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2011 Acura TSX - Challenge Accepted

The road less traveled

Jonathan "JT" Thompson
May 28, 2014
Photographer: Daniel Olivares

Honda building can sometimes feel like an old choose-your-own-adventure book. While some pick one route because it might be a little easier, others like the challenge and opt for an alternate path. For example, option one, the easy route: Purchase a popular platform with plenty of aftermarket support from companies competing for consumer dollars and consistent development, and you can enjoy a wide selection of parts, oftentimes at more affordable prices. Option two, the more difficult route: Choose a car with little to no aftermarket support, and you'll find that there are very few, if any, businesses producing parts, leaving many to hunt down parts that are rare, made-to-order, or custom. Due to the lack of market competitors, these tend to be more expensive. Most modifications consist of one-off solutions and option two is exactly how Daniel Sandoval of Lawrence, Massachusetts, chose to go about things when he picked up a '11 TSX. As he puts it, "I'm the type of person who likes to be different and have things that others don't."

2011 acura TSX honda accord sport a spec rear bumper 04 Photo 2/13   |   2011 Acura TSX - Challenge Accepted

The exterior of Daniel's TSX is a statement in and of itself, with a Mugen front bumper, side skirts, window visors, and a hunkered-down appearance. The parts were difficult to source and almost stopped the project entirely, but Daniel was dead set on getting authentic Mugen aero for this build. The challenge started when the first Japanese parts supplier sent Daniel a picture of a Mugen front bumper for a Honda Odyssey, perhaps thinking that it might work with the TSX sedan. After explaining that the bumper was wrong, he was then informed that Mugen did not have any TSX-specific bumpers. "I was at the point where I wanted to get rid of the car," he says. "I could not get a Mugen bumper. What could I do? I don't like the TSX front end in the United States. I thought about selling the car because of this."

2011 acura TSX volk CE28 wheel 02 Photo 3/13   |  
Big 19x8.5 Volk CE28s hide Buddy Club’s big brake kit.

While Mugen doesn't make parts specifically for the U.S. TSX, the Japanese market's Accord shares many of the same bits and pieces. This meant that there was still a chance, and before Daniel scrapped the build altogether, he happened upon a second Mugen parts supplier. The source claimed to know someone who worked at a Japanese Honda dealership and explained that Mugen parts intended for the JDM Accord should work with the TSX.

Daniel ended up taking a risk worth $5,000 and sent the money to the connection overseas. "I chose the Mugen front end because no one has it," he says. "A TSX with Mugen parts is something really rare in the United States. I wanted to have something that would identify my personality as a Honda lover, but also something really special. That is why I went in this direction." The gamble paid off, and the parts did arrive as promised and compatibility between the U.S. and Japanese models was confirmed. Not wasting anymore time, the pieces were painted and installed but unfortunately, didn't match the OEM paint well enough. A perfectionist at heart, Daniel decided to repaint the entire car for a seamless appearance.

2011 acura TSX status SPA seats 05 Photo 4/13   |   2011 Acura TSX - Challenge Accepted

Complementing the slick aero upgrades are 19-inch CE28s and 14-inch Buddy Club brakes. The brake kit came about after JT Motoring, a full-service automotive shop in Massachusetts, made an offer Daniel couldn't refuse. The shop wanted to see if the Buddy Club brakes from the first-gen TSX would fit his car, and they even offered a discount in exchange for the experiment. The solution worked. "They have a lot of braking power," he says. "I love it. I have not raced with them yet, but I do want to get a Kraftwerks supercharger and take it to the track to fully use them."

2011 acura TSX mugen oil cap 07 Photo 5/13   |   2011 Acura TSX - Challenge Accepted

Inside the cabin a pair of eye-searing, bright red Status SPA carbon-fiber seats are firmly planted with modified mounts. Something else that jumps out at people is the sedan's factory six-speed transmission. What's the big deal? Daniel says, "Most people just assume that when they walk up and see my car that it's going to have an automatic transmission. They just get excited."

