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2008 Acura CSX Type-S - The Family Car Alternative Compromise

Bing Lee's '08 Acura CSX Type-S

Aaron Bonk
Feb 5, 2010
Photographer: Henry Z. De Kuyper

Family. Car. Alone, the two words are harmless, but pair them together and the phrase is enough to make grown men cry. Think "family car" and think faux wood-clad vans, station wagons, and SUVs so turd-like that their lap times are measured by calendars. Bing Lee held back the tears, kept his distance from the minivan forums, and instead looked toward Acura's entry-level sedan, the CSX. Yeah, that's "C-S-X"-Acura's Canadian-only version of the U.S.-spec Civic Si sedan.

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Bing first looked toward the Honda Fit to fulfill family car duties but was quickly turned off due to the hatchback's looming body style change, which would ultimately leave him with a six-month-old car that's already been superseded by its maker. The Fit's fate made Bing's decision to opt for the Acura all the easier. The four-door sedan chassis fit the family part of the bill and its K20Z engine, six gears, and limited-slip differential was the light at the end of his performance tunnel. Bing says that Acura's CSX Type-S has "its own JDM look, unlike the USDM Civic." That's because the North American CSX is more like the Japanese-spec Civic than anything else. Actually, scratch that. The Japanese Civic is more like the North American CSX than anything else. Indeed, the CSX was developed first and Honda of Japan followed suit, modeling the JDM Civic after its Canadian sibling.

"I'm loving the car," Bing says. "The K20 has been a good engine...since the EP3, even the DC5." And why shouldn't he like his K? Bing stiffened his powerplant's fore-to-aft movement with Alex reinforced engine mounts and worked on the traction part of the equation with an Exedy clutch and flywheel combination along with a Spoon Sports 1.5-way LSD. But using a lightweight flywheel to reach redline faster isn't much fun if you aren't making any more power. Bing addressed outside air delivery with a T1R intake paired with a Spoon Sports throttle body and the exit side with a T1R Power header and exhaust. Once matched with the Hondata ECU reflash, the setup comes alive. Hondata's K20Z ECU reflash lowers the VTEC engagement point to a smoother and less detectable 4,500 rpm, advances the camshaft angle, and raises the redline to a lofty 8,600 rpm. Bing went on to address the ignition system with a T1R V-Power voltage stabilizer and grounding kit, which regulates the electrical system's voltage during acceleration and ensures adequate grounding, respectively.

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There was a time when Bing said something to the effect of, "I started off not wanting to do too many things to the car," but such statements are often spoken in haste or for reasons of appeasement in regards to loved ones. Soon after buying the CSX, Richmond, British Columbia resident Bing followed suit with the Civic Type R conversion, which includes the front end, side skirts, and rear bumper. Rays RE30 rims were added next along with a J's Racing 3D GT rear wing, T1R B52 mono-tube coilovers, and a complete brake kit, also courtesy of T1R. So much for appeasement. "It never stops!" Bing says. And so the build progressed. T1R carbon seats replace the factory-issue as does a T1R shift knob, Momo steering wheel, and Honda Access pedals. And with the addition of bits like a Cusco anti-roll bar, a J's racing strut bar, and some dress-up bits underneath the hood (also courtesy of T1R), Bing had arguably accomplished what many set out to do yet never quite complete-finish what he started.

Give Bing's CSX a quick once-over and you just might walk away assuming it to be simple. You'd be wrong though; it's more complex than that. Bing could have thrown every available part on his CSX, but he didn't. He could opt for cheap knock-off parts to save a few dollars, but he doesn't. He could finish the Acura, lock it up in a garage, and tow it to the occasional event as time permits, but he won't. No, Bing's CSX doesn't just serve daily family car duties, it also frequents the track and is arguably better for it. But building such a multi-purpose piece of machinery isn't impossible, and you don't have to be Bing to do it. The recipe lies in addressing each aspect of the build-a balancing act, if you will. Gobs of horsepower will do you little good if you can't stop. A track-ready suspension makes little sense if you skimp on tires. Bing knows all of this. Perhaps that's why he's able to call his CSX a family car without shedding a tear. Or, as Bing puts it, "I'm loving it!"

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Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
Alex engine mounts
T1R intake
Spoon Sports throttle body
T1R Power header
T1R Power exhaust
NGK iridium spark plugs
T1R V-Power voltage stabilizer
T1R Earthing kit
T1R oil cap
T1R radiator cap
T1R reservoir covers
Spoon Sports thermostat
Hondata ECU reflash
Exedy Stage 3 clutch
Exedy lightened flywheel
Spoon Sports 1.5-way LSD

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Stance
T1R B52 coilovers
Cusco rear anti-roll bar
T1R rear camber kit
J's Racing front strut bar

Resistance
T1R 332mm discs
T1R Street Spec pads
T1R 4-piston calipers
T1R steel-braided lines
Motul fluid

Rims & Rubber
17x8.5 Rays RE30 (+50 offset)
255/40-17 Nitto NT01

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Outside
JDM CTR front end
JDM CTR side skirts
JDM CTR rear bumper
J's Racing 3D GT rear wing

Inside
T1R carbon-Kevlar reclining seats
Momo Corse steering wheel
Honda Access pedals
T1R shift knob
JDM CTR shift boot

Props
A&J Racing
All of my friends

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Owner Specs

Favorite Website:
www.8thcivic.com

Screen Name/Nickname:
Bing

Building Hondas For How Long:
2 years

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Your Dream Car:
NSX-R GT

Build Inspiration:
A&J Racing

What's In Your IPOD/CD/MP3 Player Right Now:
Huh?

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Greatest Movie Of All Time:
Huh?

But Isn't It A Civic?
Nearly exclusive to the North American market, the Acura brand is little more than an extension of the Honda name. The label was introduced by Honda in an effort to market its performance-based vehicles like the NSX and Integra as well as its luxurious V-6-powered sedans. Finicky American consumers weren't very likely to buy supercars and luxury four-doors from a company known mostly for producing fuel efficient commuters with few accouterments, or so the thinking went. As such, the Acura name was conjured up and nobody was ever the wiser. Since its inception in 1986, the two brands have shared more than technology. To be sure, most Acuras are nothing more than rebadged Hondas. The Integra, NSX, RSX, TSX-all Hondas, and are anything but exclusive to Americans. The CSX is no different. Despite the shiny "A" at each end, the CSX is simply the Canadian version of the Civic Si sedan, which should go without saying, is a Honda. Like the Si, the CSX is offered only with the 2.0L K-series engine in a front-engine, FWD layout, with an available six-speed gearbox, just like its stateside brethren. Unlike other Acuras that began life in Honda garb, the CSX in fact predates the Japanese Civic Si as well as the U.S.-spec Si sedan. Now who's the copycat?

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Sources

A&J Racing
Richmond, BC. Canada V6V 0A4, CA
604-279-0329
http://www.aj-racing.com
Hondata
Torrance, CA 90503
310-782-8278
http://www.hondata.com
T1 Race Development
Rowlett, TX 75088
214-607-9022
http://www.t1racedevelopment.com
By Aaron Bonk
408 Articles

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