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 |   |  1995 Acura Integra LS - Street Level
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1995 Acura Integra LS - Street Level

When Your Competitive Streak Gets The Best Of You

Aaron Bonk
Jul 8, 2010
Photographer: Henry Z. De Kuyper

Alejandro Salcido's '95 Acura Integra LS
Internet forum cool guys often tout how they modify their cars for themselves. The meets, the shows, the online post whoring-it's all for themselves. Or so they say. Each one be damned if their peers think otherwise. But dig down deep into the psyche of the modern day car enthusiast and it isn't hard to see that the ego is responsible for nearly all of it. Cast yourself away onto an imaginary island of solitude for a moment; would you really care whether or not the hatchback you commute to one side of the island to the next in search of coconuts has a real-deal Mugen steering wheel or not? Doubtful.

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Alejandro Salcido came to terms with his Honda-modifying motivations early on, and he'll be the last to tell you that he built his car solely for himself. "I've always been very competitive," Alejandro says. "It's in my nature." Alejandro tapped into his competitive side early on and set a goal to hang with the fastest cars within his hometown, El Paso, TX. His Integra is better for it.

The philosophy was formulated when Alejandro was still in high school. "I've been into racing and hooking up cars since I was sixteen, but the passion started when I got my second Honda, an '88 Civic DX hatchback," he says. The $600 commuter that he went in halves on with his girlfriend served him well. It needed work, but eventually his minimum-wage salary lent itself to a turbocharged LS-VTEC power-plant. The DX looked like hell but got the job done and taught Alejandro a thing or two about wrenching during the short time he owned it. Turns out he was replacing or fixing things on it nearly every week, though. The failed parts did well for his self esteem as a burgeoning mechanic but little for the man's checking account. As interesting as all of this may be, though, you're not here to read about Alejandro's old Civic.

Alejandro put the hatchback aside to look for something newer, like a '95 Integra LS-a "more serious" project that he could "build on the side," he says. The plan was simple: to use as many leftover parts from the Civic as possible and complement those as necessary. As is often the case, though, plans never go as they should. The Integra's non-VTEC engine spun a rod bearing no more than a month after Alejandro paid for the thing. The decent paint job and straight chassis served him little so long as the engine was inoperable so he began phase two of the project by selling off his old Civic's turbo parts and starting from scratch. The new JDM B18C short block that replaced the blown B18B1 was sent off to Golden Eagle, the shell was rendered bare, and more parts were sold off. Each day the Integra looked to be veering further away from completion, rather than closer, but Alejandro knew his project compass was pointed in the right direction. "Starting from a bare shell allowed me to create something I knew I'd fall in love with," he says. "Once I started the project, it consumed me."

While the engine was off in another corner of the country, Alejandro made use of the down-time tucking the car's wiring harness and brake lines as well as shaving its engine bay. It was in between bending brake lines and running looms of wire that he envisioned a carbon-fiber upper half for the Integra. And so the roof was laid in the exotic, race-car inspired fabric-it's sunroof eliminated-its trunk lid and hood both swapped with pieces from VIS, also in carbon-fiber. The rest of the chassis was doused in Honda's own Kiwi Metallic hue, including the JDM Integra front end. Inside, Alejandro added a 10-point roll cage that wraps itself around Memoryfab bucket seats and a genuine Mugen steering wheel.

Under the Integra's hood it's all business. Although Alejandro tapped into his artistic side with his carbon-fiber exterior and shaved firewall, none was performed at the expense of performance. To be sure, horsepower was his primary objective from day one. The beefed-up, pump-gas-breathing Golden Eagle engine was fitted with CP pistons and Eagle connecting rods in order to withstand the near-400 hp that the Precision turbocharger belts out and transfers through the GearSpeed transmission. The top-mount, Turbo Elements exhaust manifold; the NOS Sniper nitrous kit; the three-inch intercooler piping and four-inch downpipe; the engine bay chock full of steel-braided plumbing and aluminum fittings; the RCI five-gallon fuel cell-it's all there for a reason: to blow holes in his competition. As you might expect, Alejandro's Integra is no one-trick pony. It's capable power-plant is backed-up with suspension and drivetrain bits once reserved only for high-dollar track cars, like the Strange coilover suspension and Tilton twin-disc clutch. Take a moment to absorb all of this, and it'll come as no surprise when Alejandro fittingly says, "If I'm going to do something, I'm going to be the best at it."

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Go ahead; keep telling yourself you built your car for yourself. Alejandro will sleep just fine at night knowing he erred toward his competitive side and built his Integra not just for himself but for every other Honda owner in El Paso who thinks their car might be just a little bit faster than his. Watch out, Texas.

