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Cool Combos - Six Hondas to Build

Six Cars That You May Never Have Thought About Building But Should Have.

Jul 1, 2006 SHARE

Lets face it. A B-series in an EG is old news. That is not to say a tried and true swap is a bad idea, but a little variety never hurt anybody. These six "cool combos" are a few plausible swap ideas that might spark some interest in a few forgotten Honda platforms. It is easy enough to get by in high school and college with a JDM'ed out Civic or Integra; and even if we never grow out of them, the need for a new car will eventually arise. How many people do you know that have over built their "daily driver" and find themselves looking for something a bit tamer? Another EG or DC will just become another racecar, so what is a Honda loyalist to do? How about a VIP'ed second-gen Legend with a 3.5RL swap? Or an Accord V6 with a twin-turbo MDX motor?

No matter what Toys'R'Us ads tell us, we will all grow up someday. Some of us may even get lucky and find a nice girl, get married, and dare I say it... have babies. Try toting around a newborn in a car seat strapped into the back seat of an EF hatchback, good luck. With daddy behind the wheel of a turbo H22-swapped first-gen Odyssey, the kids will never be late for school.

Even for those of us who are not ready to be grown ups, the need for a second car is just as real. Do you want to be out street racing with your show car? Can you imagine getting thousands of dollars worth of Mugen, Spoon, and OEM JDM Honda parts impounded? Or worse yet, crushed? Maybe it is a better idea to build a budget beater third-gen Civic with a turbo D-series swap. An unsuspecting ride like this will catch everybody off guard downtown, and since the whole build costs less than the wheels on your DC2, getting it impounded won't be as big of a deal.

There is a perfect car for everybody, and in our opinion, there is a perfect second car for everybody too. Have a cooler, more unique, yet plausible combo than we could come up with? We are anxious to hear about it. E-mail us at editorial@hondatuningmagazine.com.Dr Barrios

A Spin On Things
The Perfect Car For Our Hypothetical Traveling Club DJ To Tote His Gear Around In Style.Ever tried to stuff two turntables, a mixer, an amp rack, and speaker cabinets into the trunk of a Civic coupe or the joke of a cargo space in a hatchback? It's close to impossible. Unless you want your equipment sitting shotgun with you and messing up your red Recaros, lugging it around in your daily driver isn't an option.

Our DJ needs a gear hauler, but being a Honda loyalist, a pickup is out of the question. Friends would make fun of him for rolling around in an Odyssey and a CR-V is a bit out of the budget. The answer? A first-gen Integra.

The first-gen Teg's rear hatch has more cargo room than any of its successors. Take out the back seat, fit a whole stage setup in the open space, and you can still keep shotgun open for a groupie post-set. The only real problem is lack of power and, more importantly, torque to handle the extra load. But before you head out to the gas station to pick up this week's Truck Trader, remember our trusty solution to almost every problem: swap it.

While we've recently seen Type-R and even K motors in a first-gen engine bay, our DJ needs torque, something that the B20 offers. Its 140 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque will turn the 'Teg into a "Tug." A JDM B20B or USDM B20Z longblock costs around $600 and beyond that, our DJ needs a tranny, intake manifold (the B20 manifold will hit the hood) and axles pulled from a DA Integra. He'll also need an OBD-0 or OBD-1 ECU from an LS Integra.

Also needed are a set of mounts, Hasport makes a set specifically for this swap (AVB1), and probably a set of rear coilovers. Since the first-gen 'Teg comes equipped with torsion bars and a rear-beam axle, there are no springs to replace up front. The rear might be better suited with a set of sleeve-over coilovers with a higher spring rates than stock, matched with a pair of decent struts to handle the additional equipment load.

Mr. DJ's daily-driver EG may be a super-hot JDM street machine right now, but without a pack mule first-gen to supplement it, it won't last for long.

