Eibach Meet, 2015

Everything that’s right with the world’s biggest all-Honda gathering.

By Aaron Bonk

Disappointment awaits you over the next five minutes if you came here to read about things like ultra-rare Japanese wheels that look like sin but are given a pass simply because they’re ultra-rare and Japanese.

Those are the sort of obvious things that’ve made Eibach Springs’ annual all-Honda meet the 800-car spectacle that it’s become. But there’s a whole other side to the Honda-only circus that draws a herd of car-watchers more than 8,000 deep. A side that cares about going faster than what the people at Honda initially thought we ought to, and the cars, parts, and personalities that’ve helped make all of that happen.

Look past the tires stretched onto wheels like casings onto bratwurst and spotting things like Civics with R-comp tires that’ve been used and hand-formed headers that didn’t fall off of a Chinese assembly line are all of a sudden apparent. Just like the company who’s lent its name to the event for the past 11 years, many who attend the Lake Elsinore, California, gathering still care about the sort of stuff that started the whole Honda performance movement some three decades back.

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He had us at the period-correct JG Engine Dynamics license plate frame. Honda performance would not have progressed as quickly as it did during the mid-to-late-1990s were it not for Javier Gutierrez and the now influential people who passed through the doors of what many referred to as JG college.

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You see the 20-year-old, hard-to-get Mugen wheels. We see the factory window trim and moldings that, like the rest of the car, hides its age. Restorations like these that preserve as much of Honda's original equipment as possible are becoming more common.

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Nobody was ever supposed to own their Honda for nearly two-and-a-half decades. But those who had the foresight to hang on to theirs, like Dave Chik did with his Integra, are better for it. Everything here says 1991, right down to the Metrospeed decal that's a reminder of the 1990's Orange County, California, racing crew.

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A fully restored fourth-generation Civic hatchback that takes all sorts of cues from the performance world.

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Like the individual throttle bodies that beat the heck out of a stock airbox and the direct-fire ignition that rids the B-series of what is often a tempermental distributor.

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Spoon Sports' U.S. distributor Go Tuning Unlimited delivered the company's famed race car that replicates much of the fictional NSR-R GT. Spoon built the NSX to celebrate 20 years of racing. And by celebrate we mean slapping on $15,000 worth of Toda throttle bodies, stroking the engine out to 3.5L (most likely with an RL crankshaft), and generating about 400 hp.

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Spoon's B-series demo engine provides a glimpse into some of the services that the Japanese tuning firm offers, but also some of the things that make Honda's four-cylinder engine that was introduced more than 25 years ago so good.

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Spoon's third-generation Fit was built in the U.S. by distributor Go Tuning Unlimited and debuted at last year's annual SEMA show. There's more than just some fancy looking livery here, though; a six-point roll cage is gusseted to the bare chassis, however, we're told that the powertrain still remains mostly stock.

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Jeremy Lookofsky is all-motor Honda drag racing. First in the eights back in 2012, Lookofsky's race program hasn't lapsed in nearly 20 years.

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This is what more than 400 naturally aspirated horsepower looks like. Lookofsky offers similar engine packages through his Southern California company Drag Cartel.

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Nearly 20 years of aerodynamic developments within the front-wheel-drive drag racing world's led to all of this.

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This is what the inside of one of the world's fastest naturally aspirated Hondas looks like. Function trumps form just about everywhere in here, too.

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We'd like to tell you that Honda restorations like this are becoming more prevalent, but Jason Haradon's restored his fifth-generation Civic hatchback like nothing you've ever seen. Here, components that normally would've been refreshed have been replaced, like the wiring loom, for example, which Haradon made sure looks exactly as it did when Honda originally fitted it to similar chassis back in 1991, right down to the appropriate clips, fasteners, and bolts.

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The plan from the beginning was for all of this to be BAR-certified (Bureau of Automotive Repair), despite the Integra Type R's B18C5 that, as far as the state of California is concerned, has no business being underneath the hood of a Civic. The process has gotten a whole lot more challenging over the years but, according to Haradon, he's taken every precaution and expects the Civic to pass with little grief.

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Rocket Bunny's NSX aero treatment makes almost as much sense to the people who know about aero as it does looks good to the car show judges. The splitter, canards, and side sills all direct air into the right places, increasing downforce in the process.

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Javier Loarca's eight-second SFWD Civic is no joke and is based upon a turbocharged K-series powerplant that's supplemented with nitrous oxide.

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When you're finished being fascinated by Toyobaru's FR-S and BRZ twins, the S2000 will be waiting for you. Thirteen years earlier. And with 40 more horsepower.

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Who does Team Honda Research West call when they want to fit a Rotrex supercharger to their ILX endurance racer that just tackled the 25 Hours of Thunderhill? Jackson Racing, naturally.

