I could never get tired of reading about an '85 Toyota Corolla AE86, looking at pictures of a clean-body '81 Toyota Starlet, or wonder how a person, A) finds a '71 Datsun 510 Wagon, and B) manages to get that 510 Wagon into a more immaculate state than not only its original, but also some of the cars built within the past five years. It's always refreshing, though, to see something other than a Toyota or Datsun in the "Back in the Day" section of this magazine. Bryan Leon's genuine right-hand-drive (RHD) '93 Honda Integra is tuning at its finest, but as I write this article about his ride, I found something strangely amiss and it wasn't anything Bryan did.
Anytime something from `93 is considered old school, a piece of me becomes a little bit more insecure about the fact that I'm getting super old. Consider this for a minute: I'm 10 years away from my first colonoscopy test, a procedure that on its Wikipedia page suggests that I also "See: Anal Probe" for further information. I would've clicked on that suggested link, except for the fact that I didn't want the "Anal Probe" Wikipedia page posted on my browser's History, fearing that if I died the moment I was looking at it, the paramedics would've found me slumped over my keyboard with the words "Anal Probing" in bold Arial font on my computer screen. It's really not the coolest way to peace out of this world. It's also not the coolest thing to get a colonoscopy, and I'm 10 years away from that.
Yes, `93 was 16 years ago but is that really old school? Anyone born in the late `70s may have had a similar Integra as their first car. Anyone born in the late `80s may have rolled shotgun in a similar Integra but atop a car seat. Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle" album dropped in '93. Would that be an old school rap album? I called Bryan to get his take on the situation, seeing that he is the owner of the car:
"I definitely think my Integra is old school," Bryan said, "I was eight-years-old the time it came out, and I remember it being one of the first cars I fell in love with. It's like when the older generation grew up with Starlets and 510s. They remember those days of not being able to drive legally yet, but dreaming about having a Datsun 510. Now that they have money and a driver's license, the first thing they want to build is the car they first fell in love with. The Integra is my version of the Starlet and 510, and that to me, is old school."
The fact that his older brother was a car enthusiast when Bryan was growing up also helped shape Bryan into an Integra-loving tuner and now old school fanatic. Around the same time he was falling in love with the Integra, his older brother David was rolling around in a four-door Honda Civic EF. "It was clean and simple," Bryan remembers, "It was that car and my brother's love for it than made me love the tuning scene. It just rubbed off on me quickly." It was also his brother that gave him the JDM bug later on and ultimately the inspiration to get to where he is now, inside the exclusive "Back in the Day" feature club.
Around four years ago, David started a new car project with a RHD Integra that set off multiple flashing light bulbs inside Bryan's head. He figured they can both build one around the same time, and went straight to looking for a RHD chassis. Thankfully, his good buddy, Gabriel from Eastside Muffler in Palmdale, CA had a JDM RHD Integra shell lying around the shop. Bryan purchased it for $3,000 off the bat and blueprinted a plan to refine it in the cleanest and simplest way possible. It was Bryan's homage to his childhood, to the car he fell in love with, and to the moderate approach of building a ride to minimal expectations. It was a perfect situation all around.
His first task was to make the shell look clean, to serve as a visual inspiration for what lie ahead during the rest of the build up, and he executed it with a overhaul of the entire exterior and engine bay. He painted the Integra Estate Green Metallic from the color swatches of a Lincoln Navigator. He straighten up the chassis by fixing up some minor dings and dents before covering the front end with a 3M Invisible Bra. The lighting was also changed with a newer JDM one-piece headlight set with PIAA bulbs and adding an EDM rear foglight in the back. All of the exterior was finished before even considering what engine to get.
Since the B16 was widely popular and easy to get, he dropped one in the engine bay and equipped it with a Walbro fuel pump, Benen fuel rail, and K&N drop-in air filter. He later installed a GReddy SP2 exhaust and DC Sports header into the mix, while doing some engine-bay-keeping with a custom powdercoated valve cover, semi wire tucks, and chromed out pieces. He kept the engines mods to a minimum because Bryan was never into being excessive. He's the Richard Meier to the tuning world's Takashi Murakami.
His next stop in the buildup was the suspension and wheels, where he opted to not only go old school but also rare with a set of 15x7 Sprint Hart CP-R wheels. If these wheels were kicks, they'd be a pair of black/red Air Jordan XIIs with a Now and Later in the middle. Riding them are some Tein Flex coilovers that work with an EM Racing rear strut brace and a one-of-a-kind Red Horse front strut brace. Bryan felt so confident with his suspension setup that he tried them out on several tracks, including Buttonwillow and Willow Springs. Though he didn't plan on ever taking his ride on the bends, he fell in love with road racing as quickly as he did when he first set his eyes on the Integra. Now he has plans to get more suspension components and even equip the Integra with a rollcage.
Three years and some months after purchasing the Integra as a mere shell, Bryan evolved into the tuner he always wanted to be and looked up to in his older brother. "This car is really all due to my big brother," he explains, "He got me into cars and showed me how to build one properly. Because of him, I forced myself to be different and challenge myself when I tune my car. It made the decisions on which parts to buy easier because setting a goal before starting the build is essential. My goal was to build the Integra as something clean and simple, and that's why I did." So when it comes down to it, old school is all relative. What matters after every build is execution. Because it doesn't matter if you have a Starlet, Corolla or Integra if don't know what to do with it.
1993 Honda Integra
OWNER bryan leon
Hometown palmdale, CA
Daily Grind qa inspector
Under The Hood Type-R intake manifold, throttle body; Walbro intank fuel pump; Benen fuel rail; K&N drop-in filter air intake; GReddy SP2 exhaust; DC Sports header; NGK iridium spark plugs, spark plug wires; custom powdercoated white valve cover; Fluidyne radiator; semi-wire tuck; chromed out pieces; green Samco hoses
Drivetrain JDM B16 transmission
Stiff Stuff Tein Flex coilovers; Type-R stabilizer bar; Red Horse front strut brace; EM Racing rear strut brace; Skunk2 LCAs, beaks tie bar, and ARP extended studs
Stoppers Powerslot front and rear rotors; Hawks HP plus brake pads; Earl's brake lines
Rollers 15x7 Sprint Hart CP-R wheels with Falken Ziex 195/50-15 tires
Outside JDM one-piece headlights with PIAA bulbs; full color change exterior, interior and engine bay; Estate Green Metallic (from Lincoln Navigator) paint; 3M invisible bra; EDM rear foglight
Inside Bride Gardis II driver seat, Bride Zeta III passenger seat; Personal Trophy 350mm steering wheel; Gold Mugen shifter knob, pedals; Takata harnesses; Type-R yellow stitched shift boot; Pioneer AVH-P7500DVD head unit, 3-way door and rear speakers
Props Would like to thank God for everything he's done for me; Mom and Dad; my brother David for getting me into cars. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be building cars. Gabe and Joe at Eastside Muffler; Clint and Jeff at Bestway Autosports for the wire tuck; Norman at Streetlightz; Manny, Oscar, Rudy, Jared, Chuy, Angel, Deuce, Uncle Joe, Tim, Marco, Juan, Travis, Brian and Nancee, Randy, Ricker and Joe, and the rest of my friends and family; My whole AS1 crew, TPF and that DudeBlvd crew!
www dcsports.com, falkentire.com, greddy.com, more-japan.com (Bride), pioneerelectronics.com, tein.com (Takata)