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Top Secret Turbo

This Type-S is one of the first street cars to pack HKS's most recent RSX firepower.

Dan Frio
May 1, 2005
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper
0505ht_01z+2003_Acura_RSX+Type_S_Gold_Driver_Side_Front_View Photo 1/14   |   Top Secret Turbo

When we checked in with HKS reps at the SEMA show last November, they assured us the company's RSX Type-S turbo kit was days away from completion and shipping to dealers. Days turned out to be weeks, but not long after the new year, we got confirmation the kit was here, available and ready for primetime. The next step was to find someone who had one.

Fred Chang's JDM wet dream of a Type-S seemed an obvious choice. He knows some of the guys at HKS and even picked up sponsorship from the company well before the turbo kit was launched. Chang says he casually broached the issue of doing the turbo install on his RSX--"just friendly talk," he says--and soon enough his car was at XS Engineering (Huntington Beach, Calif.) for the install and tuning.

0505ht_02z+2003_Acura_RSX+Type_S_Gold_Passenger_Side_Rear_View Photo 2/14   |   Top Secret Turbo

HKS Marketing says the kit had been approximately one year in development, developed first for use in a sport compact challenge event organized by a mainstream automotive magazine. The company's DC5 ended up winning the FWD class. HKS knew it might have a hit on its hands, despite its usual allegiance to Nissan and Toyota tuning. All of the R&D occurred in the United States, with manufacturing carried out in Japan.

The production kit's results are impressive. Tuned with 100-octane gas and using HKS's Super Mega Flow intake, 65mm Hi-Power exhaust and upgraded actuator, Chang's car made 357.2 whp and 293.7 lb-ft at 14 psi on the XS dyno. Since the Type-S is his daily driver, Chang doesn't see that kind of power on the street, where he runs between 7-9 psi. But it's still plenty of streetable power and twist.

0505ht_rsx_03_z Photo 3/14   |   Top Secret Turbo

Even if you didn't know what Chang is packing underhood, the car still blows minds with its paint scheme and, to the trained eye, an obsession to JDM detail.

The paint is first to catch your eye. "Top Secret was my inspiration," Chang says, referring to the popular Japanese tuner. "In Super Taikyu [Japan's endurance race series], there are these girls that run the Top Secret RSX and I really like the color scheme. At the time I painted it, around April 2004, there weren't so many gold cars around."

The inspiration extends to Mugen, of which Chang is clearly a fan. "I've always liked how they designed their cars. I had an EK that was completely all Mugen kit. I've always liked their designs and they were creative at the time, then all these fakes came out."

0505ht_04z+2003_Acura_RSX+Type_S_Center_Console_Passenger_Side_View Photo 4/14   |   Top Secret Turbo

Prospective JDM miners might want to take a cue from Chang, who purchased a lot of his parts from JDMHondaParts.com (jhpusa.com) before he even bought the car, knowing the time and delay that are inevitable when buying Japanese parts.

"When I first got the car it was white, so I did the whole Type R theme. But that got old fast. Then I took it to MOB and they stripped it down. They didn't drop the motor, but they got in around the [firewall] and strut towers. Everything underneath all of the panels is pretty much all taken out."

0505ht_05z+2003_Acura_RSX+Type_S_Driver_Side_Gauges Photo 5/14   |   Top Secret Turbo

When we look closely at the car, we realize about the only non-JDM parts are the Rotora binders package and the fuel pump. Damn. Chang even went the road less traveled with his seats, sourcing a set of carbon/Kevlar buckets from Vision, a company that makes parts for Spoon Sports, among others. "The seats are super rare," Chang says. "There are probably only, like, five sets in the United States."

The car gets plenty of attention, and not always of the desired kind. While most of the time Chang says he gets a thumbs-up or other gestures of approval, he often gets guys in Mustangs pulling alongside to make stupid faces as well as the usual ranks of ricer noobs.

