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2003 Acura RSX Type-S - In Remembrance Of ...

A 700-plus-hp RSX build with some meaning behind it

Aaron Bonk
Dec 3, 2013
Photographer: Matt Magnino

Josh Jett's wife knew all about his girlfriend. The forum chatting, the late-night texting, the time they went to the drag strip together--she was fine with all of it. That's mostly because Josh's girlfriend wasn't a girl at all, and their relationship, which had nothing at all to do with surreptitiously sexting one another at all hours and everything to do with collaborating on each other's RSX build-ups, was the sort of stuff car-guy bonds are made of. None of that stopped Josh's wife from pronouncing her husband and fellow RSX chat forum member Zack Keller boyfriend and girlfriend though, even if they were just a couple of friends which shared a fervor for the final iteration of what was once the Acura Integra.

Josh and Zack met online and soon realized that they lived close to one another, near the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. For Josh, his '03 RSX Type-S was his first attempt at modifying a car from the ground up. He'll tell you about the '00 Civic EX he'd once owned, but he'll also tell you that the changes he'd made to it pale to what he'd do to the RSX. Zack, the more mechanically experienced of the two, is partially to blame. "Zack was much more knowledgeable when it came to motors, transmissions, and how things work," Josh says. "I'm sure I was quite annoying with all of my questions, but he was always helpful."

2003 acura RSX type S precision PT6766 turbocharger 03 Photo 2/10   |  
Precision’s PT6766 helps belt out over 700hp

It's Zack's helpful nature that in part led to the 741 whp that Josh would later make and the 11-second pass he'd post his first time out. It's true that Josh's new friend was the more experienced of the two, but his RSX would prove to be the real teacher. "My RSX is the first car that I really put some time into modifying and understanding everything [about] that I could," he says. "I like to do things myself and tried to with this car as much as I could." Josh'll be the first to remind you that his RSX is what he calls "built, not bought." It soon proved to be an instruction manual for him, leading to his better understanding how difficult making power naturally aspirated was, how temporarily satisfying a supercharger could be, and how worthwhile a totally rebuilt and turbocharged K-series is. In just a short time, Josh had subjected his K20 to nearly every form of aspiration, each of which concluded with a predilection for more power, which is exactly what led to his settling on an engine program based upon a Precision PT6766 turbocharger.

Take a peek at Josh's setup and little will surprise you--unless a cluster of top-notch engine pieces and high-end suspension components are unfamiliar to you. Ductile, iron cylinders, Wiseco pistons, and Manley connecting rods make sure that the 28 psi that passes through the Golden Eagle intake manifold and into the lightly modified cylinder head stays put and doesn't plan its own exit strategy by means of a hole in the block. A team of fuel pumps along with 2,000cc/min. fuel injectors tuned with the help of a Hondata K-Pro do their part in generating the nearly quadrupled power figure but it's the drivetrain that impresses and, along with the exhaust that's routed through the hood, toes the line between what Josh says is a weekend car and what is really just a track car occasionally fired up on the street. A five-speed RSX gearbox augmented with PPG straight-cut gears--their whine of which, according to Josh, is the one thing his wife can do without. Despite what the state of Ohio's Bureau of Motor Vehicles says, Josh's RSX is a race car by any description. Either of his sons will tell you as much, the older of which pines for the opportunity to be straddled inside the passenger-side carbon-fiber bucket, and the younger of which, although not old enough to ride in it, knows to call it "Daddy's race car."

A smattering of mods you aren't likely to find on any race car have also found themselves onto Josh's RSX, like the shaved engine bay and body work that he did himself, both processes that gave him the opportunity to learn new skills, like welding and paint preparation. Interior enhancements have also been made, like a dyed-black headliner and carbon-fiber-vinyl trim pieces strategically placed across the dash and center console. It's all very much an appropriate contrast to the exposed, billet-aluminum K-Tuned shifter box, CNC staging brake, and barrage of digital AEM meters.

