What's perfect about this hatchback is that you can suck plenty of extra horsepower out of that 1.5-1.6liter engine for hardly any money at all. You pick up a full exhaust from the header back, buy an intake, swap out the manifolds, and you've picked up decent power for less than a grand. If you decide to go the boosted route (which you inevitably will), a turbo won't empty your wallet either. Another positive is that if you end up blowing your engine will running twice as much boost as you should have, you can swap in a new 1.6 for dirt cheap. It's a simple, clean car that allows you to do everything you want for a little cash and through the work of your own hands. In my opinion, that puts the beginning gear head way above the sixteen year old basketball star with a rich daddy and a brand new Camaro. It pays to do the work yourself.
Granted, you will never be able to make a '94 Civic hatch look nice. The wheels are too small, the lines are too submissive, and the technology is something awful for this day in age but that doesn't mean they can't teach you everything you've wanted to know as a beginner. I wouldn't worry about buying a carbon fiber hood or some 15" Volk wheels. You're going to wish you had saved that money for when you trade your Civic in for something new. However, if you put a little money and a lot of effort into the engine, you'll emerge a new man with a whole new respect for the automobile and how to properly modify one. Plus, you can pick it up with a 5-speed to get acquainted with a manual transmission. Perfect. With a decent amount of work done to one of these little hatchbacks, you can own a rocket capable of an 11 second quarter mile while paying as much as the kid with the Camaro did for his new 24" wheels. The '94 Civic hatch isn't pretty, but you'll love where this jumping off block takes you.