Project NSX: Four Lessons Learned In Garage Iso
Project NSX Gets a Lil’ Bro

“Honestly, why the f**k do I even like cars?” I turn my face towards the cool pavement under the car, spitting out pieces of dried engine bay gunk as I ask the question to nobody in particular.

It’s day four of a one day job. My right arm is balancing a 5-speed gearbox on top of a jack while my left tries to gain some leverage on some protrusion of 1980s subframe steel to send the gearbox home. It just won’t go. The splines need to be lined up perfectly, and no matter what I do, a half inch of empty space remains between gearbox housing and engine block.

YouTube tutorials were watched. I briefed my girlfriend on floor jack operation and proceeded to get my arm half crushed. My iPhone was lowered through the starter motor hole to film the mating procedure like some sort of OnlyFans content grab. Still, nothing. Tools down, hands washed, time for a beer and a promise to try again next weekend. Defeated by what was meant to be a simple project car to get me back into wrenching now that I finally have a garage – this 1988 Honda CR-X.


“Is it the right clutch?” Neal asked me. Neal is the mastermind who builds the Yaris AP4 cars which have been dominating the Australian Rally Championship, but is polite enough to listen to my problems before we talk business. “[Prominent Australian Online Parts Retailer] said it was, so I assumed so,” I replied.
“Drop the gearbox out and see if the gearbox shaft fits the clutch; they might’ve sent you the wrong part.”

Neal, of course, was completely right. Honda had made a year model change to the gearbox, adding an extra spline in the process, which aforementioned retailer had neglected to reflect in their catalogue. A protracted email-based argument ensued, I finally got the right clutch and, after a test-fit, of course, got it hooked up first go. Feeling that input shaft slide home was, in a word, orgasmic.

Lesson One: Always Test-fit Your Parts

Did I heed this lesson straight away? Of course not.


Back on Project NSX’s side of the garage, some work was underway. Under a layer of dust sat a little pile of parts I’d been collecting since last year: all the components required for an OEM ABS modernisation, and a few bits cobbled together for a long-overdue injector upgrade.

It’s work that should have been done earlier, but I really rather enjoyed having the car on the road and exploring the roads around Melbourne. COVID-19 put an end to all that – Australia was locked down and recreational driving was expressly forbidden. Time to get stuck in.


The NSX’s frunk is a functional space holding the radiator, heater, fuse boxes, battery and braking system. You can see that on the left side of the photograph; the two reservoirs are for the brake master cylinder (closest to firewall) and ABS modulator.


The old ABS system uses a pressurised accumulator which is prone to issues. The friendly members at the Honda Car Club of Victoria came through with this Honda dealer tool designed to loosen the drain bolt and catch the brake fluid that rushes out and quickly foams up, as you can see in the tool’s reservoir above.


That’s the old system as yanked out on the right, and the updated integral unit installed in the NSX from 2000 onwards on the left. The new system is better in every way – smaller, lighter, more reliable and higher performance.


I’ll take a 6.3kg saving any day. The loss is probably more due to the reduced volume of brake fluid required in the new system, but that’s a bit too much for my iso-brain to calculate right now.

The new system also incorporates the control unit in that tiny pump, so the old box was removed from behind the dashboard, revealing a mysterious message from Honda’s engineers on the Traction Control Unit – ‘An eternal sportsmind for you’.


Quite a few NSX suppliers make (or resell) harness kits for this upgrade, but I went with the Racing Factory Yamamoto unit. This high quality option includes diagnostic points for the dealer ABS checker tool, and keeps the traction control and dashboard lights working as they should.


Included was a list of all the Honda parts required – mainly brake hard lines and brackets to suit the smaller integral unit. Remember that lesson about test fitting parts? Well, I was about to get a refresher.

My man in Japan had sent out all the brake lines, two of which were marked as corresponding to the NSX-R as opposed to my run-of-the-mill standard car. I was assured that it was the same part, but when it came time to bench-bleed the new brake master cylinder (MC), it turned out the NSX-R’s MC is a different design, with two 10mm bubble flare fittings compared to mine with a 10mm and 12mm double (45-degree) flares.

ProjectNSX-blakejones-speedhunters--2 copy

Thankfully, the overall shape of the NSX-R lines were the same, so a dash out to the local tool store for a line flaring kit (Lesson 1.2) and we were back in business. Of course, the confusion could’ve been completely avoided had I heeded lesson one. The final step was filling and bleeding the dry system. Note for future ABS tinkerers (Lesson 1.3): Unlike with a normal bleed, the engine must be running during the bleed to fill the pump with fluid.