Josh's RSX has since been completed and is admittedly "done." All that he says is left is to "enjoy beating the hell out of it," a job that's been bittersweet ever since August 14, 2012, when Zack passed away following a fatal car accident. Still, beat it up he has. Under the once watchful guidance of his friend and longtime drag racer, who Josh says the build's been dedicated to, Josh familiarized himself with staging, launching, and shifting. "I wasn't nervous; I was excited," he says of that first pass. "Zack grew up around drag racing, so I wanted him there to give me pointers. I short-shifted and bogged at the beginning of that first pass. The time was quite embarrassing." Following a bit of seat time and just before posting his quickest pass Josh looked to Zack and asked him how he thought he was doing. "Pretty good," Zack said. "Now quit driving the car like a pussy. You built it for a reason."

2003 acura RSX type S 205 06 RSX conversion 02 Photo 6/10   |   2003 Acura RSX Type S 205 06 RSX Conversion 02

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
K20Z1 block
K20A2 head
Avid Racing solid engine mounts
Custom solid front engine mount
Supertech .5mm oversized valves
Supertech dual valve springs
Supertech titanium valve retainers
Supertech valve keepers
Cam tower direct-oiling modification
Dan Benson Racing cylinder sleeves
Wiseco 11.0:1 pistons
Manley Turbo Tuff connecting rods
Polished and chamfered crankshaft
ERL Performance S2000 oil pump
Skunk2 billet timing chain cover
Custom hood-funnel intake piping
Skunk2 74mm Pro Series throttle body
K-Tuned billet TPS
Golden Eagle intake manifold
Precision PT6766 turbocharger
Vibrant Performance velocity stack
Treadstone Performance TRV25-S front mount intercooler
Custom intercooler piping
TiAL Q 50mm blow-off valve
TiAL V60 wastegate
Slowmotion Motorsports exhaust manifold
Custom 3-inch hood-exited downpipe
Custom 2.5-inch hood-exited dumptube
Walbro 416lph in-tank fuel pump
Weldon 2015A in-line fuel pump
Modified RCI one-gallon surge tank
JEGS fuel filter
K-Tuned fuel rail
Injector Dynamics 2,000cc/min. fuel injectors
Fuelab fuel pressure regulator
Hybrid Racing fuel pressure gauge
JEGS braided-nylon -8AN, -6AN fuel lines
NGK Iridium spark plugs
Custom engine wiring harness
Custom tucked chassis wiring harness
Koyo aluminum radiator
JEGS braided-nylon -16 AN radiator hoses
K-Tuned upper coolant housing
K-Tuned swivel-neck thermostat housing
K-Tuned pulley kit
PPG straight-cut transmission gears (1st-4th)
K-Tuned billet shifter box
MTEC Industries race shift lever spring
K-Tuned Race-Spec shifter cables
Competition Clutch twin-disc clutch and flywheel
Quaife limited-slip differential
Insane Shafts axles
Electro-hydraulic power steering conversion
Removed A/C, heater, ABS, EVAP systems

2003 acura RSX type S k tuned fuel rail 07 Photo 7/10   |   2003 Acura RSX Type-S - In Remembrance Of ...

Suspension
Buddy Club N+ coilovers
PCI front lower-control arm spherical bearings
Energy Suspension rear lower control arm bushings
Energy Suspension rear anti-sway bar bushings
Spoon Sports rigid collar kit
Progress rear anti-roll bar
Progress rear tie-bar
Power Rev Racing rear tie-bar

Resistance
Custom NiCopp lines
Chase Bays brake booster eliminator
CNC staging brake

Wheels & Tires
Street: 17x9 Enkei RPF1 (+35 offset)
Street: 255/40-17 Nitto NT01
Track: 15x8 (front), 15x4 (rear) JEGS Sport Mag
Track: 8.5x24.5x15 M&H Racemaster (front), 3.6x24x15 M&H Front Runners (rear)
Eibach 10mm wheel spacers (front)

2003 acura RSX type S momo corse steering wheel 06 Photo 8/10   |   2003 Acura RSX Type-S - In Remembrance Of ...

