Against all odds, the fortunate few who possess a clear vision and motivation manage to achieve greatness. Heralded as utter perfection and deeply inspirational, Canada’s own Rob Silva — better known by his Instagram username “Silva Built” — shared with us exactly what it takes to build a museum-quality piece of automotive nirvana. This isn’t just a built Honda Civic — this is art.
BLD: To get us started, tell us a bit about yourself for our readers who may not be familiar
Rob Silva @ Silva Built: I’m Rob Silva, 23 years old living in the outskirts of Toronto. Ever since I was a little boy I grew up watching my father work on cars out of our home – it’s safe to say I lived all of my life around cars, either through video games or car shows. When I was finally old enough to have my own car.. well, that’s when things took off! I have a huge passion for everything car related, whether it be photographing cars or working on them, I have always enjoyed it and times spent trying to fix things with friends. I had discovered from a young age that I had bond with cars.
Everyone tells a different story and reflects the emotions of its designer or builder, it’s almost a sort of book, one I never seem to finish.
BLD: In terms of your now globally-recognized Civic, where does that story begin?
Rob: That began a long time ago.
When I received my license, I was surprised by my father and was given his car, a silver 1999 Honda Civic DX hatchback, which was bone stock. I absolutely loved that car and spent countless nights looking at pictures of other builds, looking for things to do within my budget. I had then discovered the EK9 Civic Type-R from Japan, and I fell in love even more. I knew that was what I wanted. Falling short of having the money to import a real Civic Type-R, I decided to just buy parts from the car instead and eventually make mine into a replica.
I was very pleased with how my hatch looked, but there was one thing missing – the engine. At this time I had started a new job and I had my heart set on a 1998 Spec JDM B18C Type R motor. After speaking to Eric from Teknotik, he suggested this was my best option given budget and overall goal. I remember working over the winter and saving up every last penny I had to buy this motor. I feel comfortable in saying I was a huge noob at the time, but I had promised myself I would do as much of the work as possible.
The tear-down began, and I had ordered a top to bottom refresh kit from Teknotik for my engine. Eric had put together a package for me containing anything and everything I needed to bring my motor back to its glory days. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was determined. I had the entire motor disassembled within a few days and ready to be put back together after a trip to the machine shop.
This was the way for a few weeks – slowly cleaning every last bolt and putting the engine back together over the winter. Finally, the engine was ready and so began the trips to Teknotik to pick up my swap parts every pay check. The time finally came when I said “let’s do it.”
Unfortunately the alternator had died in the Civic which at the time was my only car, and I needed it to be fixed right away. This was a week away from the day I booked time off from work so I could swap in the new motor – needless to say I wasn’t happy.
On my way home later that day, nothing was ever the same.
I was struck by a driver from oncoming traffic, T-boning my beloved hatch and totaling my car. I was destroyed – heartbroken, shocked, scared, angry – every emotion flooded me as I crawled out of my car in disbelief, just looking at the wreck.
A few days later after resting up and clearing my thoughts, I received a phone call from a buddy saying he spotted a hatch for sale. Later that same day I bought that hatch for $500. The story behind the car was interesting – a father had bought it in hopes of restoring it with his son, but it just sat in his backyard for over 5 years untouched. All of the rotors were seized and the engine didn’t run, but surprisingly the car only had 60,000 original kilometers on the body.
At this point a lot of people asked me why I kept going. I had a dream, and nothing was going to stop me – I had come too far and worked too hard to give up on that dream.
The build began, and I spent most of my summer in 2013 taking apart that car and getting the ball rolling on my vision. More trips to Teknotik were being made, this time weekly. I shared with Eric what had happened and that a new car was in the works, I had even mentioned to him I would love to have it Skunk2 certified one day and to be able to rock the Teknotik banner.
After countless trips the pile of parts grew to the point where it literally filled my living room.
I decided to leave my previous job and take the build on full time – I wanted to do it all myself. I spent many hours in the hot sun welding my engine bay and shaving everything smooth, and stripped the entire car back down to bare metal. Although the old car was a total loss, unbelievably I was able to salvage my entire Type-R front end as well as many other parts I had added. I wanted to use as much of that car in the new one as possible to bring back to life my beloved car – it’s safe to say 80% of the interior on the new car came from the old car. I removed everything that was unnecessary to shave weight off my chassis – air conditioning, power steering, sound deadening – you name it. I couldn’t leave a single bolt let unturned. I literally had all the bolts and nuts from the car sand blasted and re-plated nickel gold. Even the dash frame was powder coated.
I soon realized this was going to be too nice of a car to risk on a track, so I moved into the show side of things and began further enhancing and polishing up everything I could get my hands on. In 2015 the car was finally ready to be assembled. One of the first things that went into the car was my motor, and after sitting dormant in my garage for over 2 years, that’s when I realized it was all worth it! Nearly 3 years, and 3000 hours later, I had the honor of being Skunk2 certified under their Elite Gold Badge class.
It just goes to show that when you work with the right people, the results are nothing short of amazing. I have learned to be humble and be positive, to help inspire others, and forget trying to kill the game but instead build something you love. So many people these days build cars for all the wrong reasons.
BLD: When you say people are “building for the wrong reasons” — what would you define that as?
