Here’s a question for the Japanese sport compact fans. Would Toyota’s AE86 be the legend it is today if it wasn’t rear-wheel drive? That’s not to say the Honda Civic hasn’t carved its own legacy in the genre, but you won’t be going full opposite-lock for drifting tomfoolery without prolific handbrake use. And you’ll never pull off an endless power-on drift.
That said, there have been more than a few Civic conversions performed over the years, converting the front-wheel-drive runabout to either rear- or all-wheel drive. In fact, all-wheel-drive swaps are surprisingly common in the aftermarket Civic world, and a simple rear-wheel only solution usually involves removing the front axles. This epic Civic build from Jimmy Oakes of Oakes Garage doesn’t follow that formula to create a Civic turning the rear wheels. Instead, it has an engine with a proper north-south orientation connected to a rear axle, and the finished product will drop your jaw.
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That’s because this isn’t some fly-by-night hack job we often see from YouTubers. As the video shows, this 2000 Civic EX starts out as a typical well-used machine but not long after the engine comes out, we get a sense that considerable thought went into the build. Bolting up an assortment of Nissan 240SX components requires extensive fabrication all around, but more impressive is how the work is ultimately tidied up with exceptional welds, seam sealer, and fresh paint to give this project a high degree of professionalism. The interior is even reassembled despite having a custom-made transmission tunnel, and the car seems very streetable.
It also loves to go sideways. The plan all along was to build a Civic drift car, so the custom front suspension is set up for extreme steering angles. A turbocharged Nissan KA24 provides the power, and in another video on the channel we see it’s tuned to make 257 horsepower (192 kilowatts) and 271 pound-feet (367 Newton-meters) of torque. It’s not an extreme number for sure, but turning the rear wheels in something as small as a Civic, it’s more than enough for excessive levels of fun.
The 10-minute clip featured here is a montage of the build, but we suspect it doesn’t do proper justice to the work that went into this car. The channel includes several other videos showing the process from start to finish, and from what we’ve seen, bringing this Civic to life without spending gobs of money was truly a herculean effort. Judging by the drifting action seen at the end of this video, we’d say the trials and tribulations were worth it.