It was the summer of 2006 when Felix Chan set out to discover what he was capable of. He wanted to build an Acura Integra that met his particular demands and specifications. And he was going to do as much of the work himself as he could. If that meant eight weeks of staying after work until two in the morning then punching the clock at 10 the next day, that's what he'd do.
The project began by purchasing just the shell of a '92 DA9. Chan was 18 at the time, working as a technician at N1 Concepts, a build shop in San Francisco. He's obviously a man who loves his work. His Integra has a JDM pedigree, with right-hand drive. 'Teg fans will be familiar with the B16A DOHC VTEC engine, displacing 1.6 liters and developing 158 hp at a high-revving 7,600 rpm, along with 111 lb-ft at seven grand dead.
Chan sure is. He used to own a '90 Integra and a '95 Honda Del Sol (as well as an '86 Toyota MR2 and an '04 BMW 330). He began working on cars at the tender age of 15, for the same reason most of us do: there was no other affordable option.
His naturally aspirated B16 was pulled from a Japanese racecar. Chan saw how clean the internals were, noted the ported and polished head, and decided that all he wanted to add was a set of HKS cam gears. It's the breathing where Chan got busier. At the start of the process, an Injen air intake feeds a Blox one-piece cast aluminum intake manifold that sports a larger plenum and longer runners than factory stock. It's also much lighter.
On the exhaust side, a Rage Tri Y Race Header (fashioned from brushed 304 stainless steel) flows into a Blox straight pipe and a stainless steel Tanabe G Power exhaust. Chan has a good relationship with R Crew Racing of Brisbane, Calif. (suppliers of JDM parts, among other things), so an R Crew intake manifold spacer and metallic blue oil filler cap can also be found gracing his powerplant.
Just ahead of this B-series is a Fluidyne aluminum radiator connected up with Spoon Sports heavy-duty silicone hoses (in trademark bright blue). To keep the lube from getting too hot, Chan puts his trust in a Trust six-row oil cooler. Spoon Sports also supplied the spark plug wires. They can be seen in the engine picture, just before they're tucked away beneath the spiffy chrome valve cover.
There's nothing much wrong with Honda's S1 B16 five-speed manual transmission, but Chan asked R Crew to augment his JDM gearbox with Spoon Sports shifter bushings and a B&M short shifter kit, then moved on to the next area for improvement.
Fitting height- and damping-adjustable TEIN SS coilovers at the front and Eibach Sportline springs over Koni Sport (yellow) shocks at the rear was carried out by our man. This setup lowers the nose by 3.5 inches and brings the tail down by three inches. He's kept the front anti-roll bar stock, but has replaced the rear with a stiffer '98 Integra Type R 23mm item. The bumpy Bay Area roads would make life with a super-stiff suspension miserable, so Chan tuned it to be mildly stiff, with just enough give.
Taking a good look around the chassis will uncover a set of Function7 rear lower control arms. A wise choice; these are made from strong, airframe-grade billet 7075 aluminum, yet are extremely light weight. Because the car now sits closer to the ground, the inclusion of a Blox camber kit also makes good sense. And just to be on the safe side, the rear tie-bars and anti-roll bar fixings have custom CNC-machined reinforcement.
The wheel hubs have been changed to Integra Type R five-lug items. R Crew lug nuts secure a set of cool white Sprint Hart CP-R wheels, sized 16x7, with a 43mm offset. The cool black contingent is represented by Toyo Proxes 4 205/45 all-season UHPs.
Spending good money on a car is crazy if some funds don't go toward an upgraded braking system. The five-lug hubs allow use of dual-piston Acura NSX front calipers, biting onto 11.1-inch rotors. The rear calipers are Integra Type R single-piston pieces, paired with 10.1-inch discs. Chan has added a DC5 master cylinder and booster, fitted Mugen stainless steel brake lines and chose Hawk HPS pads.
