The real world is full of people who are almost always smarter than you. Despite the near 20 years I've been tinkering with Hondas, I'm often reminded of this. Each of these seeming taps on the shoulder has taught me one thing, though: a little humility won't hurt you.
But humility and the world of Honda enthusiasts have never gone hand in hand. They should. A small amount is all it takes to save one or two noobs from looking like asses on the forums, and just a smidgen will keep the know-it-all (who incidentally really does know it all) from making everyone else feel stupid by prefacing conversations of complex issues like ECU tuning with where exactly under your hood you'll find your engine. The littlest bit will go a long way. I learned long ago when to offer my two cents and when to simply sit back with my mouth shut and listen-even if I do have the answer or a story to tell.
When guys like Dr. Charles Madrid talk, I usually listen. Turns out he's responsible for all sorts of firsts, most of which are taken for granted today, like custom-fabricated engine swaps and make-shift, DOS-based engine management solutions. Charles has likely forgotten more about Honda performance than the cream of the crop honda-tech monkeys who thrive on post counts will ever know. Oddly enough, though, you won't find Charles on honda-tech and you won't likely see a Dr. Charles build thread anytime soon. To be sure, ol' Charles doesn't even have an online username. But despite all of this, When Charles talks, you'd do well to listen.
It doesn't stop with Charles, though. Honda performance predates guys like me, even the Doctor himself, a good 15 years. Take Oscar Jackson Sr., for example, a guy who presumably needs no introduction and, not unlike Charles, a guy who also doesn't have an online username-a guy who, when his mouth opens, people listen. Funny thing about Oscar's mouth, though, is that what comes out of it is actually true, and it's almost always in your best interest to shut yours for a second to hear what he's got to say. Recently he walked into a conversation between me and Charles where we were discussing early-'90s, make-shift stroker kits-the ones where we stuck '90-'91 B-series Prelude crankshafts into B-series Integra engines for a relatively easy two liters of happiness. It might sound silly, but the CRV wasn't invented yet, not to mention the larger-bore, B20 engine that would later come with it. Trouble with our 2.0-liter B-series was that the rod-to-stroke ratio was about as poor as it gets, but it worked. Engine builders with a bit more wherewithal stuck deck plates atop their B blocks, however, which solved that whole rod-to-stroke problem, but that's a conversation for another time. Oh, and before you go searching through the forum archives, you likely won't find a write-up on this anywhere online, as such parts interchanging madness predates the very idea of internet get-togethers.
As Charles and I summed up our discussion, I looked over as Oscar awaited patiently to jump into the conversation-not in the pompous sort of way that the know-it-all does as he positions himself to one-up you-but in the sort of way one goes about telling you something they're pretty sure you know nothing about. To be sure, I knew nothing about what Oscar was about say. His story centered around an early era stroker creation-not one that was developed in 1994, though, but rather 1984-a good eight years before VTEC was released, two years before Acura existed, and an easy decade before the JDM acronym would be coined. Honda had just introduced the CRX and Oscar decided around that very time that it needed more power. According to him, he sourced an '81 Civic CVCC's crankshaft that fit and bumped the cubic inches up along with some other non-CRX internals. Did I mention that this all happened in 1984? I was nine.
It doesn't end with guys like Oscar or Charles or even me. V6 engine swaps? Sure, Hasport's perfecting them better than anybody else could, but Southern California's The Place Racing and Speed Garage both produced six-cylinder-swapped '92-'95 Civics nearly 15 years ago. RWD and AWD conversions? Done...around the same time, and determined rather pointless...also around the same time, incidentally. Shaved bays and tucked engine harnesses? Ever seen Ron Bergenholtz's DA Integra? You'd have had to of seen it in person sometime around 1996...or maybe in a magazine...because, rest-assured, there's a good chance you won't find an online build thread on this early-'90s gem either.