Anti-JDM? Well, not really, but we did use a bunch of parts not made over thereAny editorial lackey worth his salt will probably have a well-rounded arsenal of cars at his disposal. Honda Tuning lackey, Michael Arpon, has two. Loyal readers might remember seeing his EH3 Si hatchback in recent issues, and if you stick around you can read about his ITR powerplant buildup, but that's a story for another time. We're here to talk about the man's CL9 TSX, a car that by all accounts doesn't really stink of performance. Yeah, Honda calls it a "sports sedan," but that's leaving the word "sport" pretty wide open to interpretation. In order to fully embrace the title, Arpon had to address just a few things.
Like any proper build, it all begins with the wheels and tires. Yes, Arpon could've gone the JDM route and sourced himself a set of TE37s - a respectable wheel, no doubt - but instead he looked no farther than Yonkers, New York, where RonJon Sport Design's headquarters are located. RonJon is an interesting brand. It caters only to the Honda Acura enthusiast, which in the long run is a good thing for you. All RonJon wheels, including Arpon's 19-inch (yeah, 19s) Devotion Type IIIs feature Honda-specific hub-centric centerbores and offsets, meaning you won't have to worry about wheel spacers or hub-centering adapter rings. So why should you care about whether or not your wheels have the correct centerbore? The answer is because a car's wheel studs should never actually support the wheel. The wheel's centerbore should slip over and rest on the hub mounting surface's lip - the studs and lug nuts just keep the wheel from falling off. You can get around mismatched wheels and fitments with adapter rings but with the Devotions, you don't have to worry about that stuff. As you'd expect, the three-piece wheels aren't exactly light, but you can't really expect much else from something 19 inches across. RonJon uses a low-pressure, cast centersection that's mated to a forged anodized inner with a 1.75-inch chrome outer lip to build the Devotion III. The rivets are chrome, the valve stems are hidden, the insignias are fancy...can you say VIP? Of course, like any good editorial lackey, Arpon needed tires to complement his new 8.5-inch, +40-offset Devotion IIIs, so we contacted Bridgestone for a set of their new Potenza RE760 Sport tires in a 235/35R-19 fitment. The RE760s give the TSX the perfect balance: wide tread blocks that allow for aggressive cornering that Arpon will probably rarely take advantage of, a treadwear rating of 340 that means he won't need to buy tires as often, and three beefy grooves that make wet-weather performance a non-issue for him. The RE760 Sports are even quiet - another important factor for Arpon, considering his Si with the Spoon Sports exhaust is anything but.
You can't swap on a set of wheels like the RonJons without taking care of the ride height. Well, you can, but don't kid yourself into thinking it'll look good. Arpon got anxious and bolted on the 19s before we could take care of the suspension. He rocked the 4x4 VIP look for a few days before it really got to him though. His Koni Sport shocks arrived soon enough followed by a set of Sportline lowering springs from Eibach. Arpon had originally planned on Eibach's Pro Kit, which offers a 1.6-inch drop up front, but in light of the larger wheels he settled on the Sportlines' 0.3-inch difference for even more drop. Despite the TSX's VIP look, adjustable coilovers were out of the question in an effort to keep the two-car buildup within budget. And even though the Konis he chose aren't technically considered a true adjustable coilover, the Sports offer a two-position spring perch for a 20mm difference in ride height. Arpon's is set up for less of a drop so that he actually can drive his TSX up everyday things like driveways and over speed bumps. The Konis feature external rebound adjustability to make tailoring the ride based on factors like spring rates and tires easy, even for a lackey.
Like any other Honda, dropping the TSX meant the suspension's camber and toe would change, which also meant the Potenzas would be toast before too long. Eibach provided us with SPC Alignment adjustable ball joints for the front upper control arms and adjustable camber links for the rear. The ball joints replace the factory-issue and offer 1.5 degrees of adjustment, both ways. The OEM ball joints need to be pressed (or severely beaten) out, but the SPC ones slip right in and are held in place by the adjustment nut on top. The ball joint's design makes camber adjustment easy; you can even leave the wheel on the car while making adjustments. The rear links replace the factory, non-adjustable ones and are already fitted with a replacement ball joint. The links feature opposed threads on each end, which means camber adjustments can be made with the link on the car. When installing the rear links, be sure to match them up to the factory ones lengthwise to ensure against any dramatic camber changes if you don't plan on doing the alignment yourself. The SPC rear links offer 2 degrees of negative adjustment and 4 degrees positive.
The TSX is no rocket, but moving and not being able to stop properly never did anybody any good. Not that the TSX doesn't stop well now, because it does, but we'll be stepping up the power slightly in the near future and Arpon does drive a little crazy. EBC Brakes and Goodridge tag-teamed the TSX brake system with EBC 3GD vented rotors and Greenstuff pads, along with steel-braided lines from Goodridge. The gold-plated rotors do more than look blingy behind the RonJons though. The directional, slotted, and dimpled rotors help keep the braking system cool, which means better stopping. EBC's Greenstuff pads are the perfect compromise between something that can be used for a daily driver and something that'll see the track on occasion - not that the TSX will ever see a track though. The Greenstuffs are not just a hard-working pad, but the residue and dust left over by them is easier to clean off wheels when compared to other pads, which ties in perfectly with the whole VIP thing. Face it: All pads create dust, so you might as well find ones that are easier to deal with. Finally, we firmed up the pedal feel with Goodridge steel-braided brake lines and EBC DOT 4 brake fluid. Unlike OEM DOT 3 fluid, DOT 4 has a higher resistance to moisture and temperature, which simply means it can take more of a beating. Does Arpon need it? Probably not, but there's no harm in overkill.