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Resistance is Futile

When you buy a stock del Sol VTEC, you do so knowing that you will not leave it alone. The owner of this '94 del fought the urge for a year, then caved in. The result is this wicked weekender. Dan Frio gets some sun.

Dan Frio
Nov 1, 2003 SHARE

Some guys breathe and bleed Honda. Some, like George Ferreira, have owned nothing but Hondas. This Boston native's garage has housed three CRXs, a Prelude SH and his current daily driver, a '99 Civic hatch. Even his fiance drives a 2000 Civic EX. So like any true Honda guy, Ferreira couldn't leave well enough alone when he bought this '94 del Sol three years ago for $9,000.

With 60,000 miles on the odometer, Ferreira intended to use it for daily service. That lasted for about a year, until Ferreira could wait no longer and shifted the car to weekend toy status and got serious about its build-up. Those familiar with the del Sol VTEC know that its B16A3 is solid from the factory floor. The powerful 1.6-liter engine and the del's minimal weight make a great update to the CRX (which, unfortunately, the del never had time or support to become). Ferreira could hold out no longer and bought a Jackson racing supercharger. But that same B16 also hides plenty of power, and Ferreira started at the beginning with the basics: AEM cold-air intake, DC Sports 4-to-1 stainless header and Tanabe Hyper Medalion cat-back exhaust with high-flow cat. A while later he re-upholstered the stock seats in gray leather, with "DOHC VTEC" accents stitched into the headrests for good measure. Then one day he spotted a silver Volkswagen GTI and soon after sent the del to Five Star Collision for a VW silver paint job. He also added the Carisma Street Fighter front bumper, Wings West side skirts and '96-'00 Civic hatch wing, Erebuni rear lip and custom 70/30 (red/clear) taillights.

Finally Ferreira could hold out no longer. He picked up a Jackson Racing supercharger kit for a '99-'00 Civic Si, an ACT Stage II clutch and extreme pressure plate, then swapped in a crank pulley from a B20 CRV engine. The pulley's larger diameter produces more boost - 10 psi vs. 8 psi from the B16 wheel - but allows Ferreira to keep the OEM timing marks.

This trick was not without its flaw. The B16 soon developed a bad case of detonation. Ferreira did some research and found the Aquamist water injection system, which sprays water into the combustion chamber along with the intake charge, reportedly one of the best methods of combatting detonation with a Roots-type blower. Since installing the Aquamist, Ferreira says he's had no problems with detonation.

Additional tweaks help push the B16, like the A'PEXi Super Air Flow Controller (S-AFC II) that came recommended from an S2000 owner. Though capable of storing a multitude of air/fuel curves and parameters, the S-AFC II unit in the del Sol controls the A/F ratio only during boost. "I wanted a setup that was reliable and ready to go anytime," Ferreira says.

He also upgraded to a Walbro 2551ph fuel pump, Vortech fuel management unit, Accel 8mm plug wires and Denso Iridium plugs, but left the injectors alone. "I've been running more than enough fuel for my setup, so I haven't seen the need to increase injector size," he says. "I wanted a setup that was reliable and ready to go anytime." The end result speaks for itself: 214 hp with 142 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. Compare that with stock results - 137/97 - and you've got a potent backroad machine.

Which makes it all the more puzzling when you see the 18-inch Racing Harts Ferreira has bolted on to his machine. He admits the wheels are "tanks," especially against the stock 14s. But he maintains he was after a specific look and was willing to sacrifice some performance to get it.

But not much. The KYB struts, Skunk2 coil-overs and sticky Yokohama Paradas give Ferreira confidence enough to "hang with anyone on curves." Backing that confidence are Brembo rotors (OEM replacements) front and rear, halted by AEM pads and fluid routed through Goodridge steel braided lines.

Ferreira is no JDM fanatic, but he's still added a couple of Honda Japan touches. The strut tower bar up front is from a Civic Type-R, while the steering wheel is from an Integra Type R. Cool as it is, Ferreira says getting the airbag wiring dialed in took a lot of time.

He's not into the show scene or racing. Ferreira's priority is driving this car.

Tasteful styling aside, it's clear Ferreira's priority is driving this car. He's not into the show scene and not into racing, just into driving for the pure pleasure of it. He estimates he's got about $18K in the mods alone, making this not the most budget-level del we've ever seen. But as anyone who breathes and bleeds Honda knows, that's not really the point.

His parting comment both emphasizes his attitude towards the car and, honestly, makes us kinda weepy.

"I never enter my car in any shows," he says. "The car wasn't built for that reason, but rather for pure driving enjoyment. And being featured in Honda Tuning is the biggest accomplishment a true Honda man could have."

1994 Honda Del Sol
Propulsion

Go: B16A3 engine; Jackson Racing supercharger; bore & stroke, crankshaft, pistons, rings, rods, rod bolts, oil system, ECU, and valvetrain all stock; Honda CRV (B20) crankshaft pulley; A'PEXi S-AFC II air/fuel controller; Jackson Racing MAP controller; AEM cold-air intake; DC Sports 4-to-1 stainless header; Tanabe Hyper Medalion cat-back exhaust; Walbro fuel pump; Vortech adjustable fuel management unit; Accel 8mm spark plug wires; Denso IK 22 Iridium spark plugs; Y21 transmission; ACT Stage II clutch and extreme pressure plate; JDM Civic Type-R valve cover and oil cap
Rims & Rubber: Racing Hart C5 Evo 18x7.5 wheels; Yokohama Parada Spec 2 215/35-18 tires
Stance: KYB AJX adjustable struts; Skunk2 springs; '99 JDM Civic Type-R front strut tower bar
Resistance: Brembo rotors (cross-drilled, slotted); stock calipers; AEM pads; Goodridge lines; stock master cylinder

Fashion
Outside: Carisma Street Fighter front bumper; Wings West side skirts; Erebuni rear lip (molded around Tanabe exhaust tip); Wings West '96-'00 Civic hatchback wing; custom 70/30 red/clear taillights; Volkswagen silver arrow paint
Inside: Stock seats re-upholstered in gray leather; '99 JDM Integra Type R steering wheel; NR white face gauges; Jackson Racing gauge pod, boost and air/fuel ratio gauge; DC Sports billet shift knob
ICE: Alpine CDA-9811 CD receiver; Polk Audio db25 component speakers (doors)

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Aimes Auto Repair
Five Star Collision
By Dan Frio
36 Articles

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