Along with every car that manages to grace these pages comes a unique story, sometimes filled with sorrow, pain and heartache. Fortunately, the story behind Kiet Hong's RHD converted Acura RSX contains none of the above. If anything, his story is typical: He wanted to separate himself from other RSX owners, build a ride that's not only quick but also flashy, win races and show trophies, and get heinas wet with the sound of the loud exhaust, all while overcoming obstacles like getting money, losing time and breaking screwdrivers. In the words of one wise man: "SHOCKER!" The real story, though, is how Kiet told us his story, filled with memorable quotes, run-on sentences and a lot of head scratching, mostly as a result of his hilarious accent. Either way, accent or not, run-on sentences or not, the one thing we can't fault Kiet for is his hard work. We can't knock his hustle.
At first glance, his RSX may be loud and absurd but once absorbed into the deeper parts of the cerebral cortex, the car immediately becomes a venerable work of art. Kiet says it best: "I chose BASF's Candy Fuchsia Pearl paint because it's something different and not everyone has that color. You get sick and tired of seeing the same color. When do you ever see a guy rocking Candy Fuchsia Paint? Never. A real man drives a pink car. LOL." And "LOL" is right. Only real men drive pink cars. In California, however, real men do drive pink cars and they do it with their boyfriends in the passenger seats.
I kid, of course, because Kiet's whip is much more major and features more than meets the eye. "Yeah, it's kinda old," explains Kiet, "but it's running 14 psi with 399 whp, fully tuned." Not many people can say that about their cars. It all began a year and a half ago, when Kiet went on the prowl for a RHD clip. Instead of me explaining it and possibly taking things out of context, I believe only Kiet can tell this remarkable story:
"Finding a RHD clip wasn't easy. It took me one and a half years to finally find one; I almost gave up. The clip I got was in very good condition and had everything I needed, but sat at Ballistic Motorsports for six months. I was in the middle of the show season, and I had to wait until the end of the year to start my project. I only had a few months to start and finish my project. The conversion for the RSX wasn't easy; it was a lot different from other JDM Honda conversions. Most of the stuff isn't interchangeable. There was a lot of work and manpower spent on this project."
Remarkable indeed. The one major problem he encountered with the RHD clip, aside from actually finding one, was getting the proper windshield to fit. "How and where the hell am I going to get a JDM windshield?" Kiet reenacted how he felt when he found out he needed a new windshield: "I called all the top tuner shops around the state. The reason why I need a front windshield is that the USDM glass and JDM glass is completely different." His savior was Robert Chae from Fizz Autosport, who managed to source the glass in a few days.
At this point, Kiet endured some unneeded stress: "Getting it shipped over from Japan was not easy or cheap," he said. "Anything can happen to glass. At the same time, I told him to get me all new carpet and floor mate from Honda Japan. Might as well. I was still scared and concerned about the glass. Time was running short and I couldn't make any mistakes."
Fast forward to a few months and Kiet came out with the RHD RSX before your eyes. Under the hood is equally nice as the outside, minus all the troubles. The K20 is boosted by a Turbonetics 62-1 ball bearing turbo. The turbo works with an HKS Super Sequential blow-off valve and TiAL wastegate. To handle the cooling, Kiet went with an XS Engineering intercooler, featuring a custom polished piping set and custom turbo manifold and downpipe. Transferring the power generated by the turbo is a strong combination of clutch and flywheel by Competition. The brains behind the madness is governed by a Hondata K Pro EMS ECU, helped along with a Blitz SBC ID boost controller and AEM UEGO.
All 399 whp is converted to traction by a set of Dunlop Direzza tires wrapped around four 18-inch Volk RE30 wheels, which help solidify the JDM-ness of the RSX. Stopping the four corners are Endless brakes in the front and Power Slot cross-drilled rotors in the rear. Naturally, Kiet wanted some major stopping power since the RHD clip was such a hassle to get. Accentuating the clip is a Chargespeed body kit, along with a carbon fiber hood, Ignited Performance 8000K HID lights, and Mugen rear carbon-fiber license plate cover.