Lesson Two: Counterfeit Parts Are Out There

Stretch your memory all the way back to 2019 (not such a bad year, in hindsight) and you might remember Project NSX hitting the dyno after receiving a Haltech ECU and Boomslang plug-and-play harness. That tune suggested that the stock fuelling system wasn’t up to scratch, with a lean reading at higher RPMs. I spent way more time than I’d care to admit searching for the perfect injector to replace the standard units, but there was always a compromise – body too long, different spray pattern, wrong delta angle. Eventually, I ended up circling back to a solution that had been used successfully in NSXs before – the OEM injector for the Acura RDX.


That ugly SUV never thought it would have any reason to be remembered by the enthusiast community, but it turns out the injectors are quite good at making power in Honda’s most popular tuner engine – the K-series. With a multi-hole design, 410cc flow capacity and OEM Denso reliability, they have also become a popular choice for NSX owners running aftermarket engine management. With an ingeniously simple ‘fitment improvement kit’ from an NSX Prime member (shout-out to Brad), the injector would sit in precisely the same position as stock and should thus provide an optimally atomised fuel mist without wasteful port wall wetting. I’ll probe into this topic in a little more depth in the next project update.


As the RDX was never sold in Australia the parts need to come from the US. I bit the exchange rate bullet and ordered six from a Honda dealer and made a prayer offering to the god of international package delivery to ensure they would get here without any COVID-related disruption.

As with anything popular in the aftermarket, unfortunately it is inevitable that fake parts start to pop up. Jump on eBay or Amazon and you’ll find hundreds of supposed ‘OEM RDX injectors’ for bargain prices, many undoubtedly making their way into otherwise expensive K-series builds around the world. Buying direct from the dealer should give you confidence that the parts you’re receiving are genuine, but it seems even that isn’t foolproof.

Somehow (I’m guessing returns fraud from another customer), a non-genuine injector made it into my order, meaning another few weeks wait for the correct injector to make the journey across the pacific to my letterbox in Melbourne. From a distance the injector was a good enough fake, but any comparison to a genuine injector makes the counterfeit obvious. The build quality overall was poor, but most telling was the spray head itself; the OEM holes are angled relative to the face of the head (to give a conical spray pattern), whereas the fake has smaller holes drilled perpendicular (a much simpler manufacturing feat). Despite the extra delay, I’m very glad I caught this before installing it into the car and causing further issues.

Lesson Three: Tolerances Matter

That’s one iso project finished, one delayed, and now for one just getting started.

Screen Shot 2020-07-12 at 12.21.12 am

The Haltech Elite ECU which runs Project NSX is a pretty smart bit of kit, and the Boomslang harness means all the stock gauges retain full functionality. This keeps with my theme of keeping the car as factory functional as possible, but the factory gauges are very simplistic and compared to the wealth of data that a Haltech can pump out, a little underwhelming.

Considering the engine has been modified and the car does see occasional track work, keeping an eye on some critical outputs (oil pressure and temperature, fuel pressure, and air fuel ratio) is desirable. I refuse to stick an auxiliary gauge to the dash surface or A-pillar, so had to get a bit creative. I’ll save the actual location for the install story, but safe to say it’s hidden out of view until required. With plenty of time on my hands I fired up a free copy of Fusion360 3D design software and started to play around.


A few hours later I had something workable, having taken the measurements from a 2.4-inch GaugeArt panel mount gauge I’m using to show the data. The last time I’d designed anything in a CAD program was barely a pass grade effort in high school, but the software has come a long way and was easy enough to work out with help from a few YouTube tutorials. A few days later, and I had a 3D-printed bracket on my doorstep, ready to plug and play.


Well, not quite. In taking measurements from the screen and circuit board with a set of digital callipers and applying them directly to the 3D model, I’d completely neglected to allow for any tolerances, meaning the model was about a millimetre too small in every dimension.


The problem was ‘fixed’ with a file and some sandpaper, but the exterior finish of the model came up second best which might mean a lick of paint or even a Ver.2 print in its future. Additive manufacturing is a fascinating industry developing at a rapid pace; I’m very tempted to get a small printer for home but can’t quite justify the investment yet.


All of these mini-projects have taken far more time, effort and money than expected, but that’s not a surprise to any of you out there with your own garage iso projects. Lesson Four is the simplest yet most important of all: just to be patient. Nothing good comes from a rush job, and you can take solace that once the job’s done there’s always another skill or trick tucked away in your mental toolbox, ready and waiting for the next project.

I’m curious to hear what our readers are tinkering with in their iso garages; let us know in the comments below.

