As D Day for Castrol Syntec's Top Car Challenge nears, yours truly applies the finishing touches to what we're betting will prove to be the world's best-performing street car. Page 14 of the October issue brought you the story of Jim Cozzolino and his 593hp, 11.5-second, circuit-prepped NSX street car. This month we follow him to some of the most proven shops and tuners in the Honda/Acura game, and document the improvements made to this already incredibly potent performer.
Huntington Beach, CA
Honda/Acura specialists Autowave have been Jim's choice tuner/engine builder from the beginning. They're responsible for the build of his current engine, a 593hp C30A on which Jim's logged three years and over 30K miles of driving and racing. Thought it was originally tuned for pump gas, we filled the NSX's tank with 110-octane unleaded, its crankcase with Castrol Syntec 20W-50, and had the Autowave crew re-tune for more power. We were shocked when they returned with far better emissions numbers, as well-improving performance in two valuable areas of competition.
This NSX being Jim's only car, the jobs it was built to do included commuting to and from work and running errands, in addition to mopping up at the track. Because of this, and the fact that it was already much more potent than possibly every other car in his competing classes, Jim chose to fit his NSX with the widest possible tires rather than the stickiest, to maximize its contact patches without resorting to a tire with poor treadlife. But this being a competition, we wanted all the traction we could get, and had our homie Arnel Ramos mount and balance some plus-sized Toyo R888s around the CCWs instead-their 60 UTQG rating bringing us the best possible grip allowed by Top Car Challenge rules, along with more than enough treadlife to last the entire competition and Jim's repeated AZ-to-CA road-tripping.
San Diego, CA
30K miles of hard driving at 593 hp takes its toll on a stock transmission. To boot, the performance clutch Jim had added years ago was starting to throw in the towel, and an alignment was much needed. Jim's NSX was taken to Applied Motorsports, tucked in the hills above Vista, CA (San Diego county), where Jim and Applied owner Nathan Eustace rebuilt the six-speed gearbox with reinforced internals, added an Exedy triple-plate carbon clutch and flywheel, and re-adjusted camber/caster/toe settings from the ground up.
Secret Mountain Roads
San Diego County, CA
All the best modifications in the world won't mean crap if your car suffers unforeseen mechanical problems or driver error come race day. Seat time makes all the difference, especially with the amount of modification we'd made in the weeks leading up to competition. After its appointment at Applied, Jim, his NSX and the 2NR crew took the long way back to L.A., along some canyon roads high above the Southland for a quick shakedown and photo session-the perfect setting for a street-driven, performance-built import.
Log onto the official Top Car Challenge website for full specs of this beast, outtake photos of our stops at each shop, and maybe even the location of those secret canyon roads we hit up. While you're there, check up on rival teams/cars, learn official rules of competition, view behind-the-scenes driver/owner/editor interview clips, and cast your vote for your favorite team/car (us) to win-a cool $10K will be given to one random, lucky voter who selects the correct eventual winning team.