Level Up: Arif’s Honda Civic – The Final Form?

Ah yes, another photoshoot in the bag – and a rather special one at that. This one is of Arif’s Civic and it’s been quite a long time since we’ve gotten together to shoot. Lots has changed since the last time we shot it and there always seems to be a period of several years between our shoots and while it feels like it’s only been a year or two – this time it’s been 4, and prior to that, it was 5 years. Here’s the link to the Fall shoot we did some time ago if you’re interested:

https://lifewithjson.com/2014/10/08/arifs-honda-civic-ek-2-0-aka-hollie/

This time was special – no, not because we had a candlelit dinner with Jina-spec entrees or anything like that. Don’t get any wrong ideas. It was because this time when Arif asked me for a shoot – he was able to get access to CH Toyota all to himself on a Sunday and one other person. Luckily, that other person was me. You don’t really think about shooting inside a dealership until you’re asked to shoot inside a dealership. I’m not going to say it’s a rare opportunity because I’m sure many others have the same ability to do so, but it doesn’t come around all too often.

It’s an eerie place when it’s empty and there aren’t salesmen walking around, or phones ringing, or machines running and tools banging. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. There’s no pressure to say “no thanks, I’m just looking” or “umm, I’ve got an appointment at 3?”. You could stand and stare at that 4Runner TRD Pro all day if you wanted without the pressure of someone asking you questions. Speaking of 4Runner’s… Before we get on with this pic-heavy post, there was one gem sitting in the showroom that I was able to snap pics of with nobody around to bother me…

This 1,000,000 km 4Runner. Yup, one million…

The interior – despite the mileage – was in fantastic shape. The seats looked better than most used cars you’d find that have 100k on the odometer. Although the steering wheel has taken quite a beating, it hasn’t stopped the car from running.

A shot of the back seats and carpet – still quite immaculate.

And just look at the condition of the body and paint. This could pass as an old, low km car if you judged a book by its cover.

Some of the suspension components have been replaced as expected, but the rest of the car still looks great.

The original wheels – although scathed and starting to age beyond repair still holding strong.

And finally – a shot of that odometer just to prove it. Man… Glad I got to see this.

And so now as we move on and Arif gets the car ready, I took a couple shots of the inside of CH Toyota – when the lights are off and everything is at peace.

The M3 kind of out of place… But adds to the picture as decoration…

So we begin… Arif’s car in the flesh. Very different than 4 years ago when we shot it and very much evolved into something better.

A lot of the shots I took were with the lights off. I felt it gave a very unique feel with a slight blue colorgrade added to it. Almost like it was in the pits getting ready to do some hot laps…

One of the most notable changes are his yellow CE28’s which demand a lot of attention to the car.

Arif said that he had the car all cleaned and ready to go on Friday when he was confirming if we were still good to shoot on Friday. My mistake was believing him. I took this pic and for a split second, I second-guessed what I saw through the viewfinder only to have my doubts confirmed when I reviewed the picture again after taking it.

“Arif – I think you need to clean your wheels again” I said. Arif gave a hesitant “what?” trying to sound like he didn’t know what I was talking about even though he knew damn well. “Your wheels are still dirty here…” I replied again. “You know what, I’m just going to leave it so that you can take a picture and call me out cause I know you will” he says. Deep down – I know that he thought his wheels were as clean as could be. Why else would he have left his car in the dealership overnight and not drive it there on the day of the photoshoot? Because he didn’t want it to get dirty. This is the problem with multi spoke wheels, man. You clean the top half of the spokes because you’re looking down on them but you always miss the underside. As Arif reads this, I know going forward he’s going to start cleaning the underside of the spokes. Mistakes happen.

One of my favourite additions to Arif’s car is the newly retrofitted headlights done by Aldrich. Rich has done many retrofits for our friends cars and they’ve always come out impeccable. It’s a much appreciated update for older cars with halogen reflector headlights and if done nicely, it can look very OEM. No unnecessary LED bars or strobing/changing colours all over the place – just a nicely placed projector and housing.

Another notable change is the BYS bumper. Another welcome addition to bring the package together nicely.

Interior wise – not much has changed. Good ol’ Tigger still hanging from the cage as you can see by his tail…

Lots of big changes as I go through these pictures – another is the Project Mu big brake kit you see behind the yellow CE’s. Surprisingly a very fitting colour combo.

This photo in the washbay had a sort of neckbreaking angle but I liked it. Also, Arif was holding the hose that you see over to the right of the picture there. Just thought I’d give credit where credit is due…

Getting set up to move around

In my opinion, Arif’s car has really “grown up” in the sense that it’s evolved from a “boy-racer” look to a more sophisticated and rounded out look. The much tamer Seeker wing, the BYS bumper, the clean retrofitted headlights and the J’s hood.

