I’m going to start off this year’s coverage of Wekfest Japan in a slightly unusual way. We’ll get to the crux of this awesome event in subsequent posts, but I need to share this with you right now.
After two decades covering the Japanese tuning scene, you might understand why I don’t get too surprised these days. It’s not that there aren’t exciting things happening in Japan; it’s just that I’ve seen so much automotive craziness here that it’s almost become normal.
But every now and then something takes me aback. This is one of those times.
As I exited the Port Messe exhibition center to see what I could find in the outside section of the show, an assuming Honda NSX caught my eye.
Glancing into the engine bay as I walked past, I instantly thought someone had adapted a modern Honda plastic engine cover to fit the C-series engine for a little visual enhancement. But then I spotted some shiny piping and purple fasteners. I came to a cartoon-like stop, and turned around for a second look.
That’s when I saw the ‘Earth Dreams VTEC Turbo’ badge and realized what this could be. The owner, who was nearby, confirmed it – a K20C1 all-alloy 2.0L VTEC turbo four-cylinder engine from an FK8 Civic Type R.
This is a big deal, because anyone in their right mind wouldn’t dare mess with an NSX, right? While the C30A and C32B were decent engines, it’s often been said that the NSX’s sweet aluminum chassis deserved more performance than the tranversly-mounted, naturally aspirated V6s could ever muster, especially if Honda really wanted to compete with the European sports and supercars of the time.
Nowadays, NSXs are more expensive than ever, and the number of people modifying them has definitely declined. Most owners prefer to keep things simple and enjoy the balance of the Ayrton Senna-refined package.
But not Nakatogawa-san of S&A Auto Create. He’s the guy behind some of my favorite builds in Japan, a true technical wizard with a real eye for detail. So when a customer approached him with a stock, automatic NSX and a wish to create something special, this is what Nakatogawa-san came up with.
The K20C1 and its 6-speed manual transmission proved to be a very easy swap, as unlike most transplants Nakatogawa-san has tackled in the past, he was replacing a large engine with something far smaller.
The NSX is very much still a work in progress with many small details that still need to be completed and refined, but once it’s complete you can be sure I’ll head over to S&A Auto Create for a proper look. Nakatogawa-san told me that when it’s all done, the engine will be outputting around 450hp.
This swap makes so much sense to me. It keeps things in the family, it’s an all-alloy engine in an aluminum chassis, it’s refined, economical, has VTEC and still revs. Then there’s the turbo boost for a 100-150hp bump over the V6, not to mention the almost 200kg (440lb) weight saving from the motor/transmission assembly swap. Just think what that means for the handling and how it will feel from the driver’s seat…
Personally, I can’t fault this in any way, but I’m interested to hear what you guys think of it. If you had an NSX, would you contemplate this swap?
In the meantime, stay tuned for more Wekfest Japan 2022 coverage.
Dino Dalle Carbonare