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2011 Honda CR-Z - A New Era

Great MPG and still a blast to drive

Jonathan “JT” Thompson
May 29, 2013
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Art is a creative category that includes endless entities such as, but not limited to, painting, sculpting, drawing, singing, dancing, acting, and even brewing beer. Art is an integral part of society, and as such, human beings are naturally drawn to creating and consuming art to express and entertain themselves, to enjoy the finer and more fulfilling aspects of life. There are some who subscribe to clear definitions of what is considered art and what is not considered art. Simply put, Jason Salvadalena of Crystal Lake, Illinois, is an artist. The canvas in this case is his devious-looking white 2011 CR-Z. Justin’s artistic style was influenced by an uncle with an affinity for lowrider trucks combined with previous employment at a high-end audio shop.

The ZF1 is a remarkable build with a number of subtle touches throughout the vehicle. Just how much detail might go unnoticed by the typical bystander, and that’s just fine in Justin’s eyes. Under the hood you won’t find a $15K 2.0L swap, but rather the original L15 powerplant highlighted with a painted Fit intake manifold and highly polished runners paired with a CM Racing intake. The exhaust system is also highly custom, created by Meisterschaft, a high-end aftermarket performance exhaust manufacturer that normally produces systems for European makes such as Ferrari, BMW, and AMG. GT HAUS is the parent company of Meisterschaft, and the owner had recently decided to enter the Japanese exhaust system aftermarket. Justin was a little reluctant at first. “I didn’t want any check engine lights,” he recalls. The owner reassured him, gave him a rental car, and sent him on his way. Justin was satisfied with the styling and performance of the custom system. A butterfly valve sits inside the exhaust piping before the Y-pipe leading into the canister. Spent fumes are routed through a filtered exhaust pipe during conservative driving conditions. A button located inside is used to switch between normal mode and performance action. Essentially, the normal route is closed off and the spent fumes are passed through the straight pipe.

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Outside, the striking appearance starts with an adjusted ride height via TEIN Super Street coilovers and classic Blitz Type 01 wheels. A complete C-West aero kit transforms a once short, portly frame into a lengthened, sleek eye-catcher.

Then there is the handcrafted, superbly designed one-off interior. CR-Zs only came with gray interior at the time of purchase, and the mass-produced (boring) tone was the perfect candidate for a makeover. Justin sought the expertise of Autowerks, a posh, full-service auto facility located in Northbrook, Illinois. The overhaul included elements of black Alcantara suede, leather, and fiberglass. The decision was made to retain the original equipment manufacturer seats because of their fit and comfort—upgraded, of course. The seats are comprised of suede sides and backing while the seated portion consists of partially stretched diamond stitching. The idea came from interiors of luxury sport cars such as the Bugatti Super Sport.

Justin is comfortable working with fiberglass having spent time as an audio installer. The need for quality door speakers led to the creation of fiberglass speaker pods. The larger compartments provide superior sound quality. Another neat feature involving fiberglass is the lack of a traditional head unit. A Samsung Galaxy 7-inch tablet performs audio, video, navigation, and other functions. The tablet mounts to a custom fiberglass housing and is designed to be mobile. “You can easily remove the panel. I have navigation while driving, then I take it out for meetings, grab information, take notes,” he explains.

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The number of CR-Zs with engine swaps and go-fast goodies is slowly increasing. For clarity, yes, Justin considered an engine swap and even forced induction. “An [engine swap] would have been great for performance and would have accompanied the aggressive look that the car has perfectly, but the car is my daily driver and I enjoy the 40-plus mpg that I’ve been getting with the hybrid [engine].” Art is in the eye of the beholder, wouldn’t you agree?

Bolts & Washers

Original L-series engine
ARC radiator cap
CM Racing Online custom air intake system
Fujita air filter
Honda Fit intake manifold
Meisterschaft custom exhaust system
Skunk2 Racing short shifter

TEIN Super Street coilovers
Front: 200mm/5kg springs
Rear: 225mm/4kg springs
Eibach camber bolts

Htup 1304 03 o+2011 honda CRZ+c west front bumper Photo 4/12   |   2011 Honda CR-Z - A New Era

Front: Stoptech brake rotors, Stoptech brake pads, Stoptech 4-piston brake calipers
Rear: Project Mu rear brake rotors, Project Mu rear brake pads
Motul brake fluid
Stoptech stainless steel braided brake lines

Wheels & Tires
Front: Blitz Type 01 17x9 +38, 205/40-17 Falken 512
Rear: Blitz Type 01 17x9.5 +38, 215/40-17 Falken 512

C-West front bumper
C-West side skirts
C-West rear half spoiler
T1R side mirrors
Modified wheel fenders

Spoon Sports wide-angle rearview mirror
Key’s Racing shift knob
Custom suede/leather-wrapped interior pieces
Custom partially stretched diamond stitching
Custom fiberglass door speaker pods
Custom fiberglass tablet housing
Samsung Galaxy 7-inch tablet media unit
Audison audio system
Hertz Audio amplifier

CM Racing Online
Bulletproof Automotive

Owner Specs

Daily Grind

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Favorite Site

Screen Name

Building Hondas
One year

Dream Car
Paganzi Zonda R

Inspiration For This Build
Clean and unique

Future Build
Complete ’95 Chevrolet S-10 truck project

J.D. Power And Associates 2012 Initial Quality Study

J.D. Power and Associates is an established research company that collects and produces quality marketing information. The automotive industry is one of the firm’s main research topics. The 2012 Initial Quality Study tracks issues consumers experience with their new-vehicles for the first three months of ownership. The study is valuable because it can be used to determine the long-term quality of a new-vehicle purchase. Overall, the study shows that automobile manufacturers improved on quality from the previous year.

Honda ranked fifth out of the 34 companies included in the study. The study found that owners reported a total of 83 problems per 100 Honda new-vehicle purchases. The industry average was 102 problems per 100 vehicles. In addition, Honda’s plant in Suzuka, Mie, Japan, received the coveted Platinum Plant Assembly Line Quality Award. The plant manufactures the CR-Z and Fit. The quality award is for producing the least amount of defects or malfunctions. for more information.

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2011 honda crz c west front 07 Photo 10/12   |   2011 Honda Crz C West Front 07
2011 honda crz enginebay 10 Photo 11/12   |   2011 Honda Crz Enginebay 10
2011 honda crz c west face 12 Photo 12/12   |   2011 Honda Crz C West Face 12


Eibach Springs
Corona, CA 92879
Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
Lake Forest, CA 92630
By Jonathan “JT” Thompson
11 Articles



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