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1993 Acura NSX - Troublemaker

With almost 1,000 hp on tap, being wrong never felt so right

Rodrez
Jun 2, 2017
Photographer: Danh Phan

It was all about balance and affordable sophistication. Call it an exercise in one-upmanship that threw a virtual jab at those pretentious, overpriced exotics of the late '80s/early '90s—Honda's NSX was everything a sports car wasn't supposed to be. From the low price point in its early years to the advanced technology and, most importantly, its painless ownership. Well documented as being reliable and daily-driver friendly, even today, after more than two decades, the NSX still commands a premium.

1993 acura nsx taillights Photo 2/62   |   1993 Acura Nsx Taillights

If you're lucky enough to get your hands on one of Honda's flagships, most would advise you to avoid heavily modifying it and to keep it as true to form as possible. With that being said, why in the hell would someone forego the 270hp, 3.0L, 24-valve, DOHC V-6 to make room for a four-cylinder mill? Well, most wouldn't, but Brandon Wilbur certainly has. His unapologetic answer to that burning question is the almost 1,000 whp he currently makes with an engine that weighs less, offers more engine compartment space for all of those "extras," and relies on a replacement parts list that equates to about a third of what OEM C-series parts cost, not to mention that they're readily available just about anywhere. And trust us when we say replacement parts are a factor here, because Brandon's car doesn't just come out of the garage for a peaceful cruise; it gets abused on the regular.

2017 Acura NSX
$156,000 Base Model (MSRP) 21/22 MPG Fuel Economy

While your purist blood is still boiling, we should give you a little history on how this all came about. This isn't Brandon's first build and, in fact, it's not even his first mid-engine, K-powered monster. He previously owned a Toyota MR2 that relied on the same exact engine setup. Looking to get into something different, the MR2 body was sold to pay for this NSX. However, it wasn't the pristine, time capsule-kept version you dream about. He adds, "The car was purchased as just a shell from California and arrived in hundreds of pieces. All of the wire harnesses were in boxes in the car and it was missing thousands of dollars in parts. Even the doors were just shells without windows or even window tracks." Certainly not the ideal collector car, which made the turbo inline-four swap all the more practical and intriguing, especially since the donor engine was already well-sorted and making incredible power.

1993 acura nsx yoshihara d12c wheel Photo 6/62   |   Brandon's NSX started off as a beat-up shell. Now, it's quite the sleeper with only wheels, suspension, a rear wing, and rear diffuser to give you the impression that it's modified.

The heart of Brandon's NSX starts with a K20A fitted with a CNC Worx Cylinder Support System (CSS), a set of 10:1 JE pistons, Manley Turbo Tuff rods, and a micro-polished OEM crank. Up top, Supertech valvesprings and retainers help control a set of Prayoonto Stage II cams, and a 90mm throttle body connected to a Pro Jay intake manifold handles the cold side. The main ingredient to making so much power is the Precision Gen II 6870 T4 mounted to a custom manifold, along with a total of eight ID 1,300cc injectors, fed by a Magnafuel 4303 pump. To properly anchor the K20 in place, Brandon built his own mounts based on a set of mount flanges from K20/MR2 solution specialist Hux Racing.

With the engine and all of its components properly set in place, Brandon tore it all down in an effort to make the car look the part. A fresh coat of Berlina Black rid the NSX of its mismatched body panels, dents, and dings, and the moment it dried, everything went right back in. The entire K20-swap process, performed by someone with plenty of mid-engine chassis experience mind you, was as straightforward as it sounds. However, like any other high-power build, things can sometimes go awry. In Brandon's case, a turbo manifold issue caused a head gasket problem and everything had to come back out. A blessing in disguise really, as Jeff of CNC Werx set Brandon up with the latest race version CSS block, and the reassembly and install process was done in no time.

1993 acura nsx k20a2 swap Photo 10/62   |   972-whp boosted and built K-Series in a 2,250-pound NSX. Hold on to your lunches!

