Guys, take notice! This issue’s cover car is owned by Ms. Dara Sodano of Martinez, California, not a team or crew, but a real live woman. When we first saw the car a couple of years back, we were impressed. We were even more impressed when we found out that some chick, um, we mean girl, oops, woman, owned this sweet ’97 Honda Civic Ex coupe dubbed “Candy Dreams.” Lord knows that it takes quite a bit of time to build something this phat, but for Dara it was a trial and error thing that spanned some six years. “I built this car from paycheck to paycheck along with my boyfriend Jason’s pay checks,” she admits. Scrimping and saving, Dara had time enough to enter shows and get feedback from both judges and, more importantly, spectators who gave her an astonished “thumb’s up.”

The competition is fierce out on the circuit and you can see modifications pop up at any given time during the show season. That made Dara and Jason more driven to build something that their peers would hate as well as respect in the same breath. Just reading her tech specs is like going through a wish list for racers and show car owners. Just before our photo session Dara and her man literally had to redo the Civic to make it down to the International Auto Salon held in downtown Los Angeles, California, at the Convention Center. Well, they didn’t make their deadline, but did make it down for the event. The car was neatly tucked away for the Monday following the event, just ready for us to make Dara and her sponsor’s dream coming true!

Owner: Dara Sodano
Vehicle: ’97 Honda Civic Ex coupe
City/State: Martinez, California
Club: STR

Paint and Body Mods: Steve Contreras of Steve’s Auto Paint in Antioch, California, did the super-sweet PPG two-tone wine berry candy paint job with rainbow pearl and PPG Prizmatic gold and silver basecoats over Jason Flowers’ killer bodywork. Jason shaved the whole body, shortened the trunk lid, molded in side skirts, added Toyota MR2 side vents, stuck a pair of Corvette front fender vents, did up a cool Toyota Supra taillamp conversion and added a projection headlight swap. Fiber Images provided the carbon fiber hood for an aesthetic and practical touch. The car also has a reinforced metal frame, but the highlight has to be the Lamborghini-type door setup, which gives the compact a custom edge over the competition.


Performance: Dara had Mike Young of Complete Auto Works in Concord, California, yank the old engine and drop in a 2000 B20 VTEC engine, finished in red anodizing. The potent powerplant is a cornucopia of aftermarket gear that took a better part of a year to piece together. The polished tranny on the civic is a Type-R hydraulic LSD unit and a GReddy intercooler and chrome plumbing, needed for this bad girl of a car. Other components include a Nitrous Express direct-port nitrous system, Jet Hot coated turbo manifold, GReddy Type R blow-off valve, Power Enterprise timing belt, ACT street clutch, STR polished drag intake manifold and polished 68-inch throttle body, STR fuel rail, cam gears, dipstick and dress-up kit. XS fuel regulator, Total Seal rings, ARP head studs, ported and polished head, Hasport engine mounts, JE pistons, AEM programmable ECU, lightened flywheel, Fluidyne radiator, Nology external coil and sparkplug wires, NGK platinum plugs, GReddy booster controller, GReddy Turbo timer, STR black carbon fiber valve cover and STR S1 dual exhaust system.

Interior: The inside of the cab features a Sparco Tornino driver’s seat, custom red tweed and off-white pearl vinyl along the headliner, door panels, floor mats, trunk and dash area by Interiors By Skip in Concord. AutoMeter gauges (boost/air/fuel) control, AutoMeter shift light, GReddy boost controller (custom) mounted on a Momo Monte Carlo steering wheel, GReddy counter-weighted shift knob, Sparco pedals, and Auto Power four-point roll cage with camcorder roll bar mount.

Suspension: Jason Flowers of JD Designs of Martinez, California, got the Civic down to business with SPC gear: Honda EZ arms, XR front camber/caster control arms, EZ arms (XR) rear camber control arms, rear performance arms and rear toe adjusters. The SPC gear is combined a nitrogen air ride system using four chrome-plated SMC air cylinders, two chrome 7-gallon air reservoirs, four compressors, 12 1-inch SMC fast valves, 5/8-inch air lines, 10-switch box, in-line water catcher, oil lubricator, 200-lb. regulators, four check valves and four dump regulators. Metro Plating of Sacramento, California, handled the chrome on the undercarriage and engine compartment. BFGoodrich steel-braided brake lines, AEM Big Brake Kit and AEM brake pads are also featured.

Audio/Video: The trio of Robert, Mike and Bryan of Motor Music in Concord did a ton of work to get the entertainment portion of the car dialed in to Dara’s liking. Stuff like using an 8-inch monitor to replace the gauge cluster, installing a SAV rear-view mirror and monitor; custom-mounting an in-dash Eclipse 12-disc CD changer; throwing in a Sony PS2 and X-Box gaming system and designing an amp rack and rear fiberglass enclosure. The bulk of the audio system is made up of JL Audio highs, mids, subwoofers and JL Audio amplification. The electrical connects include two Yellow Top Optima batteries, one Red Top battery, Stinger 0-gauge battery wire and battery terminals, two Stinger 1-farad capacitors and a Clifford alarm. An array of Street Glow neon tubes light up as interior lighting.

Rims and Rubber: 19-inch Z5000 Racing Hart wheels are wrapped in P220/35-ZR19 Falken radials.