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2003 Acura RSX Type-S - Next-Gen

Out With The Old Chassis, In With The New

Jan 4, 2011
Photographer: Quickworks Photography

Ron Ellis' '03 RSX Type-S
If you're like most Honda enthusiasts, you've no doubt read dozens, perhaps even hundreds of car features over the years. The bulk of these detail-rich stories often include quirky quotes from the builder revolving around an innocent owner doing their best to hold back, but is unable to resist the temptation to build their car to astronomical levels. Sometimes it's the new guy that has recently jumped into the import mix on a whim, and found themselves knee-deep in performance and aesthetic mods. Other times it might be the old-school enthusiast that, at one point or another, decided to call it quits, only to be drawn back in by the H-badged succubus that seems to thrive on attacking even the most unwilling victims.

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Regardless of their starting point, the one common denominator seems to involve an admittedly uncontrollable urge to simply "make it better." A tall order considering Honda engineers, masters of their respective positions within the Honda Corporation, spend countless hours researching and developing things like suspension and exhaust systems that not only offer excellent handling and maximum (legal) exhaust flow, but also maintain a comfortable and quiet ride for the average consumer. Ironic, considering those are usually the first two items that an average builder will toss into the dark recesses of their garage as they install permanent performance replacements. The fact is, regardless of how well a car is designed from the factory, there's almost always a way to improve upon it. Maybe that's the reason we can't just leave well enough alone.

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Ron Ellis of Martinez, CA, was no stranger to basic mods a few years ago. In fact, he scooted around town in style with a '94 GS-R that was lightly armed with some minor upgrades. While chatting with his contractor about laying down hardwood floors for his home, Ellis was offered a deal that he simply couldn't refuse; trade his GS-R for the entire flooring job. Now most would probably hesitate before jumping into a trade like this, but with over 270,000 miles on the DC's clock, and a new RSX Type-S sitting in his driveway as a secondary car, Ellis needed only moments to make his decision. Almost instantly, the GS-R keys were handed over to the contractor, and Ellis witnessed his home value moving up a few notches in return.

Htup_1103_03_o+2003_acura_rsx_type_s+k24_engine Photo 4/24   |   The K24 swap was topped off with a Comptech (now CT Engineering) supercharger and ARC intake. The Speedstar Racing Aurora finish adds a new level of luster to the dark engine bay.

Though the Type-S offers quite a bit in the performance realm even in stock form, Ellis was somewhat dissatisfied, and chose to make some changes right away. He states, "It just sucked in the handling department. I dropped it on Ground Control springs and Koni shocks, and added some new wheels before I started adding some audio with an Alpine 5.1 setup." With the excitement of a new chassis and ever-expanding aftermarket support, the RSX continued to snowball with new upgrades that came from every direction. The original suspension was removed to make room for a Tein SSP kit with pillowball mounts and electronic control, and an AEM big-brake kit replaced the factory stoppers. Feeling that the lighting was somewhat lacking for a newer Acura, Ellis opted to change out the front end from an '05 RSX, and even retrofitted a set of TSX projectors with Hella-brand ballasts to blast the road with authority. It seemed that everything was coming together nicely, except in the power department. "Up to this point, I'd only installed a header and intake, and decided to pick up a Comptech supercharger and Hondata management," he recalls. As with most feature stories, once things really start to take off, there's almost always a setback, and this tale is no different. Some minor damage sent this RSX to the body shop, where Ellis gave the thumbs-up for a C-West front bumper and side skirts to complement his newfound boosted propulsion, and to round out the changes he'd made to the car over the years.

As with his first Acura, the RSX began to really rack up the mileage, and once he began flirting with the 100,000 mark, Ellis contacted his friend Ryan who just so happened to be parting out his RSX build. The two worked out a deal for a K24 engine and front suspension pieces. Before completing the swap, Mr. Basseri of was contacted to perform some wiring magic on the 2.4L with a Mil-spec harness and ABS delete kit. Now on his third, or perhaps fourth (who's counting) suspension and wheel setup, Ellis has managed to piece together one of the most complete RSX builds in existence, emphasizing engine and suspension performance as much as aesthetics and audio. Along the way, the RSX managed to take home top honors at the massive Wek'Fest 2010 event in San Francisco, CA. No small feat when you consider that some of the most incredible builds in the western region converge upon this legendary event each and every year.

