The ’99 Si is a special year from the long running Civic family. A strong, almost cult-like following, it’s the Electron Blue Pearl version that is symbolic of the 1.6L coupe that boasts a high revving, 160 horsepower powerplant that a majority of would never consider swapping out for something different. Then again, Miguel Paz Alameda of Jacksonville, Florida, isn’t just anybody, and his EM1, nicknamed Penny, isn’t just any old car. The truth is, it’s because, as Miguel tells us, it left him with but a penny within his pocket, though if you’re anything like me, you almost certainly assume that the nickname is due to the car’s copper-like color.
Miguel simply wanted more, as great as the original B16A2 is. More power, more torque, and with those of course, comes more money. To get started, a set of engine mounts would be needed for the K20A2 powerplant to find its new home. Simple enough, right? Well, at times, engine swaps usually become complicated matters. I did not determine what I was getting myself into. Everyone was telling me which kind of engine mounts to acquire. Miguel initially purchased some mounts that didn’t fit. Ultimately, he learned that a K-series swap in an EM1 called for any subframe from aMiguel contacted local junkyards in search of a subframe, but soon discovered junkyards aren’t too interested in selling just an intact subframe while there’s still a usable engine around the donor vehicle. While searching, a friend with a ’95 Civic sustained a major rear end collision that contributed to an insurance claim being filed as well as the car being totaled. If he was sure the insurance policy would not reject the claim together with the subframe missing. His friend said that it absolutely was not a problem, to accept the parts he needed, as well as not be concerned about paying for anything, the insurance company scheduled to pick up the Miguel and Civic states, I asked. I quickly came over in my truck, unbolted what I needed, and off I went.
Another hurdle got in the way, as being the process continued. An incorrectly pinned aftermarket engine wiring harness complicated the final stages of the build. Further agitating the situation was the eight-month waiting period for the problem to be rectified. The electrical mystery was solved after Miguel with his fantastic friends worked tirelessly for weeks before an upcoming car show and they also were determined to have the EM1 up and running for the event. They tooled away until 3 a.m., napping before going to work just to return after punching out for the day. The crew performed a basic diagnosis; battery, gas and fuel etc., and unfortunately, the K20A2 did not run well. Fortunately, Miguel’s roommate was in the process of putting together a K-powered CRX. The team swapped sensors, Hondata K-Pro engine control units, and other vitals, but the Civic remained unchanged. Finally, someone chosen to swap the engine harness from the CRX with the Civic to see if wiring was in fact the issue.To Have An Si
With all the guesswork and testing, Miguel was unable so it will be to the show and though the vehicle ran better, something seemed off-it was still running a little on the rough side. He decided to get the Civic tuned the following week, where his tuner discovered yet another wiring issue. That wasn’t the end of his wiring woes, even if this time the MAP sensor was incorrectly pinned. During the drag race event months later, the TPS sensor wiring loosened up, and although a quick fix in reality, in total, the aftermarket harness resulted in four operating issues and plenty of headaches. The ordeal appeared like a nightmare, but in Miguel’s eyes, the entire impact ended in a chance to learn. You do not know everything about cars. You think you need to do, but you don’t. Miguel admits that this was his first K-series build and the overall project was challenging.
On the outside, he made a variety of changes, most notably the Blaze Orange Metallic paint job and a set of unique wheels, though miguel prefers a simple, user-friendly interior. Made-to-order in Miguel’s choice of sizing, the J-Line SDMSL2 rollers took quite a while to reach their new owner. He adds, I have never given $2,200 for something and not had anything during my hands for six months, lol! The car often changes wheels depending on the venue and the day’s activities. Drag racing, car shows, Sunday cruises, this EM1 enjoys all of the above. Friends are quick to ask if he plans on selling the J-lines to which he responds, No! They can make the car.
Nothing major-the current phase is likely to exists for the foreseeable future, although long-term plans are just to maintain your vehicle with maybe a new wheel setup, perhaps a new part here or there. I like my car. I wish it was actually a bit quicker but I love I and it also won’t eliminate it. I don’t build and part; I continue and make to modify. Miguel does understand and appreciate value of a sacred car in fact. Testify.