Ben Sutherland’s ’04 TSX
Difficult decisions and old age often go hand in hand. The two are almost exclusive to one another and seem to multiply at the same rate. When it comes to the car-building hobby, the decision to either call it quits or to continue on is inevitable. Once you’ve hit those early 20s, the years seem to fly by, until one morning you wake up only to have hit the big “three zero”. And then one day you get into an argument with your girl and the truth is finally revealed: “You’re almost 30 years old and you’re still driving a Honda!” you hear. Still in disbelief, you contemplate decision number two: Cars or sex? You think back and recall a time when a fixed-up Honda actually helped your sex life. Such predicaments are enough to make you wish you were in Scott Bakula’s shoes, where you could simply Quantum Leap your way into another life.
On the other hand, there are those who take an opposite approach. Such individuals were never into cars and presumably live comfortably with good jobs, nice homes, and families. The tuning bug just doesn’t bite them until later on in life. This is the case for Ben Sutherland.
“My brother-in-law had an Integra Type R, and he was the one that really got me into Hondas,” Ben recollects.
The Atlanta, Georgia, native elected to go with the TSX platform because it had a sporty side to it all the while maintaining a luxurious, more mature feel. “I also wanted a car that not too many people build,” Ben says. “I mean, there are quite a few people out there who are modifying TSXs but not to the point where you see them on a daily basis.”
Determined, Ben began prowling the TSXclub.com forums, researching parts for the CL9 chassis. He was so set on owning a TSX that he purchased major upgrades for it long before he even had the car. Jason, a forum buddy of Ben’s, is credited with helping select the parts. “We would always discuss what parts to get next,” Ben states. “Once I met him, it was pretty much all downhill for my wallet.”
Most would love the feeling of being behind the wheel of a brand-new car, especially one with 200-plus hp on tap. But Ben would beg to differ. The combination of a GruppeM intake, DC Sports 4-2-1 header, and J’s Racing 60RS exhaust just wasn’t enough. “The TSX definitely was lacking in the horsepower and torque department,” he says. “Unfortunately, there just weren’t that many options out there for me. I was stuck with either the Hondata reflash or going all-out with the Comptech supercharger.”
Ben elected to go with the reflash, which held him over for a couple of months before he got bored with it. Unsatisfied, he began doing heavy research on the Comptech blower. “The gains that the K24 engine saw with the supercharger were something I would kill for,” Ben says. “I ultimately bit the bullet and purchased the supercharger.”
But with 245 hp available to him, was Ben satisfied?
Still lacking fulfillment, Ben took his supercharged TSX to Mainstream Performance in Powder Springs, Georgia. Mainstream offered Ben another alternative in the form of a Pulley Boys’ high-boost pulley. An AEM Fuel/Injection Controller was also introduced into the equation.
“The only problem with the AEM F/IC was that it offered everything but adjustment to the VTEC engagement point—which inevitably eliminated it altogether,” Ben says. “We went back to the drawing board and figured that running a return-type fuel system was the only way to accommodate the additional boost.”
A few more months of testing and tuning were needed before Ben finally achieved his desired results.
“I was able to make 280 whp, which I think classifies me as the fastest TSX in the States,” he says confidently.
This is quite a brave statement made by a poised Ben Sutherland. So how does this power translate to the streets of Atlanta?
“The feel on an open road is awesome. The power is instant.”
Finally content, Ben set out to adjust the stance to complement the TSX’s newfound power. The stock suspension was tossed out like bad cheese and replaced with JIC FLT-A2 coilovers. For rolling stock, he opted for often overlooked Work Emotion XD9 wheels mounted to a set of Toyos. Sitting behind the Work wheels are bank-account-humbling Endless brakes. Endless’ System Inch Up big brake kit provides the ultimate stopping power to bring one of America’s fastest TSXs to a complete halt.
Anyone who builds Hondas understands that if you’re going to make respectable horsepower numbers, you might as well look the part. The way of the sleeper is definitely cool, but it simply isn’t for everyone. To get the look that would set him apart from the rest, Ben decided to play the doppelganger to Japan’s Accord Euro R. Marcus from Heeltoe Automotive in Mission Viejo, California, was then commissioned to supply the parts for the TSX’s Euro R conversion. With the perfect combination of power, style, and stance all rolled into one, make sure to keep an eye out for Ben and his TSX as he terrorizes the streets of the dirty south.
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Is That Really An Accord?
If you’ve ever stood in front of a re-badged TSX and wondered why someone would put Accord badges on it, that’s because it is an Accord—in Japan at least. The car Americans know as the Acura TSX is little more than the U.S. equivalent of the CL7 Accord Euro R from Japan minus all the JDM goodies. The CL7 chassis is the successor to the CL1 Accord Euro R, which came from the factory with a 220hp twin-cam VTEC engine. Inside the CL7 lies a K20A i-VTEC powerplant, whereas the U.S. CL9 TSX is equipped with a K24. Accord Euro Rs also have all the extras that have been a staple to the Type R family. Those extras include Recaro bucket seats, a factory-equipped limited-slip differential, and a double wishbone suspension. At a glance, one may not notice all of the exterior differences aside from the new badges, but converting to Euro R specs is more complicated than it seems. The conversion includes, but is not limited to, the replacement of the grille, headlights, foglights, emblems, and even the addition of a full factory lip kit. So the next time you overhear someone making fun of a TSX owner for “downgrading” to Accord badges, make sure to drop some knowledge on these characters. Who said Accords can’t be cool?
Bolts & Washers
Pulley Boys high boost pulley
DC Sports 4-2-1 header
J’s Racing 60RS exhaust system
Random Technology catalytic converter
Walbro 255-lph fuel pump
RC 550cc fuel injectors
AEM adjustable fuel-pressure regulator
Exedy Stage 1 clutch
ACT lightweight flywheel
Comptech short shifter
JDM valve cover
Mugen spark plug cover
Mugen oil cap
AEM FIC engine management
JIC FLT-A2 coilovers
Progress rear antiroll bar
SPC rear camber kit
Spoon Sports upper control arms
FEEL’S shock tower bar
Endless System Inch Up kit:
Endless steel-braided lines
Accord Euro R lip kit
Accord Euro R grille
Accord Euro R foglights
Accord Euro R emblems
Accord Euro R radiator plate
Spoon Sports rear spoiler
VIS carbon-fiber hood
Recaro Sportline seats
Bride seat rails
Custom suede interior
Euro R MOMO steering wheel
Skunk2 shift knob
Mainstream Performance, Michael C., Greg B., Ryan J., Bucky, DO, Jason R., Brent E., www.tsxclub.com, Anthony, Corey M., Davis, ImportAtlanta, Digital Box Tuning, BonB, Tony, Nitt, Richie, Tina, Edberg, S2kJay, Premium Garage KrewKirill, John, Dean, Francisco at RP Racing, Marti, Hendo, Ryan, and Jarrod at VIP Garage Hybrid Garage, Hypnotik Speed In memory of Will Foreman