Americans are lazy. It’s been studied, theorized, put into second-grade-level pie charts with pretty colors, and there’s really no disputing it. We’re lazy. Technology and lightning-fast progression have served as both a blessing and a curse as our society seems to lean more toward couch potato TV and video game marathons, rather than fresh air and actual physical movement.
This same train of thought seems to have spilled over into the enthusiast market. Slowly and somewhat sneakily at first, it has now become painfully obvious, and it’s a shame. With a new crop of builders jumping into the mix everyday, there’s bound to be a lot of questions, plenty of uncertainty, and of course, misinformation. That’s where you come in. If you’re active online, you have the ability to offer some solid advice based on your experiences, and with any luck, it’s experience that you actually have rather than “stuff you’ve heard.”
Back in the day…
In the early days of Honda performance, there wasn’t much to be had in terms of parts availability, and even less in the way of experience. You’ll notice with the Legends Series in Honda Tuning Magazine, just about every person we interview mentions that there were no handouts in the early days. No Internet, no step-by-step manuals on anything at all. That means the majority of advances, incredibly enough, were made via trial and error—something the modern-day enthusiast isn’t completely forced to rely on. We have what the earliest generations never did: resources galore. From books to websites to forums, the information is out there, it just has to be searched.
Just about every day I read through a number of emails, the HT Facebook page, and forum posts, with new-to-Honda guys asking things like “What motor should I get?” “What’s the fastest motor I can get?” They get very upset when they can’t get a straight answer, or God forbid, it takes more than a few hours to get a response. Questions like these are essentially unanswerable, in that a person’s budget, their goals, outright mechanical knowledge, and so much more play a major role in what they’re going to be capable of. What the person is looking for is an immediate, concise answer that reveals everything they’ll need to know in order to be the fastest guy on the block. Part numbers, a how-to guide, total cost, and anything else associated with swapping. Those of us who have gone through the process a few times know there really is no standard answer as it varies far too much based on many factors. Outsiders who see this magazine or browse online, see every other car with a motor swap and they want one. It’s not a bad thing, but it has become basically the only topic discussed, and it’s partially due to pure laziness.
Their sweat, your reward…
If they’d taken the initiative to do some research online, they could find everything they needed, but it’s going to take some time, and they probably won’t pull all of that info in one night. Maybe that scares some, or perhaps pisses others off, but when you compare the ease of tapping on a keyboard for a few nights in your pajamas to what the forefathers of this industry had to do, it’s a joke to hear complaints. Think about doing an entire swap, finding that the motor isn’t sitting correctly, then pulling everything out and starting all over again. What about trying to figure out what axle will fit your swap by changing them out over and over and over again. Can’t figure out what rear mount to use? There’s no info on it, so you’ll just have to put in a week or two of backbreaking trial and error until you find something that works. How about trying to wire an ECU from a different model and hoping you don’t fry the entire system because there’s absolutely no resource to tell you whether you’re headed in the right direction. These are the things the industry’s forefathers had to constantly deal with, and rather than bitch and moan, they forged ahead—with today’s enthusiast reaping all of the benefits.
No offense, just setting things straight
If you're reading this, and you're new to this community, please, do the research. It's all out there; you just need to dig around a bit. Before you empty your bank account on that big J-series swap for your '96 coupe daily driver, know exactly what you're getting into, it might not be the best thing for you. There's a ton of swap options and we're all excited by the fact that many Honda's motors and chassis are interchangeable, but educate yourself. All of that information floating around on the World Wide Web is there because a dedicated group of hot rodders and forward thinkers poured every bit of their existence into their automotive passion. Don't tread on that - respect it.