There are two camps when it comes to EK owners - those that prefer the 96-98 front end, and those that prefer the 99-00. The 96-98 front end is boxier and the headlights have a distinct bulge on the turn signal portion. The grille is smaller and everything seems more square about it. The 99-00 is more sleek (doubtful if it actually has aerodynamic benefits) with more sharply raked headlights and a much larger grille opening. All world market 99 Civic front ends are the same with the exception of the Civic Type R and Civic Si (Canadian SiR) grille having no (or a removable) emblem on the mesh insert. Every continent other than North America got a specific "SiR" style front end for the 96spec that included bumper mouldings - think body side mouldings but on the bumper. Same size, same placement.
Take them or leave them, sometimes your stuck with them. That is unless you are one of the many 96-98 owners who want the fresh look of the 99-00 front end. Detailed below are the parts necessary and pictures regarding the 96-98 core support modification ONLY. I am going to assume that if you are trying this on your own you already know how to dismount and remount the required body pieces.
Required 1999-2000 Parts:
All the following parts to be installed HAVE TO be from a 99-00 Civic:
- Headlights (yes, both)
Yes, in fact you have to change EVERYTING about the front end. The core support tabs that hold the inner flaps of the bumper cover (the two outermost grille-type clips) are too wide to accept the 99-00 bumper as a direct fit. Some people have changed the entire core support while others have just cut the mounting pieces off the new bumper. I prefer something in between that allows you to keep all the mounting points but doesn't require extensive work.
10mm socket and ratchet
Phillips head screwdriver
Dremel with cutting wheel(s)
Safety goggles - don't fuck around here!
Touch Up paint- I'm dead serous here
After you dissassemble the front end (removing all the above listed pieces from your 1996-1998 Civic), get ready to do some cutting. All of the cuts were made with a simple Dremel tool and took less than a half hour to plot out and cut. I did this without any previous experience and no solid input on where/what to do. For reference, all of the pictures are from the driver's side and should be reversed for the passenger side.
The first incision was from the front going back to the OUTSIDE of the original mounting hole. Not too far from the hole, it was cut so it just missed going through it. If you are weary about messing this up, make your first cut go through the hole so you can do this slowly and keep checking for the proper clearance. My cut came all the way back to the lip - where the top of the core support goes over the bumper mounting bracket.
After that, I made another incision on the inner portion of the bumper mounting bracket. It came back as far as the first cut went, then it was a matter of cutting a straight line between the ends. Effectively, your cutting off the inner portion of the bracket.
When all is said and done, these are the sizes of the cut-off pieces. Three quick and easy cuts on each side and you're almost home free:
With the 99-00 bumper ready to go on, a final test fit. You can see that the inner portion of the bumper sweeps back and the old wider bracket interfers with it. Remember, the 99-00 grille is wider than the 96-98. The older style bumper had a lot more room thanks to the smaller grille.
And once you are satisfied with the positioning and fitment of the new bumper, mark the center of the hole and remove the bumper. Drill the marks you just made large enough to accept the bumper and grille clips, but be careful you don't have to go too big. The bracket is much thinner than it was before so you don't want to go crazy and drill out more than you need to. Once you are satisfied that the hole is large enough for the clip, grab your touch up paint.
The final step of actually coating your cut and drilled edges is often an overlooked detail. Do the job right and you won't have to worry about exposed metal and future rust spots. Everyone should have some touch up paint around - it's only $5 and all factory colors are still available. Hell, I don't have an original factory color but I still bought some touch up paint so no excuses! If you are going to do the conversion and get your car painted, I recommend lining up the conversion FIRST and modifying the core support so the body shop paints AFTER you have cut and drilled.
When everything is done, it should come out loooking something like this:
I recommend only using OE body panels when doing this conversion as I have seen some aftermarket OE-style replacements that don't fit at all. With the right panels, everything will line up as it should from the factory. Since we don't live in a perfect world, if you want to get rid of the small amount of bumper to fender gap under the headlights (this goes for both front end styles) replace that aweful screw and grommet set up with an actual nut and bolt. It's so stupily easy to do but it makes a world of difference. No one ever thinks of it eaither. . . Don't worry, I did it after that picture was taken.