Kanjo racers live in the moment, tearing up the streets, evading the law, playing by their own rules. And it looks like the mysterious Kanjozoku have made their way to the UK in the shape of these Kanjo Civics.
When the sun goes down in Osaka, the Kanjozoku come out to play. Shadowy outlaws who hunt in packs in their race-inspired Civics, these reprobates go out of their way to taunt the authorities, thrashing around urban loops at antisocial speeds, B- and D-Series motors howling, raucous exhausts rasping, faces obscured by window nets, living for the moment, living for the nighttime.
Kanjo culture has held Honda enthusiasts in its thrall for decades, and the pair of EG Civics you see here beautifully translates that rich culture to the streets of the UK, their respective owners deeply embracing the life and the heritage and living out its outsider style.
And here we are, cruelly ignoring their masked faces and clandestine vibes, by revealing that it’s Harley Thomas who owns the red-and-white car, and James Grainger running the white-and-carbon affair. Sorry for blowing your identities lads, but these builds are so awesome they deserve all the proper credit!
Let’s start with Harley first of all. His passion for tuning was sparked by a VW Golf, but we won’t hold that against him. “It all started when my best mate Marcus passed his test and got a 1.8T Golf,” he recalls. “We started going to meets, and I just fell in love with the scene. I kept seeing Hondas and loved the way they looked, and it was when the meets died down and cars started racing that I truly fell for them – seeing a small Japanese economy hatch taking out cars of twice the engine size and value… that’s when I decided Hondas are where it’s at.”
Harley’s first car was a 5th-gen Prelude 2.2, although having struggled to insure it he found himself an EP2 Civic and started modding that instead. However, he quickly realised that it wouldn’t have the performance potential for what he had in mind, so another lateral move saw him in an EG Civic, which is what set him on the path to what you see here.
“The car was basically standard when I got it,” he says, “aside from some cheap eBay coilovers and horrible replica Borbet wheels. Everything that’s been done on the car has either been carried out by myself or my mate Marcus on my parents’ driveway – one of the easiest decisions we made was to turn it into a useable fast road car. I was never into the whole stance scene or building a car for shows, I wanted it to go fast and hold itself up against cars that it really shouldn’t keep up with!”
With this in mind, the engine is a proper Kanjo treat. The methods of the Kanjozoku were usually to optimise the chassis and strip out weight, race car style, rather than going all-out on the motor, so Harley’s mods make perfect sense; he’s swapped in a B18C4, the 1.8-litre VTEC twin-cam you’d normally find in a late-’90s Civic VTi, and added AEM induction, a Japspeed manifold and M2 Motorsport Spoon-rep exhaust, with uprated fuelling and a tweaked P37 ECU to optimise everything. This all plays to the tune of a chassis sprinkled with Type R upgrades – a DC2 Integra has been pillaged for its hubs and brakes, LCAs and rear trailing arms, all of which rub shoulders with 6two1 coilovers and adjustable camber arms, meaning that when Harley rasps onto the loop, the feds won’t see which way he went.
“The next job was to decide on paint, as at this point it was a mismatch of colours with parts coming off other cars,” he continues, “and once I was into the Honda scene I found out about Kanjo racing and the loop… since then I’ve been obsessed with the lifestyle and culture, so it was kind of a no-brainer to create my own bit of the Kanjo here in the UK! I decided to paint a full Kanjo livery in homage to the OG No Good Racing Team.”
It hasn’t all been plain sailing, of course – these things never are, are they? “The biggest hurdle we had to overcome was the only thing I’d trusted someone else to do,” Harley remembers with a wince. “That was the first engine swap – it was done by, shall we say, a less-than-reputable bloke; I got done out of just shy of £2,500, and got the car back with no working dash, lights, fuel pump, engine mounts, or even the right ECU… so the car was off the road for a few months while me and my mates sourced all the right parts, took the engine out and fixed all of his mistakes. Safe to say I haven’t trusted anyone that I don’t class as a friend or family to work on my car since!”
That’s a story we hear a lot, and it means that Harley’s build is now truly and unimpeachably personal, there’s a little bit of his DNA in every single element. And with this feeling of passion firmly ingrained, it makes sense to move on to our other shadowy contender here – James, and his equally impressive Kanjo Civic. Like Harley’s, this car was purchased in largely stock form and has been steadily built up into the vibrant and brutal creation you see today. “I’ve owned it for about three years, and it’s been an ongoing project,” James explains. “It’s been a painstaking process, with every single element being thoroughly planned and thought through. Most of the work has been done by myself, although I have had help from Kal Butler at CB Automotive Repair, who fitted the turbo conversion and made various engine performance enhancements.”
That’s right – this Civic’s running a turbo. Residing under that carbon bonnet is a D16Z6, the 1.6-litre unit from the EG Civic Si or Del Sol ESi, to which has been bolted an Emusa N12AR 50 turbo setup along with intercooler and manifold. The fuelling is appropriately uprated, there’s an HKS turbo timer and an H-Tune ECU, and all sorts of purple shiny things. The upshot of it all is a naughty 221bhp, joyfully deployed via the means of sticky Toyos, Bluemax coilovers, Function7 LCAs and beefed-up brakes. To back up the go with a bit of show, he’s gone all-in with the exterior aesthetics too – we’re looking at copious carbon fibre replacements with the aim of weight-saving (mirrored by the stripped-out interior), aggressive aero addenda, and of course the Team No Good Racing ‘Bye Bye Police’ decals.
