What a difference a year makes. A short 12 months ago, the 2005 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas was a virtual Honda lovefest. The OEM was Vehicle Manufacturer of the Show. A new Si had captured the industry's imagination, evidenced by the 20 or so FG coupe projects scattered throughout the event, part of a contingent of more than 50 Hondas. Acura even gave competitors of the RSX Challenge billing at the show, of which Honda Tuning magazine was proudly a part.
Fast forward to November 2006. It's announced that Detroit's Big Three will be sharing the title of Manufacturer of the Show. Clearly the Honda-friendly climate had changed, because visitors to the convention center were greeted by row upon row of clean hot rods, old and new, parked in front of the main hall. And hanging over them, a huge sign that read: "American Musclecar."
OK, so maybe this year it was more like your father's SEMA, but that didn't mean Honda and its followers didn't try to assert themselves. Of the 15 project and concept vehicles repping the automaker, the preferred canvas for '06 was the lovable Fit. Perhaps the most tantalizing news, though, surrounded the Si 4-door and a trim package that will likely make every JDM-loving fool do back flips.
Honda is calling it the Civic MUGEN Si sedan, and it plans to make only 1,000 of them, which pretty much guarantees vehicle demand (read more about the car in the caption). The big H also showed off concepts for the CR-V and Fit, not to mention an Element that Honda R&D Americas built to go drifting (that's no typo). Honda's SEMA announcements coincided with the on-sale date for the Si sedan, which is the first Si ever in 4-door form to be sold in North America.
Read on to see what else the show had in store for fans of the H badge.
The Honda Booth
The news that will undoubtedly go down as the biggest out of the Honda camp at SEMA was the intro of this fierce little bird, the prototype Civic MUGEN Si sedan. That's right, kids; 2 of your favorite brands have teamed to create a production-based kick in the pants 4-door with a track-tuned suspension, aero tweaks, and a performance exhaust. The trim will also offer MUGEN 18-inch forged rims wrapped in summer rubber, front and rear MUGEN badges, a serial number on the instrument panel, and a MUGEN aluminum shift knob. Planned for a very limited run of only 500 a year for just 2 years, the Si iteration probably has more to do with MUGEN's rumored plans to set up shop in North America than any sudden change of heart on Honda's part toward the JDM audience. Dropping in spring '07 and available with a full warranty, the rollout also marks the first time ever a Civic is pushing the $30,000 threshold.
King Motorsports tried to out-MUGEN Honda with its Super Fit, a project created to commemorate King's 25th anniversary. MUGEN grip consists of a dual silencer, Sport suspension, front strut tower bar, slotted front rotors, stainless brake lines, Pro body kit with carbon hood, a ventilated visor set, seat covers, a gauge set, shift boot, and MUGEN's door under garnish. The mite's cajones, however, come from a swapped K24 motor secured with Hasport mounts and outfitted with King's cold-air intake, header, and high-flow B-pipe, and an '06 Si gearbox. Work Emotion XD9's shod in Bridgestone Potenza rubber, and a Japanese-spec headlight conversion add more JDM panache.
While the MUGEN Civic got us pumped, this thing just made our jaws drop. The Element-D is the brainchild of the polite lunatics at Honda R&D Americas in Ohio, and they aim to drift the box. Seriously. Gone is the K24 mill and Real Time 4WD drivetrain. Replacing them are a custom-designed, longitudinally mounted VTEC J32 V6, also known as an Acura TL motor, and a rear-wheel-drive drivetrain. Further mods include Crower rods, CP pistons, twin Garrett GT28RS turbos, a custom Honda R&D intake manifold with integrated liquid-to-air intercooler, Siemens injectors, and a Keihin tune. Power moves from the plant to a Tremec T56 6-speed trans, down the Driveshaft Shop propeller shaft and half shafts, and through a Torsen 2R LSD, producing a claimed 500 hp at the wheels. Look for the Drift Attack Orange beast to compete on the Formula D tour.
Fly, Fit, be free! The Tjin Edition/Unique Fabrication Fit spent most of SEMA just inches off the show floor thanks to the clever use of D2 Racing air jacks, pretty cool for a show car. The B-segment belle also sported a bevy of performance and cosmetic mods, starting with the Skunk2 Racing exhaust, coilovers, anti-sway bar, strut tower bar, and rear brake conversion. ID-Tuning control arms and camber shims keep the Falken-shod 18x9 HRE wheels in alignment, and the Fit flashes its JDM cred via a Ken Style body kit and rear wing and C-West CF mirrors. Unique Fab did the roll cage and seat mounts, which are rigged to Status two-tone carbon/suede seats. Unique also came up with the steering wheel hub, which was further pimped out with a Bee's Racing tilt adapter and Nardi wheel.
