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X-Files:Dateline Japan

A Behind-The-Sheetmetal Look At Some Of Japan's Wildest Performance Machines

Evan Griffey
Apr 25, 2007 SHARE

At the 2000 Tokyo Auto Salon, we spied some serious performance machinery-some of it was destined to come to America, some of it was possibly coming to America but all of it was so outrageous, we had to give you a taste. Easily the most extreme example was the A'PEXi Integra-a full tube-chassis, front-drive drag racer that flexes a twin-turbo engine and center-seat, funny car-style cage. The car is slated for an American appearance in mid to late 2000. Next on the list is Top Fuel's mid-engine, rear-drive del Sol. This is a wild one that explores some new territory but currently is not scheduled to explore U.S. territory. Top Fuel has plans in the works to run some American races but plans call for bringing the company's 9-second CRX (cover May 1998). On the outrageous side is a Toyota MR2 that sports a front-mount intercooler. We will let the photos speak for themselves. Another interesting trend we identified at the show was JZA80 Supras running turbocharged and intercooled 3S-GTE engines out of the Altezza. For more insight into the Japanese scene, check out the Turbo Tokyo Auto Salon Tour 2000 article in the May 2000 issue. Now let's open up the Tokyo X-Files.

0007_turp_01_z+a_pexi_drag_acura_integra+side_view Photo 1/1   |   X-Files:Dateline Japan

A'PEXi Drag IntegraThe Integra Drag Project was designed to target the world's front-wheel-drive record of 9.21 seconds at the time we were at the Salon. Since then, Stephan Papadakis raised the standard to 9.05 and will soon be in the 8s. The A'PEXi Japan team who designed the Integra in-house from the frame up really has their work cut out for them.

The car features a center-seat funny car-style driving position and an innovative engine configuration. The game plan called for the use of an X-Trac gearbox. The X-Trac sequential transmission requires clockwise input so the engine had to be converted to clockwise rotation. However, leaving it at that would result in a car with multiple reverse gears and one forward gear. Therefore, when the engine was installed, it was flipped around backwards with the valve cover lettering appearing upside down. This moved the transmission to the other side of the block and provided the proper number of forward gears.

The engine, an H22A 2.2-liter four from a Prelude, was mounted 33 degrees forward at an angle to help enhance traction. Twin AX 53B70 turbos originally destined to pressurize a RB26 boost the motor to 630 PS at 7300 rpm with 60 Kg of torque at 6000 rpm. The engine and turbocharger are safely controlled by an A'PEXi AVC-R and an array of A'PEXi electronic components. Boost will be set at between 1.5 and 2.2 kg/cm2 by the time engine development is complete. Fuel is slated to be delivered by a total of six 1000 cc injectors set up in a staged array.

Also, by using an externally mounted oil pump, the engine is able to use a dry sump system which frees up power wasted while operating the stock-configured oil pump. The intercooler system utilizes a custom modified air-to-liquid A'PEXi Drag core. Liquid cooling also allows the weight of the water to act as ballast, allowing for more control over the balance of the car. The muffler is a custom A'PEXi Titanium Drag Star unit.

An inboard damper system, developed in Formula 1 racecars, has been incorporated into the suspension to put all 630 hp to the ground, no matter the track conditions. A'PEXi N1 dampers that provide smooth, precise compression and rebound movement will help keep the Goodyear gumballs planted when the clutch is dropped at 7000 rpm. For optimum traction, caster adjustments can range from +/-5 degrees.

Not only was vehicle weight manipulated to make the Integra front heavy, but aerodynamics also played a key role in the design. The front lip spoiler creates downforce at higher speeds while the enormous front cowl covers the tires. Everything on the cowl, besides the radiator opening, has been smoothed out. The rear wing is an adjustable type designed to control the aerodynamic balance of the car. The body is angled 8 degrees to accommodate more downforce as well as to allow the air below the car to pass underneath quicker. To prevent any front-end lift during high-speed runs, huge air ducts in the side skirts control the airflow. By fitting the exhaust outlets within the tire housing, the exhaust gases help to relieve the excessive air pressure within the tire housing.

The A'PEXi Drag Integra is slated to compete in America for a good deal of 2000 and possibly into 2001. Look for a full feature on the car when it hits the track.

