It's been said that you can tell the success of a motor journalist by the size of his U-Haul. The inference being they tend to move around a lot. Honda Tuning has certainly had its share of staff changes in recent years. Editors have come and gone. We've had guest editors for a few issues, even whole issues assembled by lowly, freelance contributors. Well, those days are over. Honda Tuning now has a genuine, full-time editor running the magazine. He's moved in. He's already working. He's got his name on the door and everything.
Aaron Bonk's name might sound familiar to many. He's been in and around the automotive editorial world for nearly a decade in one form or another. Most recently he wandered these hallowed cubical rows as Turbo magazine's technical editor, but to stop there in describing Aaron's bona fides would be leaving out the story's most juicy details.
I met Aaron in the late '90s while he was a managing partner at a small, two-man Honda garage in Anaheim, Calif. But he'd been into brand H long before then. He's been a Honda man since 1991 in fact-when he first got his driver's license. Around the same time you could find EGs on the new car side of the dealer lots, engineering school dropouts Aaron and partner Jon Spackman opened up shop, pioneering a number of engine swaps and taking care of everything from some of the first LS-VTEC builds to complex wiring conversions necessary long before convenient things like adapter harnesses were around. It was groundbreaking stuff in the days before mount kits, web forums and Internet how-tos. The small shop was the site of many a tech articles dating back to the very earliest of Honda Tuning issues as well as those of its sister publication, Sport Compact Car. Aaron and Jon were among the few at the time who really had a handle on this stuff.
Curiously, Aaron and Jon both grew tired of the business and after eight years closed the doors for good. Aaron hit the books once again, got his degree in journalism and took the job at Turbo magazine. Somewhere along the line before all of this though he wrote a book on Honda engine swaps, did some freelance work for HT and SCC and then got talked into doing a second Honda book.
Aaron's paid his dues and learned the ropes of the automotive publishing industry and when the big chair here at HT became empty he was the number one, first-round draft pick. "I've always kind of done sh*t backwards," Aaron says. "When I got into Hondas, I didn't play around with stereos or short shifters, I was swapping entire engines out."
That first swap was an early model B18A1 that went into an '89 Civic, swapped in not long after B18A1s and '89 Civics came to be, a time long before Internet forums, Honda swap shops and Honda-specific magazines. "People just don't understand why it took us so long to figure out," Aaron says. "Now K swaps are just a mouse click and a mount kit away."
The great thing about Aaron is that he's a real Honda guy. In the time since that first swap, he's done most every B-, H- and K-series hybrid you'd care to name. He's swapped old-school ZCs and gone through Accord V-6s. He's built engines and trannies. He's come up with oddball combos that have come and gone. He's done killer turbo motors and built drag cars. Aaron's daily driven 550hp '95 Integra was a Sport Compact Car feature story back in 2001-a time when daily driven 550hp Integras just weren't all that common.
To balance out all that experience, Aaron's just a good listener. He asks the right questions and seeks the best sources. Web surveys and reader feedback were the first things he looked at after coming aboard. We're teaching him about making turns without parachutes. He's learned what hard parking means. It doesn't stop there. Honda Tuning is the Honda magazine and Aaron Bonk is a Honda kind of guy.
- E. John Thawley III