My first car, Haeru, was a 1999 Honda Civic EX Coupe. Haeru in Japanese translates roughly as "to shine" in English. I remember buying a copy of Turbo Magazine at the local 7-Eleven with a cover feature on another EK Civic coupe in the same Vogue Silver Metallic and I became obsessed with the color and the platform. I do not come from an enthusiast family and the car was purchased with the intention of having them driving it occasionally. I can count the number of times someone else drove that car on one hand. One of these occasions was when a family friend was visiting from out of town and borrowed the car. When they returned home they asked my Dad, "did you know Steven lowered the car?". My Dad did not have the slightest idea, but he could see how much I cared for this car and left me to my own devices.
I "saved" every penny from my after-school and summer jobs to budget it in bubble tea hangouts where all of the local import enthusiasts would meet and to modify my Civic. An Iceman cold air intake came first. Then a pair of Skunkworks (now Skunk2) threaded-sleeve coilovers. Koni Yellow Sport shocks were added when those spring rates eventually blew the OE dampers. Neuspeed Suspension bars filled out the handling package. As an obnoxious teenager, I obviously had to have an aftermarket exhaust on my slow four-cylinder Honda: first a terribly welded universal Magnaflow, then a Blitz NÜR Spec which was loud enough to earn me a visit to the state ref, a 5Zigen Fireball with an insert to bring the noise down, and then finally an A'PEXi World Sport for a cleaner sound and look. And of course I had to have a killer sound system, starting with a ludicrous pair of 12" subwoofers in the back before finally settling on a single 10".
By my senior year of college I had gone through four sets of wheels, finally splurging on my dream set of SSR Schumachers. Through most of school I worked the night shift, loading inventory on automotive body shop supply trucks. One of the route drivers was an old body man and he taught me how to work a spray gun. I painted and installed a JDM Mugen front lip, a Civic Si grille and rear lip under spoiler, JDM Civic Type R side mirrors, and a small rear lip trunk spoiler reminiscent of that on the E90/92 M3.
I would still have this car with a K24 motor swap if not for the fact that the car was totaled by insurance the last time, of three, it was stolen and recovered. The thieves cut harnesses to start the car and to steal the aftermarket radio headunit and that was that. After owning a variety of "better" cars since, I truly miss Haeru. She drove me on my first dates, moved me into college, took my friends and I all over the SF Bay Area, San Diego, and even up to Tahoe, and frequently served as my personal therapist. She did this with a dialed-in canyon carving suspension, clean OE-plus styling, and an amazing soundtrack. My current Craigslist searches frequently end in looking for the same generation Civic hatchbacks. Maybe one day the spirit of Haeru will continue on.