Metra ElecTrick Civic ; Metra’s Extreme Honda Civic Show Car

Article: Metra ElecTrick Civic ; Metra’s Extreme Honda Civic Show Car

This 1994 Honda Civic might look extra terrestrial, but it is of this earth. In fact, it was built in Holly Hill, FL. It started as a humble Honda, with parts from a Nissan and Ford, and some styling cues from a Dodge Magnum with a little Roadster feel. It might be a car manufacturer CEO’s worst nightmare; but, to car enthusiasts, it’s a dream. Built to promote Metra products at trade shows and events, this once purebred Honda Civic, now automotive maker hodgepodge, is a showcase vehicle that will make jaws drop whether or not you’re a Metra fan. Jeremy Carlson and a team of installers spent about six months and approximately $100,000 converting this automobile into a platform for audio and video equipment with unparalleled creativity.

Most Hondas on the import scene sport a carbon-fiber hood as an upgrade as if it were part of an import initiation. A carbon-fiber hood would not do the trick for Carlson’s Honda. Taking it to the next level, a custom hood was fabricated and implanted with four acrylic windows by Carlson and Frank Paolillo giving it a race-like look. Peeking through the hood inserts, you immediately notice something different about this Honda. There is no Honda engine! Taking the place of the 4-cylinder 102hp engine is a 7hp, 48-volt electric engine. Carlson decided to get rid of the Honda engine in order to acquire additional space needed for the subwoofer enclosure mounted to the firewall. Additionally, four Tsunami X151700 batteries that power the audio system found their way under the hood along with two JBL PX300.4 amplifiers. The hood piece that holds the equipment was built by Metra’s Tom Reece.

Generally, when audio enthusiasts are designing an audio system the last thing that comes to mind is modifying the vehicle’s entire drivetrain. Then came along Carlson’s Civic. Representing JBL as a sponsor, Carlson wanted to use the Civic’s firewall as a main platform for the superabundance of drivers from JBL’s GTI & GTO. Maximum space was needed as he planned to install two W10GTI 10″ subwoofers along the firewall that would fire into the vehicle’s cabin.

The large magnet structures and enclosure space requirements prompted Carlson to seek air space salvation in the engine compartment. To free up enough space for the audio equipment, Carlson with the help of Scott Palmieri and Chris Crisali completely gutted the engine compartment and ripped out the Honda drivetrain (only an audio guy, right?). As a replacement drivetrain, Carlson and Brent McCall of Metra as well decided to use a 7 hp, 48-volt electric engine giving him more than enough space for his grandiose design.

The sealed subwoofer enclosures hover over the car’s new drive train and are seam sealed to the firewall that’s been beefed up by 1″ x 1″ box steel. Utilizing every inch of the newfound space in the firewall, Carlson installed a pair of GTO804 8″ midbass drivers and 6 1/2″ midrange drivers from the 608GTI component set. A pair of fiberglass pods that hold Monkey Video MHRM7 7″ LCD screens protects the assortment of drivers in the firewall. The factory dash was ditched for a custom fiberglass dash solely dedicated to audio. At each end of the dash is a set of 1″ tweeters from the JBL 608GTI component set along with a center channel comprised of a 5 1/4″ midrange and tweeter from the JBL C508GTI set. The design of the dash flows seamlessly down to each door that is home to a pair of 7″ LCDs and a 17″ LCD both provided by Monkey Video. Rear fill is provided by a pair of JBL C508GTI components located at the rear of the hatch.

After ditching essential items like the steering wheel, gauge cluster and gas/break pedals, it was obvious that Carlson had something up his sleeve. The solution to Carlson’s madness lies in the fiberglass center console where a custom system had to be designed.

The neon-lit console houses a joystick that is used to propel and steer the vehicle and is accompanied by an Aurora 10.4-inch wireless touchscreen. Meshed together with Aurora’s WACI control system, Carlson can access every function of the car’s A/V and electrical system at the touch of a finger. As impressive as it is to drive the vehicle with a single joystick/throttle, the car can also be controlled wirelessly with a Sony PSP unit, thanks to Vince Casale and the brilliant team at Aurora Multimedia. The screen of the PSP is a legend indicating which function of the car’s controls is accessed by the corresponding buttons on the Sony hand held. The PSP unit fits in a pod located above the joystick in the center console that allows the unit to be easily removed for wireless remote control of the car. Removing the PSP from its home in the center console reveals the controller for the Alpine PXA-H701 Multimedia Manager. Audio and video signals are fed to the H701 via any of the six Monkey Video MDVD51 half-din DVD players to provide both audio and video material. With 22 Monkey Video screens and six Monkey Video DVD players, the team needed a way to control all of them at once. A Knox A/V switcher was the answer. The Waci controller can assign any source to any screen at any time.

The Civic’s fiberglass hatch, primarily dedicated to system power, continuously carries over from the custom multi-part seats and center console. The entire floor of the car was cut out by Carlson and Crisali and lowered 4″ which provided plenty of room for the electric engine’s power pack. Two rows of Tsunami X152150, Tsunami’s largest battery, power the electric motor under the hood of the car and are displayed through the Metra-etched acrylic.

Positioned at the base of the batteries is a JBL A3000GTI that delivers 3,000 watts to the pair of 10″ subwoofers. A rope-like fiberglass piece extends from the opening of the hatch wrapping around the A3000GTI suspending a trio of Tsunami distribution blocks. Tom Reece was responsible for all the Tsunami wiring in the car.


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