The unspoken style exchange between the U.S. and Japan has evolved to great lengths in the last few years. We Americans have always looked to Japan as our source of tuning inspiration but surprisingly, the relationship between the two countries has become quite reciprocal lately. These days, you'll often see American or "USDM" themed builds pop up in various regions of Japan. Perhaps some Japanese have grown bored of their way of modification and needed a spark to re-ignite that inner fire. We understand how they feel of course, as we've always turned to them to bring the best out of our automotive builds.
The Internet boom has really helped to shape the rapid growth of USDM style in Japan. In just a few years, it's become a huge hit in Japan and has even spawned a sub-community dedicated strictly to cater to those who want that American look. Take into consideration that when we first discovered the Japanese automotive scene, not only had we not coined the acronym "J-D-M", there was no "Internet". Today, there are almost no secrets left in the global tuning community. Years ago, you could easily identify a particular build's country of origin just based on specific styling cues. Now it's a bit harder. We've become so good at interpreting one another's methodologies that you would think that some of these cars were shipped overseas in a completed state.
If you are an avid reader of our publication, then you will undoubtedly remember the Sepang Bronze EK cover vehicle from last year's Honda Issue. Much like Taku Kusugami's Civic, this 1998 Integra Type R is heavily influenced by the American Honda scene. In fact, it is perhaps the best example of an outsider's perspective of a U.S. enthusiast-built Honda based on current popular trends and aesthetic cues. It is a mix of a everything that is modified Honda Americana. One of the other reasons why we mentioned last year's Civic cover car is because they both come from the same camp in Japan: Tactical Art, a tuning shop based in the Osaka prefecture.
After our first initial meeting with them during our visit to Japan in 2012, we knew we had to go back again this year to see what was new with them. Their shop space is relatively small by American standards, but for them, it was ample space for them to do whatever they wanted to any project vehicle. They do everything from basic installs to more labor intensive tasks, like fabricating custom roll cages. When they told us to stop by to take a look at an Integra Type R they had recently finished, we were a little taken back by what we saw. Our reaction wasn't at all negative; it was just completely unexpected. We looked around at their fleet of Hondas and did not see an ITR--so we thought anyway.
Maybe it's a testament to their ability to interpret our style but at a glance, you wouldn't even fathom that the Integra on these pages was an original Type R model. To the casual enthusiast who had no idea this Honda was in Japan, this would merely appear to be an Integra with an ITR front end, right-hand converted, re-sprayed a custom grey on a set of aggressive 16-inch CCW Classics--and that's the beauty of the whole concept. It's that execution of the American style that owner Toshiyuki Yanagi was going for. Diehard Honda fanatics who see the Type R designation with deep religious fervor may cringe at the thought of making an R look "un-R" like, but it is of little consequence to Yanagi and Tactical Art. A '98-spec ITR is much more common to them and while they respect the fact that it is an original Type R, they don't see heavily modifying them as sacrilege. In Yanagi's eyes, he just wanted a cool street car to cruise around in--it just happened to be an R.
The mechanical side of Toshiyuki's DC2 preserves its Type R origins. The famed B18C motor remains but the entire engine bay has been tucked clean. You'll find your basic intake and header upgrades but there are no major power-adders to mess with the great balance that the R has been known for. A custom Tactical Art exhaust system does little to muffle the loud screams of the B18C as the car blasts along the Osaka Kanjo on any given night. Toshiyuki's Integra looks unrecognizable from the rest of its Type R brethren because it has been repainted a custom gray tone. The factory R decals have been removed during the process and both the hood and rear hatch have been replaced with carbon fiber variants. Seated closely to the massaged wheel wells is a set of staggered American-made CCW Classics wrapped with stretched Nankang rubber. CNC-milled suspension pieces from Function7 Engineering add rigidity to the chassis and a set of custom Tactical Art dampers help to marry this R to the floor. The inside is completely gutted. Other than a single Bride Zeta III bucket seat, the only creature comforts that remain are the original dashboard and door panels. Everything else has been removed to make room for the custom 21-point rollcage, made in house at Tactical Art.
In our limited time with the Tactical Art family, we learned that Toshiyuki is the guy in their group that is usually on the receiving end of their pranks. They say that he's such an aficionado of the American culture that he even spends a lot of his time on his laptop studying American adult entertainment. Whether that is true or not is none of our business but he takes it all in stride and often plays it up. Some may think that he's a kichi or "crazy" guy for transforming his R but we praise his efforts. Toshiyuki and the guys at Tactical Art have taken a plain-Jane Type R and created something very unique to Japan by blending two worlds together.
1998 Honda Integra Type R
Hometown Neyagawa-shi, Osaka, Japan
Occupation Kichi-guy (crazy), loosely translated from kichigai
Engine 1.8L B18C; Password:JDM Power Chamber intake; Mugen exhaust manifold; Tactical Art custom stainless exhaust; Koyo full-size radiator; Rywire radiator overflow tank; MFactory oil cap
Drivetrain OEM S80 w/Helical LSD
Footwork & Chassis Tactical Art Original coilovers (F: 20k/R: 18k); Function7 lower control arms and subframe brace
Brakes OEM ITR front/rear brakes
Wheels & Tires 16x9" +5/16x9.5"+5 CCW Classic wheels; 215/40R16, 225/40R16 Nankang NS-II tires
Exterior Custom "Tactical Art Gray" paint; '96-spec ITR headlights; SMART H.I.D. system; Benen tow hook; Seibon carbon-fiber rear hatch and twin-duct hood
Interior Tactical Art 21-point rollcage; custom Battleship Grey interior paint; Password:JDM carbon-fiber fuel pump cover; custom doors; Bride Zeta III seat; NRG steering wheel and quick-release
Thanks You Tactical Art family; Team Madame; Rywire; Stickydiljoe.com