The pinnacle of front-wheel-drive vehicles is, well, not the CRX that Frankie Ortiz originally owned, but it certainly isn’t a bad platform. In the small unaccepting area of Lawrence, MA, Frankie was sitting at a railroad crossing in his Honda CRX when he watched idly as his first love fell victim to yet another driver unconscious of the lowered ways. “This car lasted about four months because of some impatient individual who couldn’t wait for the train to finish crossing. He proceeded to back up, but failed to see me and destroyed my front end, resulting in a total loss,” he says. The short, but sweet time spent with the CRX had Frankie hooked on what was still up and coming in most parts of this country: JDM styling.
A blessing in disguise left Frankie with every Honda fanboy’s dream whip, the Acura Integra Type R. Frankie had been on the hunt for another clean Honda, but never imagined taking ownership of a NBP 2001 Type R. His stepfather found the vehicle in a local used-car flyer, and asked Frankie, “Would you be interested in this car?” Without hesitation a very excited and surprised “Hell yeah” was spouted off! The following day they went to the dealership, where the car was spotted and paperwork was rolling before Frankie even had the chance of rowing gears at 8,000 rpm.
So starts the project in 2002, first enjoying the rarity in itself, but it was only a matter of time until the modification bug takes a nibble. The usual, basic and readily available aftermarket tidbits assumed their positions. AEM cold air intakes, A’pexi N1 exhaust, VIS carbon-fiber hood, lip, and new from the factory optional side skirts and rear valences were added, along with a fresh coat of Nighthawk Black Pearl. The car was active in the local and surrounding show scene and the occasional weekend blast of Third gear VTEC.
In 2006, Frankie made moves, first by bringing the nostalgic, legendary side of the Type R to life; a fresh coat of Championship White was laid upon the updated front side of this beauty. The JDM front end was fitted along with a Backyard Special Kevlar–lipped bumper ensuring engine temps stay low while Frankie is out having too much fun, thanks to the power bump via a custom Bisimoto header.
By 2007 Frankie added all the goodies necessary to stay planted with A’pexi WS Sport dampers, 17x7.5 Time Attack Volk CE28s, extra-sexy Bride Low Max Stradia bucket seats, and a set of Takata harnesses and gel pads. Frankie marks 2008 as the beginning of the “wonder years”. “I’m a really easygoing guy, but I wanted to set myself outside the box,” he says. Outside the box he was; this car was built entirely in the Ortiz family garage or a close friend’s, righthand-drive conversion and all. In fact, Frankie shares a story of the local police scoping out the car: “The cops were called by neighbors, who thought my car was being chopped up. At the time the cops showed up I wasn’t home, but got the call that I need to rush down there with papers to show proof that the car and front clip were legit. They saw that everything was legit, and as they left they turned around and said that what I was doing was pretty cool and wanted to see it when it was done.” Something you don’t hear everyday, but a good result to what seemed to be a sketchy situation.
The ride home had his mother praying, “Please God protect my son.” Thus far, the VTEC gods have obliged.
Nearing the end of the exterior and interior modifications were choice, off-the-shelf parts as expected to be spotted in what now has about everything necessary to convince anyone this Integra R rolled off the lots of Yokohama, Japan. To keep the already factory stiffened and rigid chassis in check, a Cusco six-point rollcage was bolted to the floorboards along with a Miracle Next bar. Not to be confused with shaggy-haired rockers from the ’60s, Abbey Road Company (ARC) took to the stage and put the AEM intake to retirement. We all know it doesn’t get much better than this handcrafted, factory-like intake box. To maintain great throttle response, factory fitment and the security of engine bay filter element location are also some great reasons for a such a change; let’s face it, you just can’t beat the looks of such a piece. A half-size Mishimoto radiator and the ever so blingy Spoon hoses were thrown into the mix for better header clearance and more show-winning necessities. As the bay continued to clean up with a mild wire and brake line tuck, Spoon was called upon again. To provide hard spark and better grounding with it’s upgraded hyper silicone connections and metal mesh loom, the high tension wire kit sealed itself nicely to the now magnesium blue valve cover.
After working through some issues in late 2009 Frankie was quite happy with the car. Left with the utmost satisfaction and now headache free, Rywire stepped to the plate to solve a troubling issue for Frankie. “When I went right-hand drive, did my first tuck, wrapped up the conversion, it would start with a misfire,” he says. This had forced the car into a temporary dormant stage. “I came back to the project and installed an LS engine harness; it solved the issue.” It was then that Ryan “Rywire” Basseri was contacted for the Mil-spec harness and brake booster delete now seen (or is it unseen?) in this freshly re-sprayed engine bay.
Frankie came back hard with a firm grip on the Spoon Sports steering wheel and accurate metering via a 98-spec Spoon Sports gauge cluster, which happens to be one of his most favorable parts on the car. He listens to the great song of the Spoon first-gen Sport silencer, and had the car’s interior taken to the next level with a full Alpine stereo suite wrapped in the most appropriate material one can choose, complementing the Bride and OEM Type R interior. A custom trunk floor enclosure displays the booming Alpine Type R subwoofers and PDX amplifiers.
Moving up front, Frankie’s favorite Spanish salsa and Reggatone can be heard much sharper thanks to an Alpine 6.5-inch component set. To complete what seems like a never ending project, Frankie added Spoon calipers and Goodridge stainless brake lines. Lastly, he strapped down 17-inch mag blue TE37s with some Project Kics lug nuts to complement the mag blue valve cover.
Now, Frankie plans to take the car to shows and pick up some sponsors to take the car to the next level, and continue to enjoy Sunday thrill rides. “I learned how to work on cars, not to be scared of tackling big projects, and that anything can be done with patience, the right research, and right group of friends,” he says. I’d say that’s a pretty solid formula for any true enthusiast to follow, so take note readers.
Behind the Build
freelance drafter/civil engineering planning
traveling, playing sports, and hanging out with the family
I wanted to build a nice car from the East Coast
’01 Acura Integra Type R
Engine OEM B18C5; Avid motor mounts; ARC Super Induction box; custom Bisimoto header; Spoon Sports high-tension plug wires and radiator hoses; Mishimoto half-size radiator; BDL fuel rail; Earl’s fuel filter and fuel lines; Tein hood dampers; Rywire Mil-spec engine harness, Brake booster delete, QSD plates; custom Precision Fab breather kit; Hondata S300
Drivetrain Clutchmaster Stage 1 clutch; ACT Prolite flywheel
Wheels/Tires 17x7.5 Magnesium Blue TE37; 205/40/17 Falken; Project Kics R40 lug nuts
Brakes Spoon Sports monoblock calipers; Goodridge stainless steel brake lines; OEM fluid
Exterior JDM OEM front end, optional side skirts, rear valences; Backyard Special Kevlar bumper; CF gurney flap; Hella 8k HID kit
Interior Bride Stradia seats; wrapped subwoofer enclosure; Takata four-point harnesses, gel pads; Spoon Sports steering wheel; 98-spec gauge cluster; Cusco six-point rollcage; Miracle Next bar; Alpine 12-inch Type R subwoofers, PDX 1x1000 and 4x400 amplifiers
Gratitude mom; Daisy Vega; brothers John and Tony; Bruno; Fernando; Elias; High End NYC; and Auto Concept Elite Motorsports