The dragon has always fascinated people in a way that no other creature, real or imaginary, can. While ancient Western European views generally saw dragons as fire-breathing, reptilian plagues, usually associated with evil and destruction, dragons in the Far East were much different. Eastern dragons represented the indomitable forces of nature, and were not necessarily feared or shunned, but respected and admired.
These last attributes are what South Gate, Calif. resident Mike Chhor has tried to infuse into his vehicle, the super-trick 1994 Honda Accord spread before you. According to Chhor, when he set out to build this vehicle he didn't just want to impress people; he wanted them to drool first and then move the hell out of his way.
If you look at the overall pictures, you'll see this car is extremely smooth. There are no crazy flares or wild vinyl graphics; the smooth lines keep the viewer's eye from skirting around some crazy hump, swell or scoop. That said, almost every body panel on this Dragon has been replaced. The quarter panels have been replaced with genuine metal wide body panels to accomodate the big, big Racing Hart C5 three-piece wheels, sized 19x9 in front and 19x10 in the rear. The wheels are wrapped with Pirelli P7000 rubber, 235/35 up front and 265/30 in back. Various kit pieces from JT Autostyle in Rosemead, Calif., take care of the front bumper, sides and rear apron and match up perfectly with the widebody fenders. The rear doors were flared outward to match the rear fender swell. The rear apron and side skirts were smoothed in with the new quarter panels. A custom aluminum wing, also from JT, perches on the trunk lid, and a one-off hood rounds out the body kit with a transparent window (in the shape of a dragon's head) that allows onlookers to gaze into the engine bay when the hood is down and latched.
Besides adding the kit, all exterior distractions were removed from the Dragon's body panels including badges, key holes, moldings, handles and, yes, even the gas filler door. The filler cap has been relocated behind the driver's side rear taillight, which springs open when you pull the interior fuel door release. And, in case you hadn't noticed, the headlights and taillights on Chhor's steed have been redone to resemble the Lexus IS.
When all modifications were complete, the entire car was shot in Ferrari red mixed with white and blue pearls. Parts of the undercarriage, and the brake calipers and drums received paint treatment as well. All body work, including the paint, was performed by JT Auto Body, in Rosemead, Calif. The subtle vinyl graphics parading Chhor's sponsors along the JT side skirts were supplied by TG Race Designs, Alhambra, Calif.
Mike Chhor's dragon motif does not end on the outside, but has been generously applied to the car's interior as well. Every, and I mean every, interior component (including the trunk) has been resurfaced in red and white vinyl by Apollo Interior Trim Works in Alhambra, Calif. Stylized dragons have been embroidered into the seat backs, and the dash and door panels sport custom flame pop-out inserts.
To turn out the much needed tunes, Chhor went with an Alpine CVA 1000 head unit, Alpine components and dual Alpine V12 amps. Letting Chhor keep an eye on the car's vital signs is a 5-inch AutoMeter tach. Kustom Workz in Whittier, Calif. installed the 10-switch panel just behind the gear shifter. This allows Chhor to control the car's air cylinders and custom tailor his ride height from inside the cockpit: slammed to the ground at speed, and raised to a safe height when he needs to negotiate a steep driveway, speed bump or dip.
Beneath the custom hood you'll find what Chhor calls a "fire-breathing, all-motor powerplant." An RS Akimoto intake opens up the Dragon's breathing passage, while a GReddy exhaust and DC Sports ceramic-coated header pipe spent gases out the back. Nology wires and Silverstone plugs supply ingnition spark. Rainbow Polishing in El Monte, Calif. gets credit for the super shiny valve cover, distributor, alternator and intake manifold. An ACT clutch and DC Sports short shifter assembly assist Chhor in getting his power to the ground.
Naming your car the Dragon-and being serious about it-is a pretty effective way to get yourself noticed. Whether or not you survive afterward is simply a matter of whether your bite matches up to your ferocious bark. Chhor has certainly struck a nerve in the import community with his screaming red Dragon, and with an array of choice goods, creativity and a knack for paying attention to details, it looks like the two are here to stay. He says it best himself: "When you see the Dragon coming your way, don't be afraid. Be amazed." Then kindly move to the side.