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Jackson Racing's founder, Oscar Jackson Sr., knows a thing or two about making Hondas go faster. He ought to, after all, having worked on the cars since the mid-1970s. The company's bolt-on supercharger system for the CR-Z is the most reliable and most effective way to make the two-seater hybrid quicker this side of a K-series engine swap.

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The rest of the world likes to poke fun of wings like these on front-wheel-drive cars, but you're smart enough to know that, when cornering, even front-wheel-drive cars need grip out back if they're going fast enough.

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A rear spoiler by itself won't do a whole lot, though. An accompanying splitter or spoiler up front should also be in place, planting the front tires where they ought to go.

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Eibach's coilover system with their remote reservoirs means there's more fluid to displace every time the shocks compress or rebound and temperatures are reduced for better performance.

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Another example of purposeful aero. Here, the front and rear spoilers work in tandem and the canards and side skirts direct air away from the chassis' underside.

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Who takes a perfectly good Integra Type R and fits it not with a B18C5 but with a K-series? Hasport, of course, who's been famous for making Hondas go faster since the late-1990s.

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Also from Hasport, it's B-series-powered first-generation CRX—a swap that, pre-Hasport, was all sorts of trouble.

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With its long, nose-heavy look and longitudinally mounted F-series, a decade and a half after its introduction the S2000 remains a relevant entry-level sports car.

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The world needs more of this: Longitudinally mounted H-series engine mounted to a Mendeola gearbox that harkens Stephan Papadakis' record-setting Civic coupe.

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Well-preserved versions of Honda's dying breed of fifth-generation Civic coupes like this are getting harder to find.

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The Integra Type R proved earlier this year that it'll be the one to set the precedent for classic Hondas being sold for serious dollars. A near-10,000-mile example on eBay sold for $43,300—that's nearly double the car's sticker price for the 1997 model year.

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NSX values are on the rise, too, as interest in the 25-year-old supercar is drummed up again alongside announcements for the impending second-generation model coming later this year.

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As they say: You can show a race car, but you can't race a show car.

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Here, early 2000s technology is revived in the form of a Jackson Racing roots-style supercharger.

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Tastefully appointed RSXs like this make you wonder why Honda's Integra replacement never earned the same sort of popularity as the Integra itself.

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The same can be said for Honda's H-series. On paper, and aside from its heftier weight, everything about it says it should've been the B-series replacement of the 1990s.

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Few cars in the S2000's price range are as capable on the track. Here, the engine, the body, and the chassis need not undergo dramatic changes to fare competitively.

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Nothing wrong with gold-plated engine bits and hidden-away wiring harnesses so long as performance isn't abandoned in the process. It hasn't been here.

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Old meets new here with the right combination of Honda's classic CRX chassis, the right amount of Japanese-only bits, and a K-series engine swap.

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Thanks to company's like MFactory and Synchrotech, welded-up differentials and regularly annihilated synchros are a thing of the past.

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With the right engine mounts and relocation brackets, even K-series swaps into older '88-'91 Civics are relatively simple.

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Individual throttle bodies don't just have the ability to make more power, they free up all sorts of room on K-series transplants were clearance is limited up front.

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Unlike with other chassis, external differences between the U.S.-spec NSX and Japanese models are few. Here, the Japanese version's front fenders with their smaller-scale sidemarker lights contrast the North America rear fenders with their larger pieces.

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Off-the-shelf engine mounts and plug-and-play engine management systems are the sort of things that make K-series swaps and individual throttle bodies a whole lot more common than they used to be.

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Here lies proof that themed and color-coordinated engine bays need not succumb to power-robbing modifications for the sake of looking good.

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More proof that, with the right pieces, Honda's K-series can look like it belongs underneath just about any hood.

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Honda missed an opportunity to appeal to its already existing performance base when releasing the CR-Z. Nobody ever complained about the car's aesthetics, which no doubt pay homage to the CRX, but this side of an engine swap or forced induction, noticeable power gains are hard to come by.

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More than a dozen iterations of Honda's K-series have surfaced since its release for the 2001 model year, but purists continue to return to the B-series.

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Aaron Bonk
Editor at VTEC Academy
Aaron Bonk first took an interest in Honda performance in the early 1990s. After studying mechanical engineering, he established Holeshot Racing—one of the first tuning shops to specialize in Honda engine swaps. There Aaron developed many Honda-specific engine transplants, long before engine mount kits and aftermarket wiring harnesses were realities. After more than a decade of development and professionally swapping Honda engines, he later transitioned into a career as an automotive journalist—authoring three Honda technical books—and has since held staff positions and contributed regularly to nearly a dozen print and online publications. To be sure, there’s no author who’s penned more words about the Honda brand. Aaron is the Editor and co-founder of VTEC Academy and resides in Southern California.