In matters of art and design, fashion and architecture, two separate factions of aesthetic seem to continually combat each other for ultimate supremacy. In one corner is minimalism, the champion of pure fundamentals, constant harmony, and the heightening experience of less is more. Across the canvas is maximalism, the source of elaborate designs, bold patterns, and an ornate ideal of more is more. In the middle is the artist and the director, the designer and the builder, forced to pick between the two and marry it for life’s eternal waste. Yes, such is the process of art, the never-ending search for a decision and the reason why so many unemployed trust-fund artists litter the towns of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Silverlake in Los Angeles to ponder the thought. It’s also the reason why so few lend themselves to the field of art. People need balance. Thankfully, we have automotive tuning to give us that.
Tuning is rare, in that it can successfully marry minimalism and maximalism. In fact, it’s a game in which successfully marrying the two aesthetics is the only way to get ahead. Feel’s Honda Civic Type R is a classic example of how pairing the two harmoniously can garner a vast reward—one that doesn’t just come with a plastic trophy or a misspelled plaque. It’s the reward of world recognition, bragging rights, and the coveted respect. Feel’s CTR, in many ways, is a rolling dichotomy of “less is more” and “more is more.” It acts out the constant pull and push of the two expressions, but does it in such a balanced way that we, as viewers, would be hard pressed to find the difference.
But in order to fully comprehend the proverbial method behind the CTR’s madness, we need to first deconstruct the ingenious methodology and profound history behind Feel’s, the honored Honda-only tuning shop of Japan. Founded in 1983, Feel’s (better known as Honda Twin Cam in the east) developed and sold original aftermarket parts that cater strictly to maniacal Honda fans. Being deep Honda fanatics themselves, they felt that an aftermarket company that focused on one car manufacturer provided better results and superior products. It’s a model taken from the restaurant industry, where the worst restaurants are the ones that lack focus and usually serve to the masses. We’ve seen them around: sushi and Chinese, Mexican and Persian. It doesn’t make sense, and according to Feel’s, neither does a tuning company serving multiple car manufacturers.
In 1985, the company began severely honing their technical skills. They improved their components to better serve Hondas in racing circuits, focusing on weight, power, and reliability. Feel’s has since transformed from a small shop to a tuning power in the form of multiple shops in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Saitama. They sell completely tuned engines, ECUs, engine parts, cooling components, exhausts, coilovers, and body kits. Recently, due to a high demand from the U.S. market, they imported a USDM Civic Si coupe to Japan and developed a body kit, exhaust, and suspension system for it. Unfortunately, the company has no plans on fully investing in America. Our only glimpse into their windows are their occasional project cars that cause so much hysteria in Japan, that they ripple the waters on our shores.
Enter their Civic Type R. Its first sign of mini-maximalism is the exterior. The car’s shape is bold with its heavy lines, rugged ends, and sporty sides, making for a true-hearted circuit machine. The soulless white paint is simple with austere and blacked-out headlights, and feigns of factory appeal. But once you break it down in mere parts, the Civic is much more than shape and paint. Every inch of the exterior is changed; replaced by a Feel’s counterpart. The front bumper, carbon fiber hood and trunk, rear diffuser panel, front wide fenders, front half spoiler, lightweight door panels, sport eye lines, side air ducts, acrylic door glass, and carbon fiber GT wing all serve to lighten, widen, and purposefully vent the factory chassis. Top it off with spot welding to the body, and suddenly, the CTR body becomes a feathery 2,160lb monument of almighty function.
Underneath the hood, mini-maximalism is also in full effect. The motor is a K20A, bored from 1,998 cc to 2,353 cc. Pumping the block walls is a set of TODA pistons that make full use of the extra space in the 0.6mm TODA head gasket. The Feel’s aluminum radiator, ECU, and headers are only upstaged by the super-sexy Feel’s individual throttle bodies. All of which are a small system of aftermarket components that creates an impressive 300 ps at 7,500 rpm—or roughly 296 hp. The chassis skims over a set of Feel’s coilovers, with Swift springs compressing in the front and Eibach at the rear. A quiet set of 18-inch, split-six-spoke, AME TM-02 wheels offers a balance of weight, strength and looks. Inside, the cabin is properly barren and vacant, save for a Nardi Classic steering wheel, Feel’s carbon fiber seat, Takata harnesses, and a set of Defi gauges. The entire car is simple on paper, yet overly complex in nature.
This achievement in combing the minimal and maximal has pushed the Feel’s Civic Type R to the fastest lap time of one minute flat in the naturally aspirated FF class on the famed Tsukuba circuit, the standard against which all things tuning are held. It’s a lesson that not only focuses on balance, but also provides an answer to deal with the choice between large-scale creations and the heightening of experiences.
In matters of style and design, power and aerodynamics, there will always be a split between minimalism and maximalism; a fight between simplicity and excess. But with enough experience and knowledge, a combination of both can be found. With Feel’s Civic blazing a path to this hallowed aesthetic nirvana, it’s undoubtedly a shape of things to come, and hopefully, the end of two fighting extremes.
Behind The Build
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Honda FD2 Civic Type R
Engine K20A motor (2,353 cc); TODA pistons, 0.6mm head gasket, 310-degree intake cam, 305-degree exhaust cam; Feel’s individual throttle bodies, aluminum radiator, ECU, header, titanium exhaust, engine oil
Drivetrain ATS 1.5-way LSD; Feel’s copper-mixture clutch
Suspension Feel’s coilovers; Swift front springs; Eibach rear springs
Wheels/Tires AME TM02 wheels (18x9.5 front, 18x8.5 rear); Hankook Z221 Ventus tires (255/40-18 front, 235/40-18 rear)
Brakes APP six-piston brake calipers; Feel’s brake pads, stainless steel mesh brake lines; Project Mu brake rotors
Exterior Spot-welded body; Feel’s front bumper, carbon fiber hood, trunk, rear under diffuser panel, front wide fender, lightweight door panel, front half spoiler, front grille, sport eye line, side air ducts, acrylic door glass, 3D carbon fiber GT wing
Interior Nardi classic steering wheel; Feel’s carbon fiber seat; Takata harness; Defi gauges