How is it that something so innocuous as Honda's diminutive Fit could create such a stir at the latest SEMA Show? Is it possible for something so small to be The Next Big Thing? And how is it that this car puts 2.56 liters worth of engine in a 1.5 liter bay? Finally, how can it be that Leigh Guarnieri, a man who's built many a project vehicle and is more connected to Honda than Tony Soprano is to Jersey's waste management, has never tweaked a Honda before this one?
Contradiction, incongruity and contrast are all appropriate descriptors for not only the Honda Fit but most especially this Honda Fit. This car wasn't even a twinkle in Leigh's eye until a few months before SEMA. It seems the Honda peeps had an extra Fit sitting on a shelf at HQ and they approached Leigh to build the car.
Leigh's Honda bond runs deep. His father owned a Honda motorcycle dealership in Connecticut for 15 years and now he's a parts marketing manager at American Honda. Leigh himself even spent five years at the big H doing computer engineering before landing his current gig as the director of marketing, sponsorship and special projects for Extreme Dimensions.
Leigh was helping Super Street with our ill-fated Fit project when he received a last minute call from Chris Martin at Honda. "I have an extra automatic with a rattle in the dashboard, do you want it?" Leigh accepted the car, slushbox, rattles and all. His original plan was to do a show car to promote ED's new Couture line of kits while the Super Street Fit was bound for super lap battle with ED's carbon fiber Carbon Creations kit. According to him, "It really snowballed after that." This Fit more than snowballed; it was a full-scale avalanche quickly burying our Super Street Fit and any plans we had for B-Spec domination.
"The theme of the build started with the rollcage," Leigh continues. "I just wanted to do a full interior normal car with a really cool cage in it. Then the rollcage guy said, 'We can't save the interior.' The theme went from normal to racecar pretty quickly in a matter of two or three days."
Leigh's rollcage guy is one Tho Chung of Time Machine Racecraft in Oceanside, CA. Tho fabbed up a ten-point chromoly cage complete with the most perfectly scalloped TIG-welded beads. While he had the car, Tho also fabricated the tubular radiator and intercooler support that doubles as a mount for the custom traction rods, stitch welded the entire chassis, and covered the fuel cell enclosure, rear door panels and shifter console with aluminum sheet. While the front door panels may look stock, David Nguyen at VIP Motorsports actually added black Gucci inserts proclaiming Leigh's flamboyance for all the world to see. The fabulous Gucci fabric is repeated on the inserts of the blue Status Racing seats which are touched off nicely by the Takata green of the, uh, Takata four-point harnesses.
Check out the dash. Much like everything else Leigh went slightly overboard in the diagnostics department. We're not sure but we think there's a gauge in Leigh's Fit that displays the barometric pressure of the cabin. There are no less than 12 gauges in this Fit and Leigh probably would have added more but this was all Auto Meter had in it's Cobalt line. If you like the way the gauges look you can thank Leigh's mommy-seriously.
"I actually put the dash together with my mom and my dad," Leigh told us. "At 3:00 in the morning we cut all of the holes. Leave it to my 60 year-old mom to tell me, 'It would look better over here. Put this gauge here.' She did the center console. She took five coffee cups and taped them together and said put it there and we spray-painted templates and that's how we cut the holes."
Even wilder still is the rear suspension that looks as if it was dreamed up by a bunch of MIT engineering students after scarfing down those funny brownies or whatever it is those wacky MITers eat. The rear suspension is actually a cantilever set-up, designed by Greg Leone at Big Brother Racing that even has our Time Attack rulebook regulators at NASA scratching their heads. This configuration allows Leigh to run shorter stroke shocks. So true to his Honda roots he chose Showa/Honda CBR 600rr motorcycle monoshocks.
The cage, the gauges, the traction bars and the cantilever set-up are all intense bits of kit, but they're merely bit players to what lurks beneath the Carbon Creations carbon fiber hood. The L15A is a good motor, a dependable motor, dare we say, a cute motor, but with a 115hp rating it just doesn't throw down like a K-Series mill. Instead of stopping short at a garden variety 2.0 liter K, Leigh put the call into his Honda homies to supply a K24 from a TSX. But again, this still wasn't enough for Leigh.
