Legends. There is perhaps no better word to describe the chosen band of trailblazers who pioneered Honda performance. Their stories date back to the mid-1970s, to a time when Honda the motorcycle company was wholeheartedly transforming itself into Honda the car company. Honda performance—an oxymoronic phrase of sorts if there ever were one—was insignificant but to a few just 30 years ago. The following decade and a Honda Civic that enthusiasts actually began to care about initiated the modern Honda performance movement. By the early 1990s, Southern Californian tuning shops with ties to the motherland and that catered to the Honda brand sprouted, greater Los Angeles industrial parks played host to dramatic, high-dollar street-racing spectacles, and a host of shows and organized drag racing events—predominantly Honda by nature—began to develop.
They say that credit must be given where credit’s due. It’s time to pay homage to those who’ve laid down the figurative patches of rubber for Honda performance as we know it. Beginning this issue, I’ll reveal their stories, their contributions—one by one, month by month. And what these legends have to say, well, it just might surprise you. Some of them you may have heard of. Most you likely haven’t. Some of them have been interviewed before. Most haven’t. You’d do well to follow their stories.
It’s no secret that I’m quick to discredit most who lay claim to the “old-school” pseudonym. Indeed, I’ve yet to stumble across an online “old-school” photo thread that deserves its namesake. Make no mistake—the legends you’re about to learn of deserve their titles if not define them. Some date back to a time when I first began tinkering with the Honda brand nearly 20 years ago. Others can be traced to the mid-1970s—before I was born. Some are acquaintances, former colleagues, even friends. Others are—despite the fact that I along with them have lived and breathed Honda passion for the better part of two decades—strangers. These interviews mark our and, incidentally, your introduction to one another.
Close your web browser because you won’t find their stories on the Internet. Yet. Online usernames among those we’ve interviewed are few. Do you really think you know who did the first Honda engine swap? Do you really think you know who was the first to ditch their factory ECU for a stand-alone system? What about the first nitrous kit? The first built Honda engine? Who’s really responsible for that, or for getting those predominantly domestic parts manufacturers to take an interest in Honda-specific forged pistons and rods? What about Honda drag racing? How exactly did it segue from the streets to the track? It’s time to tell their stories. It’s time to redefine old school.
They say that credit must be given where credit’s due. It’s time to pay homage to those who’ve laid down the figurative patches of rubber for Honda performance as we know it.