With the Fit now a part of the American automotive landscape, Honda eyes its future. The Fit Sport Extreme may well be how the OE sees its evolution, labeling the concept as an "entry-level performance car," although the bulk of the true performance tweaks amounted to only some Brembo brake components, Bridgestone Potenza RE-01Rs, and a track-tuned suspension. Still, the subcompact looks wicked; the concept was sprayed Scorched Orange Metallic and boasted a front bumper fascia with carbon accents, fender flares, side skirts, a rear CF diffuser with a center exhaust outlet, and an extended rear wing. Flossing HID fog lights, LED daytime running lights, OE JDM rear LED tails, and side mirrors with integrated turn signals, the thing lights up like the Vegas Strip.
Done up in "digital matrix army camo" by Bond at Spin Imaging, we're not really sure what kind of combat the DVS/Drag Cartel "Get In Where You Fit In" Fit is ready for. We're guessing street warfare, given the Sprint lowering springs, Wilwood 12-inch front rotors with 4-piston calipers, and 17x7 100-spoke Cartel 1 wire wheels dressed in 205/45/ 17 BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDWs. The military theme extends to the Matix army digital camo interior and carbon Kevlar seats, but the nuttiness reaches a different level under the Fit's hatch. Therein the roll cage, a Mac Tools toolbox, and the in-car entertainment-complete with twin rear-facing 6.5-inch screens and a sub enclosure-create a fusion of loosely related elements.
Another DayGlo Element that caught our eye was A&L Racing's. Dropped 2 inches and sprayed a custom yellow, A&L integrated customized Porsche GT3 front seats with matching leather door panels into the final product, as well as Intense Motorsports' exterior and interior carbon-fiber accents, and a full Clarion entertainment system. A&L also developed the one-off exhaust to complement the myriad Honda Factory Performance parts, namely a custom intake, aluminum fuel rail, and a set of custom front brakes made from Brembo 4-pot calipers and one-off 2-piece cross-drilled rotors.
Now THIS is hardcore. The SCORE Racing Ridgeline was built to compete in the "Stock Mini Truck" class of SCORE's International Baja off-road series, and does so using nothing but OE Honda components in the engine and transmission. Finding additional power with just an aFe intake, Prototype Racing exhaust, and Hondata tune, the motor relies on Pure Power oil filters, an ATL fuel cell, and a duo of Optima batteries to keep it running well into any enduro. Temper Mental Racing engineered the chrome-moly cage, while Gavin Skilton of California Race & Rally prepped suspension using King remote reservoir dampers and custom springs. The R-line rolls on BFG Mud-terrain tires wrapped around American Racing ATX custom wheels, cuts through the dark of night via Solteck Baja designs HIDs, and is afforded a degree of protection with some Jensen Racing skid plates and nerf bars. Inside, Beard racing seats and window nets, Fire Bottle fire suppression, a Lowrance GPS navi system, Autometer gauges, Crow harnesses, PCI radio and intercom, and a Parker Pumper fresh air system call the cabin home. Let's go off roadin'!
In an effort to make the CR-V a smidge hipper and sportier, Honda dreamed up a Sport concept for the SUV. The Agile Blue demo came readied with aerodynamically styled front and rear bumpers, a sports suspension package, and custom 19-inch wheels shod with Bridgestone Potenza rubber. In the cabin, all seating surfaces were wrapped in Civic Si synthetic suede fabric, and faux carbon fiber trim panels throughout further accent the interior.
Our ongoing K-swap Fit project was in the Hasport booth at the show, but across the aisle in the Honda display we spied this, the Hasport Civic sedan (not to be confused with the Si coupe it did last year). Rocking a K24A4 swap with K20Z3 head and Hasport mounts, the bottom end has been bulletproofed for forced induction with ERL SuperDeck sleeves, Brian Crower rods, and CP pistons. Other upgrades supporting the Full Race turbo system include BC cams and valve springs, RC Engineering injectors, a Tial wastegate and blow-off valve, and an AMS 1000 boost controller, with Hondata engine management running the key tuning parameters. Helping the FA chassis stick to the road are an '06 Si gearbox, Progress Competition series coilovers and sway bars, and SPC rear upper control arms. A Mugen body kit, JDM front and rear bumpers and headlamps, Sparco Torino seats, matching upholstery, pedals, harnesses, and shift light, and a Memphis Car Audio sound setup finish off the enhancements.
Fits On The Floor
In addition to rocking its intake and exhaust products, the Injen Fit came out dressed to impress on Megan Racing 32-way adjustable coilovers and 18x9.5 Racing Hart RS-451 rims adorned in Continental rubber. The look is supplemented with a grip of Seibon gear, primarily a vented CF hood, trunk lid, rear spoiler, and 21-piece widebody kit, and tied together via the Donlyson Autobody custom white pearl paint job. Inside, the harnesses, custom wedge brackets, sliders, and black Torino 2 seats were sourced from Sparco, and Sight Waves Audio hooked up the Panasonic/Rockford Fosgate-infused ICE.
