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The Civic Si had so cleverly defied its economy car origins. The Si’s body was the same, slightly restrained, stamped metal stretched modestly over a simple chassis as the base model. However, nothing about the Si’s history could be described as simple. This was a 1999 spec issued just before the impending “apocalyptic events of Y2K”. It was potentially Honda’s last bastion to its competitive, performance ambitions. Equally revered and despised on the streets…It would later gain a greater cult-like following the release of “tuner-car” based Hollywood films. Deep into the second decade of the 2000’s; its sordid racer reputation would certainly deem it maligned to most drivers by now. Night was the best time to use this machine since this was seedy LA and this wasn’t the average Civic.
Jackknifing one’s torso into the Bride racing seat was about as far from graceful as could be imagined. However, once in position, it was time to silence the annoying chimes and fire it up. After the trademark Honda starter sound, the exhaust pulsed to life. Beyond the firewall a slight hiss could be heard from the aftermarket intake. Shifted to the right and down; the hydraulically operated lever had a lethal elegance to its feel. Seemingly, everything attached to the engine (including the shifter) was improved, but the B16 was internally as the manufacturer intended. After gently easing out of the warehouse, it was time to move. Bleeding through the shadows, the black-tar menace barely cleared the road surface. There was little visual indication to separate the car from the night other than the low-frequency humming beat of the muffler. Headlights on…
The street was dark with the barren urban landscape only silhouetted by the orange-hued street lamps and a sliver of the setting sun. There was no need to delay any longer and with a quick punch of the throttle and twist of the unassisted steering wheel…it was off towards the highway. A car this low is impossible to drive in a “carefree” manner and close attention had to be paid to both sides of the law. There would be racer wannabes and undoubtedly patrol cars to avoid. This remains an unfortunate reality of these vehicles when modified.
After swiftly dodging several potholes, the onramp finally appeared. A downshift to second and stab of the throttle was purely a preemptive action. The B16 was notoriously gutless and needed prodding to produce anything close to forward momentum at low revs. Once past five-thousand rpm, the cabin bellowed with the sound of the exhaust. With a slightly abrupt crack the twin cam lobes switched. The noise grew and so did the speed. Even still, it would be barely adequate at 3/4 throttle. A large, speeding semi truck loomed in the rear-view mirror. It was time to commit to some quick, well-judged maneuvers. With the pedal floored and the tach soaring…it was time to up-shift. In third gear, with noise echoing from both ends of the car, it was time to slice through the dense grid of traffic.
Effectively enough, there was an open lane of asphalt stretched ahead. Overpasses swept over the smog-filled sky and the diminutive Civic clutched the pavement with confident and sprightly poise. Lighting from overhead fleetingly licked and flicked over the car’s reflective hood. The roofline was actually below the window frames of the SUVs as they roared passed with disregard. Upon coaxing over to the far-left lane, the sound of the car reverberated off the concrete divider. Four xenon discs soon appeared in the rear view mirror. They seemingly grew larger as time and distance progressed. The car was identifiable by this point. Ironically, the challenger this evening would be an actual Dodge Challenger. It’s rapidly increasing speed was indiscernible, but it was above the legal limit. A choice had to be made. On one hand, there could be a crafty deal with death in the near future…or a “cowardly” dismissal of the impeding threat. The very definition of the fight or flight instinct. One way or another, the street-wise sled’s honor was potentially in jeopardy.
On this bleak autumn night, the choice wasn’t necessary to make. The Dodge driver’s dominant path of pre-determined destruction would be diverted by an oblivious sedan driver. Not to be thwarted, the missile-like Dodge violently stormed into the lane previously occupied by the beige four-door. The Hemi shouted with unadulterated avarice. Despite the driver’s forceful and aggressive actions, the grid was too dense for him to catch up to the mousy Civic. While gently accelerating away from the rolling game of Tetris…the xenon glowing orbs of the Challenger would eventually blink into oblivion.
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