San Marcos, Calif., is the epitome of a bedroom community, a suburb of San Diego that beckons families, oozes domesticity. The sleepy town is just a dozen or so miles from the Pacific, and home to a state university and some 22 golf courses. Judged only by its middle-class serenity, it seems hardly a place where dream cars are made and roam-and yet you'll find one of the hottest Honda tuning shops in the region in St. Marks.
If that juxtaposition didn't grab ya', then maybe what Sportcar Motion and Loi Song have notably accomplished will-namely a meticulously constructed '96 Civic Type R, which we featured several months ago, and a '95 hatchback drag car with a full interior that's said to go 9.90 seconds at 146mph. Of course, there is the beast you see on these pages, too, a completely clean K24/K20 swapped DC2 Integra. The Acura mash up is a time attack competitor for Song's shop, one that he tells us puts down over three bills with no forced induction or nitrous. We gather that's how Song likes to advertise, with in-your-face performance.
The tale of the 'Teg began when Song picked up the shell locally from a customer for a paltry 750 bucks. As one might expect, the rolling GS-R chassis wasn't in too great shape. "It was bad. It used to be like 10 different colors," explains Song, half laughing as he remembered. "It had been stolen and stripped, and a lot of wiring had been cut. It sat at the shop for a while until we gathered up the parts to start the build."
Song, shop mechanic Josh Stockinger, and our trusted lensman Rodrez set to dismantling the DC2 shortly thereafter, removing the factory sound deadening, gutting the engine compartment, and sanding everything down. Roll protection was installed and the front and rear ends updated before the shell was taken to SDCS Autobody for a complete re-spray inside and out. Once the paint dried, the Integra was sent back to SM for suspension and the rest of its components.
The second motor to sit in the engine bay (after the native B18, of course) was a K20 Song had built with parts from Intrinsic Performance Solutions. The mill ran well and made good power, but one of Song's customers and good friend liked the way the motor ran so much, he insisted on buying it. Additionally, there was also a second, likely more critical reason he opted for the greater displacing K.
"After its first two time attacks, I realized the cars we were competing against had supercharged K24s," clarifies Song. "They were making a lot more power than our K20, so I built the K24 to stay competitive in the modified class. All those cars are supercharged and making 270, 280 horsepower."
Using the money he made from the sale of the 2-liter K, Song embarked on a big block K-swap adventure. He pressed into service his regular team of engine building and tuning professionals: Benson Machine, Laskey Racing, IPS/Ron Acevedo, and Shaun Church. Together they massaged the hybrid motor into its current killer form. Enthuses Song, "It runs strong all the time, and we never have any problems with it. Instant power at any rpm-just hit the gas and go."
It sounds too good to be true, and in fact, there is a bit of exaggeration in Song's comment about the engine never having a problem. As we dig deeper in our conversation with him, we learn the motor suffered a leak in the head gasket at its second time attack, a problem that was quickly diagnosed and corrected. But the issue illustrates the hurdles Song had to face in piecing together a solid powerplant. Indeed, he considers the project's greatest challenge as learning what goes into making the K24/K20 hybrid work right.
"When we started, there wasn't a lot of information out there on the head swap and how to make it work. We had to tap a lot of sources and make a lot of phone calls to figure things out, like the trick with the oil pump (see Bolts & Washers), and eliminating the under-piston oil squirters to raise pressure. The K20 was easy, but to cross it with a K24 takes a little more time and knowledge. Now, all that information is out in the public, but initially there was some trial and error."
The final bit of tweaking came when Song swapped out the A'PEXi dampers and springs he put in earlier with a set of Tein competition coilovers rigged to an EDFC system. The reason for the switch was the lack of rebound damping adjustment on the A'PEXi stuff. According to Song, the shop's driver is more familiar with the Tein parts. For him, it's a comfort issue, so that's why he went with the SRCs, which have separate compression and rebound adjustments. "We want to get it just right before we battle," Song rationalizes.
Having gone to two time attacks so far, with a third coming real soon, the Integra has yet to really find its stride in competition. But that's OK-Song seems to know what he needs and where to get it.
"We're working with Skunk2 Racing right now to develop cams and several other products, like intake manifolds, headers, fuel rails, things like that," he says of the car's future. "We also need to work out some tuning gremlins, too, because next time we're switching from pump gas to race fuel. Initially, we thought since it was in a street car class it meant we had to use pump gas, but that's not the case. You just need street tires, but you can use any fuel. A lot of our competitors have been running race gas, and on pump gas at [Buttonwillow] altitude in the heat, our engine just couldn't take the loads."
