Super Street Network

 |   |  Reality Check - The State Of Honda
Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

Reality Check - The State Of Honda

Japan, Tuners, Honda, And The Way It Is

A Concerned Industry Insider
Jun 1, 2008
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper
Htup_0806_01_z+honda_tuning+feels_tuning Photo 1/2   |   Reality Check - The State Of Honda

My motorsports career began with Hondas. I dreamt of owning one since before I could drive. It was a CRX. I ended up purchasing an EF Civic though, and later an EG. My love for Honda and all things Mugen has been a long, drawn-out affair. Although when my career took me to Japan for employment at a world-renowned tuning shop, the reality of the tuning industry's lack of interest there crushed any preconceived notions I may have had about how much better Honda was in the land of JDM.

There's no doubt that Honda led the battle toward modern-day tuning as we know it in the U.S. B18C-swapped Civics were the stuff of legend for most enthusiasts-that is until the rise of drifting and the arrival of factory turbo'd, all-wheel-drive vehicles in the U.S., but I digress. Unlike its U.S. counterpart, Honda isn't quite so popular oversees. Since the beginning of the JDM craze, enthusiasts have been building cars in hopes of mimicking Japanese builders to a tee. Once deployed to Japan I was shocked to find out that Honda enthusiasts were few and far between and tuners catering to Hondas, well, were practically non-existent. So why don't Japanese tuners share in America's Honda love? That, Honda fans, is the million-dollar question.

2018 Honda Civic
$18,940 Base Model (MSRP) 28/40 MPG Fuel Economy
Htup_0806_02_z+honda_tuning+tuning_sign Photo 2/2   |   Reality Check - The State Of Honda

Tuner Complaint Number One
Honda of Japan, as a whole, has never supported the tuning community or the aftermarket. With the exception of Mugen (Honda's racing leg) and Spoon, it doesn't even bother to keep close ties with the tuning market. This is quite the contrast to how close Nissan and its performance division, Nismo, work with and accommodate its own share of the Japanese aftermarket. While most manufacturers offer "white bodies" (stripped down chassis for race purposes) to tuners for buildups and racing purposes, Honda never has. Similar to America, if racers and tuners want to build a race car, they've got to buy one-whether it's brand new from the dealer or used through the classifieds, either way they're paying for it.

Tuner Complaint Number Two
Which manufacturers port their heads right from the factory? Not many, that is, besides Honda. From a tuner's standpoint, this is the tuner's business. Why would a manufacturer like Honda port its own heads for performance when they could instead support the tuning industry? Call it a slap in the face, if you will.

Tuner Complaint Number Three
Excuse the reality but Hondas typically have weak chassis when compared to other manufacturers. A certain big-name Japanese tuner endears them as "rolling coffins." Although the EG Civic is light and nimble, it leaves issues of rigidity to be questioned. Without the aid of chassis stiffeners like shock/strut tower bars, chassis tie braces, and rollcages, the chassis exhibits a great amount of flex when compared to other makes. Sorry, but this is simply reality.

Tuner Complaint Number Four
The major contributing factor to many tuners' lack of interest in what we view as the best make available are the options offered within other brands. Economics teach us that demand is based upon the cost and performance of related goods. In 2001, Japanese consumers had their choice between Nissan's S15 Silvia, Mazda's RX-7, Subaru's Impreza STi Type RA, Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution RS, and Honda's Integra Type R. Note the chart. Not only is the Type R at the bottom rung in terms of power but its competitors are all turbocharged right from the factory. Yes, through its racing efforts (F1 and Indy), Honda has the technology to build something similar, but they have, for the most part, avoided turbochargers. This is perhaps the biggest strike against Honda in terms of the aftermarket. With similar modifications, like exhaust systems, intakes, and ECU upgrades, the Type R's competitors fare a hair short of 300 ps to the wheels, while the Integra struggles at breaking 200 ps.

Now is about the time you might be saying, "but what about the NSX and S2000? Why don't Japanese tuners work off of these platforms?" The NSX, being midship-driven, and the S2000 rear-wheel drive seem like acceptable solutions, don't they? Both feature rigid chassis when compared to Civics and perform quite well on the circuit. The answer: From the Japanese enthusiasts' standpoint, naturally aspirated tuning simply isn't cost effective. Come to think of it, rule out the NSX altogether based on its entry cost. There's nothing cost effective about that. As for the S2000, in the U.S., forced-induction kits are fairly easy to find, however, in Japan only a handful of tuners offer them. Even after adding boost, they can't be tuned properly without second mortgages since even the more affordable engine management systems like Hondata simply aren't offered in Japan.

I Love Hondas...Really
Refrain from the hate mail. This piece is not meant to bash Honda as a platform. I still drive one and I still modify them. Instead, it's meant for you as a Honda enthusiast to feel good about yourself, about your brand, and how far we've all taken a platform that many tuners we once looked up to have since given up on. No one can disregard how much power and how fast American tuners and enthusiasts have taken B-series engines. Parts selection is seemingly limitless as are tuning solutions since many from the land of the JDM are beginning to look to the U.S. market for more ways to push the Honda envelope. The movement began in Japan but it's come to a culmination here in the states. It's time to give ourselves a collective pat on the back.

VEHICLE LAYOUT POWER PRICE
LANCER EVO VII CT9A AWD 280 PS 2,998,000 JPY
IMPREZA STi TYPE RA GDB AWD 260 PS 2,{{{968}}},000 JPY
{{{RX-7}}} TYPE RB FD3S FR 255 PS 2,948,000 JPY
SILVIA SPEC R {{{S15}}} FR 250 PS 2,290,000 JPY
DCD INTEGRA TYPE R FF 210 PS 2,576,000 JPY
By A Concerned Industry Insider
1 Articles

BROWSE CARS BY MARKET

MORE FEATURES

The 2019 BMW Z4 will arrive next year, initially with a four-cylinder engine followed by a more potent M40i model.
Stefan OgbacSep 18, 2018
Ferrari launched a new, limited edition duo of supercar barchettas with the Monza SP1 and SP2. Get all the details here!
Jonny LiebermanSep 18, 2018
Preview the Super Street November issue, our Nissan annual! With a trio of Charles Wong’s R34 Skyline, 2 Boss Bunny S14, a baby Godzilla Pulsar GTiR, and more!!!
Bob HernandezSep 14, 2018
Who do you think deserves a trip to SEMA 2018?
RodrezSep 14, 2018
The Jaguar Project 8 lapped the legendary California race track in 1:37.54, almost a second quicker than the Cadillac CTS-V and two seconds quicker than the Giulia Quadrifoglio
Collin WoodardSep 13, 2018
Sponsored Links

SEARCH ARTICLES BY MAKE/MODEL

Search
CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS
TO TOP