Going over to the Spoon HQ in Tokyo is always an experience. Apart from being one of the most top-of-the-line workshops around, there is always an infinite amount of eye candy to feast on. But the best part is, without a doubt, that you get to hang out with the man himself, Tatsuru Ichishima. He is a true character, with a million things rushing through his brain at any given time, he gives you short bursts of attention before disappearing into some obscure corner of the workshop trying to find God knows what. Once he appears he gives you a deep explanation of the fine balance between intake and exhaust pressures in a K20A, before shooting off with one of his many cars to the other Spoon workshop farther up the road. All great minds function in similar kinds of semi-chaotic states, but there is no arguing that Ichishima, or "Ichi" as he likes to be called, has created something special. He has perused his passion for motor racing and managed to create an extremely successful business from it; I mean, who out there with even the smallest interest in Honda hasn't heard of Spoon?
The reason we are here is that we wanted to see one of Ichi's latest creations, the Street Spec version of the FD2 Civic Type-R. As most are aware, the JDM Civic is somewhat different to the car we get here in the U.S., being built around the sedan body style offered in the home market. As history has shown us, Honda likes to keep the little gems it creates for its home market and this new Type-R is yet another to join the list. It comes with 220 bhp out of the box, very tight handling and a limited-slip differential.
When Ichishima-san got his hands on his, he knew that he would have to make his version even more extreme, something that would keep up with even the fastest sports car around the right twisty road. Work soon began on the engine, which was fully rebuilt by Yoshida-san, the chief mechanic in charge of the engineering department. The whole bottom end was fully balanced to far higher tolerances than factory to make sure the harmonics are just right when revving all the way to the redline. A Spoon oil pan was then fitted, a part which features substantial baffles to allow good oil pick up even when the car is under heavy lateral loads. The head got some special attention with a stage 1 port and polish job to clean up the intake and exhaust ports, along with some high-performance Spoon valvesprings and polished valves. High-lift Spoon camshafts were added and the engine was sealed up with a Spoon head gasket, which slightly increases the compression ratio.
The obligatory yellow Spoon valve cover was thrown on, complete with a carbon-Kevlar spark plug cover. A one-off 4-2-1 stainless steel exhaust manifold was fabricated to allow the engine to expel gases far more efficiently, with just the right amount of backpressure. This was joined by a straight-through center pipe, which then connects to a rather loud N1 rear silencer. The sound is pure Spoon, with a very deep idle which transforms into a raspy scream as the revs rise.
On the intake side of the engine, it all looks stock, but upon closer inspection the factory airbox has been fitted with a Spoon filter for better flow and a nice increase in sucking noises. The Spoon Venturi big throttle body allows more air to enter the engine thanks to its increased diameter, and we all know more air equals more power! A lot of work went into fine-tuning the fuelling and ignition maps to allow the engine to feel more responsive and pull harder at any rpm. On top of this the rev limiter was lifted to 8800 rpm while the VTEC point moved to 5400 rpm. Of course, while they were at it they removed the rather comical 180 km/h speed limit every car in Japan comes with from factory! Power is just more than a claimed 250 bhp, which from a 2.0-liter, naturally-aspirated engine is nothing to scoff at. To handle this, the clutch was upgraded with a Spoon item while a Spoon LSD was fitted to help the front wheels unleash all that power and also deal with steering.
Ichishima-san is a handling guru, so it's no surprise that he spent a considerable amount of time fine-tuning the way this new FD2 Civic Type-R soaks up road imperfections. The result is the Spoon damper and spring kit, which not only offers height adjustment but also allows the damping to be varied. Joining these are some full pillow-ball arms, which help increase steering feel and overall feedback from the chassis. With upped performance comes the need to increase braking performance and this is achieved through the new Spoon 355 front brake kit, which uses Brembo brake calipers mated to special floating slotted rotors. High-friction Spoon brake pads make sure fade never enters the equation, on both the road as well as the track.
The JDM Civic Type-R is already pretty lightweight from the factory, weighing in at 2,800 lbs, but this wasn't going to be enough for Ichishima. He put the Civic on a diet thanks to an addition of a carbon hood, which is half the weight of the stock 22-lb item, and a carbon trunklid which shaves a few more pounds off. On top of this the roof was cut out and replaced with a carbon one, which was bonded into place. The benefits here are pretty important, as the carbon item is only 8.8 lbs, compared to the 40-lb steel roof. Shaving 30 lbs off from such a high area of the car allows for the whole center of gravity to be lowered, allowing for slightly sharper handling. It's all about fine-tuning at Spoon and this, although an expensive modification ($2,760!), really helps perfect the FD2.
The body was completed with a Super Taikyu style front bumper with a far more aggressive design. The 18-inch metallic silver Prodrive GC-101G wheels were then fitted at each corner, wrapped around in the new super-sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 street tires, which allow the Civic to be pushed to the limit in any condition. Not a lot goes on in the interior except the addition of a few choice goods. First up, a pair of Spoon carbon-Kevlar bucket seats have replaced the stock items, again helping shave off more weight. The Takata racing belts help keep the occupants nice and tight, but forget about using the rear seats because the mounting of the belts makes it difficult for anyone to fit in the rear. On top of this the actual bench has been removed, leaving only the fabric cover to give the impression of a rear seat! A Spoon leather steering wheel and titanium shift knob complete the otherwise stock-looking interior.
Spoon will be continuing the development of the FD2, and has already started work on a track-only version, which is set to put out 300 bhp from the K20A! We will, no doubt, be taking a closer look at the finished product.
Spoon rebuilt engine, high-lift camshafts, polished valves, valvesprings, head work, head gasket, air filter, Venturi big throttle system, stainless steel exhaust manifold, straight-through stainless steel exhaust system, N1 exhaust silencer, oil pan, oil filler cap, engine damper, low-temp thermostat, radiator cap, lightweight battery, and ECU
Suspension And Brakes
Spoon adjustable full-spec damper kit, springs 9 kg/mm front, 6.5-7 kg/mm rear, full pillow ball arm links; Spoon/Brembo F355 4-pot front calipers; Spoon 2-piece floating grooved front rotors, brake pads all round
Wheels and Tires
Prodrive GC-010G 9Jx18" (f/r), Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 235/40R18 (f/r)
Spoon Super Taikyu front bumper, carbon hood, carbon roof, carbon trunklid, decals
Spoon carbon-Kevlar racing bucket seats; Takata racing harnesses; Spoon racing leather steering wheel and boss, titanium shift knob, and stripped-out rear seats (only seat cover used)