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White Heat

Karl Funke
Sep 1, 2004 SHARE

Astute readers know we love four-doors (ok, maybe just frio). and this car certainly doesn't look like anything too special. There are no wild wings, no Lambo doors, no 19-inch wheels, no billboard graphics, no crazed mural schemes or color-shifting three-stage paint jobs. But this may be one of the cleanest, most understated cars we've ever come across.

Before you write it off as a mostly stock Integra, take a closer look. For all intents and purposes, this domestic Integra has been fully transformed into a four-door JDM ITR, a car that by all accounts has no business driving around on American pavement-but here it is nonetheless. Owned by Reggie Loterina, president and CEO of Island Motorsports in Buena Park, Calif., the '98 Integra began the most recent phase of its life on a used car lot as a theft recovery. In this particular case, law enforcement was unable to recover the car before it was completely stripped of its vitals. At the time he bought it and towed it to his shop, Loterina said, there wasn't much to it-not much of an interior, no motor and no transmission.

"On its arrival [at the shop], everyone stared in disbelief as it rolled off the flatbed truck with its exhaust dragging on the ground and the rear bumper hanging on with only a couple of screws," Loterina recalled with satisfaction. Despite its deplorable state, the car was perfect for what he had in mind, which was building a convincing JDM sled out of a left-hand-drive domestic Integra.

Before really digging in and getting his hands dirty, Loterina purchased a second car from another friend, Willy Law. This one was a salvaged right-hand-drive Integra Type R, the real deal and a rare four-door model, which was shipped overseas to serve as a parts donor for the USDM shell.

On its arrival, virtually the entire interior was subsequently transferred into the American car, including the door panels, suede Recaro ITR seats and black JDM carpeting. Various other JDM bits and pieces include the ITR steering wheel, the climate control cluster, center console, shift boot and floormats.

While the interior was being put together, Loterina's friend Law was again busy tracking down another very important component for the project buildup-a motor. Eventually he found a complete GS-R powerplant and Integra LS transmission, which Loterina and his Island Motorsports shop crew immediately set about tearing down and apart.

Currently, Loterina's engine bay setup is comprised of the built GS-R block and a competition-machined B16 head. The cylinder bores were opened up to 84.5mm and now effect a displacement of an even 2.0 liters (roughly). Ductile iron sleeves were added to the bores for increased strength. A knife-edged crank from an Integra LS was dropped inside and linked to oversized Arias pistons using forged Eagle connecting rods and ARP studs. A baffled Mugen oil pan was bolted underneath and a Pro Drive oil pump gear added for improved lubrication supply and flow.

While block assembly was carried out at Island Motorsports, aside from the machine work which was performed by RS Machine in Torrance, Calif., Loterina shipped the cylinder head to Alaniz Technologies in Gardena for a full competition machine job, as well as new, 1mm oversized stainless-steel valves, titanium retainers and beefier valve springs.

While the engine was being assembled, the rolling chassis was trucked to the body shop, Southern Auto Body in Costa Mesa, where any necessary repairs were made, the round headlamps were ditched and the front end was converted to JDM specifications. It was here that the coats of Championship White paint were laid.

With the bodywork completed and the engine build rapidly coming to a conclusion, the next phase of modifications dealt with upgrading the suspension with high-performance aftermarket equipment. Progress Group coil-overs were bolted in place of the factory suspension damping equipment, and a Mugen upper strut tower brace now bridges the gap between the front shock towers. The brakes and axle hubs were upgraded to ITR-spec five-lug assemblies, which incorporate slotted Brembo replacement rotors and AEM calipers front and rear. Goodridge braided stainless-steel lines and Motul DOT 4 fluid provide push for the upgraded binders. Next, Loterina's wheel and tire package consists of 17x7.5-inch Advan RGs shod with 215/40R-17 Yokohama Parada rubber.

For the final phase of the project build, Loterina and crew wasted no time installing the freshened motor and new transmission. With the major components in place, the team began work on a suitable forced induction system to boot his engine's performance into the stratosphere.

The turbo setup is based on a Drag Gen 3 kit which encompasses a Turbonetics T3/T4 turbocharger and Drag front-mount intercooler core. Loterina added a Tial wastegate in place of the supplied Deltagate. With help from Mack Sunthonlap of M1 Development, he also fabricated a stainless-steel downpipe, wastegate dump tube and a full complement of aluminum intercooler plumbing.

Other goodies hung from the engine include an Edelbrock intake manifold and 65mm throttle body, AEM fuel rail and adjustable cam gears, and a 3-inch Thermal exhaust. Fuel enrichment is facilitated by a Holly in-tank fuel pump, B&M pressure regulator and 660cc Blitz injectors.

With the engine bolted in and the turbo system in place, Loterina drove his four-door ITR to Autowave, Inc. in Huntington Beach for final dyno tuning. Here the final Hondata engine management software was installed and fine-tuned over the course of around 100 dyno pulls. The end result was 377 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque.

With the engine spitting fire-figuratively speaking, of course-and tuned to perfection, Loterina's next stop was the racetrack for some real-world quarter-mile numbers. "Many weekends we've taken the car to the track for testing, and we've broken an axle or two," he confessed. To date, the car's best quarter-mile run stands at a low 12.23 seconds at 120 mph, and its owner remains optimistic about the future.

"I'm sure we can get it into the 11s with bigger slicks and stronger axles that will withstand the power," Loterina said.Loterina and the four-door ITR have attended such notable events as Battle of the Imports, the NOPI Drag Wars, HIN and various NHRA-sanctioned drag events. Probably the most fun he's had with the car, however, are the Street Legal Drags at Fontana's California Speedway, where recently he and his four-door sleeper trounced an 8.0-liter Dodge Viper-all of which was captured on live video.

To enjoy clips of this rare import-vs.-domestic coup d'etat, log on to Island's Web site listed on this page.

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The Progress Group
Anaheim, CA 92806
714-575-1193
progressauto
By Karl Funke
177 Articles

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