HOW MUCH?
'86-89 Integra (average) $2,{{{100}}}
B20B/Z longblock $600
LS tranny ${{{200}}}
Axles/ECU/etc. $500
Hasport mounts $600
Coilovers/struts $200
GRAND TOTAL $4,200

Turbo D16 In A Third-Gen Civic
The Ultimate Sleeper Built For Street-Race Hustle.The third-gen Civic has been all but forgotten in the tuning world. With little-to-no aftermarket support, third and first-gen CRX enthusiasts are usually forced to take matters into their own hands when looking for power. These cars are different than what we're used to when building post-1988 Hondas. You'll find things like carburetors and vacuum-advance distributors under the hoods of these cars.

Why mess with antiquated technology inherent in these cars when you could follow Honda Tuning tradition by ripping it all out and replacing it with something better? The gut reaction for most people would be to swap in a K series, but K's and even B's are too obvious for us. We're looking for subtlety, something underestimated, something like a D16A in a third-gen chassis, a car that may get you clowned on when you roll up to the spot-until the clowns are left staring at your taillights.

But some caution: this swap is not a drop-in affair. It's easier to do a B-series swap in this chassis. But for the resourceful, all you need is a combination of first-gen Integra, EF Civic and native third-gen Civic parts.

Start with a good first-gen Integra donor car from which you'll take the transmission, front tranny mount, clutch, flywheel, pressure plate, shift linkage, starter, axles, intermediate shaft and front knuckles.

From the third-gen Civic, you'll want the front engine mount, rear tranny mount and Si wiring harness. Some of these parts need to be persuaded a little bit to get the whole thing to fit together.

Last, you'll have to decide on engine management. Going OBD-1 is a more difficult undertaking, but opens up the best tuning possibilities. OBD-0 is more limited, but closer to home in this chassis than OBD-1 and especially OBD-2. By the time you're done, your car will be a huge mess of various Honda parts, all the better to earn sleeper points on the street, and maybe even a little cash from the unsuspecting haters.

HOW MUCH?
'85-87 Civic (average) $1,800
D16A6 longblock $400
First-gen Integra parts $500
GRAND TOTAL $2,700

Mustang Killer
An Accord V6 To Blow Doors Off The New GT's We've Already Grown To Hate.Sometimes people mistake an import enthusiast's distaste for domestic guys as an aversion toward domestic cars. But it's not always like that. Even hardcore domestic haters don't badmouth a Cadillac 32-valve Northstar motor or a Mustang Cobra R's dual overhead cam V-8.

Nah, it's not the American iron that pisses us off, but rather, the tools at the other end of the throttle, the guys with an endless loop of phrases like "There's no replacement for displacement!" and "Your cute little VTEC wanna run against my Hem'eh?" And somehow, the Mustang driver tends to reign supreme as the top dog of domestic douche bags.

The Ford's V-8 puts down about 275 wheel hp in stock trim, which is right around the flywheel horsepower for an Acura CL-S. We got to thinking about an Accord V-6 chassis (to keep initial cost down) with an amalgamation of various J30, J32 and J35 parts to make a big displacement, boosted application that will run cute little VTEC circles around the GT's 4.6-liter mill.

The motor would start with a J35A1 bottom end from a '98-up Odyssey or MDX. This bottom end shares bore diameter (89mm) and spacing (98mm) with its smaller counterpart, the J32. The J32A2 should be considered one of Honda's masterpieces, the 270-hp, 3.2-liter V-6 is as worthy of praise as a B18C5 or K20A.

For this project, we'd use Type-S pistons in our J35 to bump up compression and make up for some of the power lost to lower revs on account of the longer stroke. The next obvious step would be to bolt on a set of Type-S heads, with their aggressive cams and high-flow port designs seeming only natural for a motor of this caliber. But we have and even more exciting idea.

The newer Accord V-6 (J30A4), the J32A3 in the current TL, and the J35's in the new Odyssey, Ridgeline, and RL all share an unusual exhaust port design. Instead of having four ports going into a header and eventually into a collector and out the exhaust tubing, these motors have simplified the process by eliminating the header altogether. The exhaust primaries are cast into the head and exit via a single exhaust port connected directly to a catalytic converter.