Arguably the coolest thing about the Integra is the fact that she's still entirely streetable, and in fact, Song likes to drive it often around San Marcos. For such a well constructed, multi-functioning machine, you'd think its owner would be a little more boastful about the car, but if there's one thing we've learned about Song over our years of knowing him, it's that the shopkeeper is both direct and efficient in his race car production. "Monster block, off-the-shelf products, that's it," he humbly confesses. "I can build that same motor for any customer." Like we said, Song likes to let his work do the talking.
Bolts & WashersLoi Song's 1995 Integra GS-RPropulsionGo: The venerated B18C1 that once graced the engine compartment of this GS-R has been replaced with a totally custom mill. Song got his hands on a K24 Accord block and sent it to Dan Benson for sleeving and machining, where the bore was punched out 3mm to 90, consequently raising displacement around 2.6 liters. Laskey Racing then put together a rotating assembly made up of Intrinsic Performance Solutions-spec 12.5:1 compression JE pistons, Cunningham rods, and a stock micro-polished crank. They also adapted a K20 oil pump to use with the engine because generally it is lighter and simpler than the ones that come in K24s.
Portflow Design gave the K20 Type-S head a port and polish before it was hooked up with Supertech Performance oversized valves, IPS-spec Eibach EVS springs, dished OE retainers, and IPS's KME bumpsticks. On the hot side of the head, exhaust exits via DTR header (the manufacturer is now called Six Sigma Racing, or SSR) and HKS plumbing. On the cold side, a custom plastic intake with air horn directs induction to a BDL Industries throttle body bolted on an RBC-labeled OE Honda manifold, similar to ones found on TSXs.
A Walbro 255lph pump pressurizes a fuel system comprised of a BDL rail, RC Engineering injectors, SX Performance regulator, and Earl's lines custom fit by SportcarMotion. Spark is bolstered through the use of NGK plugs, and a Hondata K Pro tuned by Church Automotive Testing manages combustion.
Song picked a K20 gearbox to transfer engine power to wheel power, outfitting it with a JDM CRV 5.05:1 final drive and Quaife limited-slip diff. The crank spins an Exedy flywheel that, in turn, spins an Exedy hyper single-disc clutch. With the trans work complete, Song and his shop mechanic Josh Stockinger secured the buff long block and tranny to the engine bay with a HASport K-swap kit, and then slapped on some Driveshaft Shop level 2.1 axles.
EvidenceSong's bird put down 307 hp and 231 lb-ft of torque on the Dynapack hub dyno at Church Automotive Testing in Wilmington, Calif.
StanceThe DC2 is set up with Tein Super Racing coilovers rigged to Electronic Damping Force Controllers (or EDFC) and Skunk2 Racing front and rear camber adjusters. Chassis stiffness is improved with a Comptech rear sway/tie bar combo, NeXT Miracle Cross Bar, and bolt-in Autopower 6-point cage.
ResistanceDecel comes courtesy of Spoon Sports calipers loaded with Hawk Performance blue pads biting down on Power Slot rotors. Goodridge lines bump up pedal pressure for an added measure of confidence.
Rims & RubberRockin' 16x8 ADVAN Racing RG rims on 225/50/16 BFGoodrich g-Force rubber for the cameras, Song switches to RegaMaster EVOs shod in Toyo RA-1 stickies for the track.
FashionOutside:On the JDM tip, Song sourced Honda H.O.P. window visors, Type R lip, and an ITR wing for track duty. He also converted the front and rear ends to '99 USDM spec, and had the moldings and mirrors color-matched. JayCee of SDCS Autobody in San Diego re-sprayed the factory Frost White inside and out.
Inside:For everyday cruising, JDM ITR Recaro seats are the call, Song relying on a single Recaro SPG Pro Racer bucket for the driver on track days. The pilot is secured with a Sparco harness and guides the DC2 via a deep-dish suede Nardi steering wheel. An ITR boot and Spoon knob adorn the shifting assembly, and Song employs a Circuit Hero shift extender at the track. Instrumentation is also upgraded with a MUGEN gauge cluster and Defi oil pressure and water temp gauges.