Sometimes it's as easy as answering an ad in the classified section of the local paper. Other times finding that perfect project car is an epic tale of misfortune, struggle and finally, perseverance.
Such was the case for Jeff Taylor of Burlington, N.J. It started on a lonely section of the New Jersey Turnpike as Taylor was commuting home in his fiance's Geo Tracker. He was cut off and busted some gymnastics moves, with the Geo rolling several times before coming to rest on its lid. Taylor was unhurt and he was impressed the Tracker, though totaled, was able to start and drive home after being pushed back on its feet.
"After we were married in Jamaica, we went in search of a new car," says Taylor. "Low and behold we bought a '94 Integra, a GS-R no less. I was fooling around with a Dodge Caravan Turbo and a slammed Mazda B2000 mini truck project. After five years of [my wife] commuting, I saw my opportunity to wedge myself behind the wheel of the GS-R. She now drives an Accord V6. I started the "modding" straight away with basic bolt-ons and the car was quite competitive. I was netting 13.7-second quarter miles at about 99 mph."
The Integra remained in this state of tune until another misfortune struck. "A friend of mine we call Nizz balled up his 1998 Integra Type R and I arranged to buy the car from the insurance company. With the help of some friends, we had the pristine 8000-mile B18C5 in the car running with no malfunction codes. The car was a blast."
In 2000, Taylor transitioned to the track as the Acura became a weekend strip warrior. "I hooked up with A&H Motorsports, added Toda Spec-B cams and a few other tricks and was running 13.2s all day. I ran in the all-motor ranks at E-Town's Import Survivor Series and NIRA races and either won or was runner up all year long."
It soon became apparent that Taylor had to go beyond bolt-ons and cams to keep the competitive juices flowing. During his battle sessions at E-Town, he met Raphael "Racer X" Esteves of DRT (Drag Race Technologies).
After the season, Taylor took his Integra to DRT for a "beyond basics" buildup. "We took the stock B18C block, re-sleeved it with Darton sleeves and bored it to 84mm, " says Ralphy. "We used Endyn's Rollerwave pistons with a hearty 13.3:1 compression ratio and Eagle rods because the quality's good for the price. The pistons, rods, crank, damper and flywheel were balanced and lightened. Then new bearings went in and the block was assembled."
The head had its own challenges. The machining and porting was different than most set-ups because the engine was slated to run 50mm TWM individual throttle bodies. "This was very tricky," says Ralphy. "Because the individual throttle body's manifold acts like a funnel to create velocity, the runners start out big in the outside and get smaller as you go into the head. DRT has a special porting regime for this application."
For the valvetrain, DRT went with Toda Racing cams, valvesprings, cam gears and oil pump gears as well as Ferrea valves and ARP fasteners.
With no turbo or nitrous to pack in the air, an all-motor engine must maximize its breathing-both inhaling and exhaling. For the latter, DRT and Taylor turned to HyTech Exhaust. "John custom made the header with three different secondaries which allowed us to change the lengths and actually tune the header for power," says Ralphy. "This meant we could match the exhaust's ability to move air (gases) out the engine to the induction system's ability to move air into the engine."
In between these two "respiratory" events is the ever-important combustion cycle. Combustion means fuel and DRT put together a system that, amazingly, retains the OE pump. In this application, -6 line runs to a TWM regulator and 440cc injectors. Ralphy wired up an Accel DFI system and tuned the combination on DRT's Dynojet. The results are a rockin' 242 hp and more than 150 ft-lbs of torque in the engine's sweet spot.
Ralphy has also built a grip of turbo Hondas, and he's found there's a different approach in how he builds a turbo motor vs. a naturally aspirated engine.
"First, the pistons of the n/a motor should be the highest compression the motor can handle [from 10.5:1 to 11.5:1 on street driven motors and 12.5:1 and up on race motors or motors that run high octane gas]. Everything on the motor should be lightened and balanced."
Ralphy explains, "The most important part on a n/a motor is the head. A properly ported head can make a lot of power because it can breathe better, but you really need to match that head with the right set of cams. We have found that Toda Racing B- and C-Spec cams produce the most power on Honda motors. It is not easy to make power on the n/a motor, but we have seen as much as 220 to the wheels on a true B18C motor with basic bolt-ons. For the intake, the individual throttle bodies are definitely the way to go, but they're a little costly. But the right cold air intake with a Type R manifold can make power. We have found the AEM system to be the best."
On a turbo motor, all you have to do is feed it more boost and fuel and the power's there. The n/a motor can only breathe as much air as nature can provide. The pistons for the turbo motor are the total opposite of the n/a engine; low compression should be used (as low as 8.5:1 to 9.8:1).
As far as rods go, the factory units must be tossed in favor of forged rods. Like a natural motor, the turbo motor has considerable power potential trapped in the head. But in a turbo motor, all you need is light port work because the air is being forced into the head. In the cam department, the turbo engine does not like too much duration but it loves lift.
The intake manifold for the turbo motor should have a big plenum to hold the large amount of air that the motor's receiving.
The most obvious difference between the two engine is the exhaust manifold. Exhaust manifolds are easy to make for a turbo motor because you would not lose or gain too much power from a bad one. In fact, flow can be secondary to placing the turbo in an optimum spot. On the n/a motor, flow is everything. The key areas to address are the collector, length of the primaries and secondaries and the diameter of the primaries and secondaries.
Footwork and driveline mods play a big role in making Taylor's Integra streetable and amazingly quick. The car runs a Type R gearbox outfitted with a Clutch Masters Stage 5 clutch with a heavy-duty pressure plate.
A Kaaz limited-slip differential puts the power to both tires while Skunk2 coil-overs keep the chassis planted. Stopping power is provided by a Fastbrakes drag system featuring 9.5-inch rotors, Wilwood calipers and EBC Green Stuff pads.
After boosting the car's power, Taylor wanted to address aesthetics before hitting the strip again. The Integra was taken to Autobody By Duie in Bordentown, N.J. where '98-spec front and rear fascias and a Fiber Images carbon-fiber hood were added. The stock frost white was converted to a custom Aztec yellow that was a yet-to-be-released PT Cruiser color at the time.
The project was wrapped up mid-way through the 2001 season, but Taylor hit the track running. The Integra won three NIRA events in two different states and was a semi-finalist in two IDRC races. The car's best effort to date is a 12.54 at 109 mph in street trim. The Integra runs a Type R interior with Sparco bucket seats, a Sparco Racer2 steering wheel, Auto Meter gauges and a Sabelt harness system.
Racing has gotten a lot more serious and the Integra is now more of a street car than a racer. But with a set of drag radials, this is a street car that can run high 12s at the next stoplight with nary an intercooler nor blue bottle to give away its performance potential.