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Acura RSX TypeS - Super Bad Street Car

Honda Breeds Its Cars For Economical Reasons, But That Doesn't Mean You Have To Build It That Way

Sean Klingelhoefer
Jul 1, 2008 SHARE
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When it comes to cars there are two types of people: those who see a car as a convenient mode of transportation from point A to point B, and the rest of us who are reading this article. We spend a majority of our time (and money) trying to decide how to get from point A to point B faster, more stylishly and a little differently than the next guy. Unfortunately for those of us that fall into the second category, that puts us into a bit of a dilemma. We are the ones who sit and daydream of all the cars and modifications we could have if we just happened to hit the Powerball jackpot. However, there are a few people who find the means to compromise and still come up with a neck-breaking vehicle that even Fortune 500 CEOs can admire.

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This is exactly what Brian Nguyen has done with his '05 RSX Type-S. For a lot of us, a newer vehicle is usually accompanied by a price tag that is beyond our checkbooks, and his case was no exception. Fortunately for Brian, his family owns a wrecking yard, which was just waiting for the day that the perfect car would come along for his picking. "We auction cars back and I picked mine up for next to nothing. I decided on the RSX because it was a price I couldn't refuse. I had my 2000 Civic Si that I loved, but I saw an opportunity for this car so I just had to take it." The day he was waiting for finally came and Brian snagged this gorgeous Jade Green Type-S from the auction block for a nominal fee. "The car was passed down from my uncle. I drove it for the first time, and just fell in love with it." Once the chassis had been selected Brian made short work of fixing the very minor front end damage and started envisioning what the car could look like.

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With a vast amount of money saved from the low initial cost of the vehicle, Brian figured that rather than simply restoring the car, he could style it the way he desired with his savings. Once he got the DC5 home, the first pieces of the puzzle came into play as his girlfriend assisted with the installation of some Function Form Type 2 coilovers to aid the 17" Regamaster Evos into their new habitat, tucked up in the car's fender wells. "If I were to choose something memorable (about the build) it would be putting in the suspension for the first time with my girlfriend. We started out good and ended up running into trouble... but we ended up figuring it out." Brian got over the ever familiar "I'm going to keep it mostly stock" phase in a flash. "At first my whole intention of building my car was just a simple drop, lip and rims. Then once I had that done, I just couldn't stop buying more mods."

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Wasting no time, Brian got down to business searching the Club RSX forums for all of his aftermarket needs. If you have expensive taste, it often pays off in large dividends to buy used goods from trusted sellers on Internet forums, but you have to be selective about your purchases. After several agreements were made, Brian now had a plethora of Mugen aero pieces including a front lip, side skirts, rear lip and eventually a full front bumper. To help fill out and balance the rear end of the car, an A-Spec spoiler was thrown into the mix. After installing the new gear, Brian took the car in for a paint job that was completed by "Pilo." Adorning its rejuvenated pearlescent green coat, the car was then ready for some final JDM knickknacks-like window visors, taillights and badges-to complete the theme. The appearance of the vehicle was better than anything Brian had previously imagined. The bug had now bitten and Brian wasn't ready to stop investing in his rolling masterpiece.

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Since the exterior was looking so fly, Brian could hardly stand how badly the interior paled in comparison. The DC5 is equipped with a pretty sophisticated interior packed with luxuries, but few of those are useful when you're trying to go fast. The first things that Brian knew had to go were the stock seats. Luckily, Honda of Japan made his selection a breeze because they decided to use some of the best seats on the planet as standard equipment in the RSX's beefed up JDM brother, the Integra Type-R. Again relying on his computer, this Web-savvy enthusiast scooped up a mint pair of red Recaros for $900 from a Club RSX member. To complement the beautiful new reclinable buckets without going bankrupt, Mr. Nguyen had the stock rear seats and front door inserts re-wrapped. The end result: pieces that blended so well, they would easily fool you as OEM if you didn't know better. After the aggressively bolstered seats were properly secured, a pair of infamous green Takata harnesses was added. It was the only suitable choice to ensure nobody in the front seats would be tossed around. With the addition of a Nardi wood grain Classic steering wheel and an A Spec shift knob, Brian put the icing on the cockpit.

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These parts were all added to help the occupants under higher speeds or aggressive turns; however, until this point, the car seemed a little "all show, no go." The last thing Brian wanted was a car that couldn't back up its incredible looks with serious performance. The RSX Type-S already comes equipped with a K20Z1, the hottest four cylinder engine American Honda has ever placed in a production front-wheel drive car. Producing 210 naturally-aspirated ponies from two liters of displacement is almost unheard of from most manufacturers, but it's a benchmark that wasn't impressive enough for Brian. To free up some of the exhaust his RSX was trying to exhale, Brian decided to go with a Strup race header and a Tanabe Hyper Medallion cat-back exhaust system. Getting the job done without going over the top on the intake side, Brian fitted an AEM cold air intake to help get the motor breathing more efficiently. While this setup would please most, Brian kept saving his pennies and still felt that the car had more potential that needed to be exploited. It was time for a major change, something that would force the car to move faster. The force Brian would finally turn to was forced induction in the form of a Jackson Racing Supercharger, or JRSC for short.

