「I Took a Past Group-A Spec Civic For a Spin!」Blown Away by the Solid Handling Capability and the Pep of a ZC Engine!
Published : 2019/12/14 00:26 Modified : 2019/12/14 00:26
A Romp in a Legendary Group-A Spec Civic!
A taste of the fighting spirt that was seen in Group-A Division 1
Thanks to the courtesy of Mr. Ichijima at the long-established Honda tuning house “Spoon”, I was blessed with the rare opportunity to get behind the wheel of a past Group-A Civic.
The base car is a 3rd generation Civic, which first debuted in 1983. The “Si” sports model which was equipped with the 1.6L DOHC ZC engine appeared the following year. For the 1985 season this model participated in Group A Division 1 (Mugen & Nakajima), which was a category of vehicles with a displacement of 1.6L or less. In the fourth round of Suzuka 300km, drivers Satoru Nakajima and Shugo Nakako managed overall victory by holding down cars in the superior Divisions 1 and 2. Competitors in the same class were the AE86 and AE82 Corolla FX. This model ran in Division 1 until it was replaced by the EF3 in the middle of the 1988 season.
By the way, the car used for this particular test drive is chassis number 14. Representatives from Spoon say, “This is an younger chassis number, so it is likely one manufactured as Group A spec without being marketed.” It may be one of the machines that battled in 1985 races with Nakajima and Nakako.
The ZC engine has a bore diameter of 75φ and a stroke of 90mm to a displacement of 1590cc. This generation is older than the B16A so it is not equipped with VTEC. In contrast to the commercially available models of 135ps / 6000rpm and 15.5kgm / 5000rpm, the Group A specification is equipped with high compression pistons and high cams demonstrating 170-180ps in combination with the CP tune. The rev limit is a super high rotation type well over 10,000rpm.
The side exit exhaust emits a high frequency noise that is not unlike a peripheral spec rotary engine. It was so loud that shouted words could not be heard within a 5m radius. Standing near the exhaust for 10 seconds might be jarring on your eardrums.
In keeping with regulations, the interior is kept with normal dash and door trim. From right to left are gauges for oil temp, water temp, tach, and hydraulic meter. A lever for adjusting the brake balance is located behind the shifter and a line lock lever behind that. CP is set at the passenger side footwell and settings for fuel control and ignition timing are adjusted by dial on the front side.
A regulation aluminum 10-point roll cage and fire extinguisher are safety appointed features on the interior.
Centerlock wheels specifically designed for Group A have a tightening torque of 60kgm! 195/55-15 Advan slicks on the front are combined with 190/570R15 Avon slicks at the rear. Brakes are reinforced with AP4 pot calipers + 2 piece drilled rotors at the front and rear Mugen (Nissin) 2 pot calipers.
The screaming ZC rattles your eardrums!
So, for the test drive. With the kill switch ON and accelerator slightly depressed, the ZC awoke impatiently. A high frequency noise filled the cockpit. The high cam has a large working angle prone to stall at idle so the throttle must be blipped. Even just engaging the accelerator lightly, I feel that my eardrums are splitting.
The explosion of the exhaust is unimaginable. When active in Group A, the legendary Mr. Hasemi was famously heard saying from the neighboring pit “Oi, you’re too noisy over there!! Who do you think you are?!”
The engine speed is geared toward the start. Under 3000rpm is not highly used (the tachometer has almost no scale in the area). The clutch is easy to handle and the car accelerates through the full range. From around 6000rpm power increases robustly lasting up until 9000rpm. This engine begs to be revved high and feels great doing so.
Just as I thought I’d shift up to third, I was braking heavily for the first hairpin. Since there is no boost, pedal effort is required but the stroke is surprisingly long and braking force is responsive. You feel very connected to the car and in complete control.
On the downshift with a hard left, the brakes hold fast into the turn. G-forces are incredible and the grip from the slick tires in insane. It takes courage to keep on the accelerator but it still feels like the car is on rails. The grip from the tires causes kickback to the steering wheel and you need to hold on with force.
From Dunlop Corner through 80R to the second hairpin was so light, I felt I could link the turns easily. The body size is more compact than the current Mazda Demio and the weight of the car is super light in the mid 800kg range.
Just as I got into the spirit of running, the flag was raised and I had to come back in after only two laps. Perhaps most of all, I was impressed by drivers of the past who battled long hours in this car.
●Special Thanks：SPOON SPORTS TEL : 0120-112-095