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1991 Acura Legend Lemonade

When you're the owner of a '91 Legend and looking for power, going to an aftermarket skewing Civic and Integra is not an option. Undeterred, Christian Pascale went on a long and costly journey--7 years and over $20K--to carefully assemble one of the meanes

Sep 1, 2006
Photographer: Amadeo Holstein
0609_HTUP_14Z+1991_Acura_Legend+front_right_corner Photo 1/11   |   1991 Acura Legend Lemonade

Honda Tuning: What did you set out to do with your Legend?
Christian Pascale: I've never had a goal. When I first bought it, I had seen the Legend around and really liked the looks. At the time, I couldn't get it because I already had a car--this was about seven years ago. The car I was driving was then involved in a wreck and I was forced to look for another. I searched for around 4 or 5 months and finally found this Legend. Once I got into the car, I found a lot of [Web] sites dedicated to the Legend, like legend.org and the Legend Temple.

HT: How did those sites help?
CP: The sites gave me the insight to move further with modifying the car. At the time there was no aftermarket for the car at all, so we were blacking out the amber corner [lights], doing little things here and there. There were lowering parts available, so we lowered it and got some rims for it, but other than that, there wasn't much more.

HT: How soon after buying the Legend did you make those changes?
CP: I made the aesthetic changes within the first six months of owning the car. After that, I started getting into light performance with an intake. I've always liked the idea of having more power.

HT: At the time, was the Legend aftermarket growing? Obviously it hasn't grown all that much, because there still isn't a lot of Legend parts available.
CP: No. In general I saw the import market take off, literally, but the Legend market, no. Later on I started making parts for the community, but at that point there was very little available. That's how I buried myself in debt, trying to make parts for the car. The very next thing I did was put nitrous on the car. That was within eight months to a year of owning the car. Shortly thereafter, I did my first engine swap. I ruined a valve abusing nitrous, and at that point I didn't know a whole lot about engines. I didn't know that all I had to do was take the head off and fix it. I did a whole engine swap, and I got the Type II engine.

HT: Before we go any further, why don't you explain to the readers what a Legend Type II engine is?
CP: The top end of a Type II is just bigger and better than that of the Type I--you get bigger intake valves, slightly bigger exhaust valves, slightly more aggressive cams, and a marginally bigger fuel rail.

HT: Did Acura ever make a push to distinguish the two Legends to consumers?
CP: The Type II is rated at 230hp, while what we consider the Type I is rated at 200, but Acura didn't really go into too much detail to explain how the two motors differ. It's because the car wasn't really geared toward tuners; it's a heavy car, a four-door sedan. Any service manual, though, even just a Haynes or a Chilton's, will detail the differences. There's usually information for the GS, which is the Type II, and the regular LS, the Type I.

HT: We noticed you employ nitrous oxide at several different points of the car's evolution. Describe the different nitrous setups this car has seen over the years.
CP: The first was just a dry NOS system set up for a 60 shot. From that, I went to a dual stage, basically two dry systems with two separate buttons. In the automatic, as soon as it shifted into second gear, I would switch off the first stage and switch on the second.

HT: After you swapped the Type II heads you went to a direct port setup, right?
CP: Actually, I did the Type II swap and then later on I pulled it all apart again and did a port and polish. The direct port was equivalent to a 100 shot, and I could never get it to work right. I used the smallest [fuel] jets possible and they were still too much, even with an S-AFC. On the dyno, I was pulling out as much fuel as I could and I was still getting air-fuel ratios of 10:1, 11:1. I ended up scrapping the direct port.

HT: Is there any nitrous on the car now?
CP: I went back to a dry setup using a .49 jet, which is probably equivalent to a 125 shot, and it put down 300hp and 309 lb-ft of torque to the wheels.

