During the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, there was a significant host of engines produced by Honda, most of which were four-cylinder engines. Without a doubt, the most popular and internet famous of them all is the B-Series. The B-Series engine family has been hyped up and praised by “JDM” enthusiasts so much, that there are very few people who haven’t heard of this engine at some point.
With the B-Series being so incredibly popular, there are a ton of questions about basic specifications, history, the best modifications, and how it compares to similar Honda four-cylinder engines. Let’s put our think caps on and dive into the Honda B-Series!
Honda B-Series: Engine Basics and Specs
There are two major branches of the B-Series engines. There are the ones many enthusiasts are familiar with (B16, B17, B18, B20B) and then there are the oddball engines that really shouldn’t have the B in their name (B20A and B21A). The reason we say this, is the B20A and B21A do not share the same architect as the rest of the B-Series families, this means parts are not interchangeable with other B-Series engines. For the most part, we are going to omit the B20A and B21A from our information because they do not belong.
In the US, a vast majority of Honda Civics received the D-Series engine which designed to be economical and cheap. Applications like the Acura Integra received the B-Series engine. Unfortunately, many of the “performance” Hondas in the US also received D-Series engines like the D16Z6 which can be found in specific Civic SI models. Overseas, however, the B-Series could be found in the majority of performance oriented. As we mentioned above, the B-Series is pretty legendary when it comes to JDM engines for being able to produce very impressive amounts of power with small displacement applications.
The B16 is extremely popular amongst JDM tuners for one big reason: horsepower per liter. A modern Ford Mustang 5.0L Coyote engine outputs around 420 horsepower, putting it 84hp/liter, this is quite an impressive feat. The B16A, which was released back in 1989 output 160 horsepower, putting it at 100hp/liter. That’s right, an engine from 28 years ago output more horsepower per liter than a modern 5.0L V8 with features such as direct injection, and that’s just the first B16 to come out. The B16B found the 1997 – 2000 Civic Type R output 187 horsepower, putting it at an insane 116 horsepower per liter!
This high horsepower per liter, for the most part, trends across the B16, B17, and B18. The B20 never received a VTEC cylinder head, so it’s power number we not nearly as insane, but still impressive none-the-less. Speaking of VTEC, if you’re not sure what it is our how it works be sure to check out our iVTEC vs VTEC article for more information on that.
- Production Run: 1986 to 2001
- Cylinder Block Material: Cast Aluminum
- Cylinder Head Material: Cast Aluminum
- Configuration: Inline 4-Cylinder
- Valvetrain: SOHC and DOHC – Dour Valves per Cylinder – Non-VTEC and VTEC
- Bore: 81mm (B16) to 84mm (B20)
- Stroke: 77.4 (B16) to 95mm (B21A)
- Deck Style: Open Deck
- Compression Ratio: 9:1 to 11.1:1
- Maximum Horsepower: 200HP 8,000RPM(JDM B18C Type-R)
- Maximum Torque: 140 lb-ft @ 5,500RPM (B20B/B20Z)
- Total Engine Weight:
Honda B-Series: Tuning Potential
This section is where things get interesting, as Honda vehicles are some of the most popular tuning vehicles in the world. Seriously, the Honda Civic is one of the most modified cars in the world, although, it is likely behind cars such as the 240SX. None-the-less, people like modifying their Hondas, and one of the most popular mods is a B-Series engine swap. There is only so much you can do to a little single cam D-Series, and the B-Series is far superior in every way. Aside from the swap itself, here are the ways to modify your B-Series engine.
Obviously, the basics like intake and exhaust help, although, you’ll need a quality intake, as the majority of “cold air intakes” on the market harm performance more than they help it. Yes, most four-cylinder Hondas with an aftermarket exhaust are relatively annoying, but the performance benefits are undeniable. If you want big power, then forced induction is genuinely the way to go. Figuratively, there are countless turbo kit manufacturers for B-Series engines. There are also supercharger kits on the market, but they are significantly less popular for a handful of reasons.
If you want big power naturally aspirated, you’re going to need displacement. There is only so much air that can be sucked into a 1.6L engine; this is where the very popular “LS VTEC” or “B20V” comes in. “LS VTEC” refers to using a non-vtec B18 with a VTEC cylinder head. An LS VTEC engine is theoretically cheaper than buying a B18 with a VTEC head on it already. “B20V” refers to the same thing, buying a B20 engine, which was never available with VTEC, and installing a VTEC cylinder head on it. The result of a B20V build is excellent low-end power with exceptional top end power, although, it’s arguably not as good as a 2.0L K-Series engine which we’ll talk about more in just a minute.
If you’re still craving more information, check out the Wikipedia B-Series page or drop a comment down below telling us to add more information to this article!