Currently Daniel's plans have slowed considerably due to evening classes as he works toward his master's degree in computers and electronics engineering. "Dreams would never come true if you didn't make them happen," he says. Even with the slight lull in build progress, future plans are bright and include the aforementioned forced induction, a J's Racing rear diffuser, and a thorough engine harness tuck. How will all of this happen with the limited aftermarket support? Outside of the box thinking and creative solutions, of course.

Bolts & Washers
Propulsion
Takata cold air intake
MagnaFlow dual exhaust system
Mugen spark plug cover

Suspension
Megan EZ coilovers
Megan EZ springs
Ingalls rear camber kit
Ingalls rear toe kit

2011 acura TSX takeda cold air intake 06 Photo 9/13   |   2011 Acura TSX - Challenge Accepted

Resistance
Front: Buddy Club 14-inch big brake kit
Buddy Club brake lines

Wheels & Tires
19x8.5 +29 Volk CE28
Front: 215/35-19 Falken Ziex ZE-502
Rear: 235/35-19 Falken Ziex ZE-502

Exterior
Custom white pearl paint
Mugen JDM Accord front bumper
Mugen JDM Accord side skirts
Mugen JDM Accord window visors
JDM Accord headlights
JDM Accord foglights
Honda Accord Sport A-Spec rear bumper
TSX roof spoiler
TSX rear wing
Paint-matched door handles
Shaved antenna

2011 acura TSX mugen JDM accord front bumper 03 Photo 10/13   |   2011 Acura TSX - Challenge Accepted

Interior
Status SPA seats
Planted TSX third-generation seat brackets
Takata seat harnesses
JDM Accord steering wheel
JDM Accord airbag emblem
JDM Civic Type R shift knob
CT Engineering short shifter
Honda Accord Euro pedals
Alpine audio system

Props
My wife, Xiomicel; my mom, Maggy; my father, El Rubio; Amiel Reyes; Engel el Pato; Ernesto; Jason S.; Joel R.; Johnny Compres; La Abogacia; Margarita; Pedro F.; Virgilito B.; Daniel Olivares and David Medina from Team ECR

2011 acura TSX JDM accord steering wheel 09 Photo 11/13   |   2011 Acura TSX - Challenge Accepted

Owner Specs
Daily Grind
Assistant Supervisor

Favorite Site
razine.com

Screen Name
Danielk20

Building Hondas
10 years

Dream Car
Blue DC5 Honda Integra Type R

Inspiration For This Build
Phase Honda Accord Euro R

Future Build
Acura TLX

2011 acura TSX front grill 12 Photo 12/13   |   2011 Acura TSX Front Grill 12

So long TSX ...
After 11 long years of production, 2014 will be the last model year of the TSX. Annual TSX unit sales peaked in 2006 and have trended downward since. Replacing the TSX is the TLX, a car that Acura is touting as a strong contender for the performance luxury sedan market focusing on performance, technology, and design. Apparently drivers will speed in silence as efforts were made to reduce low, mid, and high noise frequencies throughout the interior. The new model comes with a 2.4L engine with an eight-speed dual clutch transmission or a 3.5 V-6 with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Acura did announce that a TLX GT race car will compete in the World Challenge series driven by RealTime Racing team owner and driver Peter Cunningham. This is an exciting step for Acura and a signal that Honda cofounder Soichiro Honda's focus of applying technology that wins races to consumer cars is still a winning formula.

2011 acura TSX JDM civic type r shift knob 08 Photo 13/13   |   2011 Acura TSX - Challenge Accepted

Sources

CT Engineering
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
916-635-4550
http://www.ct-engineering.com
Buddy Club Racing
Ontario, CA 91761
909-923-9188
http://www.buddyclub.us
By Jonathan "JT" Thompson
2 Articles

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