Cadwell 4/4 – Nicole Harashima’s 1997 B16 Turbo Honda Civic Type R EK9
The most iconic car in the Honda world is, in my opinion, the Honda Civic Type R EK9. It’s every Honda enthusiasts dream to own one. Due to it being the original Civic Type R it has become one of the centre pieces for all Honda car culture around the world. It is a very important car because it was the car that made Honda’s VTEC engines as popular as they were back in the 90s and thus are today.
The EK9 epitomises everything that Honda owners love. It started out as the JDM EK4 SiR Civic. Honda then took this Civic, tweaked and fettled with it until it was a track ready machine. Its B16 set the record of the most powerful naturally aspirated production engine. It produced 182hp from a 1600cc, the highest ever (at the time) for an engine of that capacity. Honda ripped out the sound deadening and many other things in the interest of saving weight and making this car faster on track. They even gave it a limited slip differential so that it could put down its huge power on to the road. It was as if Honda gave the people the pencil and told them to draw what they wanted.
So not only had Honda designed arguably one of the best and most iconic hot hatches ever, they then decided to release another version known as the Motor Sports Edition. This very rare example was even more track focussed. It said goodbye to even more luxuries such as electric windows, mirrors, air conditioning, power steering; even the stereo was thrown out! Later, many people have adopted this approach with the EK9 and took it even further. Some of the 9s that your see on the Kanjozoku videos barely have anything left in them.
EK9s are incredibly rare over here and I remember the first time I ever saw one in the flesh. I was about 15 and was on a day out with my family in a town called Harrogate a few hours from where I live. It was in the famous Championship White, a colour which just seems to stand out when you see one on the roads. Whenever I see a car painted in this colour it immediately catches my attention and I know that I’m looking at something very special and probably rare. This colour alongside the iconic red Recaro racing seats have become the focus point for all Type Rs and seem to spark a strange feeling in all Honda enthusiasts. It instantly makes the car look faster and more powerful. You immediately get the sense that the car you’re looking at is an absolute pleasure to drive and it provokes you to spend hours on auction websites fantasising about buying one for yourself and selling all of your belongings in an attempt to make it so.
In every car scene there are cars that are regarded as “famous”. Cars that are so special that everybody within that car scene knows about them. Usually this is because the car is so different and unique that it becomes a trendsetting masterpiece. In the Honda scene there are some cars that are more popular than others; I guess that can be said about most car scenes but usually, the rarer the car the more people are interested in it. The EK9 definitely fits into this popular group. It’s probably the most modified of all the Civics. The vast number of aftermarket parts means that people everywhere are coming up with new and inventive ways of making their EK unique.
The first time I ever heard about the owner of this gorgeous Black 1997 EK9 was when I saw an article/post from a popular motoring website which stated that “this girl builds and races her own EK9”. Yupp that’s right Nicole is a female. As in a girl. Like a female girl. With an EK9. That she built herself. (I’ll give you a moment)…….
As if that wasn’t cool enough she also made the big decision last year to turbo her B16. Following her build over the past year has been very exciting to watch. Especially considering she did a large amount of it herself. So it was a delight for me when I heard Nicole would be racing at Cadwell on the day that I was visiting.
When I arrived the first thing that I noticed was that it is an exceptionally clean car. If any of you know Nicole you’ll know that she takes great pride in her cars and always likes to make sure they are clean. It’s a very rare occasion that you’ll see her with a mucky car. Under the bonnet was more of the same a very clean bay with a perfectly engineered turbo setup looked right at home alongside the B16.
Watching her smash it round Cadwell was a pleasure and listening to the noises that the car makes you get a sense of how dedicated she is to this build. Everything that she does, she does properly. Only the best parts will do. This became evident when I looked at her tyre/wheel set up. Genuine TE-37s wrapped in very sticky looking Toyo Proxes and peeking through where a set of Spoon brakes. Lots of time, money and effort has been spent getting this car to how she wants it. She has slowly made her dreams come true and the most refreshing part about it, is that she still drives this car like it’s supposed to be driven. Many people who have this much devotion towards their car get caught up in the show boating side of it. Half the cars you see at the shows will only be brought out on special occasions. Not Nicole’s, she has driven a considerable amount of the UK track network and she doesn’t hold back either.
Nicole is also very loyal to her cars. She has owned a series of Citroen Saxo’s that she also used to drive on track from relatively early on in her driving career. In addition, Nicole has since purchased a second EK9, this time it’s in that iconic Championship White colour. Judging from what I’ve seen so far it’s going to be a lot of work to get it up to her standard but I’m fairly confident we can have no doubts that it’ll get there. (So, that’s two EK9s! Yeah.)
Watching her do this turbo build has only confirmed how determined she can be. She has taken a car that for most would be their dream to own and improved it further to fulfil hers. Adding the turbo has meant that she could keep everything that we loved about the EK9 whilst releasing more of the potential bound up within it and in the process, she has achieved things that most will never experience. She has created her perfect driving machine. Surely that is what modifying cars is all about and I’m pretty sure that’s what Honda set out to do when they built the first EK9. To inspire and push people to achieve things they never thought they could; that truly is, the power of dreams.