Those that know me will be wondering why I didn’t put this up as my very first article. Truth being, I was never going to write it, as I had all but given up defending my love for Hondas. My Integra Type R has spoken for me on several occasions, and I have the respect of those that matter to me…genuine tuner enthusiasts, and those that know absolutely NOTHING about fast cars. Those in between, that pretend to know it all, still seem hell-bent on bashing a brand that practically started the revolution. The civic became the benchmark for hot hatches alongside the VW golf, the actual originator of that demographic. From top dog tuner shops to guys in a shed (or under a tree) in their backyard with integras and preludes were pushing out monsters with nothing but a light factory weight and a tiny under 2L engine with valve-timing control on their side. Up to this day, you can go to any import drag race and find a Civic lining up with Supras, Skylines, even Mustangs and Camaros and eating them alive. Slammed Integras grace auto shows everywhere with attention to detail and factory-finish engine swaps to rival the highest budget company sleds. So why the grief??????
Here I will commence to shoot myself in the foot. Honda have always been noted for making good efficient engines, so much so that their top end powerplants, found in the Type R line, was tuned to perfection from the factory. They chose to finely balance the rotating parts to make a high-revving screamer of an engine, which made it great fun to drive, but you have to work to get it up there. Because of these low tolerances, tuning companies (especially honda specific brands Spoon and Mugen) spent mad dough in the R&D dept. to make parts that actually got more power from them, producing intake systems for $300+ dollars just to get 3-5 HP. Also, model development was always incremental at best, fine tuning as opposed to radical boosts in performance. A good example is the NSX, Honda’s only factory-built sports car up until the S2000 was introduced. Thrashing Ferraris and Porsches for half the price back when it came out, it was never revised for its decade-long production run, while the competition caught up and surpassed it. In 2003 it got a mild facelift and even milder performance gains. Not very uplifting for those that waited that whole decade for something spectacular.
Next there was the media. When tuner cars blew up in popularity at the turn of the century, thanks to a certain movie that will remain nameless (DAMN YOU, VIN!!), young impressionable kids began runnin with their parent’s money and scooping up the cheapest import they could find…the Civic. And so was born RICE: Race Inspired Cosmetic Enhancement. Because such exterior garnishes as wings, clear lens taillights, bodykits and rims were comparatively cheap for most Hondas, they were most outwardly overdone, and basically screwed it for those Honda owners who knew what they were doing. Street racing also became a serious problem, but while other sports cars were in on the action, it was the Hondas which were considered the posers, always trying to run with the big dogs. Various news stations lamented these hooligans to no end, rightfully so, especially when they endangered the lives of others. But while the high-powered supras and evo 7’s were still respected by the underground community (even when idiots drove them), the civics and integras remained the bastard child of the sport, even when they were making +300hp on boost before mating with that bridge railing.
So there. All the reasons why you shouldnt buy a Honda if you are a serious tuner buff. So why is the love still so strong?
These days so many love a particular make and model for the wrong reasons. They love the excess power, the extra looks, the technology, something specific about other makes and models. We love the whole car. Period. These days anyone can make more power, enhance the look, add the latest techological advances, whatever. And as for tuning, well, in a world where wreched excess seems to run things, I find it refreshing to be somewhat understated in my performance. Even big tuner shops today are building their flagship project cars leaning more towards livablity, comfort, and (gasp!) being street legal. More and more common is the premise of daily driven 600hp RX-7s, Evos, even R-34s. It’s not about having a car with the highest boost level, it’s being able to DRIVE and ENJOY it. I’ve driven an old suzuki swift, mitsubishi galant (manual tranny was the best part of it), and none compared how I felt driving my DA ‘teg. Just felt more natural, what DRIVING a car should feel like, regardless of the lack of power or gizmos. And I’ll tell you this…no one will think twice about being raped by a single-turbo Supra, but the moment a civic can even keep up…”Dude, you got owned by a Honda”.
I dunno about you, but I intend on pickin up my kids from school in one of these: