Breaking Necks In A Wide-Body NSX
Out Of This World

When it comes to building stop-you-in-your-tracks high-end show cars, the name J.J Dubec, or ‘Doczilla’ as he’s known online, might be familiar.

The spaceship-esque widebody NSX you’re looking at isn’t the Vancouver-based physician’s first rodeo, but it is the first of Honda’s futuristic hybrid supercars to receive the full Liberty Walk wide-body treatment.

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If you’ve paid any attention to what goes on at SEMA over the past few years then you’ve probably seen a few of JJ’s previous builds. There’s been an R35 GT-R and a Ferrari 458, both dropped to the floor over huge wheels and clad in Liberty Walk’s finest wide-body makeover, as well as a crazy custom Jeep Wrangler Unlimited – all incredibly hard acts to follow.

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So where do you go from a modified wide-body 458? How do you up the stakes on that? An Acura might seem like the unlikely choice, but when it’s a brand new and futuristic twin-turbo hybrid V6 supercar (we can call it a supercar now, right?) then it seems a fitting candidate for modification.

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The original NSX is a legendary chassis, and was Japan’s first unofficial supercar. When Honda brought a successor to the table, it had a lot to live up to. Before the final production model had been unveiled, JJ had as good as made his mind up, and was formulating plans to modify it. “I really love modifying cars to make them personal. I actually select cars from the outset with modification in mind,” he explains.

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As soon as he could, JJ had placed his order – chassis #0178 was on the way.

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Given JJ’s aforementioned history with high-end builds it’ll come as no surprise that, long before he’s got his hands on a set of keys, the ball was rolling to make his NSX wide and low. The first port of call was, naturally, to Kato-san at Liberty Walk Japan.

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A conversation between the two at the 2016 SEMA Show led to an agreement that JJ and Kato would build the world’s first Liberty Walk wide-body NSX, with a view to debuting it at this year’s SEMA event in Las Vegas. And that’s exactly what they did.

You might remember that Dino featured Kato’s early experiments with the new model a couple of months back, but that it was notably lacking the brand’s signature overfenders. That’s because the very first set were busy winging their way over from Japan to Vancouver.

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“I love Liberty Walk,” JJ tells me. “The friendship that has grown between myself and the crew from Japan is one that I will cherish forever. When they first saw my R35 GT-R, they invited me to display the car at SEMA 2014 without knowing anything about me. They probably thought I was a shop owner or involved in the auto industry in some way. It didn’t matter that I was a doctor with almost zero credentials in the automotive world, they just loved the design and the decisions that contributed to the overall project.”

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If you’re thinking at this point that JJ’s NSX is an open cheque book, bought-not-built show car then you couldn’t be further from the truth. Before starting work on the build, JJ was eager to get to know the characteristics of the car, and so put it to good use for a year or so before the first incision was made.

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“The NSX is such an amazing car,” he tells me. “It has the performance and daily drivability of a Nissan R35 or a Ferrari 458 with the smoothness and refinement of an Accord. That is a very high compliment in my books. The attention you get in the car is very high as well, even when it was still in stock form. The car definitely turns heads even more now though after the customisation changes.”

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JJ was also hands-on and instrumental in the build, carefully designing the car to suit his vision. He personally took on the daunting task of cutting the stock fenders himself. Along with his eight-year-old son, who lent a helping hand, JJ helped fit, sand and prep the kit for paint too. His other four-year-old boy wasn’t quite ready to help with the Dremel – maybe on the next build?

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The rest of the body prep was carried out by family-run Midvan Motors in Vancouver, before JJ turned to Phantasy Kolors in Seattle to apply the BASF Glasurit paint. The colour, fittingly for its debt in Las Vegas, is called Casino White Pearl.

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Some of my favourite parts of JJ’s build are the flashes of carbon fibre scattered around the car, contrasting with the pearl paint but complementing the generous amounts of OEM carbon. JJ’s particularly fond of the swan-neck carbon fibre spoiler design, with the uprights reaching over the top of the blade to hold it in place.

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Honda has become known for not shying away from futuristic designs for the past 10 years or so, and the latest generation NSX in stock form is no shrinking violet. Add in the imposing girth of a Liberty Walk wide-body, towering rear wing, aggressive lips and diffusers and overfender-filling deep dish wheels and you’ve got something that looks out of this world.

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In achieving an aggressive stance, yet keeping the car functional, the solution was always going to be air suspension. With the model being so new to market, JJ had to be proactive in finding a solution.