On the dyno, everything looked great, until a freak accident, possibly related to sound frequency or excessive vibration, caused the car's engine cover window to shatter. Being so close to the engine, some of that broken glass was inhaled by the turbo and wreaked internal havoc. Brandon adds, "After a new set of pistons, rings, redoing the copper O-rings in the block, disassembling the head for cleaning, new bearings, and reassembly, it was ready for a few more pulls...and I decided to get a Lexan hatch window this time." With everything reinstalled for the third time, a rematch with the dyno resulted in 972 whp. Now imagine that power with a curb weight of just 2,250 pounds and you understand there isn't a whole lot on the road that can match performance.

For all the work, dedication, and balls required to pull off this whole build, you'd think it would get the "thumbs up" from everyone. The truth is, many are angered by the mid-ship four-banger, but Brandon doesn't pay them much mind. Besides, it's tough to hear any of that with 900-plus hp screaming just inches behind you.

1993 acura nsx type r style rear wing Photo 20/62   |   1993 Acura Nsx Type R Style Rear Wing
1993 acura nsx type r style wing Photo 36/62   |   1993 Acura Nsx Type R Style Wing
1993 acura nsx front bumper Photo 40/62   |   1993 Acura Nsx Front Bumper
1993 acura nsx coilpacks Photo 56/62   |   1993 Acura Nsx Coilpacks
By Rodrez
537 Articles
1993 Acura NSX - Troublemaker
Tuning Menu
Owner: Brandon Wilbur
Hometown: Lake Charles, LA
Occupation: HVAC Technician
Engine: K20A2; custom engine mounts, T4 turbo manifold, 4" downpipe; micro-polished crankshaft; 10:1 JE pistons; Manley Turbo Tuff rods, ARP 625+ rod bolts; Prayoonto stage II head; Supertech dual valvesprings, titanium retainers; Precision Gen 2 6870 T4 turbo, PT-1000 intercooler; 5-gallon RRC water tank, Rule 2000 pump; Pro Jay 8 injector intake manifold, fuel rail; Magnafuel 4303 fuel pump; 1,300cc ID injectors; K-Tuned 90mm throttle body; TiAL 50mm blow-off valve, 60mm wastegate; 2.5" wastegate dump; JW Performance catch can and swirl tank; Spal 14" fan
Drivetrain: K20a transmission; Albins gearset and final drive; Hybrid Racing RSX short shift box and extended cables; Competition Clutch triple disc and flywheel; Driveshaft Shop custom 1,000hp axles, spool, half shaft
Engine Management: Hondata K-Pro Version 4 and 8 injector driver box; Racepak IQ3s; 4-port boost solenoid; custom wire harness
Footwork & Chassis: D2 coilovers; custom Qa1 spring rates; Cedar Ridge camber kit
Brakes: Power Slot rotors; Hawk Performance pads; brake booster and ABS delete; Wilwood master cylinder; stainless braided lines
Wheels & Tires: Street: 18x8" +40 front, 18x9" +25 rear Yoshihara d12c wheels; 215/35R18 front, 275/35R18 rear Toyo R888 tires;
Race: 18x8" front BBS LM, 15x8" rear Belak Industries wheels; 275/50R15 rear Mickey Thompson ET Street SS tires
Exterior: Type R-style wing; custom rear diffuser; Aerocatch hood pins; Lexan rear window; OEM Berlina Black paint
Interior: OEM S2000 seats; Razo weighted shift knob; carbon-fiber center console, door inserts, dash insert; deleted A/C, heater, audio
Thank Yous: My two best friends, Matt Alcock and Matthew Stelly, for helping me with the car and pulling this swap more times than we can count; Clay Marsh at Real Street Performance for providing me with just about every part of my turbo system and motor build; Huy Tran at Inline Racing for giving me an awesome tune; Jeff Morango at CNC Werx; Juan Figeroua at JJautoworks; David Cordell at Hybrid Racing; my dad, Dwayne Wilbur, for getting me hooked on this amazing hobby and sharing the racing passion with me, showing and teaching me things throughout the years and pushing me to keep on going after all the downtime from broken parts and blown-up motors—love you, Dad!

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