Rob: I see plenty of people building to simply win shows, have bragging rights or to fit in, which wouldn’t be an issue if they didn’t hurt people along the way, but that’s not the case. There’s lots of animosity in the car community. It’s always parties fighting back and forth over who has the better car or the fancier items; brands versus brands, people versus people – that’s not right. We all have the same passion and love, we should all be united and help each other out in any way possible. Something as simple as a compliment goes a long way. No matter what you have or how much money you’ve put into it, the only thing that should truly matter is that you love your car and that you gave it your all. That’s something I will always respect. So when you see a car at your race track, show or meet, before saying something negative go chat with the owner first. Hear out their story, and I can guarantee you will change you mindset on their car. However, it’s very hard to get this message out to most people these days.
BLD: What do you believe makes getting that message out such a challenge?
Rob: Closed-minded people, not wanting to hear someone else’s story because they have a Honda and not a GT-R or a Ferrari. If we could just get across to some of those people, we could turn around the whole community. Stop people from looking at brands, and look at the people behind the cars first.
BLD: Shifting back to you and your build, what is your #1 favourite thing about your car?
Rob: Honestly, I would have to say my heart-shaped oil dip stick. That was the first thing I tried when I first bought my motor. I find it fitting since I have devoted all my time and love into that car for almost 3 years of my life.
BLD: If you had to do another build with a different car, what car would that be and why?
Rob: I would definitely say a 02-03 RSX! I daily drive one and I love everything about them. K series power plant on tap, amazing body lines and finish, and with a very driver-oriented interior – if I had not built the hatch, I would have most definitely done a RSX build.
BLD: Rob I really want to thank you for your time. Any closing thoughts you’d like to share with the readers?
Rob: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story.
I would just like to remind others that have a project car; just keep going. Don’t give up, don’t listen to the negative comments, surround yourself with positivity and look for inspiration within others, don’t be afraid to try new things and express your feelings within your build be different be unique, be you!
Rob Silva | Silva Built Hatch
1998 Honda Civic hatchback
Skunk2 Elite Certified
- 1998 JDM B18C Type-R
- Skunk2 Lost motion assembly
- Skunk2 valve seals
- Skunk2 cam gears
- Skunk2 Black Series rear lower control arms
- Skunk2 rear camber arms
- Skunk2 front upper control arms
- Skunk2 transmission and oil pan magnetic plugs
- Skunk2 Alpha radiator
- Skunk2 radiator hoses
- Skunk2 Ultra Street manifold
- Skunk2 Pro-Series 70mm throttle body
- Skunk2 cam seal
- Skunk2 Ultra-Series intake manifold
- Skunk2 Pro-Series throttle body
- Skunk2 Billet VTEC solenoid
- Skunk2 Billet oil cap
- Skunk2 Megapower R exhaust with magna flow cat
- Custom velocity stack intake vibrant performance
- Vibrant performace t-bolt clamps x8
- Mishimoto silicone intake coupler
- Vibrant breather filters
- Wireworx milsped harness
- KTuned firewall plug for harness
- Golden Eagle fuel rail
- OEM head gasket
- ARP head bolts
- Mishimoto fan shroud
- Mishimoto overflow canister
- Wilwood clutch MC
- Wilwood Brake mc
- BWR booster delete
- Downstar clutch MC adapter
- KTuned clutch line
- Hasport mounts (polished)
- Russel flex lines
- Russel brake lines
- Earls Speedshop billet aluminium fuel cell cap
- ACL fuel cell
- AEM 380lph Fuel pump in line
- AEM -10 fuel filter in line
- AEM Fuel pressure regulator
- 180 Vibrant performance hose end fittings and adapters
- 40 foot of vibrant performance -6 fuel black braided lines
- Downstar engine kit
- Downstar mount kit
- Downstar billet VTEC cap
- Downstar VTEC solenoid kit
- Downstar transmission kit
- NGK blue spark wires
- NGK iridium plugs
- Fidanza 7.5lb flywheel
- Competition Clutch stage 2 full face
- Gates Racing kevlar belt
- OEM oil pump
- NPW water pump
Wheels & Suspension:
- Custom BBS RS
- Black Forest Industries black chrome hardware
- BBS RS 16’’ powder coated matching colours to car
- Yokohama S-Drive tires
- Skunk2 Pro S 2 coilovers
- Megan Racing toe arms
- ASR 24mm sway bar
- ASR solid sway bar endlinks
- ASR subframe brace
- Energy Suspension rear trailing arm bushings
- Energy Suspension shifter bushings
- Energy Suspension front complete bushing kit
- Beaks tie bar
- Custom-made kevlar wiper cowl, cup holder, speaker grill, dash tray, radio delete plate
- EK9 cluster
- Recaro speeds bucket seats
- KTuned V2 short billet shifter
- Miracle x-brace
- NRG quick release
- NRG shorty hub
- Nardi deep corn wheel 330mm
- Takata Drift 3 harnesses
- AEM AFR gauge
- AEM Oil temp gauge
- Downstar OG shift knob
- Downstar spikes (X82)
- Downstar beauty washers (X144 replacing almost all 10mm bolts on car)
- Mugen pedals
- ALL suspension OEM hard parts were sand blasted and Powder coated black and cherry illusion
- Takata tow strap
- EK9 5 lug swap
- EK9 complete front end
- EK9 complete rear end