0609_HTUP_18Z+1991_Acura_Legend+front_left_corner Photo 2/11   |   1991 Acura Legend Lemonade

HT: At one point a couple years ago you write that you did a 3.5L RL bottom end swap. What was behind that decision?
CP: The 3.5 was an idea that many [in the community] were batting around, but no one actually ever did. As the performance moderator for www.acura-legend.com, I'm the first one to ever perform the Type II swap in a '91. (The Type II wasn't available until '93, '94 for the sedan.) The idea was floating around because people noticed that the RL had what appeared to be exactly the same engine--same head design, same intake manifold. It led us to believe it was the same block [as the 3.2], just stroked. After a lot of talking, I found myself with some extra money, so I started to do research. I went to junkyards to look at the differences, and from what I could see, they were slight. From the manuals I saw that there was very little that needed to be modified, or so I thought. I bought a 3.5 short block and altered the front passenger side mount, basically taking half of a 3.2 mount and welding it to the other half of a 3.5 mount to make it usable. The Type II heads bolted right away to the 3.5 block. The problems started when I tried to seat the [intake] manifold onto the heads. It wouldn't fit because of the deck height of the 3.5; it was taller. The deck height naturally moved the heads further away from each other. RL engineers compensated for the deck height by making the heads shorter. The 3.2 has a shorter deck height, but the heads are thicker. Mating a 3.5 with the Type II heads gives you a taller engine, but not by a lot--I think I was 3/8 of an inch off. To make it fit I had to have the intake ports cut and radiused, weld added on all the sides, and the bolt holes slotted. It lasted two months.

HT: Only two months?
CP: At the same time I had put in a high-stall torque converter and in two months, second gear was gone. The automatic tranny did have 150,000 miles on it, but the high-stall converter and the torque [generated by the car] absolutely obliterated second. I was faced with either going for a built automatic [transmission] or moving to a manual. That's when I took a few months to tear it down and do the manual conversion. It wasn't that hard, actually. What made it easy is I found a donor 5-speed Legend at a junkyard and I took all of its parts-- slave cylinder, master cylinder, clutch pedal assembly, gaskets, shift linkage. I took everything except for the transmission; I already had a 6-speed transmission that I got with my first Type II swap back in 2000. The 5- and 6-speed parts are interchangeable, with the exception of the clutch disc, pressure plate, and flywheel.

HT: Where does the gearbox you're using come from? The '98 RL?
CP: The 6-speed transmission was available for '93 and up LS coupes and it was standard. The '94 and '95 GS sedan also had the 6-speed, but it was very rare. The '93 and up coupes also came standard with the Type II.

HT: Why did you go with the Remus muffler? Aren't they known for motorcycle exhaust systems?
CP: It's a German company and they make mufflers for BMW, Mercedes, and motorcycles. I used to have the GReddy SP; GReddy used to have a Legend-specific exhaust system, but only for the coupes. I just had to use a two-inch extension on the cat. I kept getting pulled over and harassed for having such a huge can, not that it's loud. The appearance alone attracted a lot of attention, not to mention the car is yellow. So I looked around, and Remus actually makes a Legend specific exhaust, but I didn't go with the Legend one. I went with a universal muffler based on the fact that all Remus exhausts sound nice. I got the Rev3, which has a 2 1/2-inch inlet, but the Legend specific version is only 2 1/4-inch, and being performance minded, I needed something a little bigger. If I could go back to the GReddy without having any problems, I would, just because theirs is designed to flow more freely. I just can't keep getting pulled over all the time. The appearance is a lot more subtle with the Remus.

HT: This car has gone through a long, and seemingly expensive, upgrade arc. Has money ever been an issue?
CP: Yes, it's been a big issue. When I first got into it, I put myself into about $20,000 worth of debt. I've swapped the engine 7 times. At one time, I had 4 Type II's sitting in my backyard. And no sponsorships, I got nothing for free. It feels good to finally get some recognition for it.

HT: We hate to put you on the spot, but what would you say was the greatest trial in putting your Legend project together?
CP: The biggest challenge was recognizing problems and having to fix them myself. With the exception of a handful of parts I had to have made or modified at the machine shop, all the engine teardowns, rebuilds, I did everything myself with a handful of people. That and money were the 2 biggest issues, but I pulled through.