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A supercharger seemed to be just the ticket; "having in mind (a JRSC) is gonna be simple, inexpensive horsepower," it seemed that Brian couldn't go wrong. Another trip to his favorite Web forum rendered Brian with a Jackson Racing Supercharger at an unbelievably low price of $1000. They say the third time's the charm, but that wasn't the case with his latest Internet transaction. This time, Brian realized something was wrong when he learned an important life lesson: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. "I bought the JRSC knowing that a few spacers were going to be missing. This was a whole new thing to me, and I didn't know any better. I spent about $250 to have everything complete. It was a pain because I didn't know the exact spacers and bolts I needed, but just did more research on the forums and figured it out. I had Daniel Butler AKA "Palmerbrock" from Church Automotive install it, and everything was fine for that night. I drove it the next day, and the car took a s***. It wasn't running right and was making noise at 3k rpms. "Check engine" light blinking, car shutting off; it was just terrible. I got it checked that night, and it ended up being that something was wrong with my supercharger. I ended up needing to take it off and sent it to Moss for a rebuild. They received it and told me it was messed up; the blade and bearings were all jacked up, and needed to be rebuilt for $720. During that rebuild of the supercharger, there was down time for a good month. Once I got it back, Kevin AKA "ksmatic" helped me get the install going and it was running good." Remember what I said about being selective when it comes to Web forums?

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Once the car was finally back together and everything was working the way they should, Brian limped the car over to Church's Automotive to have it tuned. After a few hours of work, the boys called it quits when the RSX laid down a nasty 285 whp on the "street tune." Thanks to a 3.2" pulley, the most aggressive Jackson Racing makes for this application, Brian is now looking for a better flowing exhaust because he still isn't a happy camper. With an ever growing hunger for more modifications, Brian plans to continue building the car one part at a time. "I decided to keep the supercharger because when you're modding a car, downtime and negative outcomes are bound to happen, so it was all a lesson learned." If there's anything that we can learn from Brian's build it's that you don't have to be ballin' to have a good time building a ride you once considered out of reach. But remember: Just because you're building on a budget, it doesn't mean you can't splurge here and there because as Brian learned the hard way, "you get what you pay for."

Fast Facts
2005 Acura RSX Type-S
Owner Brian Nguyen

Hometown El Monte, CA

Daily Grind Full-Time Student

Under The Hood 2.0L K20Z1; AEM cold-air intake; Hondata intake manifold gasket; Jackson Racing supercharger (roots type), 3.2" pulley; Mugen radiator cap and reservoir socks; Racecoated custom valve cover; Strup race header; Tanabe Hyper Medallion cat-back exhaust system; TEIN hood dampers

Drivetrain 6spd OEM Type-S LSD transmission; Competition Clutch Stage 4 pressure plate and disc; Fidanza 11lb flywheel

Brains Hondata K-Pro

Stiff Stuff Function Form Type II coilovers; Mugen front strut tower bar

Stoppers OEM DC5 Type-S Brakes

Rollers Desmond Regamaster Evo 17X8 +35 (white), 215/45R17 Falken Azenis RT-615 tires

Outside A Spec rear wing; custom rear diffuser; JDM DC5 Type-R window visors, taillights,"H" badges; Mugen front bumper(show), front lip (daily), side skirts, rear lip; Jade green paint by "Pilo"; Techone 6000k HIDs

Inside A Spec shiftknob; custom reupholstered rear seats and door panel inserts; Nardi woodgrain classic steering wheel; JDM DC5 Type-R Recaro seats; Mugen race pedal kit; Muxx dead pedal; Takata harneses; Worksbell steering hub

Ice OEM Type-S Bose sound system

Props My girlfriend, Nancy, for helping me with the build and being there for me the whole time through the ups and downs of my car; my parents; my sister; my homie David; Will; Gabe; TJ; Ejay; Sean Klingelhoefer Photography; hasback Photography; Payuan Photography; Daniel Butler from church automotive;Mike from Jimmy UP; Kevin Shue ksmatic garage; Doug from Blueprint, Sean Nike SB'd; Phaze2; Jerkz; DPK; and all the SoCal crews; Club RSX; DC5 Nation; Honda-Tech.com; nwp4life.com

WWW clubrsx.com; dc5nation.com; f2autolife.com; honda-tech.com; kingmotorsports.com; mugen-power.com; nwp4life.com; racecoated.com

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By Sean Klingelhoefer
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