Fourteen years prior to nabbing photos of this K20-powered 2010 Honda Fit, its owner Esteban Gonzalez saw his previous Integra Type R build in the pages of Honda Tuning Magazine. A virtual Mugen catalog car, it was fitted with the aero kit you'd expect but with plenty of "extras" that included an authentic Mugen hood, suspension, seats, gauge cluster, all the way down to the micro-mesh brake lines.
The best part of his DC2 is that it was purpose-built for track use and that's exactly what he did with it. Regularly abused while turning laps at local track days, Gonzalez somehow always managed to keep the exterior in pristine, show quality condition—which was no easy task.
Gonzalez' DC2 Type R original feature from 2006
Esteban's Mugen Integra Type R
Circuit Hero DC2 Type R Rebuild
Gil Salazar ITR rebuild
About a decade ago, the ITR was sold (purchased and rebuilt by Gil Salazar of Circuit Hero) and the weekend track days came to a close. Gonzalez adds, "I started my family and I had little time to drive it, so I decided to part ways." Like any diehard, car building sat in the back of his head over the years, with lingering thoughts of making a comeback, and if that weren't enough his family added a little more fuel to the fire. "My kids always asked questions about the car and why I sold it and they would always show people the magazine article. I promised we would build another car someday."
Why a Fit?
Going from Honda's golden child DC2 Type R to a gas miserly, people-moving Fit is a massive jump—one that some would regard as going backward. So why go from something so inherently sporty to something not nearly as track-ready? "I always loved the Fit since it was first introduced. Small, compact hatchback design—what Hondas were popular for. But that's where the similarities end. Less than desirable suspension, under-powered engine and an ECU that makes swaps not nearly as straight forward as other chassis."
After laying eyes on Japan's version of the Fit, Gonzalez knew he had to build one and as luck would have it, this 2010, complete with a blown engine, was presented and just too good to pass up.
Chasing the J
The problem with being so enamored with the JDM version of the Fit is that completing the conversion isn't the mostly bolt-on affair that his previous DC2 was. In fact, according to Gonzalez, beneath the surface there are very few similarities that tie the two models together, and after his experience with it, warns this isn't a simple undertaking. "Not only is the engine bay smaller, it's not as easy as swapping the radiator supports like a DC2 conversion. I believe the U.S. and JDM versions are just completely different chassis. This conversion is best left to the pros with lots of custom brackets to be made."
The facelift in this case consists of the entire front end, including RS model headlights, though the front bumper has been replaced by a Spoon Sports version and the original hood substituted with a lightweight Spoon carbon fiber panel. The rear portion of the conversion is completed with RS taillights and capped by a Spoon undertray on the bottom, with their hatch-mounted rear wing. In addition, you'll also find Spoon side mirrors in contrasting black.
That same "pick a brand and stick with it" mentality that Gonzalez had with his Mugen-clad ITR obviously carries over to this project, not only with the body additions, but the wheels—16-inch Spoon SW388—which partially cover the brand's monoblock calipers up front, while in the rear the factory drums were ditched for a Fast Brakes disc-conversion.
Lay on your back and snake your way under the car and you'll find Spoon's rigid collar kit used both front and rear, along with Buddy Club roll-center adjusters and BC Racing TCS with custom 12K front, 10K rear springs. All of the underpinnings add up to something that would shine on track days, even with the weakling factory power plant, but let's be honest, you clicked this story because of what now powers the bite-sized hatchback.
K-Swap the World
From the time the Fit was purchased and brought to his home garage, Gonzalez had planned his K20 assault. Starting with an Accord Euro R long block and LSD-equipped transmission, the process of trying to shoehorn the 2.0L into the Fit's chest cavity wasn't the quick, garage-thrash session like it would be with a more swap-friendly chassis (think Civic, Integra) and took considerable time to complete. "As difficult as it is, I compounded it with the JDM conversion. Also, if I would have chosen a newer model K-series engine, the swap could have been easier—but I wanted a high-revving K20A."
With the engine firmly planted using Hasport engine mounts, Gonzalez notes he needed a custom wiring harness and standalone to make everything work properly. Rywire Motorsport Electronics was given the task of building a custom harness while AEM's Infinity ECU would be in charge of making demands.
Just a parking lot away from Rywire's shop is Ballade Sports, which would help get the car started and work out the inherent bugs on a swap that is incredibly unfamiliar and not nearly as common as you might expect, given the low entry price of both the Fit chassis and K-series engine family.
Inside the K20 you'll find factory guts with only the oil pump being upgraded to a track proven 4Piston Racing version. On the outside, a PRC intake manifold is used for its shape, which curves just below the upper radiator support and is fed by a 72mm throttle body and Hybrid-Racing cold-air intake. Wicked Fab created a 4-1 exhaust manifold with 3-inch collector that leads to 2.5-inch piping which terminates with, you guessed it, a Spoon Sports muffler.
The original 1.5L was rated at 117hp at the crank, while this K-swapped version measures 215 at the hubs—over 100hp increase with just the basic bolt-ons and plenty of room for growth, if Gonzalez wants to push things further.
The bigger engine and transmission combo don't come at the cost of increased weight—in fact, with some unnecessary factory bits removed, it's quite the opposite. OEM specs weigh-in at around 2,500lbs while Gonzalez's build now tips the scales at a scant 2,096.
That's not to say there aren't some drawbacks. Glance over the engine bay and you see just how tight the K20's breathing room really is. The coil pack recess of the valvecover is completely overshadowed by the plastic tray that covers a factory metal cowl and there's just enough space to check or add oil—barely. The gap between the intake manifold and the core support is virtually nonexistent and harkens back to Hondas explanation for never offering a K-engine in their 2-seater CR-Z—citing required crash standards being impossible to satisfy with the engine/chassis combination due to spacing.
A portion of the weight loss program includes deleted rear seats and ditching the airbag-equipped front seats and steering wheel for Spoon's recently updated carbon Kevlar buckets and leather wheel. In order to relay vitals to Gonzalez while he turns laps, AEM's CD-7 digital dash takes over the factory cluster and provides far more feedback than Honda's design team ever intended.
It's been years since EP Gonzalez turned wrenches on his own track car and being able to piece together the most unlikely of chassis with not only the support, but hands-on help of his family seems to suit him well. He closes with this, "I promised we would build another car someday. It's been fun to build this car with them and see that they enjoy it as much as I do. And, of course, the look on their faces when they first experienced VTACK, lol!"