5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In

Honda fanboys receive a lot of hate, but at least they don't have to dish out a ton of money on their cars. $5000 isn't much to pour into a project car these days, but you can still buy and upgrade a proper Civic hatch for less. Here are a few examples...

Remind me later
Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners

The Civic first came to the US in 1973, so there is no shortage of used hatchbacks for sale. The best part of shopping for a Civic is the low buying price. After that, the low cost and high availability of parts make it one of the most widely-built project cars of all time. We went shopping for five cars that would make suitable projects without spending too much.

All the cars will be from the 4th-6th generations:

  • 1988-1991 4th-gen
  • 1992-1995 5th-gen
  • 96-2000 6th-gen

All the cars will need to have:

  • Manual transmission
  • Clean title
  • Running motor (though not a deal breaker)

1. 1989 Civic Hatch - $2500

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners
  • 150K miles (60K on motor)
  • Clean interior
  • Has rear si seats 
  • NRG quick release wheel
  • Kill switch
  • New coilovers

The seller of this hatch kept the interior looking pretty clean, and the engine running smoothly. The coilovers were nice, but the rims and tyres need to be replaced asap. Since nothing really needs to be done with the interior, and the engine is in great running condition, a mid cost turbo kit would be the first move. Replacing the hood, wheels and tyres will greatly improve the appearance.

  • $1600 Turbo Kit
  • $100 Hood
  • $460 Wheels
  • $320 Tyres

Final Price: $4980.

2. 1990 OBO Civic Hatch - $1000

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners
  • Clean interior with good seats
  • 230K miles
  • 17-inch ADR rims with new tyres
  • Suspension in good shape, but may be upgraded in the future

    The car doesn’t run, but since it’s so cheap, we can plan for an engine swap and use any leftover money to upgrade the interior. If we save money from keeping the current tyres and rims, an engine swap will fall within the budget. Fitting this hatch with a K-series motor will mean roughly $1000 in the motor and an additional $2600 for a transmission, mounts, headers and miscellaneous fittings. The car ends up becoming a heavy project, but the result is a clean ride with double the horsepower from the factory.

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners
  • $1000 K-series engine
  • $1800 tranny, mounts, fittings, etc.
  • $600 headers and exhaust

Final Price: $4400 (or offer less to seller).

3) 1991 OBO Civic Hatch - $2600

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners
  • 182K miles
  • 4-cyl 1.5l D15B1
  • New clutch, resurfaced flywheel
  • New head gasket and all top and gaskets
  • New timing belt, water pump, thermostat
  • New distributor cap, rotor, spark plugs and wires
  • New alternator, battery, terminals
  • New brakes and CV Axles
  • Recently flushed oil, tranny fluid, coolant
  • GSR Short Shifter
  • K&N Intake
  • KYB Excel-G Shocks and Struts
  • Si Steering Wheel
  • Si Front Seats
  • Golf Mk2 Front Lip
Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners

The seller regularly worked on this car, personally replacing everything listed. The engine, transmission and suspension are in good shape. The wheels and tyres will need to be replaced. Also, the seller pulled out the carpet, but the seats and dash are in good condition. There is already a decent sound system installed, so only a $150 pre moulded carpet piece will complete the interior. After changing out some little things like headlights/taillights and getting the windows tinted, the final cost is still rather low.

  • $150 Carpet
  • $550 Wheels
  • $ 350 Tyres
  • $250 Headlights, tail lights
  • $200 Tinted windows

Final Price: $4100 (or offer less to seller).

4. 1995 Civic Hatch - $2500

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners
  • 155K miles
  • Runs,drives and handles well
  • H&R adjustable coil overs
  • Good clutch
  • Clean interior
  • AEM short ram intake

This car comes with what the seller describes as ‘ugly rims,’ and we kindly agree with the description. We would spend some money to replace the tyres and rims while swapping out some of the stock engine and suspension components with performance parts.

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners
  • $520 Wheels
  • $400 Tyres
  • $500 Suspension upgrades
  • $350 Clutch Kit

Final Price: $4270.

5) 1998 OBO Civic Hatch - $4500

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners
  • B16 swap
  • GSR tranny
  • ACT clutch/flywheel
  • Skunk2 intake manifold
  • Password: JDM carbonfibre intake
  • New bearings, tie rods, bushings, control arms, steering rack
  • Nice interior with a new headliner
  • Skunk2 coils and sleeves
  • Stance Mindset wheels

With pretty much everything we were looking for included, there isn’t the need to plan for necessary mods. We would offer the buyer a little less, and save money to eventually get it painted or start swapping what’s left that it stock with performance parts.

Final Price: $4500 (or offer less to seller).

Bonus 6. 1996 Civic Hatch - $2800

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners
  • 150K miles
  • Runs, drives and handles well
  • Swapped LS B18B1
  • 00 Front end

The 98 didn’t need any start up work, so we found one last project piece. This 96 comes with an LS swap, so the upgrades will focus on suspension, a better clutch and small interior fixes. We would keep the current rims and tyres, and use the money saved for a new exhaust. New or used seats won’t cost much, but will complete the inside of this ride.

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners
  • $550 Suspension upgrades
  • $220 Seats
  • $425 Headers and exhaust
  • $350 Clutch kit

Final Price: $4345

Honda - 5 Humble Honda Civics That You Could Totally Transform For $5000 All In - Honda Owners

Of course, with any project, it’s not complete until you grace it with some sweet Car Throttle stickers.