Probably the sickest Fit at the show was the one built for Couture by Extreme Dimensions. Unfortunately, it has already appeared in one of our sister pubs, but look for a story on the build to come in a future edition of HT.
The Fit HKS built for the show has been a prototyping platform for the company's turbo and Hipermax RS suspension kits. On top of that, it came loaded with HKS' Hi-Power exhaust, M-series Super Fire iridium plugs, EVC boost controller, oil and radiator caps, RS meters, and shift knob. Tucked into each corner are Toyo T1R-clad Volk TE37's in limited edition titanium gunmetal, and in the front wells in particular are Project Racing 4-pot mini brakes. A Ken Style aero kit, Bride Ergo II front and custom rear seats, and Art Factory graphics contribute additional eye candy to the project.
Since the Fit dropped just last year in North America, everything for it was pretty much new at SEMA, too, like Cusco's Type OS forward strut tower bar. Constructed from a tubular aluminum oval shaft, it comes dolled up with a high polish finish and customary Cusco blue mounting plates at each end, so as not to lose any JDM-ness. All necessary hardware is included, and Nukabe sells the chassis bracing for $168. Learn more by calling 888/591-6277 or punching www.napsusa.com into your browser.
We knew the Progress Group could improve on the Fit's handling formula, and it has with the development of a pair of suspension packages. For a nice drop to add character and agility, Progress has a Sport spring kit that lowers ride height 1.5 inches. At a suggested $398, it comes with a quartet of springs and a burly rear stabilizer bar. The next step up from the Sports springs in aggressiveness is the Competition series coilover kit, offering 2.5 inches of ride height adjustment. The track-able suspension includes adjustable springs over struts and sells for $1149. Hit up Jeff, Ed, and the rest of the Progress team for more info at 714/575-1193, or www.progressauto.com.
Aussie's K-MAC Suspension, eyeing the growing enthusiast demand for alignment flexibility, have introduced front and rear camber and caster kits for many Honda/Acura models manufactured between 1990 and 2005. K-MAC claims its patented designs offer quicker adjustments and greater variability, making them ideal for the track and the street. The curious can call +612 95561799 or surf on over to www.k-mac.com for more details.
SEMA saw the return of a giant to the Honda aftermarket, Oscar Jackson. When last we spoke with the venerated innovator, he seemed headed for a well deserved retirement in 2003. It appears he has a lot more to give to the industry, though, as he has aligned himself with domestic headers kingpin Doug Thorley to sell Jackson supercharger kits for the Fit and S2000. You won't find a roots blower here anymore, however; Jackson now opts for Rotrex pumps, which use roller bearings in a high-speed planetary drive instead of gears to spin a compressor section. More efficient, compact, reliable, and quiet than traditional superchargers, Jackson also reports there's a 70 percent improvement in power, at least for the Fit with the 10psi pulley. JR will also be hawking headers and intakes for the Fit, and looks to expand his lines to include RSX and Si gear in the short term. For more info go to www.jacksonracing.com or call them at 951/739-5900.
Adding to its ever-increasing base of Honda applications, Advanced Clutch has come up with a twosome of XACT flywheels for the S2000. Made from chrome-moly steel one-piece forgings, the wheels are CNC machined, heat treated for strength, and balanced before going to market. Apparently ACT will offer ProLite and StreetLite versions of the flywheel, meaning it'll come in two different weights. Get the full story on the S2K booty at www.advancedclutch.com.
We like that companies are still coming up with new grip for the B-series platform, outfits like Tru-Lite Flywheels in Georgia. It trotted out its B specific ultra lightweight flywheel in the New Products section of the show, a 4140 forged steel work of machined art crafted for both street and track. Tru-Lite's asking $229 for the lightened wheel, and further specs are available at 770/860-8632 or www.tru-liteflywheels.com.
While we're running this image of a hand-carved BFGoodrich radial, a reminder of the tire maker's custom tire design service, the important announcement was the introduction of the g-Force R1. A DOT-legal, competition-ready racing rubber, its tread pattern boasts a symmetric, non-directional design, meaning the tires can be rotated to all wheel positions for more even wear and greater treadlife. In addition, the R1 requires minimal break in, as the tire is molded to 4/32nds of an inch tread depth and no shaving is required. BFG has 2 sizes now-225/40ZR18 and 285/30ZR18-and 15 more coming in spring. Mas informacin at www.bfgoodrichtires.com.