Exterior
Shaved engine bay
2005-2006 RSX exterior conversion
Mugen-style front spoiler
Integra Type R rear spoiler

Interior
Autopower six-point roll cage
MAC Valves boost control solenoid
Hondata K-Pro engine management
AEM digital wideband air/fuel gauge
AEM oil pressure gauge
AEM boost gauge
AEM exhaust gas temperature gauge
AEM fuel pressure gauge
F1Spec Type 2 carbon-fiber seats
Custom black headliner
Custom in-car PC
G-Force Pro Series five-point harnesses
Momo Corse steering wheel
Strut King pedals
ClubRSX shift knob
Custom dashboard and center console panels
Monstaliner-coated rear interior
Alpine speakers
Kenwood amplifier

Props:

  • The love of my life, my wife, Marlane, and my two boys, Anthony and Aiden. Without their support, my car would not be where it is today. My wife hasn't been too upset when I say I'll be in the garage all weekend, and I've been fortunate that my boys enjoy helping work on daddy's race car.
  • My friends who kept me motivated: Zack Keller, Corey Catlett, Max Carroll, Pat Carroll, Alex Renton, Paul Armstrong, Matt Baringer, Colby Levan, and everyone on clubrsx.com and k20a.org.
  • Derek Robinson at Innovative Motorworks for the exceptional service and honest advice.
  • Shaun Quickel at QCP Gear for the excellent service.
  • Ryan and Rich at Autofair Honda, Mike and John at K-Tuned, Jon at M&H tires, Steve at kseriesparts.com, Russ and David at Hybrid Racing, Derek at All In Fab, Travis at Hardware909, Brian at Pro Car Innovations, Corey at Slowmotion Motorsports, and Greg at Aesthetic Finishers.

2003 acura RSX type S clubRSX shift knob 10 Photo 9/10   |   2003 Acura RSX Type-S - In Remembrance Of ...

Owner Specs

Daily grind
Martial arts instructor

Favorite Site
Clubrsx.com, k20a.org

Screen name
iBoost

Building Hondas
About seven years

Dream car
Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Aventador, Acura NSX, Dodge Viper to name a fewz

Inspiration for this build
Keep it clean and mean

Future build
Something RWD

2003 acura RSX type S mugen style front spoiler 09 Photo 10/10   |   2003 Acura RSX Type-S - In Remembrance Of ...

Mid-Model Refresh

Like almost every other Honda or Acura, the RSX wasn't one to escape the mid-model refresh. Those who haven't owned or aren't fans of the '02-'06 RSX probably aren't familiar with what changes Acura made to its entry-level hatchback for the 2005 model year, perhaps most important of which was the Type-S model's engine. For three years the K20A2 could be found underneath the hood of top-of-the-line RSX models until late 2004 when the K20Z1 was introduced. It doesn't look much different than its predecessor but inside it's a marginally different beast, the basis of which is slightly more aggressive camshafts. Honda also fitted the updated RSX with a higher-flowing catalytic converter as well as a larger intake duct and exhaust, all of which are good for another 10 hp. The six-speed gearbox is also revised, featuring a lower final-drive ratio and carbon synchronizers on its Fifth and Sixth gears instead of brass. The '05-'06 RSX also sits 7mm lower than earlier models and features a number of different suspension, steering, and braking enhancements, like a bigger strut tower brace up front and 17-inch rims all around. It's the aesthetics that you'll notice, though, which include an all-new front grille, front and rear bumper covers, side skirts, headlights, and taillights as well as a newly designed spoiler that sits out back.

Sources

AEM
Hawthorne, CA 90250
800-992-3000
http://www.aempower.com
Hondata
Torrance, CA 90503
310-782-8278
http://www.hondata.com
Supertech Performance
San Jose, CA 95136
408-448-2001
http://www.supertechperformance.com
K-Tuned
877-958-8633
http://www.k-tuned.com
By Aaron Bonk
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