VEHICLE MAKE {{{Acura}}}
VEHICLE MODEL Integra (DC2)
ENGINE H22A Prelude
DISPLACEMENT 2.2 liters
MAX OUTPUT 630 PS @ 7300 RPM
MAX TORQUE 60Kg @ 6000RPM
MAX BOOST 1.5~2.2 kg/cm2
CAMSHAFT APEXi SPL
VALVE SPRINGS APEXi SPL
VALVE LIFTERS APEXi SPL
HEAD GASKET APEXi SPL
CRANK SHAFT APEXi SPL
PISTON APEXi SPL
INJECTOR 1000cc x 6
THROTTLE BODY APEXi SPL
TURBO CHARGER AX 53B70 Turbine x2
WASTEGATE APEXi Racing
PORT APEXi SPL
ECU APEXi Power FC Pro
OIL COOLER APEX Pro max
INTERCOOLER APEXi SPL air-to-liquid Drag Intercooler
BOOST CONTROLLER APEXi AVC-R
EXHAUST MANIFOLD ISAMU stainless steel SPL
MUFFLER Titanium Dragstar Muffler SPL
TRANSMISSION X-Trac Sequential
TIRES Fr. Goodyear / Rr. Yokohama
WHEELS Rays TE37 15-inch

Top Fuel Del SolThe Top Fuel del Sol has a great deal of potential. Top Fuel technicians dissected a 1.8-liter VTEC engine and transmission combo and grafted it into the rear section of the del Sol. The installation looks OE and with all that weight over the drive wheels, the Honda should 60-foot well. The car is light and more aerodynamic than most Hondas, which should help it on the top end. Top Fuel used lessons learned from its impressive CRX that stopped the clocks in 9.95 seconds at Sendai (Top 10 Hondas, June 2000). We know the del Sol is a uni-body and that the powerplant flexes many off-the-shelf Top Fuel race parts. The engine runs a Top Fuel racing-spec, air-to-liquid intercooler and a secret-spec Top Fuel turbo.

At the Auto Salon, our Top Fuel connection told us that any plans concerning racing in America called for bringing the CRX and not the del Sol, as the latter was still undergoing shakedown testing. We urged them to bring both.

Garage SPL MR2Garage SPL is a tuning shop that has built a reputation for tweaking the MR2; its latest experiment shows how far the company is willing to go to push the edge of the envelope. The Street Drag MR2 was built with parts from Trust, the Japanese parent company of GReddy Performance Products, and Garage SPL's own extensive inventory. The interesting aspect of the Toyota is its intercooler configuration. As many knowledgeable enthusiasts will notice, it is mounted horizontally in the rear trunk. This innovative approach places the cooler behind the mid-ship-mounted motor, then the floor of the trunk is cut out and ducting is used to direct air to the unit. While a popular method in Japan, Garage SPL walked on the wild side when it built this car. In this application, the MR2 runs a front-mount intercooler. Oddly, it is not positioned vertically in the true front-mount position; it is laid down midway between the nose and the cowl. They say the quickest way from Point A to Point B is a straight line and this is the tack Garage SPL took in regards to the intercooler piping. The piping runs through the firewall, through the cockpit and into the front trunk area. That's a lot of piping. We have no info on turbo lag or anyknowledge of the results the Toyota has had drag racing, but we thought the car deserved a couple pics in the mag for the unique vision of its creators.

Top Secret 3S-GTE SupraTop Secret is a tuning shop that caught our eye a few years ago with a RB26DETT-powered Supra. The Skyline-meets-Supra Toyota generated 1000 hp via HKS GT3037 turbos and appeared in famed Japanese performance magazine Carboy. The company's signature gold paint scheme was launched with that car and continues with this Supra. Top Secret is still up to its old tricks-swapping engines into a Supra. Only this time, it's not a six-for-six proposition, but a six-for-four deal. With all the buzz generated by the Altezza, Japanese tuners have produced prodigious power from the 3S-GTE four via turbocharging. There is a racing category called GT-300 which limits engine displacement to 3.0 liters; the Altezza powerplant was a perfect fit. The Supra is a much-raced body which was also a perfect fit. There were four 3S Supras at the 2000 Auto Salon. The compact 3S is much lighter than the 2JZ and can be fitted farther rearward in the engine bay. This enhances the power-to-weight ratio and adds to the Supra's handling prowess. Top Secret's 3S is boosted by Trust components from the turbos to the intake system. Top Secret's craftsmanship is evident in the cleanliness of the install, liberal use of carbon fiber and clever fabrication of the cooling apparatus.

Signal Auto Chop-Top Civic Series IISignal Auto had made quite an impression with its red and white Tanabe-sponsored, chop-top Civic. The car was perched at Number 8 in our Top 10 Drag Hondas article in last month's issue with a 9.97-second e.t. This different peach-colored, chop-top is destined to come to America in 2000 and the Signal Auto crew hopes to use the lessons learned with its first car to catapult this monster deep into the nines. A FasTrax turbo will provide boost, RC Engineering injectors will flow the fuel, a Nitrous Express single-nozzle system will flow the laughing gas and a Tanabe suspension will help the car hook up off the line. The custom exhaust manifold is particularly trick and the car has been extensively lightened. With Signal Auto primed to open shop in Torrance, Calif., we don't think they could have a better business card-one we can't wait to see blast the quarter mile.

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Sources

Apex Integration
n/a, AK
www.apexi.com
Top Fuel
Ichisi, MI 5152115
Signal Auto/Volk Racing/Mackin Industries
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
By Evan Griffey
271 Articles

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