Originally, this sounded like a detriment to anyone planning on modifying these motors, until we realized that Honda basically gave us a turbo manifold built into these heads. A simple adapter plate, or at the most, a pair of flanges and a couple inches of tube, is all you need to bolt a turbo to either side of the J-series V-6's. The J35-S would already be in the mid-200 wheel hp range, but add a safe 8psi of boost to that and wave goodbye to mullet-wearing, Confederate flag-flying, Ted Nugent-worshipping toolboxes at stoplights. Drop sixth gear on your CL-S six-speed manual and you can say goodbye on the freeway, too.

HOW MUCH?
'98-02 Accord V6 (average) $6,750
J35 block (salvaged) $1,000
J30A4 heads (salvaged) $1,000
J32A2 pistons (new) $400
Various OEM parts $1,000
AEM engine management $1,500
CL-S 6-speed trans $2,000
Custom twin-turbo kit $5,000
GRAND TOTAL $18,650

The Ultimate First Car
A Daily Beater With Room For Four Friends And The Power To Haul Them Around All Day.Not everyone's parents will drop the dime for a new ride on their kid's 16th birthday and those minimum wage paychecks from part-time Pizza Hut duty aren't gonna add up to that S2000 you're dreaming of. But that doesn't mean you can't get an affordable whip with some room, and potential, to modify.

Easy choices include the EF Civic or second-gen CRX, but finding one in respectable condition is getting harder these days. Then if you do, you're looking at $3000 or so just to get behind the wheel. For something even more lo-fi, we turn to a chassis that everyone in the Honda world, except the guys at 3geez.com, have all but forgotten.

Don't overlook these babies, which offered fully independent suspension and semi-large motors in an era of torsion bars, rear-beam axles and 1.5-liter engines. The native A-series motors in some of these Accords have a closed-deck design and have been known to handle boost as well as any stock B or H series. Even the carbureted versions are fun to play with using Webber DCOE's or Mikuni sidedrafts to extract a few more ponies.

In Japan, the 2nd-gen Prelude and 3rd-gen Accord came with a B20A, a motor that shares just about nothing in common with the rest of the B-series family. It does, however, make 160 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque, and the swap is about as straightforward as it gets. Depending on the Accord model you end up with, you'll be starting with a carbureted, vacuum-advanced A20 or possibly an EFI electronically advanced version.

For carb guys, there's a vacuum advance version of the B20A and, lucky for you, the A20 manifold will bolt right on, carbs and all. Bolt a big set of Webbers or Mikunis on there and you'll laugh every time somebody clowns on your lack of PGM-FI.

Those of you starting from EFI and electronic advance distributor, this is a bolt-in affair. Take the A20 out, put the B20 in. The only difference worth noting is the transmission mount, but if you use the one that comes with the B, it'll work without a hitch.

An EF hatch with a B16 in decent condition will cost you around $5000. This Accord with swap will cost less than half that, with a motor that makes the same power and gobs more torque. Put it on the bottle and you'll be chasing down Type R-swapped hatches all day. We think it'd look sick dumped on CF-48's, but maybe that's just us.

HOW MUCH?
'86 Accord LX-i (average) $1,000
B20A swap $1,000
Nitrous $500
GRAND TOTAL $2,500

H22 In A First-Gen Odyssey
Here's One Frankenstein That The Kids Won't Have Nightmares About.What's a Honda guy to do when he grows up, has a family and needs a kid-hauler for school and auto-shop lessons? If a Pilot or MDX are out of the budget, here's one option that goes back to the roots; the roots of putting big, four-cylinder motors where they don't belong and hence the first-gen Odyssey with H22 power.

The 1995-'97 Odyssey's sedan-like swinging rear doors (rather than the conventional sliding door) and relatively compact size drives minivan shoppers away and leaves us with a cheap alternative to a new kid-hauler. What those soccer moms might not know is that this Odyssey was the first minivan with a flat-folding third row seat, allowing for extra cargo room when you need it and three more seats when you don't.

Another reason this chassis should interest the Honda crowd is its striking similarities to a fifth-gen Accord. Suspension, brakes and most importantly, the engine, are all shared across the two platforms. And just like in the Accord, the obvious swap is the H22.

