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In 1998, Edward Opiniano, "Opi" to friends, did just that. His frost white EG hatch was bought from an old lady in Ocean Beach, Calif., who had installed a trailer hitch on the poor Civic and used it as a pack mule to run her swap meet arts-and-crafts business.
For those who don't live near the Pacific Ocean, the words "El Ni–o" probably don't mean much more than "the boy." Here on the West Coast however, the phrase refers to a recurring weather pattern that rocks our normally dry world with dumping rain every three to seven years. The most recent severe El Nino condition rolled through between the end of '97 and the beginning of '98.
"When I got the car, it had been parked nose down in her driveway in Ocean Beach. Under the hood it looked like it had been sitting in a swamp," Opi remembers. "After Rodrez and I cleaned it up, the engine bay was more of a championship white than a frost white like the rest of the car."
Bad weather, good timing, and an old lady who didn't know what she had added up to a $2500 EG hatch in nearly perfect condition that was only three years old. Some guys have all the luck.
Unfortunately, Opi didn't take advantage of his diamond in the rough for almost three years while finishing school. His turbo DA Integra was enough to satiate his need for speed until school was done. Opiniano left San Diego State University with a degree in business administration and a fire inside to build the hatch.
Originally from Honolulu, Opiniano draws much of his tuning influence from the unmistakable Hawaiian style that falls somewhere in between the more uniform JDM and USDM looks most of us are used to.
"Back in the late 90's, Lanny [Higa], Paul [Umholtz] and Jensen [Oda] from Hypersport in Hononlulu came down for the IDRC nationals in Pomona," Opi says. "They were going 10.94 in a full-interior EG hatch with a GS-R swap and a turbo kit that they pieced together. That's what I wanted to do."
A little more than six years later, his dream has been realized. Opi is now the proud owner of one of the most balanced EG street cars we've seen.
Honda Tuning: What were your intentions when you bought it? Was its destiny clear from day one?
EO: At the time, I had a turbo DA and a CRX that I was going to build. The hatch was just supposed to be a commuter. I wanted to build it, but it was either finish school or keep messing around.
HT: Did you manage to hold out until you were done with school? I don't think I could have.
EO: Yeah, I continued at [San Diego] State for three years and graduated with a degree in business administration.
Honda Tuning Magazine