Independent throttle bodies. Ported and polished and flow benched head. Fully balanced and blueprinted bottom end. Big brand name parts. The list goes on and on.
As James, co-owner of Avantgarde Motorsports said, “This car is a tuner’s dream come true.” One look at the spec list and you’ll understand what he means. Heck, this car is every car enthusiast’s dream come true.
This car is fitted with parts from the best brand names from all over the world, such as Drummond Motorsports, Hondata, Crower, DC Sports, Hytech, Carrillo, Wiseco, Mugen, Eibach and many, many more. This car truly is the stuff that dreams are made of.
You may have noticed the lack of Japanese brand names on the spec list, especially if you’re a JDM fanatic like I am. When asked why he used primarily American parts, James explained that American brands offer better after sales support and expertise than their JDM counterparts and judging from their many record breaking attempts in drag races, they sure seem to have dominated the sport compact car scene.
This car belongs to one obscenely wealthy owner who has plans to turn it into a dedicated track racer, hence all the extreme modifications. To fully appreciate this car, one has to know the amount of work that has gone into it. As this particular type of engine build is still relatively new, especially here in Malaysia, Avantgarde had to constantly consult with their Singaporean counterpart Driven Performance because of their experience in this kind of engine build as well as their direct support from Hondata and Crower.
The car was tuned by Joel of Driven Performance in Singapore at the request of the owner, as Joel has plenty of experience with tuning the Hondata. As this was a totally new build-up, no base map would have worked well with the engine. The tuner was tasked with writing up a new map from scratch and tuned the car as it ran back and forth between KL and Singapore as part of the break-in process. After the car had been broken in properly, the oil was changed and the car was put on a Dynapack; a hub dyno, to squeeze out every pony this awesome engine is capable of.
The Hondata ECU is the best ECU a Honda engine can get, as they are based on original Honda ECUs. The K-Pro, which comes with individual fuel and ignition tables for different cam angle settings, has to be one of the most precise components available for the K-series engine. There are a staggering and frankly, incredible 12 fuel and 12 ignition maps that need to be calibrated for the engine to work well. The Hondata is so capable and the maps have been tuned so precisely that this car idles perfectly, even with the air conditioning turned on! Where most other cars would be spitting, hacking and coughing at idle, this DC5 purrs away like a kitten. I have to agree that nothing runs a Honda better than a Honda ECU itself!
Open the bonnet and the first thing that catches your eye are the four shiny independent throttle bodies (ITB) from Jenvey of the United Kingdom. Jenvey are the same guys that supply the ITBs to all the BTCC cars. These throttle bodies were chosen over the more well known Toda throttle bodies because the Jenvey ITB’s have a larger throttle cable spindle or pulley which allows for finer throttle control, unlike the Toda one which can feel like an on-off switch, very important when it comes to modulation of throttle input on the track.
Attached to the ITB’s is the K20A cylinder head, which has been given the full port and polish treatment and flow bench tested in the good ol’ US of A. A flow bench test is when the head is put on a flow bench machine and air is flowed through it. The air velocity flowing inside the head is then measured along with a whole bunch of other scientific stuff and it’s from here that tuners know how much to enlarge the ports and at what angle etc.
Inside the head, squirting glorious petrol into the combustion chambers are 550cc RC Engineering injectors. The air/fuel mixture is then ignited by long lasting NGK Iridium plugs. A Hondata heatshield gasket sits between the ITBs and the cylinder head to quell heat soak which could reduce the density of the intake air, resulting in a loss of power.
The reworked head is also now home to a bunch of Americans and a German, namely Mr. Crower, Mr. Ferrea, Mr. ARP, Mr. Cometic from America and Herr Eibach from Germany. The Crower camshafts are custom ground items, which shows just how much detail and work went into the build up of this engine. Crower titanium retainers and toughened Eibach valve springs keep the oversized Ferrea intake and exhaust valves from ‘floating’ while a Crower custom adjustable cam sprocket on the exhaust cam allows fine tuning of the camshaft’s timing to make the most of the mods in the engine. An adjustable cam sprocket is not needed on the intake side because the ‘i’ in i-VTEC adjusts the intake cam’s timing constantly to match the driving conditions. ARP racing head bolts keep the head firmly bolted to the block and sandwiched in between the head and block is an uprated Cometic head gasket to cope with the higher pressures inherent in an engine which has been built to this degree.
