“I would never mix Mugen and Spoon parts.” How many of us have heard someone say that statement or some synonymous variation of it? If you haven’t, you’ve invariably read it on one of the numerous Internet forums that are so popularly frequented, which can be a double-edged sword: On one side, with vast amounts of technical information and first-person experience available at the push of a button, and on the other, with hearsay and regurgitated disinformation from opinionated so-called “gurus” whose egos are driven by their post count and those who gauge their credibility accordingly. As unfortunate as it is, the general enthusiast population’s perceptions of what is “cool” and acceptable often begin and end right on a computer screen. Fortunately, for the rest of us, San Francisco’s Ditus Dela Cruz doesn’t give a damn.
Within each niche community of car enthusiasts, certain procedural standards have come to exist, regarded simply as “the way it is”, especially with the creation of the Internet. Some are common sense, such as not putting wider wheels in the rear of a FWD car (oh wait . . . ), and others are more opinion-based rules created by purists dedicated to their particular brand of choice, like the aforementioned two in the Honda circle. Brand-specific threads have become forum mainstays, with their loyalists willing to pay truly obscene amounts of money to stay true to only the items their favorite manufacturer has/has had to offer. You just don’t dilute dedication like that, or split it between two manufacturers, Right? Well, Ditus did.
In Ditus’ words, “Integra is the best platform to build.” His build began from the moment he picked this chassis up seven years ago. He went through various looks, ranging from a ’98-spec USDM ITR, to the common JDM ITR, and then to a Spoon DC2 theme. But when it was all said and done, Ditus decided on a path that went against the grain, a proverbial “no-no” mix of Mugen and Spoon parts. He doesn’t care what the forum trolls think; to him the combination is quite logical. “Mugen and Spoon are among the top Honda tuners. I built my car to have the best of both worlds.”
Ditus’ DC2 brings two words to mind: subtlety and contrast. Taking an authentic Mugen front bumper and side skirts, he had the exterior sprayed in Porsche Macadamia Metallic paint, which balances nicely with the signature bronze finish of the beautiful Mugen MF10s, all of which lend to the subtlety of the vehicle. The contrast begins with the red Bride Zeta III driver seat and Ergo passenger seat with green Takata harnesses, all of which are surrounded by a slew of JDM ITR interior pieces, and a Spoon Sports ITR gauge cluster. The engine bay and engine itself proves to be an interesting mix of the two prevalent values. First off, the bay is painted a “leather brown” finish to subtly contrast the exterior. A custom Rcrew header modified to take the OE ITR heat shield is on the exhaust side of the motor, while the intake side has an OE box with a Spoon filter. Continuing with the Spoon theme, Ditus used their head gasket, oil and radiator caps, and even ignition wires with a Kevlar wire cover signed by Ichishima-san himself. The motor was built by DNR to achieve 12:1 compression using PR3 pistons in the bottom end, with Toda Spec C cams and valvetrain being employed up top to output 215 whp. And what puts that horsepower to the wheels? An official Spoon Sports transmission with LSD, of course.
From the beginning, it was evident that Ditus was going to be a different kind of enthusiast. “I was into cars at a very young age. Since I was a little boy I’ve been disassembling my toys to see what was inside of them, because I was curious as to how they worked. And then I would try to put the pieces back together.” This hands-on approach stayed with Ditus as he got older, and even turned into a bit of a mantra. When asked what type of advice he would give to someone thinking of building a similar vehicle, he says: “Work on it with your friends in your garage and try not to always rely on the shops to do it for you.” Make no mistake, though; this statement comes from someone who paid his dues. When installing the intake manifold, the coolant hose and the hose that goes to the charcoal canister got switched, causing the coolant to go into his gas tank. Rather than panic, the group simply drained the gas tank and switched the hoses back. Simple as that. Live and learn.
Even amongst the setbacks, Ditus was determined to create a vehicle that he would be happy with. When asked what the motivation behind the build was, he stated, “to build something I can be proud of.” It’s clear that Ditus is proud of his creation. When asked of his future plans, he simply said, “I dunno. A feature in Import Tuner has been what I wanted all along. That, and stirring the pot a little!” Well Ditus, mission accomplished.
Behind the Build
San Francisco, CA
Treasury Management Analyst
Working on cars while drinking, collecting shoes, eating out
To build something I can be proud of.
’99 Acura Integra GS-R
Output: 215 whp/137 lb-ft of torque
Engine DNR-built B18C1; OEM Honda PR3 pistons; ARP rod bolts; Spoon Kevlar spark plug cover signed by Ichishima Tatsuru-san, ignition wires, air filter, oil cap, radiator cap, head gasket; Toda Spec C cams, valvesprings, retainers, cam gears, timing belt; Mekan1zm wire-tucked engine bay; Pivot water temp. controller, oil temp. gauge; ported intake manifold by A1 Autowerx; Yashio Factory Super Light R radiator; custom Rcrew header modified to fit JDM ITR heat shield and skid plate; Kakimoto N1 exhaust; polished Hasport motor mounts
Driveline Spoon Sports transmission, limited-slip differential; Exedy six-puck clutch, 9.5-pound chromoly flywheel
Suspension Spoon Sports front and rear strut bar, brake lines; Tein SS coilovers; Function7 ITR lower control arms; Safety21 rollcage; Rcrew subframe brace, traction bar; Techno Pro Spirits C-pillar bar; JDM ITR front and rear sway bar; Buddy Club front camber kit; ITR five-lug conversion; ARP extended wheel studs
Wheels/Tires Mugen MF10 wheels (16x7 +43 offset); Falken Azenis RT tires (215/45-16); Muteki Burning Blue Neon lug nuts
Brakes NSX front calipers; Hawk HPS pads; Spoon Sports brake lines
Exterior Porsche Macadamia Metallic paint with Leather Brown engine bay; JDM ITR HID front-end conversion, rear hatch; Mugen front bumper, side skirts; UKDM ITR taillights, rear foglight, side markers; shaved emblems, antenna, door handle keyholes, trunk holes
Interior Bride Zeta III driver seat, Ergo passenger seat, rails; Takata harnesses; Spoon Sports ITR gauge cluster; Works Bell Rapfix II steering quick release, short hub; Personal Neo Grinta 330mm suede steering wheel; JDM ITR Gathers double-DIN faux carbon-fiber stereo, interior pieces, sunvisors, door panels, Type Rx pedals, armrest delete with Type Rx badge, ignition, keys, RHD combination light switch, foglight switch, CDM airbag delete tray
Gratitude My Mekan1zm family for the build, especially to Gen Baet, Josh Baet, and my brother, Nikki; my parents (Jun and Dida) for their support with my hobby; my sisters (Donna, Rica, and Dubs) for cooking yummy food; Dan at Rcrew Racing for trading parts for Balut; Dave at DNR Performance; and Riaz Choudary at International Auto Body