The cops, of course, also can't help but notice. But Chang has never had a problem. "I tell them what the car is, what it has on it. They're interested. I've done the whole pop-the-hood thing and answered their questions. They haven't really hassled me too much. Knock on wood, I've never been sent to a ref. I think if you're cool with them, they'll be cool with you."

0505ht_06z+2003_Acura_RSX+Type_S_Passenger_Side_Engine_View Photo 6/14   |   Top Secret Turbo

Chang's personal landspeed record is 152 mph, set in controlled conditions at a decommissioned Marine air base in Southern California. He's less impressed with his kill record.

"It's not really any cars you'd brag about. I once raced an M3 and took him. But it's usually just a four-door EF or something, which is retarded. They all have [built] motors. You just have to put them in their place."

bolts&washers
Fred Chang's 2003 rsx type-s

0505ht_07z+2003_Acura_RSX+Type_S_Driver_Side_Spoiler_View Photo 7/14   |   Top Secret Turbo

Propulsion
Block and valvetrain internals remain stock, the only power adders being the HKS turbo kit and the standard bolt-ons package. The GT2835 kit includes HKS's cast ductile iron manifold, charge piping, straight-through downpipe, upgraded actuator, Super Sequential blow-off valve, and wastegate. Chang also added the optional GT intercooler. A Walbro 255-lph fuel pump ensures plenty of juice, which is sprayed through RC Engineering 550cc injectors and lit off by HKS Super Fire racing spark plugs. Additionally, HKS's Earth Circle grounding system preserves otherwise robbed power, while the F-Con VPro (version 3.2) piggyback unit orchestrates engine management. Up and downstream of the powerplant is HKS' Super Mega Flow air intake/filter piece and prototype Hi-Power Turbo 65mm exhaust. Other details include steel-braided oil lines, TMR fittings, a Braille race battery relocated to the rear hatch area, JDM Type-R valve cover, Vision carbon-fiber spark plug cover and intake manifold cover, HKS D1 Limited oil and radiator caps, and Mugen gas cap

Rims & Rubber
Advan A048 (225/40/18) tires wrap Volk Racing CE28N 18x7.5s in custom gold (+45 offset; 114.3x5 pattern). Rays Duraluminum Red lugs keep 'em attached.

Stance
More HKS at the corners, this time in the form of Hipermax II coil-overs. Battling flex are Mugen strut tower bars front and rear, EM Racing cross bars in back, a J's Racing C-pillar bar and Carbing rear lower control arm bars

Resistance
Stopping power comes from Rotora's E-coated cross-drilled and slotted rotors, four-piston calipers, pads and lines. Chang uses NEO brake fluid

0505ht_08z+2003_Acura_RSX+Type_S_Rim_Close_View Photo 8/14   |   Top Secret Turbo

FASHION
Body: Chang undertook a JDM mission when styling his whip inside and out. Up front sits a Mugen bumper, canards, and underbody panel, augmented by DC5 Type R HID headlamp assemblies and badges. A Mugen Side Step kit sets the side profiles, while the Mugen adjustable rear wing and DC5 Type R rear apron shape the backside. Other subtle touches include Mugen front and rear tow hooks, DC5 Type R side markers and window visor, and Vision mirrors.

The beautiful Star Gold Effect paint (what we call Top Secret Gold around the office) was handled by MOB Works in Orange, Calif., who transformed the Type-S from its humble Premium Pearl White origins all around, including in the engine bay and the interior

Inside: More JDM obsessions: DC5 Type R shift boot, gauge cluster, coin pocket and door sills. Seating arranged by Vision Corsa carbon Kevlar buckets (using factory 3-point restraints) perched atop Bride Super Low brackets and rails. Driver input handled by Mugen N1 suede steering wheel with Sparco quick release and HKS D1 Limited shift knob. Chang monitors engine performance through HKS RS meters for boost, oil pressure, water temp and EGT

ICE:
Chang kept it simple in the ICE department, electing only for a Rockford Fosgate RAV-DVD2 head unit for music and video duties, piped through the factory Bose front and rear speakers

By Dan Frio
36 Articles

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