The specs on Leigh's motor are downright frightening. First he sent the long block to Sean Ragains and his entourage at ERL Performance. In case you didn't know ERL is known for building fast motors and they have been doing some ludicrous things with the Honda variety. Even the NHRA All Motor champ, Jeremy Lookofsky counts on ERL for his record-breaking K motors. Leigh's K24 ERL started with a BC Industries 2.6-liter stroker kit with custom JE pistons wedged into Darton sleeves, balanced and blueprinted rotating assembly and a dumped compression ratio of 9.0:1. Up top, Jim Stewart at Stewart Racing Engines ported the head which also received BC cams and Ferrea valves, springs and retainers.
The Jaz fuel cell can be rapidly emptied by the Aeromotive fuel regulator and pump, and Eric Cheney of XMP was the man who plumbed up the full return fuel system with Earl's components. The voracious RC Engineering 1600cc injectors work with a 72mm BDL throttle body and fuel rail, the latter flexing Honda's "Power of Dreams" tag line. Being the show off that he is, Leigh couldn't resist having Killerglass add Pyrex windows to the valve cover. The complete engine assembly is precisely placed within the rather subcompact bay by a set of Hasport motor mounts.
This is a beastly set-up but it still wasn't enough for our hero. The PeakBoost posse added boost with a Garrett GT35R turbo, intercooler, custom aluminum intake manifold and a custom equal length tubular manifold with even sexier bends than the loveliest American pole-dancer. The turbo works are topped off by a TiAL BOV and wastegate.
Leigh says, "Power-wise, we have no idea as to the limitations of it [it has yet to be tuned], but the motor guys and the turbo guys think that we'll run out of power at about 700hp." If that still isn't enough he can squeeze even more out of it with the Nitrous Express direct port system.
Remember, this car was originally an auto and Leigh had to change the pedal set and add a clutch master and slave cylinder before the '06 Civic Si transmission case could go in. Inside this case is where the magic really happens. The Liberty's High Performance custom four-speed dog and ring style faceplate engagement transmission features a Mikronite processed and polished gear set, Quaife helical LSD and Unorthodox Racing stage 4 clutch. The Driveshaft Shop custom Level 5.9 axles attach to a five-lug conversion. Acura TL Brembo brakes and Work Meister S1 wheels hang off the hubs wrapped by Toyo Proxes RA-1 rubber for the street (yes, Leigh will drive this on the street) and new Toyo R888 tires when Leigh will attack the track. The brains behind this operation are a Hondata K-Pro with a World Electronics TBC-1 boost controller.
Since so much of this car is "off the reservation" as Leigh so aptly describes it and because he is the Mack Daddy Marketeer at Extreme Dimensions it only makes sense that the aero work achieves the same wow factor-and boy does it. Look at the lines of the new Couture four-piece kit: nice, clean, fluid in keeping with the rest of body-beautiful pieces in the Extreme Dimensions portfolio. But it isn't the design of the Couture kit that's extreme, it's the construction. Every kit in the Couture line is made from urethane (check the sidebar).
This car is so far beyond the scope of any subcompact and it could have only been created by a guy like Leigh, whose scope is just out of whack enough to attempt such a build. Good on ya, Leigh!
Nowadays it seems as if Extreme Dimensions has a lot of balls in play with a variety of different model lines each tailored to a specific purpose. We'll let Leigh break it down for us. "Extreme Dimensions is a distribution channel for our three brands. Duraflex is our fiberglass line, which is kind of like an FRP, just a really flexible thin lightweight fiberglass. It doesn't crack, it doesn't chip. There's Carbon Creations, our carbon line, with all of our carbon fiber hoods, hatches, fenders, kits and a lot of motorcycle stuff. Couture is our new urethane line, which is probably the closest thing to OE ABS plastic out there and it will be for a while. It's light and thin and it paints really easily. It's all going to be distributed through us, Extreme Dimensions.
"Duraflex is fiberglass with some flex in it," Leigh continued. "It's got a good finish but you still run into some problems with painting and rock chips later on. But the nice thing about Duraflex is that it's fiberglass for custom applications. You can bondo it, you can do bodywork to it, stuff like that. The carbon stuff is carbon, so it has a finish on it, you don't do any work to it. You can paint over it but you can't shape it or add to it or make a widebody out of it or anything like that. We don't really have any issues with weight in the fiberglass as well but the carbon stuff is definitely lighter. The Couture urethane stuff will be big with the Euro people because the Mercedes and BMW guys want it to look OE but with a little more style and uniqueness. From a body shop standpoint they'll be able to install it just as they would an OE piece, much like an AC Schnitzer or a Carlsson where it just looks different but its as good as OEM quality."
