This 1995 Honda del Sol Si fits neatly into a special category within the Honda community—one that lacks both attention and sheer numbers, not unlike the Accord and Prelude. Most Honda builds are typically based upon the Civic, Integra and S2000 chassis. Sure, there are plenty of other models available and more than enough potential spread among those other bloodlines, but the masses always seem to flock to the more obvious models, and in turn overall interest and aftermarket support is minimal in comparison to the more popular models.
A Chance to Stand Apart
The result of having so many common platform builds is an incredibly loyal fanbase for these lesser-seen options, along with an opportunity to stand out from the crowd, so to speak. Though it shares its underpinnings with the 5th gen. Civic, the del Sol is really on its own when it comes to many of the upgrades other models take for granted. On the flipside, braking, suspension and perhaps most importantly, the engine bay, can all be fitted with parts from the Civic and Integra parts bins.
The Modifications Begin
For George Santiago, owner of the pictured Si, his interest in the 2-seater revolved around MPG, rather than ease of modification. He adds, "I got it back in 2009 on Cragislist as a daily since it was compact, in decent stock condition and had the SOHC VTEC, power steering, air conditioning, etc." Great on gas and pretty fun to drive, even in stock form, it only took six months before the urge to make changes started to kick in. Santiago's resume is packed with vehicles he's bought, built and sold and includes everything from imports to American muscle, even motorcycles, but he notes that his now 11-year relationship with his del Sol is the longest of the list.
Rather than adding a few bolt-ons and a basic drop, Santiago decided to start from scratch, and with help from Alex Roxas, stripped the Si down to a bare shell before sending it off to Garage Inc. for a complete color change to Le Mans blue. The new paint also covered a JDM front bumper, rear wing, and fenders, along with a custom front lip. Matte black TE37SL go right along with the dark blue color, offer a much wider footprint for the Si and are huge departure from the mundane factory rollers. The other exterior addition is one you might miss as it sits atop the center of the car. The original Targa top was replaced with a tinted Ameripol glass top.
From SOHC 1.5L to 2.0L DOHC Power
With an engine bay that welcomes just about any Honda swap with open arms, Santiago decided on B-series power and didn't have to look far to source his power plant. Veteran ATSG member Ferd Natividad was sitting on a B20/VTEC and Civic Type R transmission combo that now resides under the Si's hood.
To bump the 2.0L's power output further, Santiago added a large-plenum Skunk2 intake manifold with 90mm throttle body and ditched the GS-R cams for a set of Skunk's Tuner Stage 1 with Black Series adjustable cam gears. Select engine bay parts, like the Hasport engine mounts, A'PEXi overflow tank and Circuit Hero bar were highly polished to add some more detail to an engine compartment that's every bit as clean as it is functional.
Function and Form OEM+ Interior
The del Sol's removable top was Honda's main selling point after the bite-sized two-seater debuted in the early '90s, and if you pop the top on Santiago's Si you'll find a wrinkle coated Cusco 6-point roll cage and Recaro Pole Position buckets. The suede Personal steering wheel juts out a few inches further by way of a Checkerd Sports billet hub, and shifting is a little easier with a K-Tuned shifter and Hybrid-Racing knob, but for the most part, the rest of the interior is stock and in stellar condition.
Beyond being highly recognized for producing some of the best Honda builds around, the ATS*Garage crew is also known for being a tight-knit family and their builds are typically a result of a group effort. For instance, Santiago's cousin, Ferd Natividad, along with Mike Estebar, helped source the majority of the OEM parts needed for reassembly, Fred Chapman handled the proper bleeding of the clutch and brake systems, AJ Antiporda volunteered to handle the wire tuck, and the list of members lending a hand goes on and on. A true team effort, Santiago's del Sol is a solid representation of what the platform can be built into with some carefully chosen parts and an eye for detail.