Another addition are the Tracklife Composites fenders. A much more aggressive look up front.

The TiBurnt valve stem caps with Project Mu and Volk.

The panda theme that Arif had going on for a long time is more or less gone. Everything is paint matched now – the hood, the roof. The only “black” you see now is the naked carbon accents on the lip and the side mirrors.

Close up of the BYS badge on the front lip…

Another shot of the retrofitted headlights

The bolts holding the hood latch are a gold titanium. A nice touch to match the wheels IMO…

Under the hood now sits a K20 that replaced the F20B which was the heart of Arif’s Civic since I’ve known him.

One of my favourite pieces under the hood was this titanium hood rod.

Mugen bolts…

The rear of Arif’s civic also sports new LED tail lights with a slight smoked finish as well.

Inside, the iconic STACK cluster

Quick intermission – the owner of CH Toyota’s Ferrari sitting in the corner collecting dust… I mean, my house is free to let it “collect dust” too, ‘namsayin…

Getting ready to move to the final area…

I think a lot of my favourite shots were done here in the tire storage area. We’re lucky that he was able to squeeze in nicely. That’s what she said.

I dubbed this “Speedhunter” style… It was unintended but I guess I achieved it nicely lol.

Getting some higher angle shots shows the awesome lines of the J’s Racing hood…

Another shot. Menacing.

OK last one I promise… Once again, good job Rich!

A shot of the cut off – the most important part. Check that blue/purple.

The teaser shot I posted earlier this week… My favourite shot of the bunch still.

And just a few random shots before we ended it for the morning…

Time to hit the track…

Hope you enjoyed this one as much as I enjoyed shooting it! It’s nice not having the pressures of people and other cars around – although not huge pressure – it’s still distraction and things you need to work with. An empty dealership and all the time you need provides ample opportunity to get a multitude of shots. Adios!

Out for a Quick Run

On Saturday, I decided to take the FRS out for a quick leg stretch and to also break in the Brembo brakes. (See how I spelled the two words properly? Lots of people don’t lol). I initially didn’t want to take it out until I gave it a full detail and cleaned up some minor things but the weather was perfect and I couldn’t wait! I still have to a full detail and clean up the paint, put the TiBurnt valve stem caps on, replace the worn out level one sticker, and clean the tires and remove the browning. Right now the car is a mess – it’s just dusty and looks like it sat in a garage for 6 months lol.

Forgive me – I “think” I’m having some technical issues with my camera, or colour profiles and I have yet to figure out how to calibrate it all. When I edit these photos on my computer, they look perfect. However, when I get them onto my phone or a different monitor, they’re really dark and unpleasing to look at – or at least that’s what I see. I’m betting that you’re also seeing a fairly dark photo as well – and I promise you, that’s not how I intended it to be. I just didn’t want to hold off on the photos because then it just gets to be old news. Anyway, aside from the technical issue – it was just a quick drive off to some warehouses to get some sunset pics and show off the new set up as best I could. I’ve pretty much gotten comfortable with shooting people with the new camera set up, but shooting cars is a whole new ball game for me right now. I’m rusty as hell and at the time of shooting this, I couldn’t even figure out exposure lock – something I took for granted on my Canon 7D. It wasn’t until later that night after getting home that I finally figured it out… So I’ll go back out and try again sometime soon.

Anyway – just a few quick pics!

What wheels are those? Steelies?! damn it.

It helped a bit more when I was facing the sunset – but barely…

One thing I am finding is that the 35 f1.4 is an AMAZING portrait lens. This thing is a beast when taking pictures of people and things. But it’s a little more difficult with cars. I’m used to either using my 10-20 to get a nice wide perspective or my 135 f2.0 to get a nice distant shot. But with the 35, I’m trying to find the sweet spot and I’m not sure I’ve found it yet…

One last shot before going back home and after working the brakes for a bit. I’m lucky that I’ve got dead roads near home where I can just test the brakes and break them in properly with no issue. God, they just bite like crazy compared to stock brakes – to be expected – but when you actually use them, they’re amazing. They’re also loud as hell though cause of the pads that came with them – everyone around me thinks my car is broken haha.

Here’s where the 35mm shines. Close quarters where you want details of one main thing and everything else around it to be blurred out.

I miss this view… Thank god summer is finally here.

The Death of the Black Swan; Enter Bumblebee

The day I’ve been waiting for months finally came. If you recall my previous post about actually getting the Brembo’s, you’ll know that I ordered it at the end of January and didn’t end up getting them for almost 2 months after. Even after getting them, I couldn’t put them on because of the shitty weather we’re having. As I type this, we are under a snowfall warning and expecting 10-20cm of snow – WTF – it’s the middle of April for Pete’s sake!

