Feature: The Casual Race Car – NDF B20 Spec DC2

At some point in time, my friend Duane mentioned to a few of us that, barring interest, he was thinking of starting a spec-B20 class within the VTEC Club events.  As you can imagine, it was an idea that didn’t catch on too quick.  In fact, anybody we mentioned it to had a decent laugh at our expense.  B20’s, in their stock form, don’t have the greatest appeal in the realm of racing Hondas, so the idea that enough people would want to be involved to even warrant it’s own class was comical at best.  Boy, were they all wrong.

Let me preface this article by saying that this car isn’t really anything special.  I don’t mean to post it up as a feat of excellent motoring engineering.  It’s literally a 1994 Honda with a stock motor in it.  Why’s it deserving of a post at all?  It’s deserving of a post because it’s important for people to know you don’t need an expensive race car to go have fun at the track.  I had several questions on a Q&A post I did on the NDF Instagram story last week regarding the car, so I figured I’d put it all down here on the website; think of it as a quasi build thread.

After my drive North to Canada to resell my BC registered EK hatch, I was back on the hunt for a new daily to take it’s place.  The idea of building an Integra has always appealed to me.  Before I bought my coupe, I always thought that I’d end up with an Integra, but for whatever reason it just never happened.  I’m still attracted to the car just as much as I was back then, so I figured now was a good of time as any to buy one.  After a few weeks of lazily looking for options (either a ground up build with a cheap shell, or a more expensive clean alternative) I came across this particular Integra that an acquaintance of mine was selling.  He had originally purchased it for a parts car, and it had been sitting in his backyard for months.  No longer needing the car, he posted it up for sale to test the waters.  It was a decent price, the previous owner had already put a B20 in it after the GSR motor went out, and had an JDM DC2 front end as well.  Seemed like a good package, so I drove out to check it out, and ultimately end up driving it home.

The originally teal car had been resprayed in a vibrant blue color; which I happened to dislike greatly.  While from a distance the paint didn’t look horrible, the paint job was really not the greatest work, so the first order was to strip the car down and prep it for paint.  I picked up some Bridgestone Downhill Specials to replace the GSR blades it came with in an attempt to look somewhat stylish driving it around before I began to take it apart.  The white looked pretty good against the blue, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea so a full color change was in order.  I needed to pull the motor out for maintenance and to swap transmissions anyway so stripping the car was the most realistic way to go about it.  I didn’t want a multi-colored car.

In the process of removing everything from the car, I also ended up ditching the ABS system.  Although this is primarily my daily car, I knew that it would see more track time than I actually tried to tell myself, so I got a new 40/40 proportioning valve from friend and R Compound employee, Jonathan, and made my own lines and fittings to route to the front brakes and master cylinder.  In hindsight, buying a readily available ABS delete kit would have been cheaper; or ideally you could get your hands on some RS hardlines.

During this week long process, I discovered that the car was in worse shape than I had originally thought it to be.  Literally every suspension component was shot; bushings, ball joints, linkages, shocks, etc.  You name it, it needed to be replaced.  And so, I did.

The entire undercarriage has been refreshed with new front lower control arms, camber arms, Hardrace front roll center adjusters, tie rods, sway bar linkage, rear toe arms, Hardrace rear trailing arm bushings, PCI rear lower control arms, and an off-the-shelf set of Tein dampers.  The steering rack was also leaking from both boots, so a reman’d rack was swapped in place of the old one.

As body shop stories typically go, I didn’t get the car back from paint for at least 2 months.  I literally had the luxury of forgetting about the car for weeks at a time because I had so much other work going on.  In the meantime though, I was able to amass almost everything needed to get the car back together again.  The engine was dropped off with Jacob next door at Import Life for a complete refresh; if there is one thing I hate in life, it’s fluid leaks.  Every seal and gasket was replaced, and a new oil pump, water pump and timing belt was installed for good measure.  With this being a used car (an intended parts car at that), I had no idea how old any of the components were.  I did notice that there was a M’s Motors stamp on the block, so I reached out to Matt to see if he knew anything about it, but as I figured couldn’t help much.  So better to be on the safe side and replace everything.

The last major component was the transmission.  The seller had included a fresh B18 trans with the purchase, as the one mated to the car was missing 3rd gear.  Instead of building that trans up though, I opted to buy one that was already assembled.  My engine builder mentioned that someone had given him a built B16 trans in lieu of payment that he was willing to part with.  The transmission came complete with 4.9 final drive and Cusco 1.5 way LSD; basically the exact trans that I would have built to begin with.  I got a good price on it so I couldn’t really pass it up.

We mated the trans with a new 1OS Action Clutch and resurfaced TODA lightweight flywheel.