If Chan took a conservative stance on the engine, he's made up for it with the bodywork. As well as a carbon fiber front lip from JDP, plus a matching hood and trunk lid from VIS Racing, the roof is a custom-made carbon fiber piece. The work was done by Simon & Gee Auto Body in San Francisco, including the antenna and rear screen washer nozzle shave jobs.
Sunny Wong from S&G did the paintwork, applying DuPont's Sunset Orange. Chan decided to go JDM for the front and rear lights, side moldings, door mirrors, window visors, and glass.
There's also plenty of JDM stuff (sourced from the good people at N1 Concepts) in the cabin--seat belts, door panels, instrument binnacle, rear seats--throwing the Recaro Profi SPG driver's seat and the Personal Neo Grinta 330mm suede-covered steering wheel into sharper contrast. Deeper in the driver's footwell is an Integra DC2 Type R pedal set.
As if the intake snort and exhaust rasp isn't music enough to Chan's ears (or more probably, to appease his profoundly patient girlfriend), the center console houses a Panasonic CQ-C5303U stereo, playing through Alpine Type-R 6.5-inch speakers.
After spending $1K on the DA shell, another $9K in modification, and around one year of hard labor (including two months of the aforementioned late nights) putting it all together, Chan has a Third Place Best Integra at the 2008 J's Gathering to show for it. The reasoning behind his choice of parts was simple: whatever worked. The main problems he had related to obtaining JDM parts that are becoming scarcer by the day as the car gets older. Today, he puts the car's value between $6K to $8K, but the value he puts on friends' and family's support--his"biggest influences"--is far greater. The price of Chan's accomplishment is something we all know, but does no harm to hear again: to build something on a budget, prepare to put in a lot of hard work.
Chan's bigger journey of discovery is far from over. He's matured, has come to appreciate the finer and more expensive things in life. The next project looks like being a current-generation Lexus GS350. "I'm going for the VIP look," he says. VIP on a budget? An oxymoron if ever there was one, but with Chan and a good set of tools, anything is possible.
Behind The Build
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San Francisco, CA
Technician, Mercedes-Benz Of San Francisco
Wrenching On Cars
Approx. 12 Months
"I built this car to see the different kinds of things i can do."
'92 Acura Integra
Engine Injen air intake; Blox intake manifold, straight pipe; HKS cam gears; Rage Tri Y stainless steel exhaust header; Tanabe G Power stainless steel exhaust; R Crew intake manifold spacer, oil cap; Fluidyne aluminum radiator; Trust oil cooler; Spoon Sports radiator hose, spark plug wires; chrome valve cover
Drivetrain Spoon Sports shifter bushings; B&M short shifter kit
Suspension Tein SS coilovers (front), Eibach Sportline springs and Koni Yellow shocks (rear); Integra Type R 23mm rear anti-roll bar; Function7 rear lower control arms; Blox camber kit; R Crew lug nuts
Wheels/Tires Integra Type R five-lug conversion; 16x7 +43mm offset Sprint Hart CPR wheels; Toyo Proxes 4 205/45-16 tires
Brakes Acura NSX dual-piston calipers with 11.1-inch rotors (front); Integra Type R single-piston calipers with 10.1-inch rotors (rear); DC5 master cylinder, booster; Mugen stainless steel brake lines; Hawk HPS pads
Exterior VIS Racing carbon fiber hood, trunk lid; JDP carbon fiber front lip; custom carbon fiber roof; JDM side mirrors, side moldings, glass, window visors, front and rear lights
Interior Recaro Profi SPG driver's seat; Personal Neo Grinta 330 mm suede-covered steering wheel; Integra Type R pedal set; JDM gauge cluster, rear seats, door panels, seat belts; Panasonic CQ-C5303U headunit; Alpine Type-R 6.5-inch speakers
Gratitude My father (this is for you), my family, my wonderful girlfriend Trish, N1 Concepts, R Crew, Weak Sauce Empire, Golden Auto Muffler, Blox Racing, the crew at Mercedes-Benz of SF, all my friends, Sunny at Simon & Gee Auto Body, Ryan, Bach, Kenneth, Albert Squad, Gazeebs, Norman, Johnny