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2004 Acura RSX Type-S - All The Right Cues

This Acura RSX defines the “function over form” motto.

Eric Eikenberry
Aug 24, 2011
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What do you get when you mix equal parts hardcore JDM automotive enthusiast and nerdy computer IT geek? An Acura RSX Type-S that’s as sharp as a razor, as fast as a cheetah and as rare as bipartisanship in congress! What started out as a U.S.-spec RSX has gradually acquired a catalog’s worth of JDM goodies since it was purchased new back in late summer of 2004. Eric Lam is a finicky guy who only wanted the best for his personal decompression chamber, and if that meant paying a premium for the best parts his money could buy, then so be it.

Eric began by enlisting the help of his friend, Dat Dam, who runs the jokingly titled Double D Garage in his backyard. Dat’s knowledge was instrumental in the selection of appropriate parts and the installation of the pieces. They started with the naturally aspirated K20A engine and added Toda Racing Stage 2 camshafts and valvesprings, header and full exhaust system. A better-flowing TSX intake manifold was acquired, polished and matched with an ARC airbox using a custom-made intake pipe. Hondata’s K-Pro ECU handles the programming duties, along with a Hybrid Racing fuel rail for increased flow. They beefed up the clutch with an Exedy Stage 1 organic disc and lightened flywheel package, and while they were in there, took a moment to install a JDM Integra Type-R transmission. This fine box comes with a limited-slip differential, a 4.7:1 final drive ring gear and shorter fourth, fifth and sixth gears. “The LSD is absolutely critical in making a front-wheel-drive car perform,” Eric says.

Eric didn’t build this car to sit around and look pretty, he actually beats on it at the track, and because of that, an ARC radiator and Samco hoses were added to aid in better cooling. He’s also got Innovative’s billet aluminum “street” engine mount kit, a JDM Integra Type-R valve cover, custom burned Titanium dress-up bolts, a Braille Racing aluminum battery mount kit with a Braille carbon-fiber light weight battery. On top of it all is a Cusco front titanium strut tower brace, which Eric says is “very rare and discontinued.”

For suspension goodies, he’s acquired set of A’PEXi N1 Type V coilovers. “These are the original A’PEXi coilovers, which were only available in the JDM market,” Eric says. “These aren’t the Megan/BC look-alikes.” A Toda front anti-rollbar was paired with a Cusco rear while inside a JDM Integra Type-R B-pillar floor bar, Cusco B-pillar side bars and J’s Racing C-pillar and trunk brace bars add additional rigidity to the shell. An Autopower 4-point rollbar was selected due to its SCCA approval (JDM rollbars typically aren’t legal) and was stripped and refinished, replacing the black paint with an eminently more attractive glossy-black powdercoat. Eric has also paid attention to the details like making sure his Takata harnesses are wrapped correctly on the harness bar, per SCCA rules.

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Another rare item found inside the cockpit is the OMP dry-carbon-fiber steering wheel. Lightweight and ultra-rare, it’s held in place by a Works Bell quick-release mechanism and hub. Defi oil pressure and water and oil temperature gauges help reassure Eric that his engine is performing within specifications while he’s out on track. However, this RSX also doubles as a commuter vehicle, and because of that, Eric’s got a Pioneer Nav/DVD head unit and Pioneer Premier front and rear speakers installed to ensure he’s entertained during his off-track days.

Making the most of RSX’s newfound handling prowess requires sticky tires. Eric says he’s tried quite a few, but keeps coming back to Falken. Currently, he’s got RT615K gum balls in a 255/40R17-inch fitment, placing well over an inch and a quarter more rubber down in terms of lateral grip than the original stock tires. He chose a set of matte-gold finished Advan Racing RG2 wheels; the +31mm offset keeps all 8.5 inches inside the wheel arches for a snug, yet rub-free, fit. West End Alignment used a custom rear camber kit to dial in -2.0 degrees front camber, -1.8 degrees rear camber. Going against the grain, this RSX isn’t hammered to the ground but is rather meant for serious corner-carving. “Slamming the car destroys the steering geometry, as well as suspension travel, so I stay away from that,” Eric says. His selection of StopTech brakes might seem surprising at first glance, but he insists that, since StopTech won the Acura RSX Challenge at the SEMA show many years back, they’re the big dog to beat. Set up with Ferodo race pads, Motul fluid and stainless steel lines, his brake setup is all business.