Now here's the weird, but beneficial part. When Honda released the first-gen Odyssey, the company was lacking in the SUV department. Honda made a platform-sharing deal with Isuzu, which resulted in the Honda Passport/Isuzu Rodeo and Acura SLX/Isuzu Trooper. For Isuzu, the Odyssey was renamed the Oasis. The average price of an Oasis is about $2000 less than its Honda counterpart, leaving plenty of dough leftover for the H22 swap.

To keep things easy, you'd want to re-use the Odyssey's F22 slushbox with the H22. But we're not about easy, and the thought of a manual H22-powered Odyssey makes us smile, especially knowing that the cable-shifted H22 tranny's shifter assembly can be mounted just about anywhere.

The fun doesn't stop at the H22, though. Big brakes, coilovers, body kits (especially JDM body kits), and 5x114 wheels will all fit on the Odyssey. How about a set of DC5 Type-R wheels on a minivan? And while you're at it, throw in a couple of red Type R Recaro's up front.

What could be cooler than rolling up to your kid's school in a '95 Odyssey dumped on Accord coilovers and some JDM wheels, with the blow-off valve from the turbo H22 five-speed underhood announcing your arrival?

HOW MUCH?
'95-97 Odyssey (average) $6,000
H22 (w/LSD) swap $2,500
GRAND TOTAL $8,500

C35/C32 Hybrid In Second-Gen Legend
Big-Block Bruiser, Daily Cruiser.Honda guys get a bad rap for daily driving obnoxiously loud semi-racecars on the street. While true enthusiasts know the difference between rice and nice, the majority of the world lumps all of us in the rice bin, no matter how badass of a JDM street car you're rollin' in.

Now let's factor in that one-in-a-million girl, the one who's OK with strapping herself into an uncomfortable bucket seat with a five-point harness and waiting 10 minutes for the wideband 02 sensor to warm up just to be carried to the movies upon your race-ready suspension.

Time to keep the race sled in the garage until the weekend and get yourself into a grown-up's car, one with a comfy ride and leather seats.

A 1994-'95 Legend GS sedan or 1993-'95 LS coupe comes stock with a Type 2 3.2-liter single-cam VTEC V-6 that makes 230 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque. The rest of them come with a pretty useless Type 1 motor. The Type 2-equipped cars also had an optional six-speed manual transmission. To some, that may sound like enough, but to a guy who's been building Honda motors much of his life, it sounds more like a challenge.

Here's the concept behind what we've dubbed the "Major-Me" swap, a go-big version of the beloved Mini-Me configuration (single-cam VTEC head on non-SOHC D15/16 motors). The C35A engine in the 1996-2004 Acura RL makes 212 hp and 230 lb-ft of torque. Mate this block with a pair of Type 2 Legend heads (C32A5) and you get a slight bump in compression and the addition of secondary intake cam lobes for power on top. The additional 300cc displacement from the RL helps make up for the Legend's lack of torque.

Be warned that this isn't a novice swap. You'll need to modify a few parts to make them fit. The RL block's added deck height necessitates the use of an RL timing belt. The added deck height also moves the intake ports on the head further away from the block, preventing the intake manifold from fitting like it used to.

The manifold needs to be slightly extended to make it fit, so save yourself the trouble and just fabricate, or have someone fabricate, a custom manifold. Another fitment problem is the rear engine mount that needs to be extended to use with the big block.

Since there is no real engine management solution for these cars, you'll also want a piggyback computer such as Greddy's E-manage or APEXi's VAFC to properly tune the motor. Luckily, the fuel enrichment necessary isn't enough to require larger injectors until you decide to go twin-turbo. A comfy ride, A/C, leather seats, dual spools-something tells us your girl is going to be very happy on the way back from the movies.

HOW MUCH?
'94-95 Legend GS sedan (average) $7,500
C35A longblock (average) $1,000
Various OEM parts $500
Engine management/fabrication $1,000
GRAND TOTAL $10,000
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