Once upon a time the term ‘JDM’ simply described a vehicle that was made and sold in Japan. Somewhere along the way, however, us ever-inventive car enthusiasts took the acronym and repurposed it for our own intentions; JDM represented the pursuit of performance perfection, using the best Japanese tuner parts to take your Nissan, Toyota or Honda to a higher echelon of speed.
Around the globe, builds were completed in the image of the Japanese shop cars spotted in the halls of Tokyo Auto Salon or in the Tsukuba pit lane. Subjectively speaking, ‘peak JDM’ hit somewhere around 2005 before the show and time attack cars became too far removed from what the average enthusiast could hope to build and drive on the street.
Honda’s popularity surged as the JDM tuner movement grew; the accessibility of front-wheel drive models like the Civic and Integra fed by the large number of parts available to be shipped (overnight) from Japan and bolted on with relative ease. Honda’s own Type R models rightly sat at the top of the hierarchy, with enough race-bred performance loaded into the humble packaging to put many more traditional ‘sports cars’ to shame.
As a result, Honda is one of those brands that literally everyone has an opinion on. So while I won’t try to inflame the conversation any further, I will say that in Malaysia I found a Honda that to me represents the ideal incarnation of ‘JDM Honda tuning’ in 2017.
Malaysia provided not only a hazy golden sunset for our photoshoot, but an interesting context for the car you see in front of you. Honda has almost 20 percent of the local market share – the highest for the brand anywhere in the world – and in addition to mobilising families in the popular Jazz and City models, it has a strong local following for its performance variants despite government tariffs making them almost prohibitively expensive to import.
Andrew, the owner of this DC5 Integra Type R, grew up in a family of Honda owners, and when it came time to replace his Mini Cooper S back in 2009 the only decision to make was between the DC5R or the newer FN2R.
The event that drew me to Kuala Lumpur, Retro Havoc, had plenty of modified Hondas on display, but Andrew’s Integra stood head and shoulders above the rest . Here was a car that had been built with finesse and attention to detail, with not an imitation part in sight (still somewhat of an issue in Malaysia, unfortunately). So a few days after the show we took some time to take a closer look at his creation.
Strong first impressions are ensured by the Buddy Club wide-body kit as worn by the Integras that contested the Asian Touring Car Series, not to mention the J’s Racing carbon GT wing. Combined with the completely practical and race car inspired stance, the Type R’s intentions are clear.
Euro fans might recognise the colour as Grigio Medio, a Ferrari exclusive colour that has found itself onto the option sheet of recent M division BMWs. It’s a simple yet stunning hue that looks right at home on Andrew’s Integra, contrasting with pops of colour from the badges, wheels and roll-cage.
The rear diffuser is actually a Spoon item adapted from the S2000, and nicely balances out the bewinged tail end of the car.
Brembo XA4 calipers and RDD floating 343mm discs sit behind super lightweight RAYS Volk Racing CE28RT wheels, finished in the same red that punctuates the rest of the car and ties the build together visually.
Lift up the lightweight ings+1 bonnet and you’re met with a view of the heart of what makes the DC5 Integra so special – that unbelievable underdog of a power unit, the K20. Andrew, like many of us, was bit hard by the power bug and put his pay checks towards a whole brochure of Toda internals, including a capacity-boosting high compression 2150cc stroker kit, timing chain and tensioner, and upgraded valve springs.
The motor positively sings thanks to the Toda Racing Sports Injection Kit feeding the right mix of air and fuel through an individual throttle body for each cylinder, while an S2000 donated its 433cc injectors to the cause. On the exhaust side, a Tedco sport race header flows into the J’s Racing 70RR exhaust.
The setup is good for a punchy and linear 245hp at the wheels, about a 25 percent hike over factory. Andrew primarily uses the car for track days and Sunday drives but requires drivability for the days he decides to do the school run, JDM-style.
The inspiration for an all-motor track/street car grew from a particular issue of Honda Tuning magazine that featured the somewhat famous M&M CL7 Euro R (Accord) build with its custom wide-body and ITB setup. Andrew enlisted buddy Rueben from Tedco Sports to import the bodykit, and the rest followed suit.
To keep civility, the interior hasn’t been completely stripped, but rather enhanced with a sprinkling of high quality performance parts.
However, the aforementioned high-revving K20 negates the need for any in-car audio, so the factory 2 DIN slot has been plugged with a carbon panel holding the battery cut-off toggle.
No modern track car is complete without data-logging capability, Andrew has covered his bases with an AiM Pista MXL race meter mounted to the steering column, fed data by a Hondata KPro 3 and a bevy of sensors from AiM.
A pair of Recaro SPGs hold driver and passenger in place while the custom chromoly half-cage renders the rear seats useless, but provides Andrew with the extra stiffness and safety required for the track days at Sepang.
The interior is nicely finished off with the tactile pleasure of a Personal Trophy steering wheel and Circuit Hero shifter. See what I mean? Carefully selected top-shelf componentry comes together to make the Type R altogether more than the sum of its parts.
On the day of this shoot Andrew and I were joined by the crew from Mcclubz, an enthusiast lifestyle group that and that shares a lot in common with what we do here at Speedhunters. These guys are all about elevating Malaysia’s car culture to an international standard, so it’s safe to say that Andrew is a poster boy for the movement.
As you might expect Andrew is pretty in love with the result of his hard work, but the changes and upgrades continue. Since photographing the car, the wheels have changed to TE37SLs, a front carbon splitter was added along with an M&M box for the ITB setup. Budget permitting, Andrew has started to consider a sequential shifter to take the car to the next level again.
But setting the standard for JDM-style Honda builds in Malaysia is just a happy side-effect of Andrew building the car he always wanted to drive. When fun comes first, everybody wins.