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Working alongside Air Lift Performance and SerialNine in Vancouver, JJ implemented Air Lift’s 3H management along with custom dampers and airbags. “We designed custom fittings and top hats in SolidWorks and handed them over to SerialNine’s in-house fabrication specialist ZeroDivision,” JJ explains. “Stance Suspension in the US specified custom dampers, and helped to create the final product specifically for this NSX – it’s a flawless air control system that retains the factory suspension’s performance feel and still gives a great range of control to deal with different road conditions and driveway angles.”

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The finished product was then installed and set up by SerialNine, and there’s no denying that, aired out, JJ’s NSX looks truly out of this world.

A tidy boot install keeps the essential components tucked out of the way, while the controller nestles neatly in the centre console. All of this is at the cost of some luggage space, naturally – this is not the car for doing the Christmas shopping in.

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Whether you’ve already converted to the idea of putting a performance car on air suspension (if not, why not?) or are still a skeptic, tell me – what other form of suspension would offer the same balance of performance, looks and practicality for a car like this?

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In choosing a set of wheels for the build, JJ turned to luxury wheel manufacturer Savini and ordered a set of their extreme concave SV67-XC three-piece forged wheels, specified in custom colours for the car.

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In sizes big enough to make any other fenders blush, the huge 20×10-inch (-10 offset) front and 20×13-inch (-55 offset) rear monsters are wrapped in 245/30R20 and 305/30R20 Nitto NT555 tyres, respectively.

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It’s a design that’s as futuristic in appearance as the car they’re fitted to, and the eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that they bear more than a passing resemblance to the NSX’s stock, and somewhat narrower counterparts.

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Under the bonnet, the NSX’s hybrid 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo engine has been left pretty much as-is, with the exception of a rather trick Armytrix exhaust (I see what you did there -PMcG).

Again, with this being the first heavily modified new NSX there was nothing waiting on the shelf for JJ. Taking matters into his own hands, he removed the full OEM exhaust and shipped it off to Taiwan for it to be assessed and measured.

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A short while later he received the stock item back, alongside a shiny new full titanium, valved Armytrix system with ceramic coated downpipes. Also packaged in the crate was Armytrix chief engineer Vixon Sy, who flew all the way over the Vancouver to help install the new system. OK, he probably wasn’t in the crate, but that’s pretty good service, right?

The interior has been lightly fettled too, JJ opting for a custom Alcantara headliner and various carbon fibre accents to complement the black and red leather/Alcantara seats.

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Part of me is curious as to what happens to big SEMA builds once the show is done. Many of them feel detached from the every day, and seem to disappear into the ether, never to be seen again. I think that part of it is that many builders enjoy the creation process and are itching to get on with the next one. It strikes me that JJ falls partly into this camp. In his own words: “These projects are so much fun to do. I’m addicted to the process and the people I have become friends with over the years. Customising is definitely in my DNA now.”

Yet, reassuringly, JJ also tells me that he’s got no such plans to part with the NSX any time soon. “I love driving this car. It is so precise to control and the power delivery is strong and direct. I really wonder how many folks who had written negative articles about the performance of this car in the earliest months of release actually had an opportunity to drive this car. In my experience, it truly has exceeded my expectations. It is really fun to rip around in. The Air Lift Performance system makes it a take anywhere, go anywhere car around my city and surrounding areas. I also plan to show the car further. I’ll be limiting myself to three to four events this year, but I’ll make sure they are the best events and give fans an opportunity to see it up close.”

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“My thank you list for this build is extensive. Besides the build team I mentioned earlier, first and foremost thanks has to go to my wife and kids. They are the ones that understand me the most. They see the sides of me that are the father and the doctor and know that I have this crazy passion for cars. They fully support me pursuing these projects and I’m infinitely thankful for the unconditional love and support.”

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters
jordan@speedhunters.com

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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52 comments

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1

" tell me – what other form of suspension would offer the same balance of performance, looks and practicality for a car like this?"

... The suspension it came with. So what if it's half an inch higher? It's still a widebody nsx.
Looks dope though, guess that's what counts.

2

The suspension may be an upgrade but the stretched tyres certainly aren't.

3

Never understood people who bash aftermarket suspension. Airbags are not shitty, and they let the owner decide how the car rides. Why do you believe this is worse than stock?

4

so some dude with qualifications in nothing who imports generic chinese air bag systems(u know one size fits all) knows more and done more research than the entire Honda r/d department are you fuc@ing serious

Author5

This is one of those cars where lower is definitely better. Even at rolling height, which is noticeably lower than stock, it doesn’t look half as bonkers as it does aired out.

6

I mean there's no denying it looks amazing.

7

Huge fan of that car. Living in the Greater Vancouver area, hope to see it soon.

8

Wonder if it'll ever show at the now-defunct Market Crossing meet AKA at Princess Auto or Queensborough or wherever they're now held..?

9

Just a big long deflated sigh is all I can muster anymore...

Author10

Sorry this one wasn’t for you, hopefully there’s plenty of other content present and coming up you’ll like.

11

+1 for Jordan's response.

12

It's a brand new car, who cares? Personally, it's nicer to see someone do this to a new car that's still in production versus an old one.

13

"what other form of suspension would offer the same balance of performance, looks and practicality for a car like this?"

to answer your question, there is no other form of suspension, but you are also leaving reliability and simplicity out of the mix. Meaning that a full side by side comparison is still a subjective point of view. People keep trying to have this argument that air is just as good as coils but the problem is that isnt necessarily true in every respect. To form an analogy; hammers are meant to hammer things, but then why are there so many different types of hammers? Simply because there are different things to hammer.

To bring it back to cars, if you drive a mostly street car that spends some time at the track occasionally and you like being super low for those cars and coffee meets then yes an air suspension will definitely fit your needs. If you are going racing every weekend and your car really only sees track tarmack then the added complexity of an air ride system is more than likely not the right choice. You cannot make a system more complex (giving it more points of failure) and expect the same reliability as a simpler system, sure you can get close but just the nature of having many more things to go wrong means a higher probability of failure.

In conclusion, there are many tools for many jobs but there is never a tool for every job. Dear Speedhunters, please stop trying to suggest that there is.

Author14

And the key words here were ‘a car like this’ rather than ‘every car’.

15

oh don't worry Jordan, i saw that key word hence why i said that there was no other form. I should have clarified that i meant for this specific situation, i was just commenting to the larger trend that i have seen lately that has been equating coil spring setups with air ride. I would just like to see a bit more balanced coverage in the sense that they are different tools for different jobs. I am trying to illiterate my point in as eloquently as i can, but from the articles that i have read it seems as a point is being made to show that air ride is equal to coil springs in the performance world which i feel is disingenuous as there are pros and cons that need to be taken into account. I do understand that you do have a publication to maintain and that you cannot be educating your readers on every point to consider, but some times the articles come across as very divisive on the topic. Anyways, just my two cents and trying to send back some constructive criticism instead of the side claiming and bashing that usually happens in the comments section.

Author16

It’s all good!

Perhaps it’s the rapid progression of air technology that often makes those who have witnessed/experienced (myself included) a bit too ‘preachy’. It’s really come on a long way in the last few years.

Point noted though and you’re right - if we’re comparing coilovers and air in other regards then it’s not a level playing field.

17

"Part of me is curious as to what happens to big SEMA builds once the show is done."
I have wondered that too. It's something that I dislike about show builds. Could you perhaps follow up the plight of a few old SEMA show cars?

18

They sell them whole or part them out. A car like this was probably a customers car, or if it's shop bought then it will be up for sale. I stay mostly on subaru forums and every time a new model comes out, I see the shops start the for sale posts, and then after a week or two they start the part out posts. However a high end car like this doesn't have thousands of people waiting for parts so it would probably stay whole.

Author19

That’s not a bad idea!

20

I hate to be this guy but "must be nice" comes to mind.

Anyways, cool that it's a Canadian car, love the wheel choice

Author21

I mean, if you really hated to be that guy you’d have not typed it in and pressed the Submit button.

22

fair enough, not a very mature comment to make. besides, I would do exactly the same thing had I chosen a more lucrative career path, so I can't hate! and if people weren't buying these things, manufacturers wouldn't be making them which would be a detriment to the industry as a whole. Especially sad since the technology in super cars always trickles down to pedestrian cars.

I retract my previous statement.

Author23

Well taken sir.

24

I once saw JJ jump in and help out a guy having a seizure at a hot import nights event Seattle. Dude is legit cool guy.

25

Looks pretty wicked. Definitely gonna keep an eye out for this beast the next time I visit my cousins in Vancouver!

26

Not my flavor, but a car well done nonetheless

27

ALRIGHT! All the bodywork is done, time for the LS to go in!

Author28

Stock motor puts out 575hp and 475lb/ft. I think it’s good.

29

Not a fan of massive wheels but to each their own. I like meat on my tires.

