If you haven't realized already, year after year police become savvier about performance upgrades. There are cities I won't dare drive in because of cops who are literally out to give tickets to modified vehicles. There have been talks in the California state government to start training law enforcement and create task forces to pull over and inspect cars more carefully for illegal modifications.
If you have an aftermarket boost gauge or fuel computer in plain view a cop will ask you to pop your hood. I was told by an officer the reason he asked me to pop my hood was because of the shiny stainless steel muffler and Wilwood brakes. And, wow, did he ream me for all the modifications he found. From the adjustable cam gear to the blow-off valve venting to the atmosphere. He even gave me a ticket for an adjustable fuel pressure regulator. Boy, was I put through the ringer.
So what's a performance enthusiast to do with law enforcement eyeing our vehicles like a hawk? Well, for myself, I found the best thing to do was to conform. Not that I drive a stock ride but I modify the ride within the legal confines of the law. My 1998 Acura GS-R was my stock daily commuter but I always felt it needed some performance upgrades. However, I was worried about turning the car into a cop magnet like all the other cars I own.
The GS-R was already pretty quick but of course it wasn't quick enough for me. Like many enthusiasts I searched the Web for 50-state legal performance modifications. Fortunately, dozens of aftermarket manufacturers have gone through the rigors of passing emission-testing procedures to make their products legal to use on public highways.
I started with a simple AEM cold-air intake for the GS-R. The 50-state legal intake system is constructed from 2-3/4-inch mandrel-bent lightweight aluminum piping. The AEM CAI system tips the scale at barely two pounds while the stock plastic system comes in at a hefty eight pounds. On the dyno the AEM system performed like a champ, pushing the peak output to 149.6 horsepower. The stock GS-R only generated 144.2 horsepower. The AEM system made an additional 5.4 horsepower.
The next performance modification came by the way of a Skunk2 high-flow exhaust system. Constructed from mandrel-bent stainless steel and features a robotically TIG-welded muffler canister the Skunk system is of the very highest quality. The system produces a fairly deep exhaust note but when equipped with the tailpipe silencer the exhaust note is barely noticeable. On the dyno the exhaust posted big numbers, generating 8.9 more horsepower than the restrictive stock exhaust system. Peak power was pushed to 158.5 horsepower.
We further increased the exhaust flow of the Acura with the addition of a 4-into-1 stainless steel header from DC Sports. Constructed of stainless steel it features mandrel-bent piping for superior flow and robotic-welded CNC flanges. And yes, the header is 50-state legal, complete with CARB EO number and sticker. A straight-bolt on affair, we did find it was much easier to maneuver the header into place after we temporarily removed the clutch slave from the transmission. Within the hour the Integra was back on the dyno pushing the peak output of the GS-R to 163.2 horsepower, an increase of 4.7 peak horsepower.
Our last modification of the day was the Skunk2 high-performance intake manifold. Unlike the dual-stage GS-R manifold the Skunk2 manifold features a similar design to the Type-R. Utilizing long runners, mid- to top-end performance is optimized. The runners are also slightly larger than the stock GS-R's for better flow for higher output engines. By using the same casting process car manufacturers use the intake nearly looks like a stock piece with the exception of the Skunk2 plaque on the intake plenum. The best part is that cops can't hassle you about it since the intake also carries a CARB EO number. To extract maximum output from the intake aftermarket camshafts should be used. But for our testing the intake still posted performance gains over the stock manifold. We witnessed an average of six to seven horsepower over stock with a maximum peak gain of 5.6 horsepower over the stock manifold. The GS-R finally peaked out at 168.8 horsepower.
With four simple performance modifications we generated an additional 24.6 horsepower over the stock components. And yes, they are all 50-state legal components if, of course, you install the silencer in the tailpipe to meet the California exhaust decibel law (95 dB). Next up we will further push the street-legal envelope with the addition of some Skunk2 Stage 1 cams, Unorthodox Racing underdrive pulleys and maybe a street-legal supercharger or turbo kit.
The increased power output of the GS-R was complemented with the addition of Skunk2 Pro Series coil-overs and 16-inch Buddy Club P-1 Racing SF wheels wrapped with Falken Azenis RT-615 gumballs. The Skunk2 coilovers feature stiffer-rate springs than stock giving better road feedback under aggressive cornering. The height adjustable coil-overs allow us to give the Integra the aggressive stance we were searching for. Keeping the Integra secured to the tarmac are lightweight Buddy Club six-spoke wheels. Each 16-inch cast wheel tips the scale at a tad over 16 pounds and comes in three eye-catching colors (white, gun metal and matte black finish). The Azenis gumballs provide the necessary adhesion to the asphalt. The aggressive tread pattern and sticky compound gives the Acura the necessary grip it needs to tear up the road.
Keeping the driver firmly in place is a Buddy Club Racing Spec bucket seat. The fiberglass bucket seat is considerably lighter than the factory recliner and keeps the driver from shifting around under hard cornering. To fit the Buddy Club seat onto the factory location we used a set of Bride FG sliders.