It was a picture of a Mugen Motul Civic Si race car that would change Dick Storm’s life. Turning an ordinary Civic into a replica racing car has been a labour of love for the Honda-loving Dutchman – but the faithful reproduction has certainly been worth it. We caught up with Dick to find out about his Mugen Motul project, the car that’s even got its own Facebook page.
How did the project come about?
14 years ago I bought a 1987 Civic as a daily driver to get to work. It was a stock car, with a 1.3-litre carb engine. A really ordinary, normal car. And then I came across some pictures of the Mugel Motul Civic Si race car that’s on display in the Honda Collection Hall in Japan. I loved watching that car race and, in a moment of, you might say, madness, I decided I wanted to turn my stock Civic into a replica of the Mugen Motul.
So, what happened next?
It’s been a long, slow process. It started out with a paint job and I honestly thought that would be it. But then a friend gave me a set of Mugen Mr5 wheels – and the project hasn’t really stopped. A year later I bought a gen-1 CRX with the ZC1 engine and did an engine swap. I’ve also painted the engine bay to look like the original from the museum. When the engine swap was finished, I changed the interior.
It sounds like a never-ending job. Are you still using it as your daily?
I decided to retire the car from daily driving a few years ago and have used it on track to compete in the Dutch Time Attack. I also did some auto cross and slalom racing with it and taken it to a lot of car shows. It hasn’t been on the track in a while, but I’m hoping to be back soon.
How close to the original is it?
In terms of power, performance and spec, very close. The 1600cc ZC1 engine is 16 valve, has 125ps and weighs 750kg. I put on a set of Toyo semi-slick tyres, upgraded the brakes and suspension, vented the exhaust out the side like the original and gave it the same decals. Inside, I stripped the interior, added Sparco bucket seats, a race harness and a Momo racing steering wheel. A lot of the components I used had to be custom made. As a result, it’s virtually identical. A friend went to Japan and I asked him to take some pictures of the original Motul Civic. Those photos helped me with building the Civic. Parts are really hard to find and very expensive. Unfortunately, there are not many 3rd gen Civics left in Holland. I collected as much information as I could about the original Motul Civic but it wasn’t easy to find.
How legendary is the Mugen Motul?
It was a monster of a car. The Mugen Motul Civic that won the overall class victory at the 1987 Japan Touring Car Championship (JTCC) was a Group A race car based on the twin-cam Si that joined the third-generation Civic line-up in 1984. The Si, the first Honda production car to be equipped with a DOHC engine in 20 years, made for an ideal Group A race car. Developed by Mugen, the Civic entered its third season in the JTCC in 1987 with all guns blazing. The Mugen Motul Civic was driven by Osamu Nakako and Hideki Okada.
The Civic raced in ‘Division 1’ for cars with engine displacements from 1,001 cc through to 1,600 cc, but the car was so fast it overtook machines in Division 2 and occasionally those in Division 3, where engine displacement was as big as 2,500 cc. In fact, in the opening race of the West Japan Circuit, not only did the Civic win its own class, but its front-wheel-drive layout gave it an advantage over rear-drive cars in wet conditions, and it overtook a BMW 635CSi to finish 2nd overall. Again, even in the scorching heat in the 3rd round at Tsukuba Circuit, it took 2nd overall. In the end, the Civic won all six rounds in class, delivering the constructors' title to Honda.
What’s so special about this particular engine?
The ZC1 is the first double overhead camshaft engine that Honda ever built. Mugen built the engine for the Japanese Touring Car Challenge. It produced more than 225hp at 9500rpm without using a turbo. They changed the camshafts, injectors, modified the cylinder head, and a lot of other things they kept secret. The header and intake seem like they are stock, but maybe Mugen modified them? I don’t think we’ll ever fully know what they really did to that engine.
You certainly know a lot about Hondas. What’s your background?
I'm a mechanic at a Toyota dealership but spent seven years working for Honda. I’m also the proud owner of four Hondas – this Mugen Motul, two CRXs and a Honda Beat called Bobby that we used as our wedding car 10 years ago. We bought it in England and drove it back to the Netherlands.
What’s the public’s reaction to your car?
They really love it. It gets a very positive reaction when I take it to a show or to a race and it’s been in a lot of pictures over the years!
Pictures: All Cars Photography
It was a monster of a car!
Check out his video of the original ’87 winning race car: