It Took Greg Morgan 6 Long Years And Countless Frustrations To Piece Together His Monument To The Integra Xsi. For His Pains He's Come Up With A Well-Manicured, Daily Driven Track Car That Prioritizes Function Over Form.
If gold is considered the standard, then Gregory Morgan's Midas-touched '91 Integra is the paragon of JDM pimp. Sprayed a hue that closely resembles another famous J-spec shade of flaxen, his erstwhile LS is assembled to be an immaculate rolling tribute to the XSi, a performance oriented trim released only in Japan between 1989 and 1993. The chassis that Morgan focused on specifically was the DA6, a 3-door variety of the XSi and first to carry Honda's venerated B16A mill.
While the car may look too clean to beat on, Morgan didn't build it to just be another pretty whip. In fact, the generally humble dude has choice words about rides built as trailer queens.
"I'm not knocking them, but a lot of the really nice cars we see in the industry aren't even driven," Morgan points out. "People are really shocked to hear that I daily drive this car. That was the goal with my DA, I guess. I was just trying to make it different. Everybody can have the little JDM knickknacks, but few go all the way to try and convert a car completely to JDM, as far as you can go without changing to right-hand drive. I wasn't trying to outdo anyone; I was just trying to build it so I'd be happy with the car."
That personal happiness would come from creating a vehicle that celebrated the OEM JDM aesthetic, in addition to being a reliable daily rig and track car. The tough part was that it took 6 years and a cool 10 grand to find the right balance between beauty and utility. Read on to see why Morgan picked an aging DA Integra to build, and the can of worms he opened in taking on the project.
Honda Tuning: There's no denying your interest in the XSi trim DA; indeed, your Integra is pretty much a shrine to the JDM DA6. What is the curiosity with that particular model? Why does it appeal to you?
Gregory Morgan: I've always wanted a right-hand drive, but with the difficulties in bringing one over, I didn't want to take the time to make it happen. So I picked up my LS just to drive daily as a street car, and I would take it drag racing every now and then. After a while, after getting in a small accident and collecting little bumps and dings here and there, I got tired of it, so I just started collecting parts.
One part turned into several more, but it was never really about the JDM thing. Before I went all Spoon Sports, I was going to go all MUGEN, go 5-lug and everything, because there are only a few 5-lug DA's out there. I changed it up after I realized that MF10 [wheels] are pretty expensive and I really didn't want to spend 2 grand just on rims.
I started collecting the Spoon stuff, and I had a list of what I wanted to do with my DA from back in the day when I used to work at a shop. [The parts list] started out pretty small, but after a while essentially I had every part you could get for the [3-door DA] XSi. It didn't start off as an XSi project, it just turned into that.
HT: Is that why the car took 6 years to build, because you were wrangling up parts?GM: That, and both money and time. I'm not rich; I work, just like everybody else.
HT: I'm guessing you did a lot of the build yourself.GM: Yeah, myself and close friends. Everything was done either at my house or the shop I used to work for.
HT: From the looks of your tech sheet, it seems the only work you outsourced was paint and body.GM: Actually, I did about 90 percent of the bodywork myself. I've known Steve [at T&L Autobody] for about 4 or 5 years, and he knew what I wanted to do with the car. The gold just sort of came together because I wanted something different. At first, I wanted that flat mustardy color, like on M3s, but my guy said it would be too hard to mix, so I picked something else. I chose the gold from the Top Secret Supra, found something similar in the color books, and Steve just started mixing away. It's as close as you can get to the Top Secret shade.
I told Steve from day 1 that I wanted to learn to do most of the body work myself, because then I would know for sure it would come out right. If you half-ass it, you have only yourself to blame. I must have taped off the car like 3 times. I did a lot of the sanding, with the help of friends, down to the base and then primered the car before I took it to my paint guy. When I put something together, I'm the type of person that likes to make sure everything's done right.
HT: What would you say was your greatest challenge in putting this project together?GM: I wanted to give up several times throughout the build. I was done with the car so many times. Little things would happen, like when I went to a friend's house to pull out my cruise control and the timing belt jumped a tooth. I started the car not knowing the belt had slipped and ended up bending a valve. The car wouldn't start, wouldn't turn over, so I changed the distributor cap, rotor, plugs, wires, everything, got it started and drove it to the house, but it still wasn't running right. I figured out the belt had jumped and a valve was damaged, so I pulled the head off in my driveway.
We would eventually figure out we forgot the Woodruff key for the crank, which is why we couldn't get the timing right. In the meantime, though, the car sat for a few months before we figured this out. I was about to sell the car with all my parts for 3 grand, because I was just done. Then a friend started working on the car late into the evening one night and got everything ironed out. That's just one story -I've got a bunch.
HT: What prevented you from giving up altogether? GM: Seriously, my friends and family. Anyone who knows me can tell you that, when it comes to cars, I've said so often that I'm out of the game, I'm giving up. I've met a lot of friends in the game, and without their help, even for little things, I would've never been able to complete the car.
Like the night before I showed the car at the '06 Nissei Showoff [in LA], I had just picked it up from the painter. I still had a lot to install before the event, like the JDM folding mirrors, headlights, etc., but I had to go get my hair done, also. My sister, her boyfriend, and our neighbor started working on the car while I was gone, unknown to me, so when I got home they had the seats out, all the interior panels, and they're installing my seats and harnesses and my friend's Spoon steering wheel. We worked all night long to get the Integra ready.
