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K-Powered - Under The Hood

Scott Tsuneishi
Mar 15, 2012
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No vehicle within my 4½-year tenure of working for Import Tuner has required as much time and devotion as the masterpiece you see in front of you today. The daily grinds of hardship were magnified tenfold as 2NR and Skunk2 Racing joined forces. We shed and shared the same blood, sweat, and tears, transforming an average, run-of-the-mill Acura RSX Type-S into our latest and greatest creation.

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The RSX Type-S’s K20Z 2.0L powerplant has slowly taken over the reigns of the once dominant B-Series engines. Owning up to a well-engineered engine is one thing, but the team of 2NR and Skunk2 wanted to build an engine with enough gusto to send all challengers foolish enough to challenge our machine with their tails between their legs. After numerous closed-door meetings and hush-hush conversations, our collaborated team finally decided on a battle plan with high expectations of building the ultimate street machine Acura, dubbing the vehicle the RSX-T.

That was more than four years ago when I documented the buildup in the Oct. ’07 issue that helped define the K-Series engine. When the vehicle build first began in June of 2005, the K-engine was a rather unknown platform, untapped by the aftermarket world and shrouded in a cloud of mystery by tuners on how to make power. At the time, the B-Series engine had already established itself as the go-to motor for drag racers across the globe. Preliminary research of the K-Series engine showed promise as a well-engineered motor.

While the B18C engine was proven in turbocharged form from 700 to 1,000 whp, reliability issues have always been a main concern. Although the K-Series engine seemed to fit the bill, many were reluctant to venture into uncharted territory and start from square one with a motor that was still in its infancy state. The Skunk2 RSX-T made over 700 whp and was one of the most powerful K-powered cars at the time. So you might be asking yourself: Why am I dwelling on a car that was built so long ago? Take a close look at the Honda/Acura tuner market today. Do you notice anything? The K-series engine has taken over the scene and become the engine of choice with a variety of K-Series engines that are swap candidates. The K-Series has been known to make more reliable horsepower in bigger numbers than the B-Series engine. It has dominated in everything from purpose-built quarter-mile drag cars to the championship-contending Compass 360R Civic, which competes in both the Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and SCCA Pro’s World Challenge. So the big question is: What is Honda working on that will replace the K? Honda has stopped manufacturing the K20 engines entirely and is currently running the K24 production in the new ’12 Civic Si. With talk of an electric sports car concept called the “Small Sports EV Concept” and the AC-X—Honda’s new plug-in hybrid technology—both debuting at the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of this year, we’re pretty sure that it’s going to be a few more years before they phase out the K-motor. We dedicated this month’s issue to the K-Series engine and collaborated with Honda Tuning magazine to pay tribute to one of the most popular engines of modern society. Long live the K!

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By Scott Tsuneishi
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