Inside features more JDM craziness, taking the trend to even higher levels. With the Bride Gias Maziora matching rear seats and headliner, the interior is modified at every corner. The memorable JDM changes are the JDM dashboard, center console, e-brake, pedals, road flare and Type R pedals and floor mats. A Defi triple gauge pod and Spoon steering wheel add more freshness to the mix, which is already a fresh mix to begin with. To imagine that all of this was done within a short period of time is a testament to Kiet's dedication and passion.
Despite how he tells the story and regardless of how typical it may be, Kiet's hard work is unequaled, especially in an industry that is filled with non-hustlers. Kiet finished the RHD conversion within four months, completed the car in about the same time, and managed to get it featured for our magazine immediately afterwards. We may all be laughing inside, but it's this type of passion that we all should look to achieve. Because we definitely can't knock his hustle.
'02 Acura RSX Type-S
Owner Kiet Hong
Hometown Methuen, MA
Daily Grind Chemical technician
Under The Hood K20 DOHC i-VTEC; Turbonetics 62-1 ball bearing turbo; HKS Super Sequential blow-off valve, Twin Power ignition and carbon titanium exhaust; TiAL wastegate; XS Engineering intercooler; custom polished intercooler piping; custom turbo manifold and downpipe; Hondata intake manifold gasket; 550cc fuel injectors; custom fuel return line; Walbro fuel pump; AEM fuel pressure regulator and fuel rail; Carbing oil catch can and reservoir tank; J's Racing valve cover, engine damper and oil cap; Mugen thermostat and fan switch; JDM spark plug cover; Darton sleeves; JE pistons; Crower connecting rods; Mishimoto radiator and fan; Driveshaft Shop 500hp axles; Nitrous Express N-tercooler spray bar; Innovative billet motor mounts; Buddy Club battery; AEM UEGO
Drivetrain Competition Clutch and lightened flywheel
Brains Hondata K-Pro EMS ECU; J&S Safe Guard; Blitz SBC ID boost controller
Stiff Stuff Tein HA coilovers; Carbing six-point rollcage and rear lower bar; J's Racing front strut bar and C-pillar bar
Rollers 18x8 gold Volk RE30 wheels; Kics Project R40 Neo Chro lugs; Dunlop 225/40R18 Direzza tires
Stoppers Endless 6 pot, two-piece big brake kit; Stop Tech stainless brake lines; Power Slot rear cross-drilled rotors
Outside Charge Speed body kit, carbon fiber hood, trunk and eyelids; custom carbon-fiber roof; JDM power folding mirrors, door visors, black housing headlights and side markers; Ignited Performance 8000K HIDs; Mugen rear carbon-fiber license plate cover and fuel cap cover; BASF Candy Fuchsia Pearl paint
Inside Bride Gias Maziora seats with matching rear seats and headliner; Takata four-point harnesses; JDM dashboard, center console, e-brake, pedals, road flare, coin holder, engine start button and Type R carpet/floormats; Defi triple gauge pods; Ignited toggle switch, purge and nitrous button; Spoon steering wheel; Mugen e-brake lever cover boot and shift knob
ICE Pioneer Avic-Z2 7" monitor with DVD player; MB Quart 6x9 premium components, 6x9 reference two-way speakers; (3) 10" Rockford Fosgate Punch DVC HE2 capacitato; Playstation 2; Defi BF gauges (boost, fuel pressure, oil pressure, oil temp, water temp and exhaust temp)
Props Andy Bui, Janet Cruz, Jenny Hong, Jeffrey Hong, Thorn Yim, Jorge R, Bret Zheng, Carlos Polit, Elsio Julia, Brian Fox at Fox Marketing, Melissa Dennis at Competition Clutch, Harry and his crew at Harry Autobody Shop, Scott Beique and Thomas Jewell at Ballistic Motorsports, Giles Gilbert at Holyroller Dyno, Pag at Competition Grafix, Jack Cummings at Dunlop, Robert Chae at Fizz Auto Sport, Vince Harjono at Iginted Performances, Edmund Hon at Glosser, and Team Emotion