We noticed a handful of ramp manufacturers hawking their goods in the Performance and Racing aisles, and Brute Industries' Race Ramps was probably the most prolific of them. Our favorites are these 67-inch XT's, well suited for low ground clearance vehicles with super wide tires. Durable and lightweight (a pair runs only about 30 lbs.), Race Ramps assures us the XT's absolutely will not slide, and you can pick up a set for $299 at www.raceramps.com, or by calling 866/GO-4-BRUTE.
Make way for the Best New Performance-Street Product of the '06 SEMA show, Pro Parts' SPEK boost controller! The award-winning electronic controller comes with a scramble mode, traction control, adaptive gain feedback (AGF), a redline de-boost option, and a 7-color lighted background with stepper motor lighted pointer. And at $465, the hardware is easy on the wallet to boot. Ring up Pro Parts at 410/646-1536, or point your Web browser to www.propods.com.
Rennworx's Dyman carbon-fiber magnesium wheel was another hot topic at SEMA. The rollers are built from carbon barrels and forged magnesium centers bound together via specially coated titanium hardware. Coming in 3 sizes (18, 19, and dubs) and in 3 different spoke layouts, Rennworx reports the lightest of the rims registers a remarkable 14 lbs. Get the 411 at www.rennworx.com, or by calling 310/200-3881.
The Steed Speed HiVolume turbo manifold caught our eye, more for its unique appearance and design than any purported performance improvement. The CAD-drawn piece is neither casting nor bent tubes but 2 halves of CNC-machined steel billet TIG welded together. It comes with a $600 price tag, and Steed Speed is so sure of its durability that it offers a lifetime warranty with the manifold. Info on Honda applications can be found at www.steedspeed.com, or by dialing up Steed Speed at 866/399-3171.
We know SPC for its alignment hardware, but apparently it does instrumentation as well. On display at the show was its FasTrax adjustable camber/caster gauge, a convenient tool for dialing in settings on the go. The FasTrax includes a wheel mount that fits most 13- to 18-inch diameter wheels, and gauge that displays camber +/- 4 degrees and caster from -4 degrees to +12 degrees. Look to spend $241.95 for the gauge, and more SPC propaganda can be gleaned at 303/772-2103, or www.spcperformance.com.
Here's another cool frivolous device for your race car, unless you've made a habit of zip tying your cam to the car's cage, in which case, this is likely a WAY better method. CruiseCam International, makers of all kinds of in-car video products (including setups for law enforcement vehicles), is marketing its camcorder mounts to the recreational racer, offering an aluminum interface bracket that connects a short mount bar to the back of most race seats. Portable and apparently pretty easy to install, it comes with a $37 price tag, and you can learn more at www.cruisecam.com, or by ringing them up at 248/471-9520.
Since torque wrenches went electronic, each tool maker has been trying to set its apart from the rest of the crowd. GearWrench's version is unique because it utilizes more than one type of alert; it offers both audible and visual cues: a buzzer and a traffic light indicator that shows the user how close he is to the target torque. Other features include an LCD screen and the choice to measure in ft/lbs, in/lbs, or Newton meters, all for the sum of $319. Contact GearWrench at 800/688-8949 or www.gearwrench.com for the full story.
From the indispensable to the curious, we submit the Girard Development Finger Spinner ratchet. This little guy has a 3-position pawl on the back of its head that, in neutral, lets the user quickly ratchet down a fastener with just a finger. Once its finger tight, the wrench is used as normal, torquing down the nut or bolt via the handle. Like we said, probably more indulgence than necessity, although a tool like this could have its merit in tight confines. More information at 916/635-8159.
Calling the AVIC-D3 a "Navigation System," like Pioneer does, is a bit of a mischaracterization, considering how capable the head unit is. Sure, it offers an exceedingly comprehensive route guidance system, voice prompts, a phone number search feature, and optional XM NavTraffic integration. The latest AVIC, though, can also playback MP3, WMA, AAC, DivX and DVD-video loaded discs and comes with an iPod Direct connection for control of your particular pod. The technology doesn't end there, either; the D3 is Bluetooth enabled for hands-free cell phone use and wireless audio streaming. Plus the double-DIN deck features a 6.1-inch touch-screen display and customizable illumination. The ber-source unit be available in March, and you can visit www.pioneerelectronics.com for further details.
If competition rubber like BFG's is a little more aggro than what you're interested in, might we suggest Dunlop's Direzza Sport Z1 tires? An ultra-high performance dry, or summer, shoe, the Z1's offer a wide profile and stiff tread blocks, which should facilitate some kick-ass grip. While an unmistakable street tire, Dunlop does claim you can whip the things on the track, too. Currently available in 17 sizes, consumers can find out more at www.dunloptires.com, or by calling Dunlop at 330/796-2121.