Whatever, I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about our century-long winter so let’s just talk about the exciting stuff. This last weekend ended up showing us a bit of mercy and we had +10C weather – nice enough for us to stay in the garage and wrench on the cars. Punit and JC came over and helped me swap out the brakes and flush the lines. You know when you have those projects/installs that should really only take an hour but one small thing goes wrong and it takes you like 3? It happens to us every time…

Anyway, I’ll talk about it as we go… On to the pics!


The Brembos all ready to go.


You (background) vs the guy she told you not to worry about (foreground). lol


We got started right away by removing the original brake line. This was the first part that really should’ve taken like 1 minute. The brake line was caked in gunk and seized a bit so when we took the 10mm wrench to it, it sort of rounded off the nut. We ended up taking two vice grips to latch on and turn. Cue the “That Was Easy” button press.


The weapons…


Removing the brake line bracket


Punit installing the Brembo caliper bracket to allow the caliper to mount properly.


Shot of the bracket on!



The dust shields were removed – they’re not needed nor will they fit with the new brakes. You can see the new rotor to the right as well.


The stock rotor came off with a bit of hammering and the new one slid on like a glove. We put some lug nuts on to keep it in place while we installed the caliper.


Shot of it all complete!


Another shot of the finished product.


The stock calipers and rotors

Next problem was that the TE’s didn’t clear the calipers. It rubbed just barely on a part of the brakes. So who you gonna call? Zokusha Tuning!

As soon as we realized spacers were needed, I slid into Eric’s DM and he met me within half an hour to give me these 5mm spacers. The one good thing about this over shops or online sites is that if they want to be, they could be open all day, every day. Where would I get parts on a Sunday afternoon otherwise? Thanks to Eric @ Zokusha Tuning for the quick service! Life saver!


We popped the spacers on and then the wheel – perfect! The next hard part was getting the car back on the ground without getting the jack stuck or wrecking the bumper on the wood lol.


I am SO digging the look though.


The next few shots are just of the car outside. I didn’t think I’d hate it as much as I have been saying it, but I really hate taking pictures of black cars with black wheels. I did a quick edit on this because I had no polarizer and it was just bright as hell outside so everything was either overexposed or underexposed.


And another…



One more…

Front quarter shot you might have seen on the Gram…

A bit closer…

Unfortunately, back in the garage. 😦

One last one before closing the garage and heading in. I suppose it’s OK – I’ve still got a little work to do before taking out. It’s been a while since I’ve done a full detail on the car, so I think I’m going to take a full day and give it a spa day.

I need to clay bar it, give it a 2-stage polish, seal and wax it up. I want to give the front bumper a little TLC – the grill is all chipped up from last year and I need to touch it up. I’m hoping some polish will get rid of a lot of the spots from a lot of the grime it’s picked up from driving. I’m going to be a bit more patient this year and wait until most of the rocks are gone. The combination of being a black car and being low is terrible for catching everything off the road. More pics soon!

Black on Black on Black (with a little bit of blue)

The pieces are finally coming together! When you’re busy, even some of the simplest tasks become complicated. You’d think putting together wheels and tires would be as easy as bringing it to a shop to get it done – and it is. Except I make things harder than they actually are sometimes.

I had to order two new tires, so I finally got my lazy ass to text Alex to see if he could source me some new ones. Boom – even delivered to Jackie’s shop for me. One down. The next piece was the valve stems… I wasn’t about to run red valve stems on the new black TE’s – not that anything is wrong with it, but it just wouldn’t match the look I’m going for. In my plea for help in trying to find black Rays valve stems without paying $100 for shipping, Errol said that he had some spares. Boom – Errol gave them to Jackie for me.  Next was just dropping everything off to Jackie’s to get it done. Isaac finished it for me at lunch yesterday and that was that.

The point of all this is that I’m thankful for the friends in the car community. I mean, I could probably have gone and done all the picking up and delivering myself but I probably would have taken months to actually do it. It’s just the little things that matter – I’m grateful for that. I’m pretty sure the car would probably have just stayed on jack stands this year without their help.

Anyway, just a few quick shots of the wheels. I’m just waiting on ONE MORE big piece of the puzzle before the car gets to go back on the ground. It rhymes with “Dig Drake Bit”. Until then, it remains hoisted up with dusty ass panels until I find time to polish and wax it for the start of the season.

That blue with black is SO good. I never thought I’d love black wheels ever.

Match made in heaven.

Can’t forget the titanium valve stem caps from TiBurnt. They look so rad and the blue/purple works well with the blue Rays/Volk stickers.

Just a mock up. As you can see almost impossible to get a good pic LOL. Underexpose all the things!!