Kristian and Duane came over to the shop on the night of the install to assist – which was clutch because without them it probably wouldn’t have gotten done, or not in one night at least.  The initial idea was to have it ready in time to road trip up to Monterrey to attend Rennsport Reunion; a trip we ended up doing, and enjoying very  much so, but without the company of the Integra as I had an issue with the brake line fittings I didn’t have time to address.

Here is Kristian looking at said lines.  Neither of us realizing the issue I’d run into the next morning when I went to bleed the brakes.

Duane working on the coilover install.

All three of us working to get the B20 in from below the car.  Working without a lift is unequivocally not the best way to do things.

A very long night later, the engine and trans was in and running.  The next morning, I returned to the shop to go over everything and tie up some loose ends on the suspension.  Our good friend from Canada, who was on a road trip around the US, stopped by and helped me set the ride height while I worked on finishing up some things like the Koyorad dual pass radiator install.  I opted not to run a fan because, well, it isn’t really needed with this radiator retrofitted in.

I found a really, really old DC Sports exhaust that fit the car’s theme perfectly.  It ended up being a little louder than intended, but it just looks so fitting on the car I don’t think I can get rid of it.  Perhaps I’ll add a resonator.

The (almost) finished produce of our hard work.

I had an image in my mind when I was first toying with the idea of buying an Integra of how I’d want it to look.  I will forever be a fan of the 90’s, in every sense, but especially in an automotive one.  To replicate a car you’d see in Japan during that time period, owned by an older gentlemen who wanted something sporty to drive but not over the top – that was what I wanted.  Sunken wheels, low, but not low enough to be annoying or scrape in and out of parcades.  OEM exterior parts, but perhaps with a touch of aftermarket styling.  Yeah, that’s just what I wanted.

I found the SSR Type-C’s by chance on Craigslist.  They had been listed only for a few short hours, and I jumped at the chance to buy them.  I sent them off to powder-coat and had them recolored to match SSR’s forged version of the wheel.  New decals from SSR were applied and I had what is basically a fully restored set of Type-C’s in 15×7 +35; in my mind it was one of the top wheel choices for the car.  I wrapped them in 205/50 Federal RSR’s because that’s the cheapest tire Duane had at R Compound.  Spoon replica mirrors and a replica Mugen wing were later painted and added to complete the look.  I know I may catch some flack for the replica exterior parts, but hey, nobody is perfect.  I didn’t have time to go scouring for originals, and this is a budget build after all.  The car ended up being way more work than I intended, and had me questioning why I didn’t just buy a better condition car to begin with.

Last weekend, Kristian came over to the shop to align the car, as we both were headed to Buttonwillow Sunday morning to attend the VTEC Club season closer.  It was a perfect venue to shake down the car, as Kristian was driving Duane’s B20 EK to play around with.  Duane wanted to get laps in his K20 shop car, which left the other EK open for us to play around on track with.

My first impression of the car was, “Wow, this car understeers so much it’s almost undriveable.”  No joke, it shoveled everywhere.  It was not fun to drive.  So, I adjusted some things, and took it back out, this time with Kristian in the EK.  I didn’t do much, just adjusted the coilovers front and back, but whatever I did made the car so much more enjoyable.  The understeer still present, but a bit more manageable, and I was able to really chuck the car into the corners.

The week prior I had also received a new brake kit from APG Performance, and they were working out magnificently.  With the ABS gone, and new brakes installed, I was really able to dig deep and brake much later than I should have been.  The result was an incredibly fun day with Kristian and I swapping lead and follow positions, driving bumper to bumper, lap after lap, crossing the start within hundredths of one another.

I was renewed in my spirits and what seemed to have been a restoration build, ended up reminding me why we put in the hours behind closed doors.

The interior, not pictured beacuse it’s rather bland, consists of the basics.  My old ZETA III, which used to be in the coupe, now serves in the Integra.  I picked up a Nardi steering wheel on my latest trip to Japan, and I put the Fastline shifter that also used to be in the coupe in the Integra as well – complete with Battlecraft shift knob.  No radio, in it’s place a dual din block off plate.

The car still has a bit more work ahead.  Ideally I’d like to completely redo the engine and chassis harness.  There are so many wiring issues in the car, especially chassis related, that bother me.  It would be nice to get rid of all the residual ABS wiring as well.

APG brakes after several heated laps.

The day was great, but it wouldn’t be a proper shakedown without a fair share of issues.  Aside from the wiring issues not allowing me to have headlights when I want them, my distributor decided to get out on the way home.  We tried swapping coils from a distributor that our friend Jose had lent us, but it ended up being the igniter.  Amir and Muoi were close to an Autozone on the way home that had one and were gracious enough to pick it up and bring it back to me.  We quickly swapped it and were on our way.  A fitting end to a car that’s come a long way, with the help of some great friends.  This Integra has really come to embody what I love most about the community we’ve built around motor sport.

An unassuming car that has a lot to offer in terms of enjoyment – the perfect package.