Honda Tuning magazine-and those of the same ilk for that matter-have changed over the course of the past decade. Dramatically. While reminiscing over HT's past 11 years, I found myself perusing issues number one and two, the first of which was published but once that year and was little more than a compilation of old Sport Compact Car magazine articles that, incidentally, happened to have Hondas in them. HT very well could have been nothing more than an attempt by its previous owners to capitalize on its archived Honda and Acura content...twice...in light of the brand's then recent popularity (imagine if SCC had too many AMC Pacer features), but the magazine's grown to become so much more than that. It is, after all, the only publication in the world that exists because Honda does.
Flipping through the pages of Volume One, Issue One would be enough to give any Civic hatchback owner with an exhaust and some lowering springs hope at magazine stardom. But that was 1998. Times have changed, and the level of complexity and caliber of most of the cars worthy of being recognized today is simply outstanding. Volume One, Issue One was relative...for its day...but the ante's been upped. By a lot
Today's builds address each facet of the vehicle, which if you don't know, includes those things that make a car go, stop, and turn better, look good while doing it-both inside and out-and do so in ways that are creative, even inspirational at times. Oh, and they'll do it without copying others and by using genuine parts. It's a lot of ground to cover, but it's the new standard. Today's builders must be just as much artistically inclined as they are mechanically. Sorry, there are no longer exceptions; the bar has already been raised, and it's high.
Nowhere was this evolution-for the-better more evident than at May's annual all-Honda Eibach meet. Despite the event's low-key nature and informal disposition, make no mistake, this is where the best of the best make their appearances. We've become conditioned to K-swaps, unusual color schemes, and anything that's supposedly rare, JDM, or RHD, and instead, combination and execution have become the new benchmarks for getting noticed. Those with multi-colored engine bays, valve cover flair, and lofty horsepower numbers and supposed race-only parts are the ones to beat. Eleven years ago, the Integra with the JDM-spec front end would be the one to watch out for. Five years ago, it would be the one with the K swap. It was neither at the last Eibach event. To be sure, the DC2 Integra that garnered the most attention wore USDM garb with a B-series engine underneath its hood. It received accolades from passersby and was noted as being "different" and "crazy," never failing to have at least 10 stalkers surrounding it at any given moment. Eleven years ago that Integra might have passed itself off as "different" and "crazy," but five years ago, not so much. And now it is again. Tastes change. What was once considered rare and unobtainable can become predictable and status quo overnight. The reverse is also true. Only in this bubble that we as Honda enthusiasts live in can a car with its original engine and body be considered different
As was the case with Volume One, Issue One, Honda Tuning still exists for its readers...and because of Honda. HT isn't pretentious in the fact that it pretends to set the trends, but we'll continue to let you know what they are and why you should care about them. In many ways, that first issue of Honda Tuning was about as real and as raw as it gets. The cars inside were built not for the magazine, not for a group of people online, but for their owners. They did what they wanted, how they wanted, and for that, they were recognized. Although the appearances and the trends have changed, these sentiments aren't unlike those felt at the last Eibach meet. Builders are once again doing things their way...for themselves. There is no more satisfying reason to do something.