“The car does attract a lot of attention when I’m out and about,” he laughs. “Yeah, particularly from people with blue lights on their cars,” Harley grins. “Most people’s reactions are good though, my car always turns heads – maybe too much at times, as it’s nearly caused a few accidents with people staring at it! But I built the car for me, and to have my own bit of the Kanjo in my life, so if there’s bad responses to it I tend to not listen, I don’t really care.”
This is very much a Kanjo way to behave. We’re impressed that the guys bothered to clean their cars before the shoot, to be honest – the way of the Kanjozoku is a real no-f*cks-given approach; brake dust, unfinished interiors, mismatched body paint, it’s more about the drive than the scene points. What James and Harley have done here is to infuse the correct amount of Kanjo style into their respective Civics, and then carefully tweak the ratio to ensure that the cars look as good as they go. Each one is a masterstroke.
They’re always evolving too, either pilot always aiming his sights squarely at the streetlights. “My immediate plan is to fit a rollcage and strengthen the chassis,” says James, “and I have some fibreglass doors to fit. Then I can add polycarbonate windows to complete the spec.”
Harley’s equally enthused about the next stage of development: “Over the winter I want to upgrade the intake manifold and throttle body, and get a more solid map on it,” he says. “I also recently got a set of Advan SA3R wheels, thanks to the other half, so I want to get them refurbished and on the car for next year. Long-term? It will be having a full engine rebuild and be boosted – I want to see 500bhp+ from it, and take out pretty much anything else on the roads…”
That, right there, is the Kanjo spirit. Taking no prisoners, living for the race, not caring about the consequences, just making it all about that next killer drive. When the sun goes down, the Civics come out to play. And these fellas are definitely playing for keeps.
Tech Spec: Kanjo Civics
B18C4 1.8-litre VTEC, Walbro 255 fuel pump, M2 Motorsport Spoon-rep backbox, Japspeed manifold, custom centre exhaust section, AEM induction kit, polybushed/hardened engine mounts, tuned P37 ECU, short-shift
’98-spec DC2 Integra Type R wheels, Nankang NS2-R tyres, DC2 hub and brake conversion front and rear, DC2 rear LCAs, DC2 rear trailing arms, adjustable camber arms, 6two1 coilovers
Stripped, Autostyle BS7 driver’s seat, 6two1 harness, Nardi Personal steering wheel with HKS boss and quick-release, double-DIN stereo with Apple CarPlay, 4x Pioneer speakers and slimline sub, Spoon rear-view mirror glass, custom flocked dash
Fully painted Kanjo livery with 30th anniversary No Good Racing decals, Spoon-style front lip, Spoon-style wing mirrors, Spoon-style rear spoiler, rear bumper cutouts, front canards
D16Z6 1.6-litre VTEC, Emusa N12AR 50 turbo, intercooler and manifold, Holley fuel rail, 550cc injectors, 340 Kenjo fuel pump, purple fuel pressure regulator, purple oil filter relocation kit with Sickspeed purple oil filter cooler, fluorescent green G-Performance oil cooler, purple oil catch tank, purple fuel filter, Speed Factory 4-bar map sensor, purple Emusa dump valve, purple Password:JDM radiator bracket, purple Mugen radiator cap, purple Skunk2 solenoid cover, custom fluorescent green rocker cover, Skunk2 ultra-lightweight cam pulley, HKS clear cam cover, purple lightweight crank pulley, Spoon torque damper, purple torque mounts, LD Performance digital boost controller, HKS turbo timer, H-Tune ECU, windscreen washer bottle relocated to boot (to provide room for intercooler), 5-speed manual, DriveTorque paddle clutch
17-inch Team Dynamics Pro Race wheels, Toyo Proxes tyres with painted letters, purple Password:JDM lug nuts, Bluemax coilovers, 282mm front discs, 262mm rears, purple Function7 LCAs front and rear, fluorescent green subframe brace bar and anti-roll bar, Password:JDM rear tow hook
Stripped, footwells painted gloss white, Momo steering wheel with NOS buttons, snap-off boss, Bride Low Max driver’s seat with Takata harness, custom glovebox with twin fans for cooling drinks, switch panel for PS2, Ripspeed 7-inch screens in custom sun-visors, reverse parking camera and 7-inch screen, single-DIN stereo with 5-inch screen and remote on steering wheel, 5-panel rear view mirror, VMS short-shifter with a carbon fibre knob, JDM Speed handbrake with leather sock, battery relocated to passenger footwell in purple custom box with Takata strap, Takata green G-Force Racing net, custom No Good Racing symbol headlining, Mugen pedals and rally footplate, Bride Low Max strap door handles, Kenwood amp and power cap, Vibe speakers and sub
VMS carbon fibre bonnet, carbon fibre canards, J’s Racing-rep carbon fibre spoiler, delocked carbon fibre bootlid, purple number plate holder, custom eagle-eye rear diffuser with hidden camera, hidden rear blue strobe lights, Denji V2 front projector headlamps, carbon fibre wing mirror caps, carbon fibre radio antenna delete, custom fibreglass wings with thin clear indicators, Team No Good Racing ‘Bye Bye Police’ (shark) decals
Feature taken from Banzai magazine. Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Adam Rous