Eric Badis' '05 Acura TL
Americans are known for their originality throughout history. Somewhere along the way, haters and, more recently, e-thugs have formed venomous herds of unoriginal followers. These herds often make going against the powerful force of popular trends difficult and challenging. Business models can further complicate matters; take for instance the lack of aftermarket support for the less "enthusiast friendly" Hondas. Eric Badis of Charlotte, North Carolina, was well aware of the obstacles when he chose to build an Acura TL, a luxury vehicle designed more for weekend golfing trips than full-throttle adventures.
Eric wasn't always a Honda enthusiast. In fact, he used to own a '65 Mustang and simply stumbled upon the driver's seat of an Acura Legend one day. That seat time was all it took; Eric converted to Honda-ism. All he needed then was one he could call his own. It was several years later when he spotted the third-generation Acura TL in a television commercial and fell in love. "I figured it was going to be a car that not many would modify," he says. Eric decided to tie the knot and pick up a brand-new White Diamond Pearl '04 TL. Unfortunately, the downside is that Eric began his journey with an automatic model. The local Acura dealership was fresh out of six-speed models the day he visited. Not wanting to wait, and with a slick set of 19x9.5 Volk TE37s en route via UPS, he plunked down the coin and drove off satisfied ... for the time being.
A few months later, Eric installed Tein SS coilovers and the simple, lowered, sweet wheel setup began to gnaw at Eric; his TL needed something more. After six years and the build still ongoing, the TL could still be confused for a namby-pamby grocery getter. Unlike the Jackwagon in the Geico "Therapist Sarge" commercial, Eric opted for the (at that time) recently released Comptech (now known as CT Engineering) supercharger. The boosted upgrade would no doubt spice up the relationship. The project further intensified with a wrench and 10mm socket. It was a boring summer day and Eric decided to take off the side panels and carpet. One thing led to another and before the sun went down, the TL was all but gutted. "The 10mm bolt is rampant in this car," he says. A Cusco six-point rollcage was ordered and quickly installed to take advantage of the opportunity. Even more interesting is the fact that the rollcage was designed for a Mitsubishi EVO 8. Although this seems strange, Eric is accustomed to installing parts designed not only for different Hondas, but for different manufacturers as well. "Due to the lack of aftermarket support, I was forced to think about what parts intended for other cars might work with the TL," he explains.
Eric easily stepped up to the challenge. His experience as a Lego instructor, teaching students how to build elaborate Lego designs with gears, pulleys, and other robotics transferred to the UA6 project. Minus the rollcage, the following is a list of parts that Eric figured out how to modify to fit on the TL: RSX-S GReddy intercooler, EVO 8 Trust exhaust system, Accord GReddy antiroll bar, EVO 8 Varis carbon-fiber canards, S2000 Spoon Sports carbon-fiber rear diffuser, and ITR DC5 seats. Eric uses words such as "figured, possible, lucky, and pondering" to describe how he went about researching and analyzing parts.
The daily driven, supercharged UA6 quickly racked up 125,000 miles. "And by daily driven, I mean everywhere I go, the TL goes," he confirms. At this point, Eric knew it was time to start with a fresh engine. During this period of the build, Eric's brother Aaron, who was and continues to be a key supporter of the project, continued to point out one particular flaw: "He kept telling me that he loves everything about the TL, except for the fact that it was an auto," he says.
With sibling pressure, Eric purchased a used '05 manual transmission TL in late 2008. Eric, Aaron, and some friends swapped over the enormous amount of goodies from the auto '04 TL to the manual '05 TL. The '04 TL still sits in Eric's garage. "Both Aaron and my friend have offered to help put Humpty Dumpty back together again," he chuckles.
Another notable aspect of the build is the CT Engineering supercharger. Eric had the supercharger originally installed on his previous '04 auto. The supercharger worked flawlessly from 40,000 miles up until he retired the '04 TL at 125,000 miles. Eric then installed the supercharger on the '05 manual TL. Since then, the supercharger has racked up another 50,000 miles of usage. In total, Eric has had the same supercharger on two TL engines, one with an auto and one with a manual tranny, for a grand total of 135,000 miles-with no damage to the supercharger or the engines! If that's not impressive enough for you, then tone down the morphine drip.
Negative remarks and a lack of aftermarket support made Eric's journey that much more rewarding. Not to mention, he got props in person from four Honda engineers who helped design the TL at the 2004 NOPI Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. It may not pay to be different, but it sure does feel good.
CT Engineering supercharger
GReddy intercooler (for RSX-S)
Custom intake piping
Custom intake filter
Custom polished intake manifold
E-Shift Procats exhaust manifold
Trust titanium 3-inch exhaust system (for EVO 8)
Denso IK22 spark plugs
GReddy oil-catch can
Braille carbon-fiber battery
Battery relocation-to-trunk kit
Tein SS dampers
GReddy front top antiroll bar (for Accord)
CT Engineering rear lower antiroll bar
Cusco 6-point rollcage (for EVO 8)
Project Mu big-brake kit
Wheels & Tires
19x9.5 Volk TE37 (+43 offset)
255/30-19 Yokohama S-Drive
Versus Motorsport front bumper
Varis carbon-fiber canards (for EVO 8)
Spoon Sports carbon-fiber rear diffuser (for S2000)
Acura A-Spec side skirts
Acura A-Spec rear bumper trim
TL Type-S taillights
Custom painted headlights
Trust titanium tow hook
Recaro DC5 seats
Sparco seat rails (for Accord)
Takata 4-point safety harnesses
Skunk2 shift knob
CT Engineering advanced control module
Defi-Link II V2 control unit
Acura navigation unit
Carbon-fiber dashboard kit
Tein EDFC thief
Nam @ Phantasm
Screen Name Or Nickname
Building Hondas For How Long
Ohio Honda R&D TL
What's Playing In Your Ipod/Cd/MP3 Player Right Now
Greatest Movie Of All Time
CT Engineering Supercharger
Deciding to build a less-admired Honda is one thing. Finding aftermarket products for said Honda is another. Although the TL model is not as heavily supported by the aftermarket industry as more popular Hondas/Acuras, (e.g., Civic or Integra) there are several companies, like CT Engineering, that do offer products. Eric installed their supercharger as soon as it was available back in 2004 and still abuses the same supercharger on his current '05 TL.
Nate Haines of CT Engineering explained that the company made a supercharger for the second-gen TL in 1999 and have been producing them for each successive generation. "Having the luxury and performance of a sedan with blistering horsepower to match is certainly fun and we're happy to lend support to this market," he says. And Nate prides himself on the fact that the kit is 50-state CARB legal!