HT: Is this as far as it's going to go?
CP: I always say that, I tell my girlfriend this is it. It's pretty much at its limit, for the most part. I want more power, but there's just no way to get more power with the car the way it is without figuring out a stand-alone [engine management] system. You can't turbo the car unless you figure out the electronics. I bought an AEM EMS for the NSX that I'm going to try an adapt for the Legend. The engines are totally different, but the NSX and Legend electronics are much the same. I'm currently in the development stages of that. It seems like it could work, it's just a matter of getting the car connected and on the dyno to generate some base maps. If the EMS ends up working, it's going to open up a whole new door. The car will be turbo'ed, there's no question. It will receive 2 turbos, and maybe then, I'll be done.

bolts&washers

Christian Pascale's 1991 Legend LS sedan

0609_HTUP_03Z+1991_Acura_Legend+right_front_wheel Photo 3/11   |   1991 Acura Legend Lemonade

Propulsion
Taking the route of increased displacement, Pascale swapped out the 3.2-liter V6 that came stock in the sedan with a C35 motor, also a V6, from a '98 RL. For flow, he had local Napa, Calif., machine shop R&R gasket match, port, and polish a pair of Legend Type II cylinder heads, and then outfitted them with custom reground Web cams. R&R also ported and polished the intake manifold and most recently eliminated the two-stage vacuum activated butterflies that come in the IM.
Bolted to the manifold is a KMS throttle body bored to 67mm that leads to an Injen intake, which Pascale modified with a custom cold-air extension. Tapped into the intake plumbing are fittings for an NOS dry system rigged to deliver a 125-shot of nitrous. To get the spent gases out of the engine, Pascale is running a Carl's Customs one-off, mid-length tubular header and a custom Napa Valley Muffler exhaust system. The piping is broken up only by a Magnaflow high-flow cat and a Remus REV3 universal sport muffler.
A Walbro 255lph pump doles out fuel to the Type II fuel rails, while GReddy Iridium race spark plugs bring the fire. Added engine management includes a Bayou Performance stage-2 ECU chip, an A'PEXi S-AFC II fuel controller, and a Blitz Power Meter ID.
Power goes from engine to gearbox via a SPEC lightened flywheel and Stage 3 clutch. The automatic trans itself has been booted for a manual 6-speed, which came with the Type IIs and boasts a 4.5:1 final drive ratio. Drivetrain mods are finished off with a Phantom Grip locking diff and a Rangerjoe short shifter.

Evidence
Naturally aspirated Pascale's NorCal bee puts down 212whp and 223 lb-ft of torque. Under nitrous, those change to 300 and 309, respectively.

Stance
The Legend's KA7 chassis is held aloft by Eibach springs riding on Koni special red dampers. Helping keep the sedan's handling stiff and stable is an Ingall's camber kit, a KMS strut bar, and an Addco rear anti-sway bar.

Resistance
Valvoline brake fluid travels through Goodridge stainless steel lines at all four corners, compelling the EBC Green Stuff pads in each caliper to bite down on Brembo cross-drilled and slotted rotors.

Rims & rubberPascale festooned his Volk 18x8 GT-N wheels, weighing 19lbs. each, in 215/40 BF Goodrich GForce KDW rubber.

Fashion

Outside
After having the rear trunk shaved and installing a custom metal hood scoop, carbon Kevlar accents, and a '94 Legend front bumper, Pascale pressed Byron's Auto Body to spray the exterior in layers of Mazda Miata sunburst yellow. Pascale also hooked up the JDM 1-piece blacked out headlights with 8k HID bulbs, JDM Evolution low profile spoiler, and a custom grille.

Inside
The interior has been redone in a custom two-tone black and tan motif. Driver controls have been upgraded with the additions of the MOMO Driver steering wheel, pedals, and shift knob. The dash is now rocking reverse Indiglo gauges and fuel pressure and air/fuel meters from Autometer.

I.C.E.
The Legend is loaded with an elaborate system that begins with a Kenwood eXcelon DDX7015 DVD/NAV source unit sending signal to a pair of JL amps, a 500/1 and 300/4. Kicker Resolution 6.5-inch front speakers sing in the front part of the car while Boston Acoustics RM9 6x9-inch rear speakers blare in back. Meanwhile, two Rockford Fosgate Power 10-inch subwoofers fire out a Q Logic ported enclosure for low end. Finally, an Optima battery and a 2-farad capacitor with display make sure the system has enough juice.

Love
Pascale thanks his parents, Ashley, Acura-Legend.com, Mitch and Ray at R&R, Hopkins Acura, Byron's Auto Body, Larry, Nick, Cael, Justin, Neil, Kevin, Tony, Travis, Adam, AJ, Ryan T., Mike, VR, Carlo, Brian, Carl, Van, Midnight Performance, Bayou Performance, Garagedonline.com, and of course, eBay.

Bob Hernandez
710 Articles

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