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When a momentary lapse of concentration resulted in a wicked bit of guardrail-related road rash, Eric made sure the refinished black paint on the driver side was perfectly applied and polished. “Actually, the driver side looks even better than the passenger side now,” he says. Black is one of the hardest finishes to apply, as its mirror-like reflection shows any imperfection. If he hadn’t said something, we would have never noticed. That’s how it is with the entire RSX, though. There’s so much more than meets the eye; note the black-housing JDM Integra Type-R headlamps and badging, and hidden from view, the JDM Type-R bumper reinforcement beam. In order to be the first to run the Back Yard Special front bumper, to maintain acceptable impact safety, he had to swap the front reinforcement beam, which also allowed him to run the JDM-spec J’s Racing tow hook. The front bumper’s lower carbon-fiber lip matches the J’s Racing side skirts with its carbon-fiber bottom strakes. At the rear, he’s got a First Molding carbon-fiber rear diffuser, all of which are a rarity in the U.S.

The same could be said about his “first and only” Back Yard Special rear wing with custom burnt-titanium attachment hardware. Titanium is expensive enough without having to go through the bother of the colorful heat-treatment method, which gives it wildly deep rainbow hues. He also loves to point out the C-West hood. “Most people run the look-alike hoods,” Eric explains. “I’m running an authentic piece.” Since this car is a daily driver, Eric had the nose wrapped in an Aerotect custom clear bra to keep the chips away.

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Ultimately, what draws us to this RSX is its strict adherence to function over form. Eric likes to go fast and has selected each and every item (like the Rays lock nut set) with an eye on weight savings, utility and power. Even his spare tire is from a JDM Integra Type-R.

Take one hot performer and distill it down to the most rudimentary aspects of performance: weight, acceleration, lateral grip, braking grip and aerodynamics. Strive to improve on every area without detriment to the rest. Chances are, if you follow this example from Eric and the Double D Garage, no matter what car or brand you choose, you’ll wind up with something special too.

Specs & Details

'04 Acura RSX Type-S
Engine ARC airbox, spark plug cover, oil cap & radiator; Samco radiator hoses; polished TSX intake manifold; custom fabricated intake pipe; Toda Racing header, exhaust, Stage 2 camshafts & valvesprings; Exedy Stage 1 organic clutch kit & lightened flywheel; JDM Integra Type-R valve cover & dip stick; Hybrid Racing fuel rail; Hondata K-Pro ECU; Innovative engine mount street kit (billet aluminum); Braille B2015 carbon-fiber battery & aluminum battery mount kit; custom burnt-titanium dress-up bolts; custom hood dampers
Drivetrain JDM Integra Type-R transmission w/ LSD, 4.7:1 final drive & 4th, 5th & 6th gears
Suspension A’PEXi N1 Type V coilovers; Cusco front titanium strut tower brace & rear strut bar; Toda front & Cusco rear sway bars; JDM Integra Type-R B-pillar floor bar; custom rear camber kit
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Yokohama Advan Racing RG2 wheels 17x8.5" +31 offset; Falken RT615K tires 255/40R17; StopTech front big brake kit; 328x28mm 2-piece front rotors; 4-piston calipers; StopTech slotted rear rotors; StopTech stainless steel lines; Ferodo DS2500 race pads; Motul RBF600 brake fluid; JDM Integra Type-R spare tire; JDM Rays lock nut set
Exterior Back Yard Special front bumper w/ carbon-fiber lip & carbon-fiber wing; J’s Racing carbon-fiber side skirts & rear diffuser; C-West rear bumper & carbon-fiber hood; JDM Integra Type-R headlamps; JDM Integra Type-R emblem; JDM Type-R bumper reinforcement beam; J’s Racing tow hook; Aerotect custom clear bra
Interior Bride Ergo II seats; Takata 4-point harnesses; Autopower 4-point race roll bar; Cusco B-pillar side bars; J’s Racing C-pillar & trunk brace bars; OMP dry carbon-fiber steering wheel; Works Bell quick release; Splash steering wheel hub; Defi oil pressure; oil temperature; water temperature gauges; ARC Titanium shift knob; JDM Integra Type-R door sills; Pioneer Navigation/DVD head unit, Premier front & rear speakers; GoPro HD camera

By Eric Eikenberry
6 Articles

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