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2002 Acura RSX - White Lightning

Tai Ha's boosted DC5 brings the heat on the east coast.

Nate Hassler
Feb 22, 2010
Photographer: Eric Tong

Someone famous once said, "In youth we learn, in age we understand." This statement is true in so many ways, and I'm sure most everyone remembers what it's like to be 18 and think you've got it all figured out. The world is in your hands, school's out for summer and maybe you've even got a car you want to play around with. Tai Ha remembers this feeling, and like many JDM enthusiasts, he started his automotive life on a bit of a rocky path. But after a few years, a few bad decisions on parts and after meeting the right people, his DC5 has come full circle and the results speak for themselves.

Modp_1003_07_o+2002_acura_rsx+front_view Photo 2/11   |   2002 Acura RSX - White Lightning

After buying the car in 2002 as a junior in high school, Tai had big plans in mind right away. He got to work with the list of first-timer parts-replicas across the board. Thankfully, soon after discovering the difference in fitment, look and overall quality of replica parts versus the real deal, Tai rethought his approach and started the rebuild. It's tough for anyone to pay their way through school and build a nice car simultaneously, so progress was slow at first. But as we know, good things come to those who wait, and the way Tai's DC5 sits right now is proof of that.

On the outside, Honda's unmistakable Championship White paint gives the car a noticeable difference in appearance from a typical USDM DC5. Combined with a VIS carbon-fiber hatch and an Airwalker Japan hood, front bumper, side skirts and rear bumper, Tai turns heads with his slick DC5 wherever he goes.

Modp_1003_02_o+2002_acura_rsx+side_rear_view Photo 3/11   |   2002 Acura RSX - White Lightning

To complete the JDM exterior theme, Integra Type-R black housing headlights, JDM amber side markers as well as JDM Honda Integra badges were thrown into the mix.

Inside the cockpit, we're greeted by a plethora of JDM visual treats. A pair of bright-red Bride Brix 2 seats keeps Tai and his passenger up front snug and comfortable, and the rear seat with custom Bride fabric is ready just in case the ride calls for more than two bodies. Defi gauges ensure that Tai always knows what's going on under the hood, and a stylish Momo 350mm steering wheel and custom blue-lit gauge cluster add a bit of extra aesthetic flare. Red carpet and floormats, plus a full black interior panel swap complete with an Interga Type-R emergency brake console, door panels, pedals and a road flare finish off the interiors JDM-inspired look.

All this is great so far, but what really completes this DC5 is the beast that lies in wait under the hood. Knowing that simple bolt-ons wouldn't satisfy his need for speed, Tai began researching forced induction, but as with anything car related, it's never quite as easy as it seems. After installing a custom turbo kit, he ran his car for a short while before the motor blew and it was time for a heart transplant. Equipped with a fresh motor, Tai also added a NX dry kit for that little extra punch. To keep the engine revving happily and putting as much power to the wheels as possible, an Exedy clutch and flywheel were added, as well as a JDM Interga Type-R LSD. All said and done, Tai's DC5 puts down an easy 300 whp at 8 psi, enough to have a lot of fun but also keep the motor safe and running strong.

Everyone knows that going fast is fun, but when the time comes to stop and turn, Tai is happy he paid attention to those aspects of the car. Buddy Club N+ coilovers were chosen for their adjustability and race-ready performance, and Progress front and rear 22mm sway bars aid in keeping the car centered and balanced through the twisties. Beautiful 18x8-inch high polished Advan RS wheels wrapped in Dunlop Direzza DZ101 tires perfectly showcase the Rotora four-piston big brake kit up front, a setup that allows the powerful DC5 to stop nearly on a dime.

Tai has achieved a great balance between show, speed and real-world functionality with his DC5. Don't be fooled, this is no show car-you can see this car out and about any time the sun shines. With its good looks, nicely executed JDM styling and the power to back it all up, Tai Ha's DC5 means business, and business is booming.

Worth Knowing
»The DC5 is the latest and last generation of the Honda Integra, a classic tuner car. Sold stateside as an Acura model, the Integra was produced from '86-01 when the name was changed to RSX for the remaining five years of production. Rumors circulate about the possible rejuvenation of the Integra, but for now they are merely that. Rumors.

»Championship White is a color synonymous with Honda and is undoubtedly the flagship color for all Type-R cars, be it a Civic, Integra or NSX. Tragically, the only true Type-R that was ever sold in the states was the '97-01 Integra Type-R, but many privateers have built replicas or other Honda cars that salute the Type-R's racing heritage.

Specs & Details
'02 Acura RSX

Engine Modifications
Turbonetics 60-1 turbo; NX N2O dry setup w/ purge; GReddy Profec B boost controller, Type-S blow-off valve; Tial 38mm external wastegate; ES motor mount inserts; J's Racing torque dampener; Hondata intake manifold gasket; Vision carbon-fiber spark plug cover, intake manifold cover; Cusco oil catch can, aluminum shift bushings; Spoon radiator cap, 3" Thermal RD turbo exhaust; 3" Unforgettable race pipe

Modp_1003_01_o+2002_acura_rsx+front_side_view Photo 11/11   |   2002 Acura RSX - White Lightning

Engine Management
Hondata Kpro

Drivetrain
Exedy Stage 1 clutch, Exedy 8-lb flywheel, JDM Integra Type-R LSD

Suspension
Progress 22mm sway bars (f/r), Hotchkis end links (f/r), Cusco B- and C-pillar bars, Mugen strut tower bar (r), SPC lower control arms(r), camber bolt (f), camber kit (r)

Wheels, Tires & Brakes
18x8" +37 Advan RS wheels, Dunlop Direzza DZ101 225/40/18 tires, Rotora 4-piston calipers, Rotora 13" rotors (f/r)

Exterior
VIS carbon-fiber hatch; Airwalker Japan front bumper, hood, side skirts, rear bumper; Spoon carbon-fiber mirrors; JDM Integra badges, headlights, side markers, Championship White paint

Interior
Black interior conversion, JDM Integra Type-R door panels, emergency brake, pedals, road flare; Revo short shifter, Bride Brix 2 seats, rear seat custom wrapped in Bride fabric; Defi gauges, heads-up display; Momo steering wheel; custom blue-lit gauge cluster; Xenarc Technologies in-car computer, 7" touch monitor; Bazooka/Tsunami 1,900-watt audio system

Thanks To
Team Emotion, Tommy Kustoms, Eric Tong

By Nate Hassler
182 Articles

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