By on November 28, 2012

So I’ve still got an Integra GS-R engine sitting in my garage, waiting to be swapped into my hooptie ’92 Civic DX— because the fifth-gen Civic, with its ease of parts-swapping and galaxy of aftermarket stuff, is to the present day what the ’55 Chevy was to the 1970s— and when that happens I’ll need better brakes, right? Problem is, whenever a third-gen Acura Integra (which was a fifth-gen Civic with luxury and performance upgrades) shows up at a cheap self-service junkyard, it gets picked clean faster than just about anything this side of a Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s much like a ’55 Chevy owner in 1974, discovering an intact 396/4-speed Caprice 20 minutes after the car hit the yard at the U-Yank-It. When I found an intact ’94 Integra while on a Junkyard Find photo expedition at the Denver yard near my place, I knew I had to work fast.
So, I went back the next day with tools and Rich, team captain of the Rocket Surgery Racing mid-engined Renault 4CV LeMons team.
The junkyard had only been open for about three total hours between the last time I’d seen the Integra and our return to grab parts, but some Civic “tuners” had already torn the crap out of the front suspension and brakes in order to pull… well, I’m not sure what. Somehow, they missed this fart-can custom Magnaflow exhaust, though.
We had to remove the exhaust to get to the rear brake parts I needed. Here’s Rich huffing some well-aged hydrocarbon residue.
The reason the crew who destroyed the stuff on the front of the car hadn’t done the same to the rear was that the rear wheels were held on with those maddening security lug nuts.
Experienced junkyard crawlers know lots of ways to defeat those wheel locks. First, we tried Vise-Grips, which didn’t work.
Then Rich scrounged up a tire iron and pounded it into the lock. That worked, but it was a lot of work to turn the things.
Another approach is to clamp the Vise-Grips inside the hollow part of the lock…
…and then jam the tire iron through the pliers and twist. This worked well.
Swapping an Integra rear disc setup onto a drum-equipped Civic is a pure bolt-on, but you need the complete trailing arm assemblies from the Integra.
You also need the disc-specific parking-brake cable assemblies, so I volunteered to brave the biohazardous interior to begin that process.
Hondas of this era are very easy to dismantle; almost every component is made to be accessible and Honda used high-quality fasteners throughout their cars. A cordless impact made removal of the trailing arms, control arms, and everything else take a total of maybe 20 minutes.
I left the control arms attached to the trailing arms, even though they’re identical to the Civic units, because sometimes junkyards will just throw in all the attached stuff when you buy major suspension components. Such was not the case at this yard, so I saved a few bucks by removing the parts I didn’t need while at the counter.
Even though aftermarket sway bars are cheap and plentiful, I figured the factory stuff is worth having. My Civic doesn’t have a rear swaybar, so even this pencil-thin one should bring it up to Integra standards.
For $150 or so, I now have everything I need to Integra-ize (Integrate?) my Civic’s rear brakes. I still need to find Integra front brakes (the Civic has smaller rotors), which means I’ll need to pounce immediately when I see a suitable donor car. For now, more bulky Honda parts will be cluttering up my garage, right next to the Chrysler 318 TBI intake I keep stubbing my toes on. Ah, project backlogs!

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16 Comments on “Because You Grab This Stuff While You Can: Junkyard Integra Donates Brakes For My Civic...”

  • avatar

    Best way to defeat those nasty security lug nuts is to have a set of 1/2″ deep-well impact sockets from harbor freight. Find one that’s a real tight fit and hammer it on (18 or 19mm???). Then all you need is a 1/2″ breaker.

    You’re absolutely right, though–if you see something at a junkyard that you even remotely need/want, grab it when you see it.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Woo, congrats on your acquisition! The painful months have set in for those working on cars up here; I consider myself fortunate to have secured a nice bit of heated cover to shelter in while my own project continues at its semi-glacial pace.

  • avatar

    Does the Civic have a proportioning valve? You might need to get a manual valve to get the bias down right as the drums engage differently than discs do.

    • 0 avatar

      I would recommend getting an proportioning valve from a 90-91 CRX Si or Civic EX sedan (both came with rear discs and had the proper proportioning valve). The rears need more pressure to balance the car. If you don’t then the rear discs don’t do as much braking as they can. Also swap out the rear trailing arm and lower compensator arm bushings while you can put it on a bench.

      Depending on which car you put this on – sedan or hatch you can get the rear e brake cables from the 90-91 CRX Si as they are direct fit and will not be too long as they are from the Integra.

      I’ve done this swap twice myself and many times for other friends. Cheap and easy way to do so.

  • avatar

    Who puts security lug nuts on stock steelies? I didn’t think Integra wheels where that valuable on the crackhead market to warrant stealing?

  • avatar

    Great post ! , thank you Murilee .


  • avatar

    The first thing I would’ve taken from that Integra is the exhaust, and I would’ve smashed it, smashed it, smashed it, and smashed it.

    I’m sure that about 98% of Honda Integras and Civic hatches already have a fart can exhaust, and I am darned tired of hearing them!

  • avatar

    Hey MM, if you were to buy all those parts new, what would it cost?

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      Heaps. You’re looking at easily $500 to $1k in parts there. Provided they’re still available, that there is a 10+ years old car.

      He would also have to go through the parts manual and order all the small bits and pieces, which although not expensive, add up.

      Just so get an idea, I was helping one coworker finding rear bearings for his EG Civic and they were roughly $100 each. Aftermarket ones.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Chances are the lug nut lock key is in the glove box or the trunk.

    These Integras usually rank as one of the most stolen cars since they share many components with the popular Civic.

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    Grew up not far from Denver. It’s too cold to be diving pickapart lots this time of year. My hat’s off to you MM.

  • avatar

    Ah yes, this brings back memories. I can remember when the only practical way to get rear disc on a first gen Mustang was to find a Lincoln Versailles at the bone yard. The rears on those tarted up Granada/Lincolns would go faster than Richard Petty can back out of his driveway.

  • avatar

    This adventure brings to mind every half-assed trip I’ve made to the local U-pull in search of Opel Omega – sorry, Catera parts. This car is fundamentally ideal for my needs/wants in a daily driver. RWD, decent power/economy, comfortable to my aging backside and fairly taut in its road manners despite needing to lose 500 lbs. And also cheap up-front costs due to its’ apparently well-earned rep for maladies brought on by what I assume is boredom of the various Teutonic engineers. “Hans, why do they cool the oil externally? Why not jam it into that wasted space between the cylinder banks? While we’re there, why not put the coil pack into that 2″ space under the windshield wiper motor? Da, Da – they’ll thank me later.” However, there seems to be an unseen army of self-flagellating Catera owners lurking in the shadows of NAPA stores listening for rumours of a low-mileage carcass en route to the local boneyard. This just adds to the challenge, right? It looks fabulous- better to look good…….Now if someone could just show me how to use a multimeter to determine whether an O2 sensor is faulty I’d skulk back into the shadows.

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