Blake Jones
Instagram: blaketjones



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Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Why do I have a feeling that the GaugeArt panel will be residing in the cubby hole below the audio head unit?


That would seem like a good spot for it... ;)


Due to not having a garage nothing. If I had the space I'd probably start of with turning a mid size delivery van into a camper. After that a track bike (most likely a triumph daytona 675r)


A 4x4 camper would be great to escape from the madness at the moment.


Currently working on my 96k mile 02 Acura RL in my garage, full refresh of just about everything, reupholstery, Wheels, suspension, etc. The idea is a VIP build with no costs spared. Vermont green pearl paint, believe it’s the same color as on your NSX.


Sounds like a nice project Nick, share some photos with us! The NSX is "Brooklands Green Pearl", different name but could be the same colour code?


I had some carbon fiber mirrors in my garage for years that I just never got around to putting on my 06 Mustang. Driver said when on great, and then the mirror mounts failed completely on the passenger side. After digging through internet to find a solution the manufacturer generously offered to fix them for free if I paid for shipping. So I shipped em out, waited a few weeks, and boom got back a fixed passenger mirror housing. Go to try to install it again and BOOM, mounts failed again. Thankfully, I had ordered a heavy duty composite glue binder and just decided to glue the crap out of it and finished the install. A weekend project took about 2 months to complete.

Also the mirrors stick out from the body more than they should now *eye roll*


Yep I've fallen into the same trap. Quality parts with correct fitment make all the difference for DIY and despite the cost can end up saving money in the long run.


I purchased some OEM RDX injectors on eBay for a B series build. They are still sealed in the Box. Which ones in the pictures are the legitimate ones? Left or Right?


The ones on the left (photographer's POV) are genuine. The identifiers I noted on my particular fake, which might help:
- Thinner/cheaper packaging plastic (Genuine Honda parts always seem to come in a thick/durable plastic)
- Raised seam visible from where two plastic halves of body are joined
- Different coloured bottom o-ring (genuine is a teal colour)
- Different coloured top section (genuine is brown, fake was green)
- Plastic section under o-ring is not tapered
- '503' ID mark inside connector port
- Quality of injector spray head very poor, holes drilled straight (not angled)


This is what makes SpeedHunters so legendary. You are very likely to get a reply to your comment from the author themselves.

Thanks for the quick comeback Blake. I dug mine out from storage in my spare bedroom. My build has been on hold so long I forgot I had these tested and mapped from the seller lol. I was relieved mine checked out as real using all the hints above. The test report was also pretty reassuring as they all measured out at 463cc at 44.5 psi.

Your keen eye led to some very good info fir Honda tuners. Thanks!


No worries mate, happy to be of help,


[Prominent Australian Online Parts Retailer]

Wouldn't be s*****box by any chance?


Yep, good old s*****box, with their absolutely s*** customer service.


I know your pain....


Great article, and frankly it's nice to see others getting the same lessons I personally experienced as well. Try and tell my wife about my project annoyances and her eyes gloss over. At Speedhunters, we can ALL relate.

My iso project is a Datsun 620 with Infiniti G35 suspension and brake assemblies (front and rear), VQ35DE engine with CD009 6 speed manual. It's actually going quite well, but only when lesson four stays in focus.

Lesson 3 was figured out last year. I've got my own 3D printer, so thankfully mistakes are quickly fixed.

Your first quote is interesting, why do we put up with the hassles. Honestly, it think when we look back at the completion of a challenging project we realise the mental challenge of R&D is actually a hell of a lot of fun, even if we dont realise it at the time. It's not quite as fun as cruising in your pride & joy, but it's the next best thing IMO.


That seems like quite the project mate, how close are you to finishing?

Also very curious to hear which 3D printer you went with and your experience with it. I've been eyeing off the Prusa models, seem to be very capable at their pricepoint.


I'm getting quite close, functionally at least. Aesthetically (bodywork and paint) will likely take this winter but I do plan to fire it up and drive (windowless) in September. I posted some pics as Dadzsun on IG. The plan is to be a DD/shop truck with weekend camping/MTB trips using a roof top tent.

I've have a Prusa MK3s and have been VERY impressed with it. I chose to build it with my 15 y/o son as a fun project. I would say the MK3s is a very good hobby-level printer, great for one-offs and testing prototype ideas. Whenever I do move into production units (dash components) it's outsourced for cost effectiveness and higher quality plastic.

Lachlan Doherty

No real car tinkering has been happening, but I do have a plastic model most of the way finished!