HT: What's next for the car? GM: I don't know if you heard, but the car was involved in an accident, so it's currently out of commission. It's fixable, but I don't know if I'm going to repair the car. I'm looking to sell the shell. I started selling off little parts that I don't need, or I have spares of. I picked up another DA, but I'm not sure I'm going to build that. I'm looking to either pick up an AE86 or another DA and build that as my racecar. But I'll be back.
[The Integra] was cool; I got a lot of years out of it. I street raced it, road raced it, did basically everything I wanted to do. I had a lot more in store for the car, but for what I did, I'm happy. I never really wanted to get it in a mag, but I always thought it would be dope if I had that memory of the car, especially if it ever got stolen or crashed. I could always show it to people down the road and say, "This is something I accomplished."
Bolts & WashersGregory Morgan's 1991 Integra LS PropulsionGo: An Integra XSi conversion wouldn't be one without a B16A under the hood. Morgan's B is largely untouched, save for a head that has been milled by RS Machine for a marginal bump in the compression ratio.
On the cold side of the motor, air first enters through a DA6 box before making its way to a Civic Type R throttle body and manifold. The spent charge exits via a 2.5-inch CTR header, Omni-Power test pipe, and Buddy Club Spec I exhaust plumbing. Further bolt-ons include a Koyo radiator, Baker lightweight battery, AEM fuel rail, NGK wires and Platinum plugs, and a Prospeed Performance-chipped P28 ECU. Finishing engine bay touches include the Spoon Sports oil and radiator caps and reservoir socks, Vision carbon-fiber plug cover, and Skunk2 Racing battery tie down.
The crank spins a 7-pound Fidanza flywheel that sends power through an Exedy 3-puck clutch to the 5-speed J1 gearbox with Kaaz LSD. Gears are selected by means of a C's short shifter and DA6 linkage.
StancePrepped to hit the road course at a moment's notice, Morgan's DA9 3-door rocks a complement of Function & Form Autolife coilovers, 5-point Cusco cage, Spoon front and rear tower bars, and a Z-Speed rear lower tie bar. The 'Teg is also set up with Function & Form lower control arms and rear camber kits.
ResistanceDeceleration is aided by Axxis Ultimate brake pads, front and rear, rubbing against Brembo blank rotors.
Rims & RubberDesmond RegaMaster EVO rollers, weighing only 12 lbs. apiece, come dressed in 205/45R16 Yokohama rubber.
FashionOutside:Morgan sent us an exhaustive catalog of DA6-spec JDM XSi minutiae that one can find on his ride, a list that includes: hood, fenders, head/taillights, window visors, thin moldings, side markers, folding mirrors, front and rear "H" emblems, VIN plate, and XSi, DOHC VTEC decals. The fore and aft bumpers have also been swapped for '93 versions, and Steve at T&L Autobody helped out with the custom gold mix the car has been sprayed in.
InsideThe cabin of this Integra exudes business, having been stripped of just about everything, right down to its insulating tar. Replacing the factory forward seats are a pair of Memory Fab S68 carbon buckets, secured with Sparco hardware and draped with Sparco camlock-equipped 3-inch restraints. A Camp 1320 quick release mounted to a Momo hub helps the Spoon wheel come off lickity split, while Morgan grabs at a Spoon shift knob and stabs at Rzo pedals with his feet.
That's not to say fashion was completely abandoned. The XSi motif continues in the carpet, door panels, mats mirror switch, and gauge cluster. A J-spec road flare and ITR yellow stitch shift boot round out the JDM nuances.
Love: Morgan thanks everyone who helped make his dream a reality, including: Mom "Mumsies," Moosie (Amber), Myisha, Landon "LandiPoo," Dad, Derek Hewitt, Emo Mob: Max, Sean, Vince (Aristowercz), Garrett & James, Carlos "Los," Tony "EM1," Hugo "Hugo2go," Hieu "Clicks," Mark "Gezzy," Ian, Mike G, Aries, Ryan O, Adam, Noah, Jonah, Danny, AM7, Nick, Randy (Questoys) Gagan R.I.P., Jon Tanji (JDM Jon) R.I.P., Mike (Donut), Kevin (Mini-van), Steven, Andy Soe, Armando "Coke in can," Phillip, Jeff Song, Santos, Dennis, Ray "Chong Chen," Tan (Specs), JP "long beach," Adam (Sign Street), Yoko, Kevin (Cracker), Tony (Hawk) Jackson, Brandon (RealEK4), Gabe, Trang, John, Kyle "Knowledge," Ray "BMW," Jackie (CXshoe), Patrick (Black DA), Jason "OG DA", Jennifer, Lindsay, Ryanna, Eddie (Duffman), Christina Truong, G Dubs Krew, Arvie "DA6," Henry "EJ1," Eric Dickerson, Richard at Promotion, ATS Garage, SD heads Rolando, Brandon, Tyrone, "CRX" Sean, Josh, Reza, Matt (Rodrez), Steve at T&L Autobody for all the help with the paint, Rob and Preston at Function and Form, Son at hasback.com, Daniel at digitalhorizon-online.com, Matt and Bryan at jdmland.com, Dave and Jeremy at memoryfab.com, Steve and Leo at passwordjdm.com, Ray at raydesigns.pyxul.com, Tom at camp1320.com, Asa at revautousa.com, Peter at inickelphotography.com, nwp4life.com, and honda-tech.com.