Bolts & Washers

JDM B18C engine
Hasport engine mounts
Ported cylinder head
Skunk2 Pro 1+ camshafts
Skunk2 cam gears
Supertech valves
Supertech dual valve springs
Supertech titanium retainers
Cometic head gasket
ARP head studs
Gates timing belt
CP pistons
Eagle connecting rods
Moroso oil pan
K&N air filter
Precision 6262 turbocharger
Precision intercooler
Turbo XS RFL blow-off valve
3-inch aluminum intercooler piping
TiAL 44mm wastegate
T1 Race Development turbo blanket
Turbo Elements exhaust manifold
Power 70mm throttle body
Hondata intake manifold gasket
Edelbrock Victor X intake manifold
Dual Bosch fuel pumps
Aeromotive fuel filter
Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
MagnaFuel distribution block
Full Blown Motorsports fuel rail
Injector Dynamics 1000cc/min. fuel injectors
Earl's steel braided fuel lines and fittings
RCI 5-gallon fuel tank
Custom 4-inch exhaust system
Magnaflow muffler
Custom oil breather tank
Earl's steel braided breather tank lines
External battery terminals
Mugen reservoir covers
Haste aluminum radiator
Custom 14-inch cooling fan
Samco Sport radiator hoses
Mugen thermostat
NGK spark plug wires
Hondata S300 engine management
Omni Power 4-bar MAP sensor
NOS Sniper nitrous kit
RacerStev heat-treated transmission gears
Gear Speed carbon-coated synchros
Liberty handcuff
OBX limited-slip differential
Tilton Cerametallic twin-disc clutch
Tilton flow control valve
Tilton 6-lb flywheel

Strange coilovers
Hyper coil front springs
Skunk2 rear springs
SPC front alignment kit
Custom traction bar
Beaks rear antiroll bar
Beaks rear tie bar

Hawk pads
Earl's steel'braided lines
DC2 ITR master cylinder
DC2 ITR booster
Skunk2 extended wheel studs
Vision extended wheel lugs

Wheels & Tires
Front: 16x7 Rays Gram Lights 57C (+33 offset)
Rear: 16x7 Rays Gram Lights 57C (+42 offset)
215/40-16 Falken Ziex

Kiwi Metallic paint
JDM front end conversion
Carbon-fiber roof overlay
J's Racing air duct
VIS carbon-fiber hood
VIS carbon-fiber trunk lid
Mugen rear spoiler
10K Xenon HIDs
JDM parking pole
Wiper and antenna delete plugs

10-point roll cage
Memoryfab bucket seats
Takata harnesses
Broadway mirror
Carbon-fiber airbag delete tray
JDM DC2 ITR gauge cluster
DC2 ITR shift boot
Mugen shift knob
Mugen steering wheel
NRG quick-release adapter
NRG short steering hub
NRG locking hub
Pioneer head unit
Auto Meter boost pressure, oil pressure, water temp., oil temp. gauges
HKS turbo timer
AEM UEGO wide-band air/fuel meter

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Mom and brother
Endless JDM Crew
Mike, Fred, and Tito at Imerj Auto
Eric at Pro Drag Chassis
Tony at T1 Race Development

Owner Specs

Favorite website

Screen name or nickname

Building Hondas for how long
Seven years

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Your dream car
Saleen S7

Build inspiration
A love of cars

What's playing in your iPod/CD/ MP3 Player Right Now

Greatest Movie Of All Time
Dumb and Dumber

The 400hp Recipe
Nowadays, the recipe for 400 hp or more is relatively simple. That wasn't always the case, though. Once upon a time, aftermarket Honda engine management systems didn't exist, fuel injectors larger than 370cc/min. had yet to be developed for Hondas, and ductile iron sleeves were still years from production. But none of this stopped early enthusiasts from pushing the 400hp envelope. Tuning was conquered with obscene fuel pressures that multiplied dependent upon boost. With the help of a couple of dinky inline fuel pumps and those 370cc/min. injectors, catastrophically leaning out was avoided...most of the time. Blocks were strengthened with custom-made forged pistons and rods, and the cylinders themselves were reinforced by blockguards or, if you truly want to step back in time, by drilling through the block and pinning the cylinders in place with set screws followed by water jackets half full of cement-like block fillers. The tactics worked but were short lived. Those with the wherewithal to produce a Honda engine that eclipsed the 400hp mark 15 years ago were few, and those who could do it and expect it to last were even fewer. Thankfully the recipe's gotten easier.


HASport Performance
Phoenix, AZ 85040
Torrance, CA 90503
NRG Innovations
City Of Industry, CA 91746
By Aaron Bonk
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