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Adventures in HYBRIDing: Rear swaybar install on an 89 DX, part 1

A common ZC upgrade is a DC header with a 86-89 Integra upper section and 88-91 Civic lower section. It performs great, but is actually 2"-3" shorter than a DX exhaust manifold. Since the exhaust hangers allow alot of movement, this was never a problem. Also, since a DX does not have a stock rear sway bar, a custom exhaust on a DX is usually bent without consideration of a sway bar to dictate the bends. This is the case for my car.

A long time ago I bought a 'hardly used' suspension techniques rear sway bar for my Civic. But because it had some missing and damaged hardware, I never just slapped it on. I also suspected my custom exhaust and the too short header would cause me trouble. Sure enough, in test fitting, it was clear that the sway bar and exhaust pipe going over the lower control arm wanted to occupy the same space. Lets go to the pictures and see how I can try to get around this.

I knew my exhaust would need to be lengthened to clear the sway bar. Here is a nice picture of my driveway and my exhaust before cutting.

$6 of clamps and pipe from the autoparts store. Cut it by hand with a hacksaw. Added about 2" to the length.

From the looks of the end link on the top, I know why he was selling it. Rear end collision, I'd say! The old link was bent and twisted, so I junked it. I bought new links from Grainger which are working great. I chose studded links to eliminate the bearing spacers needed in the old design, and am happy with the decision.

Unfortunately 2" wasn't enough of an extension. Notice the space between the rod welded to the exhaust piping and the sway bar (click for a closer look). The rod is my exhaust hanger. I can't even stick my finger inbetween them. Of course the exhaust bangs into the swaybar whenever I accelerate. Another exhaust extension seems like a good answer, but I will start running into trouble farther upstream. A simple hack would be to cut off that hanger and move it. A better answer would be a properly designed mandrel bent exhaust. But I really need a cheap, less than $20 solution right now. I need to get it on the lift and take a good look.

...days later...

There is no cheap quick fix. I'm going to have to replace the exhaust. Even though I am getting used to the constant banging, its still very annoying, and somewhat embarassing. But damn the car handles great. More on the handling in the next update.

note: for clarification, the ZC engine does not cause any problems with the ST sway bars. A ZC motor equipped with a stock DX exhaust and DX manifold, works great with the swaybars, front and rear.

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