Some of our favorite conversations are prompted by the question: which cars have you owned? (Or similarly, which cars have you driven?) Real passions get exposed and reflected on endlessly in that dialogue, but beyond the collectors and ultra-rich who can bankroll such a life, we've come to appreciate a lot of the wildly varied low-key finds and smaller compilations amassed by equally real enthusiasts, like Shayne Wilson. In addition to his 9-to-5 in sales for a local Honda dealership in the Baltimore, Md. area, Shayne also dabbles in buying and selling JDM imports, which has led to a rotating stable of several truly unique machines.
Right now, Wilson owns a 1992 Suzuki Cappuccino roadster Kei car and has a 1995 Toyota Celsior on the way from Japan. In the last two years, he's also owned a Mazda Autozam AZ-1, Mitsubishi Pajero, Honda Legend, Toyota Mark II Tourer V, Honda ACTY, Honda Street, Honda Beats, and an R32 Nissan Skyline, as well as others. Additionally, he's restoring a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado Fleetwood convertible that was passed down from his grandfather.
"I'm a lover of all cars and appreciate anything with an engine and wheels on it," Shayne tells us. "It's a side hobby, and unfortunately I can't keep all of them, so I tend to change out the cars every three to five months."
Shayne's got two other cars, a Lexus GX 470 SUV that he dailies and uses to haul around this—his 2007 Acura TL Type S. Up until this model year, the S trim had been missing from the TL lineup since 2002 from the previous generation of the sedan, but with its reintroduction in '07 it got more power from its 3.5L V6, LSD with the 6-speed manual option, Brembo brakes, and a raft of other go-fast goodies. And Wilson ended up at the TL Type S in May of 2012 after a deer strike totaled the Accord Coupe V6 6-speed he was driving (yikes!)
"It started as a daily driver replacement after the Accord, because the TL-S was always my attainable dream car. About six months later I got a Civic Si as my daily and shared daily driving between the two. As I started adding more parts, it became more of a weekend/1-to-2 days a week car. Now that the car is in its current form, it unfortunately isn't driven like it used to be, but I take it out to shows and local meets."
In some ways, you can view the build up of the TL as having two arcs, pre-turbo and post-turbo. Pre-turbo was heavily about establishing a deliberate look to the four-door, an aesthetic that included some JDM touches and a lot of custom work—because, well, it's a TL (Google the aftermarket for the sedan, we'll wait; it shouldn't take you long). The S gets low with Tein Street Advance coilovers and is outfitted in a raft of stiff stuff—beefy Progress front and rear stabilizer bars, RV-6 Performance front strut tower bracing, compliance bushings, et al—to manage handling. The big sedan now floats on Toyo R888R-shod 18-inch Rays Gram Lights 57Xtreme wheels in lightweight SP-spec, Shayne waiting over a year before Rays produced the specialty rims.
Within the cabin the front row of seats are now Recaro SR3 TopGuns in original all-black leather with the black confetti center inserts, and you'll also find a Mugen Momo steering wheel and AEM gauges staring back at the driver. Outside, the Moroccan Red Pearl sedan (a super rare color for this gen. TL-S) is canvas for a tasteful blend of body bits that includes Gerzy Bear carbon-fiber front bumper cover, Carbon Creations carbon hood, EndlessRPM carbon grille and trunk, HIC USA rear roof spoiler, and an ASpec rear lip. The tail tights might be the most curious talking point of the exterior, though; apparently, they are one set of only 40 in the US. As the story goes, the lights were originally bound for the Chinese domestic market but were mistakenly sent to the States, and Shayne jumped on the opportunity to incorporate them into his Acura.
The build's next turning points happened after Shayne basically maxed out what he was going to get from engine naturally aspirated with bolt-ons. He might be better suited to explain this one: "One late night my buddies and I were drinking some Jack Daniels and I saw a used J&R turbo kit for sale. It was a rare item because they only made about 10 sets before going out of business, so with this one coming up on the used market, I had to have it. After a few of my buddies', 'No balls, you won't do it' comments, I sent over a deposit on PayPal and purchased the turbo kit. It then sat for two years while I added more parts to go with the turbo build, such as tuning, methanol injection, gauges, etc."
We always love it when our friends push us to burn through money, but as the saying goes, things escalated quickly. After 18 months on the first turbo setup, Shayne decided he wanted still more power, but also wanted to improve on the look of the engine bay; that's when he decided to take his car to Jason Schmuck from Schmuck Built after seeing his welds and his sick J-swapped S2000 that we featured in 2018.
All the custom fab work you see in the engine compartment is Jason's. He weaved together the entirety of the Vibrant Performance charge plumbing and intercooler for the BorgWarner S369SXE turbo-based system, in addition to the fully custom exhaust and engine cooling apparatuses (he even did the one-off cooling setup for the power steering fluid), primarily with Vibrant (even the heat exchangers). To keep up with the turbo, Shayne upgraded fueling with a Deatschwerks DW400 pump, Injector Dynamics ID1000 injectors, and Aeromotive FPR, but we thought the one thing that stood out under the hood more than anything else (even the turbo) was the P2R Holley EFI intake manifold swap—did not see that coming.
The car is meant to be driven—launched hard and wrung out—and to that end Shayne saw need to throw some love at the transmission. The gearbox has been rebuilt with MFactory billet straight-cut third and fourth gears, a P2R sixth-gear cuff for some bolstering, and custom billet synchro rings. Power is transferred out the J35A8 V6 via Clutch Masters FX400 clutch, and eventually makes its way to 1,000hp-rated Insane Shafts axles up front.
After spending a year at Schmuck Built, the Type S then went to Derek Robinson at Innovative Motorworks for the final fuel system improvements and tuning of the Hondata FlashPro engine management. Derek was able to extract 450whp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque from the front hubs on a Dynapack at just 8psi of boost pressure. Shayne says they turned up the wick but just never got around to getting back on the dyno to see how much more they could make.
Which is fine—the engine internals are pretty much factory, and for sure would've started stressing under the added load, but not for long. Shayne already has a full J35 build in the works, culling parts for the next level of this project car—but admittedly he's in no rush. The car has been gone for so long getting created, he's just happy to drive it for now; once he does eventually get around to finishing the next phase, he's got his eye on 1/2-mile top-speed events. But like we said, there's no urgency, and with someone like Shayne—someone who clearly enjoys the road less traveled—it's probably more important the savor the journey than crush the destination.