31

Really nice car except for the rubber band tires. This car is light years ahead of the 1st gen. I'd like to see one gutted for the track with a suede racing wheel and lighter less bulky seats. And maybe part of the grill/front end body color, all the black seems to distract from the lines of the car. And smaller headlights, like a Huracan. Are these wheel centers pointed backwards? It sort of looks like the angle could be pointed the other way. This car deserves some color also, it's such a flashy car and white is just not flashy.

Where's the under hood pics? And how come you lazy photogs never get comprehensive and give us some up on the rack suspension shots? Once in a blue moon you show us what the whole car looks like. 50 gazillion shots of the outer body, 2 of the interior, one of the engine, zero of the suspension.

32

Yikes... " lazy photogs"... You obviously don't know Larry... I'll be sure to take a jack and some jack stands and crawl under the car for my next feature.

33

Wow man, wow. As someone who's shot a few features I can say the logistics of getting a car up on a hoist and presentable (cars drive they get dirty under there) is a pretty big ask, especially under a time line and arranging schedules.

Labelling the staff here lazy because of that is really, next level ignorance.

Peanut gallery is angry today, damn.

Author34

Have you seen the engine on a new NSX? There’s pretty much nothing to see, and seeing as the feature covers the modifications there’s little point in showing it.

As for the ‘damn lazy photographers’ remark. Maybe Larry can try a bit harder to get the car on the ramp in the middle of the desert.

35

305s on a 13 inch wide wheel lol.

36

Great article Jordan & Larry. As a long term fan of the NSX I’m pleased to see a non purist take on the new model. It reminds me of the old v10 concept car from years back. Very cool.

37

Not feeling it, not my cup of coffee.
Lose the rubber bands, air ride and stance and you have a mean street/track car IMO.

38

That's removing the purpose of this build. It's a show car to show people how to show off. Got it? Yeah, not exactly smart but not wrong either.

39

Show off, go to shows and then what?
Sit and collect dust?

Author40

JJ plans to just drive the damn thing.

41

I don't know, something seems off about this car. Maybe its the rims?!

42

Incredible. The curves of the liberty walk kit are perfect for this one car. Out of all kits available, most are absolute pieces of (sorry for the die-hards) shit. R35s, Lamborghinis... But this one? Perfect.
With that being said, the apparent outlines and screw ruin the whole thing, especially when looking from the side, but I suppose it's a style that people like enough to cut up a 100k+$ car for it. Though it really doesn't fit at all on modern spaceship-like supercars of today, sadly. I guess it's the thirst of provocation that drives people to do this?
A badass car indeed, but heavily lacks refinement. Can't wait for the day someone gets one of these awesome fenders and blend them in nicely with the shape of the car. Nice pics BTW.

Author43

It’s been done on a 458 but I’m not so sure it works - there’s a divide between overfender and body already so I think it looks a bit weird blended - http://www.speedhunters.com/2017/04/a-smooth-liberty-walk-ferrari-458/

44

I was thinking about retaining the shape and ditching the overfenders. Just huge fenders.

45

Definitely not my style, but the photography is stunning.

46

"If you don`t have anything nice to say, don`t say anything at all". This is me not saying anything.

Author47

You’re doing it wrong.

48

This just reinforces the dream of this being my dream daily. Wonderful build, thorough article Jordan, and beautiful photography as always Larry. I got new wallpapers ❤️

49

Love love this car. The only downside would have to be those seats :( Huge ugly squares just kinda kills the rest of the sleek body lines and low profile. Maybe something like an Audi RS4 or RS5 would look slicker, or something Recaro produces.

50

This car just rubs me the wrong way.
I love widebody cars, but Liberty Walk is starting to feel bland. The front looks good, but the rear looks like they took a GTR Fender, made some adjustments to fit, and just slapped it on. This isn't just liberty walk- pretty much every supercar widebody manufacture has this issue, that instead of making them fit the lines of the car, it feels like they just copy and paste to any car...
The rims are awesome, but they're just to flashy. I like widebodys because they give a car a 'racecar' look, but the wheels just take that and throw that out the window to make you damn well know that it is a show car. Which makes the rear wing pretty pointless beyond just show.
And in the same vein, stretched tires are not cool. Especially on a super car. I can get the airbags, and the widebody, but stretched tires are seriously dangerous. I dont expect every supercar owner to race it, but at least drive it on some backroads or something, and the massive wheels and tires tell me its just a city 'look-at-me" cruiser.

Author51

Thanks for your opinion

52

I'm no longer impressed with this formula of... (expensive car + widebody + deep dish wheels + big wang = SEMA Car)

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