Ok so my '97 Civic 150i is running a little to slow for my liking. I want it to be able to hang with a 2.0.

The first thing that comes to mind is swapping the motor out to make it the same as a VTEC under the hood.

What I want to know is, do I need to get the entire engine, motor. . .I'm really clueless?

Update; I've converted to a SOHC D16A right now and the mechanic (dad's cousin, so I know I can trust him) said I just need some suspension and brake upgrades/fixes and I can slap a SOHC vtec head on there :D

  • 3
    Btw, the four cylinder vtecs, at least not all of them, don't use dual cams.
    – user9198
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 1:14
  • thanks for that comment, since I've had this car so long and fixed so many things on the car that have broken, I realized sohc blocks are suited to sohc heads and dohc blocks to dohc heads Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 8:11

4 Answers 4


From what I understand, the accepted answer is not completely true. You do not need a dual cam setup to run vtec. I believe your civic has a stock d series engine which is a single cam most, likely a d16 (if you have a d15 it is more complicated).

The difference is with SOHC there is a common camshaft for both intake and exhaust valves. where as with DOHC there are separate cams.

VTEC is a variable valve timing system which is engaged at higher RMPs so you get better performance when you need it and don't burn extra gas and risk wear on your engine riding around at lower RPMs.

Civics are probably the most commonly modified hondas this question has been asked a million times, luckily that means there is a good amount of information on it. The first google search I found returned this. but there are many more some write ups even have detailed step by step picture tutorials.


At a minimum you will need a d series vtec head, a new ecu, and the wiring harness. (and probably need to replace a few more things like gaskets while doing the swap) also a new timing belt and water pump i believe.

While it is a good idea to upgrade many of the parts in your engine to help cope with the higher RPMs theoretically that isn't necessary, but you run a higher risk, especially if you have alot of miles on your car and like to engage vtec alot (kicks in around 5000rpms depending on the system)

Your mechanic friend is probably just saying cool things you could do. I believe the civics from that year have the same suspension and braking setups with or without vtec, although there are tons of aftermarket options if you are ambitious and have deep pockets. Similarly with the DOHC vtec, he was probably saying you should swap a B series motor into the car which is a very popular swap done to civics look (B16, b18, b20, etc).

  • Thanks, I had a d15z4 actually, but I killed it (with some help from the bullshit fraud mechanic in question), so now I've got a d16A (vtec), but the engine is from europe and this engine never came to South Africa, so I've never got a boost and I can't find the matching ECU for the aforementioned reason :-( Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 8:50
  • I saw your update about the d16A and noticed your comment about the kick in performance at 4K+ RPMs and was wondering about that. Check online there are a ton in the US that should still be available.
    – John Dream
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 14:32
  • 1
    Never knew they were called Ballades!
    – John Dream
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 14:32
  • the sedan is sold as Ballade in South Africa, possibly in other Southern African Countries as well Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 9:33

Your most expensive problem is that a V-tec motor is designed to operate at higher RPM's than your motor can handle. This would mean that you'd have to get stronger pistons and connecting rods (or conrods as they're referred to). You'd also need to upgrade your valve springs to cope with the higher RPM. All in all, you're probably going to be spending about $2000 just on that. This by itself won't actually make your car perform any better, but without these upgrades, your engine won't last.

Another problem with your particular car is that you have a single camshaft doing the work, but a V-tec will need to have a double-camshaft setup, meaning you'll need to have a new cylinder head, including camshafts installed.

I'll stop now. The short answer is that if you want V-tec, it's going to be cheaper to just buy a secondhand V-tec.

  • 1
    Sorry man, but I learned the costs the hard way. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 14:32
  • a lot of guys here in South africa have done such conversions though. . . Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 14:35
  • 1
    Imagine two Capetonians chatting on StackExchange. BUt I'd rather have a whole engine installed than having to modify the current one. Plus you could sell the old engine to recover some of the costs. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 14:42
  • you from cape town?! :D Two Capetonian Developers, even more unlikely. I'm planning on changing the suspension, later on I'll probably have to do a host of changes, because I also want to have it turbocharged; starting a new job soon, already have a lot of money to play with Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 14:45
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    Don't do it to an old Ballade though. For the money you're going to spend, it's better to just go ahead and buy something faster. Like a Superboss or something. Turbo + suspension, wheels, etc will easily work out to more than R50k, which is how much you'll pay for a Superboss in good condition. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 14:48

I also have a Ballade 150i Vti motor and also want to do something about the motor I did some research and found out that the quick way of gaining power is to add a turbo to the motor. I question was that will my motor be damaged easily. I discovered that I Make 67 kw on the wheel at the moment but if I put a T3/T4 turbo on the motor and Software, I will turn the boost max to 0.6 and the vti Motor will do about 176kw and 290NM on the wheel

The turbo and intercooler might cost you about 8K at the end and then just put everything together.

  • can you tell me where I would find those parts for 8k and maybe a honda mechanic that has done such mods successfully before? Thanks Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 12:11
  • 8K what? USD? Yen? Euro? Please use full units, as this is an international site...
    – Nick C
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 12:22
  • his surname sounds South African, so that's ZAR I assume Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 15:49
  • from 67 kW to 176 kW? I would be very surprised if you could do that without replacing pistons, con rods, etc.
    – Hobbes
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 12:02
  • Also, at 0.6 bar boost I'd expect 107 kW (ballpark), not 176.
    – Hobbes
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 13:02

Jip I am Siuth African.. R 8k.. aprox. 600 usd... those parts i found in South Africa Johannesburg and Durban.... but i am sure its imports from Japan .... but you also need to add the fittings With bosch injectors Aem perfance cpu system, good intake + exhaust system etc... but after installing a turbo you need a dyno specialist to assist you to have a good condition motor which can easily reach 500hp and stil run healty..

But as they said the best way is to go D16A motor ...


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