This little hobby of ours is quite the curious specimen. Modifying cars is a love/hate relationship but unlike partnerships with actual human beings, the “gratitude” side of it is totally different. With a person, the relationship (in essence) is supposed to be a reciprocal one. You do things for one another and you expect equal treatment in return. With cars however, the relationship is undoubtedly one-sided. You do things to your car knowing that your car will never return the favor. Anything you do to it is just for you, and even if you hate to admit it, it’s also for the admiration and attention of your peers. When you put work into your car you get that warm feeling in the pit of your stomach that you’ve accomplished something and that you’ve created something you can be proud of. That sense of accomplishment will almost make you do anything and everything. You’ll skip a meal or two and argue with your significant other for days, even if you know you’re wrong for cancelling your date because you have to save up for your next big mod. While others are out blowing money on collecting sneakers, you have only one good shoe left but that doesn’t matter because your car is going to be the greatest build you and your homies have ever seen. Anything and everything is worth it because it’s what you love to do. When you put it on paper, it sounds a little outrageous but as an enthusiast, you understand that you’ll do whatever it takes to build your dream car.
John Huynh is a lot like you. He doesn’t look like you or necessarily live life the same way as you but by all accounts, you are both automotive enthusiasts and you share an equal love of cars. John’s affection is for Hondas of the Type R variety. You don’t have to like Hondas like John per se, but after hearing his story, you’ll realize that his dedication is true and that his journey to build his dream Integra Type R was quite the tumultuous one.
“I still remember the day when I received a phone call from an acquaintance of mine that had a ’98 Acura Integra Type R for sale,” John says. “I knew right away that I had to have it. I knew that it was going to be a big project though because this particular ITR was just a shell. There was no front end, no motor/transmission, no wiring, interior was completely gone; it was essentially just a bare shell. If I was to build the ITR that I always wanted, I would have to take this chassis and piece the entire car back together. I know that many people wouldn’t even attempt to do this but this wasn’t just your regular run-of-the-mill Integra or Civic, you know? It was a Type R. They’re not a dime a dozen and ITRs are getting more rare by the day. I knew at that moment that if I didn’t seize the opportunity to go through with the purchase, I would probably regret it for the rest of my life. I paid the guy $4,000 for it and I towed it home. It sat in my garage for months on end and I was slowly starting to regret the purchase. It was a shell that was collecting dust. I had spent all my money on just getting the chassis itself and I had no funds to even start on the project.”
Things were looking bleak for John until he landed a well-paying job at Google. He knew that this job was precisely what he needed to kick-start his ITR project and it motivated him to go all-out. The first significant modification that had to be done was to put a face back onto his Type R. Though his was a U.S. ITR, he drew inspiration from its overseas counterpart and opted for the legendary Japanese Type R front. “I went through two front ends just to get everything that I needed. I mean, I had a good job at that point but I still had to spend my money wisely and not just blow it on things I didn’t need. I had two front ends because I really wanted to get all the right parts that fit correctly and make sure that nothing was broken. The Type R front is such an important mod that I couldn’t take the chance of it not looking right.”
Once the ITR was recognizable again, John and friends began working on the engine bay to prepare it for its new heart. The entire ABS system was removed for a cleaner look and custom brake hard lines were created. John knew nothing about wiring so he had his friend, Erwin “Errdizzle” DeCastro, painstakingly create a modified engine harness so that all visible wires were tucked away. Being that his ITR was purchased without a motor, he had a number of different routes he could take, engine-wise. His Integra already had the Japanese Type R front, so he made the easy choice and got the matching JDM B18C Type R motor. He wanted to give the R motor some additional “kick” so he freed up the airflow in the cylinder head by installing Blox Type B camshafts, cam gears and complete valvetrain. On the exhaust side, John purchased a Pro Fab custom race header to mate with the JDM 2.5" exhaust piping and OEM muffler.
“From the beginning of this build to now, man, it’s been quite a ride. It started out rough with me spending so much money on just a bare shell but when I got my job at Google, I thought it was set. I never even remotely imagined that I would have to deliver pizzas in my half-finished ITR just so I could get through school and finish this thing. It was all worth it though. Not everything is ever as easy as it looks, but that’s life. It makes me appreciate my ITR that much more because I worked hard for it and I’m proud to say that I did.”
John’s build was going full force and the once bare shell of an ITR was starting to look like the Integra that he had always envisioned. This wouldn’t make for a very good story though if he didn’t face any major trials or tribulations. Of course, one of the worst possible things happened and his build came to a screeching halt. “About halfway through the build, I was laid off by Google and was left without a job,” John explains. “I was still a full-time student as well and I just ran out of money. I couldn’t afford anything else for the car so I had to look for a part-time job just to get by. Luckily, I was able to find a job delivering pizzas and it fit my hectic school schedule. It was fast and easy money. At that point the car was missing some parts here and there but it was drivable, so I used it for work. I never imagined myself working out of a pizza parlor and being a delivery guy, let alone doing it in my ITR. The best part of it was the reaction of people on the road and the ones that ordered the pizzas. Can you imagine someone rolling up in an Integra Type R to deliver your pizza?”
After working a couple months as the coolest pizza delivery guy on the planet, John was able to get back on his feet and finish his ride. He was able to source a complete interior from a wrecked ITR and even found a set of JDM ITR Recaro seats. To complete the exterior, he added a Spoon Sports carbon-fiber front lip and worked a couple of extra shifts at the pizza parlor so that he could afford a rare set of 16" white Work RSZ-R wheels.
1998 Acura Integra Type R
Owner John Huynh
Hometown Sunnyvale, Ca
Power 200hp (estimated)
Engine 1998 Honda 1.8L B18C; Blox Type B camshafts, cam gears, valves, valve springs, retainers, test pipe, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, fuel pressure gauge and velocity stack; ARP head studs; Innovative Race engine mounts; Speed Element custom carbon-fiber air intake; Pro Fab custom header; custom engine wire harness by Errdizzle; Walbro 255lph fuel pump; Golden Eagle fuel rail; -6 an to -8 an fuel fittings; black braided fuel lines; Trick Flow inline fuel filter; Odyssey PC680 battery
Drivetrain ’98-Spec ITR transmission w/LSD; CCI stage 4 clutch and flywheel
Footwork & Chassis A’PEXi N1 coilovers; Whiteline front 27mm sway bar, 24mm rear sway bar and end links; Benen Industries polished front shock tower tri-bar; Speed Element custom trunk bar; Skunk2 lower tie bar
Brakes OEM brakes with ABS delete; custom brake lines
Wheels & Tires 16x7" +41 Work RSZ-R; 205/45-16 Nexen 3000; Deebo Racing lug nuts; Blox Prototype 15mm hubcentric wheel spacers
Exterior JDM Integra Type R front end conversion and rear hatch with glass; Spoon Sports carbon-fiber front lip; ’98-Spec OEM taillights; PPG Championship White paint; rolled front and rear fenders
Interior Recaro SRD seats; Nardi steering wheel; NRG quick-release steering wheel hub; 75mm hub extender; custom “bling” horn button by Trinh Nguyen; Alpine head unit; Type R front and rear speakers
Props Devin, Trieu, Ryan, Phuong, Peter, Victor N. at Speed Element; Dave at Blox Racing; Trung at BML Auto Repair; 247racing family; Ryan T. at 247media.org; Erwin “Errdizzle” Decastro; My loving girlfriend Trinh Nguyen; LRS; Cary Inayoshi
www bloxracing.com; skunk2.com