Nice one! I painted a Fujimi DC2 shell recently, but did such a poor job it's been shelved in embarassment for the last few weeks...


I've been tinkering on cluster gauge but its failing as i just want the lights to turn on again but now my gas gauge is acting up hahahha but curious to see more pics of your nsx driving around.


I'm currently assembling an uprated all-motor H22 (cams, pistons... everything, really) to go into a '93 Accord wagon. I, too, am using RDX injectors.


Love me a good H22, they can sound absolutely fantastic.


Hi Blake! This is the best article in SH to my taste. Thank you for the bare truth about car enthusiasm!

It's day four of a one day job. My right arm is balancing a 5-speed gearbox

For me, it is the fifth year of three months project. Two garages rented, two cars disassembled, tons of tools broken or just bought wrong. My main lessons are:
* path matters, skills matter, results are just side effects. I should learn but not pursue perfection or fast results.
* I need a daily driver. It is a modern car. All the mods are bolt-on and far from extreme. I don't touch it myself, my work on it ends on bolting a registration plate.
My insights:
* I enjoy small wins. I'm happy to improve a tool. I'm happy to accomplish a small "invisible" piece of work.
* A daily driver could be fun to drive and deserve love if to choose a correct model.


That's some real wisdom there. Especially having a daily driver you can rely on. I think the more boring the better - less likely to tempt the modifier within!


I don't know your story, so maybe you went the same path or something more efficient. I tried several approaches around a daily driver, and I believe I reached a good compromise.

The first approach was to have the same daily as a project. It was bad in several ways. I'm in late 60-s to 70-s era, and I live in the area with distinctive four seasons, so to avoid rust I used to become a pedestrian for a half of a year. Now I have two identical disassembled cars.

The second was to get something from 90-s. I quickly got a manual diesel e39. It was fun to drive, but it was still too big and too slow, it was like a bus that can go sideways when it snowy. Also, when it faced real snow, it appeared helpless and was able only to mark snow with black smudges.

The latest solution is an automatic A4 b8 Quattro. It is modern enough to avoid my interventions. It is fast and responsive enough to bring some reasonably fun driving experience. Also, it has some good aftermarket with simple bolt-ons to play without interruptions of daily driving routines.

I enjoy the comments under the article not less than the post itself. I love to see how people learn and try different things with remarkable passion.


Got my E30 back from the media blaster.
Owned the car 6 years, it was written off about 4 years ago due to a tree falling on the roof, been repaired, stripped down, media blasted once in a failed attempt, now getting done the second time. Rust repairs this weekend and then a sealing coat of paint, then test assemble, then final paint, then final assemble.
Got half the motor built for it, going to be a very zesty turbo example of the original M42, the 1.8 DOHC unit.
More than enough to keep me entertained.
That's in between the other Ducatis and BMWs, and everything else going on in my life at the moment.


Rome wasn't built in a day. Thanks for sharing mate.


more air + fuel = more power


It's funny how you guys will crucify people in the comments who say we shouldn't respect all builds, that things like parts quality and installation matter...and then here is an article about why parts fitting matters and tolerances and engineering.

It's becoming trendy to be smart now after COVID. Pretty funny. If I want to not test fit parts and buy counterfeit shouldn't we all respect my build. After all, several contributors to this site say there is no incorrect way to do this stuff, right?



I guess if you're looking for something to be mad about Jake, you found it. Personally liking or agreeing with a build is up to you. But respecting the owner and their passion regardless of style or approach is something we stand by.


I love DIY build stories. Especially your ones. OEM+ all day, everyday. I'll get around to finishing a paint correction polish I started a year ago and swapping out a transmission bolt that features a tuning mass damper this spring. Then I'll be ready to chase you around the neck of the woods! In the meantime, replacing the radiator in Mum's car and finishing furniture projects...


Looking forward to it Alister, I'm really going to be grateful for something as simple as a Sunday morning drive after this lockdown is over.


I'm into the final stages of rebuilding my NSX gearbox with the short gears & 4.23 FD, and your first sentence here really resonates with me lol. I've never owned a manual car or rebuilt a trans but this series of articles inspired me more than a year ago to try a transmission swap myself. It's taking eons longer than Advance would do but it's really kept me busy during this ridiculous year and gives me a reason to sweat my ass off every weekend in the garage.


Another source for higher flowing OEM Honda injectors is the 2012-ish Honda Pilot. They were spec'd for E85 in that application, but the feature was not released. Not quite as high flowing as the RDX denso injector, but higher production might mean they are less expensive. I have not checked.


"Boomslang harness"?? Definitely from an Aussie company lol