I am exceptionally proud of this build, but let me be honest - it almost didn't happen. What started out to be just a simple general purpose race cage, it turned into one seriously challenging build that was almost completely scratched. Had it not been for a sponsor that would not bend or budge on the build, this might not have ever happened.
Cue the 2013 FG4 Civic Si and the point where it almost became a roll bar build. Car styling has definitely changed from the days of even a decade ago. Even the smallest design change we take for granted. Take a look at the A Pillar of your new car. Do you notice how huge it is? How ridiculously thick is it compared to an early 90’s Honda? You may often wonder how you are able to execute a left turn without shifting your whole body forward just to see around it. Well, that’s just ONE of the design changes to newer vehicles that you will forever have to tolerate because it’s part of a safety feature. Some manufacturers stuff SRS components in there, while others beef them up for ROPS. Either way, they create a challenge.
Next is the aero of a car. Those nice swooping lines and low roofs make for some great styling and even greater decrease in drag. Think of every car’s base design as an inverted wing. If you flipped the car on its roof, you would have the ultimate teeter-totter. Now factor in the sporty Coupe’ design (even less space) and you can slowly see how building a cage can be rather daunting in a new car. Simply put – there is no space. Now factor in the request for a “full interior” roll cage design with no cutting of the factory plastics or sheet metal (except drilling of holes).
How is this going to happen? Just where do you expect me to make space for a driver since this is a daily driven car?
Let’s start with the Main Hoop. This really isn’t difficult in any car (at least I haven’t found one yet that is). The rule books all state a maximum of 4 bends totaling 180 degrees. That’s easy. After that, add the diagonal brace and a harness bar. This isn't difficult to do at all. In fact, it's pretty routine and is usually done in under 2 hours. This, the main hoop portion, is where I ran into the first problem with this build. Since the roof line is so low with such a huge radius, the front seat has to sit at the top of that radius for head room. This is the reason why the dash board is about 3 feet long and the front seat wipes out the leg room in the rear seat when it's all the way back.
I soon realized with the main hoop slid as far back as possible, there was no way to have the seat all the way back without it contacting the cage. This simply would not do. The harness bar needs to be recessed to clear the drivers seat. Though it is not listed in every rule book, grinding and modification (including grinding marks due to correction) are not permitted, or are seriously frowned upon. Tech officials have the power to reject a cage or vehicle on suspicion alone, so there is no way I will allow a modified cage roll out of my door. All I could do is swallow my pride a bit, chuckle at the 20 foot loss of material, and bend up a second main hoop with a recessed harness bar.
Quite often I get asked why I typically only recess one side of a harness bar. The answer is ridiculously simple - The passenger seat will not slide any farther back if you did because the diagonal brace interferes. There is just no reason to use the extra tubing in my opinion.
With the main hoop in place, it was time or the owner to make the executive decision: Back seat or no? It became very clear that the interior size of the car, the design of the bar, and the positioning of the rear tubes that the back seat is essentially useless. All it really boils down to whether of not you want to keep the seats installed or not. The decision was made and the rear tubes were added - but not without running into snag number two.
Let's be honest here, not everyone wants to pull the trigger on a full cage that is permanently attached to their car. At that point, you will either have a dedicated race car, or you'll have to find a dedicated fan of roll cages to buy your car when it comes time to sell it. If you ever get tired of hopping over a door bar, or think you ever will at any point, you should not have a permanent full roll cage installed.
While this is a snag, it's not a problem. In fact, it could not have been caught or mentioned at a better time! The request was made to render the cage from Full Permanent, to Full Bolt-On. What kind of fabricator would I be if I couldn't manage that request? While it wasn't part of the original design, it did set the schedule back slightly to allow time to re-engineer the design for the whole cage to be completely removable while maintaining compliance with the rule books. After the new design was approved, and the parts ordered, the build continued with the rear tubes.
The beauty of a back seat not in use is the ability to change the roll cage design enough to create a performance gain. With the rear tubes stretching all the way to the rear, they can be mounted directly over the rear coil spring perches.
Not long after the the rear assembly was complete, the next problem, which almost ended this build right where its at, found it's way into the shop.