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In the end, Ron Ellis made a very mature decision involving his GS-R and his home, yet still managed to piece together a groundbreaking project car. We don't see Ron slowing down with this build anytime soon. That is, unless he starts talking to contractors about a pool ...

Bolts & Washers

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Hondata K-Pro management
Comptech supercharger (Aurora finish)
SSR 4-2-1 exhaust manifold
Greddy prototype titanium 70mm cat-back exhaust
Custom test pipe
ARC polished intake
SuperTech valvesprings
SuperTech titanium retainers
SuperTech keepers
SuperTech valve seals
Injector Dynamics 1,000cc injectors
Innovative motor mounts
Yonaka Motorsports radiator Mil-spec engine harness
K-Tuned radiator hose bracket
K-tuned throttle bracket and GS-R throttle cable
Comptech oil cap
Speedstar Racing Aurora finish valve cover
A/C line tuck by Anthony of CRSX

Buddy Club Race-spec dampers
Comptech adjustable rear antisway bar
PCI spherical bushings
SPC alignment kit
Comptech titanium front shock tower bar
Mugen rear shock tower bar
Todd's roll-center adjusters and camber/caster plates
Function 7 LCAs
Comptech lower tie bar
AutoPower 6-point rollbar with welded subframe connectors and crossbeam

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AP Racing front discs
Ferrodo front brake pads
AP Racing front calipers
Amsoil brake fluid
SSR blue-steel braided lines
AEM rear big-brake conversion
Akebono rear brake pads ABS delete kit

Htup_1103_15_o+2003_acura_rsx_type_s+passenger_side_front_quarterpanel Photo 14/24   |   2003 Acura RSX Type-S - Next-Gen

Wheels & Tires
Volk Racing CE28n Genesis 18x9 +35
Nitto Invo 255/35-18
ARP extended studs
Project Kics R40 lug nuts

2005-06 front end conversion
C-West Kouki front bumper and side skirts
First Molding rear diffuser
Seibon carbon-fiber hood
TSX retrofitted projectors and Hella ballasts (6K)
Shaved emblems
Custom front grille
Mugen rear license plate cover
Rear wiper delete
Beatrush Aero under-panel

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S2000 cluster
Bride Gias low-max seats
Gray and black suede wrap throughout interior
Mugen rearview mirror cover
Custom carbon-fiber panels
JDM ITR floor mats
Vertex steering wheel
Works Bell steering wheel boss
NRG quick-release
JDM ITR pedals
Speedstar Racing Aqua shift knob

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Alpine amps
ARC Audio subwoofer and components
Custom air jack system
Five-gallon air tank

Joshua Works , CK Auto Image,Memoryfab, Comptech, Rywire, Ellsworth Machine Shop and Auto Repair, SIK Industries, Speedstar Racing, Sid's Upholstery, Wek'sos, Ryan Slagle, FFTECH Motorsports, Team Ranthem,QuickworksPhoto, Yonaka Motorsports, Amsoil

Owner Specs

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Favorite website

Screen name or nickname

Building Hondas for how long
20 years

Your dream car
2000 Honda NSX-R

Build inspiration
Rudy's White RSX

What's playing in your iPod/CD/MP3 player right now

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Greatest movie of all time
Vanishing Point

Project car value
Unfortunately we can't all be as lucky as Ron Ellis and his situation with his contractor. In fact, it's been stated numerous times; the moment you drive that new car off the lot, it begins to depreciate in value. Some estimates tack a 40 percent decrease in value after just the first year of ownership! Thankfully, Honda vehicles have a reputation for maintaining their value over the years, but keep in mind, when dealing with project cars; you never get out of them what you put in them. In your eyes, those hard-to-find JDM wheels and Spoon aero pieces are worth over two grand on top of the going rate for your chassis, but in the used market, that's simply not how it works. A car's condition, mileage, and running shape far outweigh those fancy bolt-ons. You're probably better off selling the aftermarket extras separately, and putting your nearly stock car up for sale on its own.


Torrance, CA 90503
CT Engineering
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
SpeedStar Racing
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Garden Grove, CA 92843
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