The bottom end of the engine has also received its fair share of work. The stock slugs are replaced by custom made pistons from Wiseco and the skinny conrods are replaced by significantly beefier custom made conrods from Carrillo. Keeping the conrods firmly bolted to the crankshaft are toughened ARP conrod bolts. Improvements to the cooling system include Samco radiator hoses and a Mugen race thermostat.
Other accessories fitted to engine include AEM Tru-Power alternator and power steering pulley as well as a Moroso oil catch tank to keep dirty oil vapour out of the engine.
On the exhaust side, a custom made Hytech header from the USA flows exhaust gas out to the atmosphere via a full 3 inch Kakimoto exhaust system. Inside the exhaust is a 3 inch DMH electronic cutout valve. At the flick of a switch, the exhaust note can be silenced significantly to make working on the car in a small pit garage a little more bearable. By the way, the Hytech header was custom made and costs a whopping RM5,000.
All 360 bhp is transferred to the wheels through the stock 6-speed close-ratio gearbox which has been fitted with a 5.0 final drive ratio to improve acceleration times. Keeping all that power in check is an Exedy Hyper Single Racing clutch and a Kaaz racing LSD, to direct all that power through the front wheels.
When you think of suspension, Tein, Tanabe and Cusco may pop into your head, but does Drummond Motorsport ring a bell? Perhaps not, unless you’re heavily involved in motorsports. Drummond Motorsport or DMS suspension systems are used by race teams all around the world and their suspension sets are, by far, one of the best suspension sets money can buy. For this car, only the best will do, so Avantgarde opted to use DMS’ 50mm adjustable coilover kit. The Australian built and designed DMS 50mm kit features an extra large piston in the shock absorber which gives superior control and more precise tuning due to larger displacement and pressure areas and precise adjustment on bump and rebound independently.
The stock Brembo brakes were thrown out in favour of a Wilwood Superlite 6-piston brake kit. These brakes offer superior braking performance compared to the Brembos and in fact weigh less than the stock brakes. Coursing through the Goodrich stainless steel braided brake lines as the lifeblood of the braking system is Motul RBF 600 brake fluid.
Personally, if it were up to me, I would’ve opted for a set of bronze Mugen MF10’s or Volk Racing CE28s but in keeping with the international theme of this car, a set of 17 inch Team Dynamics Pro Race 1 wheels from the UK are bolted on the all four corners. These wheels are wrapped in Hoosier road racing slicks, measuring 225/45/R17.
In the cockpit – or what’s left of it – is a trio of Defi BF II amber red gauges which keep track of the water temperature, oil temperature and exhaust temperature while a Pivot shift light reminds the driver to upshift when the engine has reached the end of its powerband. Situated to the right of the steering column and keeping track of lap times at the race track is an AIM MyChron Light TG lap timer. The rear has been completely stripped out which gives a clear view of the beautiful DC Sports titanium rear strut bar. No Japanese offering has looked better. I’m in love with it.
The stock Recaros remain unmolested but Sabelt racing harnesses have been installed for extra safety. The steering wheel is replaced by a Momo item taken from the DC5’s elder brother, the revered NSX-R. The stock gearknob, although nice to hold, is replaced by a Razo Type 340R item. This thing weighs a whopping 340g, which makes slamming the gears in during quick upshifts a lot easier.
The bodywork remains stock, but the rear hatch has been replaced by a carbon item and to save even more weight, the rear quarter panels and windscreen are replaced with Flex-A-Lite polycarbonate panels. I had no idea that these were polycarbonate until James pointed them out; they looked so straight, unlike most other replacement plastic windows which distort. A carbon fibre bonnet is in the pipeline, but it needs to be custom made (which will take time) because James wants an opening to incorporated in the front of the bonnet as a direct air intake for the shiny Jenvey ITBs.
The power this engine is capable of is just staggering; it puts down 299 horsepower to the wheels at 8380rpm, but if you look at the dyno chart closely, you’ll see that the powerband shows no sign of dropping off. The engine could theoretically make even more power at a higher rpm, but Avantgarde didn’t want to risk blowing up over RM40,000 worth of engine and months of work.
The torque on this car is exceptional as well. Cruising along at 80km/h, James opened the floodgates and I watched the DC5 disappear into the distance. I was awestruck. I couldn’t believe the raw acceleration that the car had. The next day, when I went to return the dyno charts after scanning them, he sheepishly told me, “Hehe! I didn’t open VTEC also.”