Whoa, that sounds really cool. Can we get a bro deal on a Couture kit? You know, because we did this story on your car. Leigh? Hello?
Owner Leigh Guarnieri
Hometown Torrance, CA
Daily Grind Extreme Dimensions Chief Marketeer
Power Est. 700-plus hp
Under The Hood ERL Performance 2006 K24 engine (2.56L, 9.0:1 compression ratio; bored 89mm, stroked 102mm); BC 2.6-liter stroker kit, BC2.6 crank (4.016 stroke), stage 2 Forced Induction camshafts (525 lift, 226 deg @ .050 duration); Darton MID Sleeves; balanced and blueprinted rotating assembly; custom JE pistons and rings with double pin oilers, flat bottom dish with matching combustion chambers and accumulator groove featuring 9310 tool seal pins; Stewart Racing Engines High Performance Street Ported head; Ferrea custom modified intake valves, dual spring springs, titanium retainers; Aeromotive A1000 Injected Bypass fuel regulator and Eliminator fuel pump; BDL K Series custom engraved fuel rail, 72mm throttle body with 72mm vacuum spacer, oil cap, and spark plug cover; RC Engineering 1600cc injectors; full return fuel system; Hasport K-Series swap motor mounts; Polished valve cover with Killerglass Pyrex windows; Fujita 4-inch filter and adapter plate; Denso plugs; Koyo aluminum Nissan S13 radiator; Nitrous Express Direct Port nitrous system, Ntercooler, Shark Nozzles, carbon solenoids, 5lb aluminum rollcage bottle mounts; Unorthodox Racing lightweight pulleys; Peak Boost custom aluminum intake manifold, custom equal length tubular top mount turbo manifold, 3-inch aluminum pipe three-row 4-inch core intercooler with Wiggins clamps, and custom exhaust with Magnaflow 3-inch stainless steel tubing; Garrett polished and Jet Hot coated GT35R turbo; TiAL 50mm blow-off valve and 44mm wastegate; Jaz Products fuel cell; ERL-modified S2000 oil pump; B&M oil cooler and relocation kit; Genuine Honda fluids and filters; Optima Blue Top battery
Drivetrain 2006 Civic Si transmission case; Liberty's High Performance custom four-speed dog and ring style faceplate engagement transmission with Mikronite processed and polished gear set; Driveshaft Shop custom Level 5.9 extreme hub/axle system and five-lug conversion Quaife helical LSD; B&M custom billet short shifter; Unorthodox Racing stage 4 Feramic four-puck unsprung hub and 8lb billet flywheel
Brains Hondata K-Pro engine management; WORLD Electronics TBC-1 boost controller; Hasport custom chassis harness
Stiff Stuff Front: Megan Racing 32 way adjustable coilover; Rear: Big Brother Racing cantilever style suspension with Showa/Honda CBR 600rr motorcycle monoshocks; 2-inches front, 3-inches rear lowering; Time Machine Racecraft custom traction bars with tubular intercooler and radiator mount
Rollers Work Meister S1 17x8 +14; Toyo Proxes RA-1 235/40ZR17 (street); Toyo R888 235/45ZR17 (race);
Stoppers Acura TL Type-S (Brembo OEM) four-piston calipers 12.1-inch front, 11-inch rear rotors; Wilwood dual master cylinders with remote reservoirs and lines; Fast Brakes big brake kit and rear disc conversion; driver adjustable brake bias proportioning lever
Outside SPS Auto Body 2-inch metal widebody front and rear, shaved gas cap; Couture four-piece GD-R body kit; Carbon Creations GD-R rear wing and hood, and OEM Hatch; PIAA lights; BASF Carizzma colors CZZ-209 Crystal Blue pearl for the Body and CZZ-510 Paradise Blue Pearl for the Cage; Design Haus graphics
Inside Time Machine Racecraft ten-point chromoly TIG-welded rollcage, stitch-welded chassis, fuel cell mount, rear aluminum door panels and shifter console; Status Racing Carbon Fiber Laguna seats in blue cloth with black on black Gucci design fabric on inserts and front door panels; Takata MPH341 four-point, 3-inch harnesses; Wedge Engineering seat brackets; Team Guarnieri reworked factory dash with 12 Auto Meter Cobalt gauges including 5-inch tach and Digital Pro Shift System; NRG suede steering wheel, Quick Release, and hub adapter; B&M shift knob; D2 Racing air jacks