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1991 Honda Accord EX - Needle in a Haystack

The lengthy search that ended in perfection

Matt Rodriguez
Oct 4, 2013

Ricardo Juarez is a bit of a perfectionist. His '91 Accord EX looks almost foreign on SoCal streets, with its pristine paint and mind-numbing wheels that have most wondering how a car with 22 years under its belt can possibly look this young and vibrant. His ability to maintain the car is matched only by the foundation by which it started. Ricardo's search for this immaculate CB7 wasn't something he took lightly. After falling head over heels for the body style while still in high school, he knew in the back of his mind that one day he'd have one of his own. The hunt for a suitable used car is often stress inducing, sometimes downright infuriating. Add to that an obsession with finding the "perfect" used car and you have all the makings of sizable ulcer. Perfection is of course used loosely when dealing with something that was once owned by someone else, and Ricardo will be the first to admit that his "must-have" list was extremely specific. "I wanted the car to come from a non-smoker, no kids, four doors, and to have never been altered--a virgin." High expectations led to a tedious six-year search but eventually he found his virgin Accord in a '91 EX model, but it came at a hefty price. He adds, "I was shocked when I found my car in the AutoTrader. The car only had 50K miles and it was $8,500. I knew the car was very expensive, but besides being automatic, it was everything I wanted."

The plan from the very beginning was to tastefully modify the car, but not to a level that would take away from the very lines that attracted Ricardo to the car in the first place.

1991 honda acccord EX OEM JDM bumper 04 Photo 2/9   |   1991 Honda Accord EX - Needle in a Haystack

"My mind-set was never to create a full-blown race or show car, but instead a simple, quality build that kept the OEM lines. A diamond in the rough." Basic suspension and wheel changes were performed, though Ricardo wasn't completely satisfied with the level of options for Accord fans compared to other, more popular Honda models. A bit of inspiration came from a coworker who owned an Accord outfitted with a number of OEM JDM parts and the coveted H22 swap. Along with that inspiration came a chance encounter with the family, and Ricardo's modification thirst increased exponentially. "I was amazed to learn about this website, and I decided to attend a meet in San Diego where I met a lot of SoCal members who are now close friends of mine. We continuously shared ideas, parts, and helped each other with many upgrades."

As clean and nice as the Accord was, just about everyone grows bored of the factory slushbox, and not surprisingly, Ricardo wanted to convert the car to manual. Friend and fellow cb7tuner member, Craig Orozco, referred him to Steve of H-Motors who handpicked an LSD-equipped H22 swap, and the planning began. Another friend from the forums, Ruben Calderon, had plenty of experience with the chassis and volunteered to help Ricardo complete the swap and conversion. Using a set of Explicit Speed engine mounts, the 2.2L mill made its way between the shock towers and received an AEM intake, GReddy header, and SP1 exhaust for good measure.

1991 honda acccord EX mugen m7 wheels 06 Photo 3/9   |   1991 Honda Accord EX - Needle in a Haystack

Living in SoCal with a modified Honda means you're probably going to have a run-in or two with local authorities. After being pulled over, he received a ticket that required him to visit the California State Referee (B.A.R.) to verify and test his engine swap for legality. What sounds like a complete nightmare actually went quite well, with Ricardo driving away the proud owner of an official B.A.R. certification sticker and no worries about future one-on-one encounters with the law.

The Accord's low crouch is obtained via Function/Form Type 2 coilovers, and Ricardo explains that the company also prototyped LCAs on his Accord, and those pieces have since gone into mass production. What isn't mass-produced, however, are the custom-built one-off Mugen M7s. Originally standard 15-inch wheels, Ralph Wright pulled them apart, matched the faces to larger, 16-inch chrome barrels, and then reassembled them for street duty. The act of modifying tough-to-source classic wheels tends to be controversial, but there's no denying the unique look they've given Ricardo's sedan. To get the now 9.5-inch wheels to fit without major rubbing required rolling and slightly pulling the front fenders, while still maintaining an untouched look. A proper alignment was obtained via West End Alignment, and Ricardo tells us it's the only place on Earth he'll ever take his pride and joy for alignment work.

1991 honda acccord EX OEM JDM taillights 08 Photo 4/9   |   1991 Honda Accord EX - Needle in a Haystack

As clean as the exterior is, it's the interior that defies any signs of logic. After 22 years of use and abuse, you'll find no spills, stains, rips, or tears on the all-original seats, door panels, roof liner, dash and carpet. The steering wheel and pedals might have been high-wear items, but Ricardo ditched them for a classy Nardi woodgrain wheel and Mugen pedals.

