenders house some rather impressive hardware. Rolando built some 16x8.5 and 16x9.5 BBS RSs, with impressive 2.5" and 3.5" lips respectively. The centers were powdercoated a nice, complimentary blue, and capped with BBS 1/4-height hexes. And because he works at a tire shop, Rolando was able to wrap the BBSs in 205/40/16 Falken 512s himself.
To bring the car closer to the brewery's cold concrete floor, Rolando opted for Megan EZ Street full coilovers, and paired them with a BWR subframe and camber kit. Stock control arms up front and aftermarket goodies out back keep the car pointed in the right direction, and a set of strut bars and a cross-brace inside the car keep the chassis rigid over San Diego's harsh roads.
Rolando enlisted the help of his friend Phillip to build the motor - a JDM single-cam ZC motor with 11:1 compression, Bisimoto cams, springs, retainers, V2 headers, and tune, thanks to Hondata s300. A ported oil pump, a Portflow ported head, and ported intake manifold have allowed me to say "ported" more times in one sentence than ever before, and allow Rolando's ZC motor to breathe better than ever. RDX injectors, a Megan Racing exhaust, and custom exhaust piping to keep it tucked up against the body complete the performance goodies under Rolando's hood. And of course, a mild wire tuck help keep it looking tidy.
Inside the car, Rolando and his girlfriend Jessica put their upholstery skills to work. Accents such as the door panels, headliner, and arm rest were wrapped in a light blue to match his choice in wheel finishes. The rear seat was removed, and stock 4-door Civic seats were installed up front for maximum comfort. After all, Rolando drives his Civic every day. Some woofers and a deck give him a constant supply of tunes and a rare Momo Super Indy wheel connects him one step further with his prized car.
Further plans for Rolando's car include more motor work, but every 20-something college-going car guy knows the pains of balancing school work and garage time. Rolando assures me, however, that it will get done. "The car means everything to me. This is my baby that I am going to keep till my dying day. Looking back at when i got it and how it looks now, its an incredible feeling knowing that my buddies and I built that." Like many of us, Rolando sees his car as a constant work in progress. He agrees that it's more about the wrenches turned to get to the finish line than it is about the finish line itself.
"Working on cars gives us this unexplainable feeling. When you're in your zone, you forget about all of your struggles, hardships, problems, everything.. its just you and the car." says Rolando. "Its an amazing feeling... Driving the car that you put together, and as you are driving, little kids, old people, people of all races gives you a thumbs up. Its also a great feeling when people tell me that my car inspires them to build something of their own. It feels good to know that people can see and feel the blood, sweat, and tears that we shed behind this project."
To put it simply, we're thrilled to see Rolando and his family and friends working together to build such an impressive, yet subtle and simple Honda. The Honda EK Civic platform will live on in the automotive hall of fame as one of the most successful and most modified platforms to ever exist, but Rolando has built one we're sure to remember.