In closing, Ricardo states, "It's been a long journey for the completion of my car. Many say you have to be a baller to fix up your car, but know that I'm just your average humble guy with a regular job who has a passion for the CB7. Sad to say there aren't enough CB7s to make an impact in the import scene, but maybe this one will inspire others. Accords are like gems that need to be polished to be noticed--it's always quality over quantity."

1991 honda acccord EX SP1 exhaust 05 Photo 5/9   |   1991 Honda Accord EX - Needle in a Haystack

Bolts & Washers

Explicit Speed mounts
AEM cold-air intake
Trust/GReddy header
Trust/GReddy SP1 exhaust
Auto to manual conversion
H23 manual tensioner conversion
BB4 Prelude line and pump
Hondata intake manifold gasket
Prelude Type S valve cover
Carbon-Kevlar spark plug cover
Trust/GReddy oil cap
Exedy Stage 1 clutch
Fidanza lightweight flywheel

1991 honda acccord EX H22 engine 02 Photo 6/9   |  
A manual conversion and H-series swap increase the fun factor.

Function/Form Type 2 coilovers
Suspension Techniques sway bars
Energy Suspension bushings
Skunk2 EF Pro Series Plus A-arms
Megan rear camber kit and toe arms
Function/Form LCAs
DC Sports front shock tower bar
DC Sports rear shock tower bar
DC Sports lower tie-bar

'92 CB7 disc conversion
Power Stop slotted rotors
EBC black pads
Goodridge steel braided lines

Wheels & Tires
Custom-built Mugen M7 wheels, rebarrel by Ralph Wright
Front: 16x9.5 +20
Rear: 16x9.5 +15
Yokohama S-Drive 205/45-16
Rays anodized lug nuts

1991 honda acccord EX trust GReddy header 03 Photo 7/9   |   1991 Honda Accord EX - Needle in a Haystack

Jim & Jacks Auto Body
Complete respray
Shaved badges
OEM JDM 1-pc headlights with chrome trim
OEM JDM foglights
Xenon HID kit/retrofit
OEM JDM bumper with chrome trim
OEM JDM side moldings with chrome trim
OEM JDM taillights with chrome trim
OEM JDM side markers
OEM JDM folding mirrors
OEM fifth-gen front lip
2.2i Exclusive badging

All OEM-mint condition
Nardi 330mm Deep Corn woodgrain steering wheel
Mugen pedals
Trust/GReddy shift knob
'99 Si shift boot
NRG short hub/quick-release
JDM CB7 map light and visors

I would especially like to thank my dad, Carlos, for the support, guidance, and teaching me about cars. Oscar and Renezit Guzman, Giovanni Crack Funes, Tony aka Tropical, the only SoCal 2SiiC crew, Jed Peralta, Sal and Cynthia Gonzalez, Jesus Delgado, Jeremy, David, Johnny Five, Aaron, Paul, Joeyboy cb7, Craig Orozco for always helping me out, Ruben Calderon aka 626cb7 the mastermind behind the swap. Special thanks to my bros at CAM Cali Accord Meet-Ralph Vega and Alan Craft for the support and putting my CB7 on the map. F.F.C. FatFourCustoms yea buddy! TimmyOtool Valbuena, Ron, Tommy and the rest of Team Supastar, Preston and Ron from Function/Form, Preston for supporting the CB7s, Darin and Chris from West End Alignment for always taking care of me like family, Ralph Wright for my custom wheels, John at Explicit Speed for making quality parts and supporting the Accord community, my lovely wife Ana, thank you for supporting my passion and for bringing Nicholas and Ricky into this world, Chiddy this is for you ah-wooo! Also West End Alignment,, F2autolife,

Special Thanks to CB7 Tuner, Cali Accord Meet

1991 honda acccord EX nardi deep corn woodgrain steering wheel 07 Photo 8/9   |   1991 Honda Accord EX - Needle in a Haystack

Owner Specs

Daily Grind
Federal worker

Favorite Site

Screen name

Building Hondas
16 years

Dream Car
Too many to name

Inspiration for this Build

Future Builds
House build

Closing The Generation Gap

Three generations of the Juarez family all have a stake in this classic build. Ricardo states, "After all the upgrades, time, effort, passion, and dedication, the most memorable part of all this is the time spent with friends in making my car the beauty that it is now. I've especially spent many quality hours with my father, a mechanic who has always been there under the hood with me helping to fix the car. My father has helped me so much through all these years, and I can honestly say the great memories are enough to convince me that this car will always be with me. I have an emotional attachment to my CB7, and I will continue to take care of it until I'm ready to hand it over to my 3-year-old son Nicholas."

1991 honda acccord EX mugen M7 wheel 09 Photo 9/9   |   1991 Honda Accord EX - Needle in a Haystack


West End Alignment
Gardena, CA 90248
Explicit Speed Performance
By Matt Rodriguez
34 Articles



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