Tag: mugen

Subtle Build – Reminiscing the Discovery Years.

Reminiscing the Discovery Years.

Words: Denny

Have you had the feeling when you get that moment? That moment you think back and recap at what had happened in your lifetime? I have been in the automotive scene for 3 decades now and have seen a lot of the progression that has become the tuner scene today. I came across a comment on @JDMWONG’s IG post, “Such a clean, subtle build!”, @eco_3 comments, on a picture of the rear drivers 3/4 of Johnathon’s EF9 on SSR SuperFins. The phrase “subtle build” kept resonating in my head.

Then I thought, it really wasn’t sublte, per say. The build was a product of the time period. In the late 80’s and early 90’s (88-92 / I am going to reference it as the “discovery years”), there weren’t any huge elaborate body kits, crazy camber, or wild vinyl graphics on sport compacts. Mugen and Kaminari was probably the most extreme body mod you could get during the time – Wings West wasn’t even around yet. Fuel injected Honda and Toyotas were just scratching the surface with very little respect from the automotive scene. The scene at the time was encompassed by Mustangs, Camaros, Grand Nationals, and air-cooled VWs, all pushing big horsepower and getting down the quarter mile in 10 seconds – was the norm. The mini-truck scene was also in full swing. I have to note that the previous generation (carburetor years) we had import pioneers in 70s Datsuns, Toyotas, and Mazdas; primarily, the 510, Celica, Corolla, and RX3 paving the way for us – Shoreline Racing, respectively speaking.

In terms of performance, drag racing was huge. Everything was about the quarter mile and import had very little presence or respect for that matter.

Until 1990, the first Battle of the Imports debut and was held in Palmdale. My car wasn’t ready yet, but I did compete in BOTI 3.

During the discovery years, there were limited mods for the newer fuel injected chassis. A lot of the go-fast (bolt-on) mods where being imported to the states by a few dealers, like Robocar, Promotion, DAZZ Motorsports, Han Motoring, St. Andres, and a couple others. We had picks from Mikuni, TRD, HKS, and Mugen. Domestically, we had Jackson Racing. At this point, AEM didn’t even have an intake yet and they were still a small tuner shop in Gardena with a dyno (I may get to my experience with that in a later post). To be honest, I don’t think GReddy/TRUST was even in the states yet, because I remember our buddy Dave put some money down to get a Mugen Exhaust from Robocar. After months, maybe a year, of them stroking his cock, they imported a TRUST (GReddy) exhaust instead. The exhaust at the time wasn’t even for US fitment, so he had to mod the b-pipe to make it fit. It was a good sounding exhaust but built with mild steal and rusted quickly.

Resources were limited, everything was word-of-mouth, hanging out at street races, or drooling over Option Magazine for cool parts only Japan had, for options that didn’t exist in the US models. But brands like Spoon, Cusco, GReddy, HKS, and Mugen were everlasting and forever impregnated in your minds. I remember when we discovered the HKS Powerflow, the sound itself was so contagious that we were all putting these green mushroom filters on the end of 10 dollar dryer hoses. I don’t know why we didn’t just buy the kit or maybe the kit didn’t exist for the EF chassis in the states yet, or it costed too much money, I can’t really recall. Anyways, with that intake we all thought we were “FAST”.

Word on the streets was, if you had an intake, header, exhaust, lowered on cut springs, and cam(s), you were pretty much the king of the streets. If you had a 50 shot of NOS, OMG, you would be instagram famous in today’s standards. Everything was still normally aspirated during this time, turbos was only a wish at this point. I still remember walking into Turbo City in Orange and asking them if they were willing to develop a turbo kit for the Honda Civics, they chuckled at me because of the small import displacement and laughed me out the door.

Work Wheels was imported and distributed by Western Wheels Co., a wheel distribution company. Larger diameter SSRs was just hitting the streets and caused a buzz. Work and SSR were the only wheels to my knowledge that had magnetic locking caps. Work Fin and Emotion were a popular choice, until SSR took the design lead by pushing out many popular designs like the Fin, Mesh and Bang-Vec, later to be superseded by the SuperFin, SuperMesh, and Bang-Vec II.

Companies like, DC Sports, Lightspeed, Skunkworks came many years later.

Late 1996, Super Street Magazine debuted, and shortly before or after, Turbo Magazine put the first ever import car on the cover. In 97, there was a media outlet called TMR Magazine (Toy Machine Racing / TMRm’zine). It was a pamphlet style magazine that fit in your back pocket. It was a grassroots magazine with raw textual elements from creator, Rodney Wills. To this day, I believe it was the most “real” magazine published that wasn’t driven by massive politics and censorship.

Photo courtesy of TMRm’zine (flickr)

The rest is now history.

So in terms of a “subtle build”. Johnathon’s EF build was to its full potential, it was built to rule the streets and is completely period correct – for the year. It deserves to be at Peterson Museum and his EF is well preserved.

Some of my timeline might be a little out of wack but this was almost 30 years ago, it’s a little hard to remember but at least I hope you could put together missing pieces of the puzzle together from other information you have gathered online. If you want to read how I got started in the automotive industry, I can get into that later. Until then. Peace

A CR-X Ensemble

Marketed as an economical Japanese sport fastback, the Honda CR-X is a front wheel-drive sports compact that was introduced between 1983 and 1991.  In its 2+2 seating classification, the “little Honda that could” was popular for its responsive handling, substantial performance and the sought after good fuel economy.  During its 8 year stint in the automotive market, the CR-X had 3 generations where the third gen was dubbed as the targa top “del Sol”. In some markets, the third gen was also known as the CR-X del Sol although the design queue was totally different from the first and the second gen models.   The CR-X was the second car to receive a VTEC engine shortly after the Integra.  The engine used Variable Valve Timing that provided increased power at its high rev range, while still allowing low fuel consumption and better idling at low RPMs.  The desirable characteristics of the CR-X lured Leon Casino, an enthusiast and a recognized Honda connoisseur, to not one but a tandem of CR-Xs.




Leon built two CR-Xs that pays tribute to two of the most respected engine tuner and parts manufacturer in the Honda realm- Mugen and Spoon Sports.  His vision of keeping these CR-Xs with an enhance OEM look, non-knock-off parts philosophy and attention to detail makes these two vehicles stand out more from the many Honda builds that we see today.  Enthusiasts and tuners that “live and breathe” Honda lust what Leon had accomplished by locating a real right-hand drive from Japan with the desired glass roof and a USDM version with time-attack theme written all over it.

Let’s start off with the Mugen CR-X.  With a pristine exterior and intact interior – this canvas was set.  It will be a disgrace to let this right-hander be just a parts vehicle for the USDM version.  Leon felt that it needed to be saved from getting axed down to pieces. He also wanted to keep the build simple and staying true to the roots of the CR-X.  He chose to address the center piece of this Mugen version by bolting down a D16A6 under the bonnet.  Before securing the D16, the internals and compression were taken care of by Exospeed in Glendale, Ca; while top end was serviced by Industrial Performance in Carson, Ca.  The paring of the 45mm Weber carburetor and polished velocity stacks will not be missed if you peeked under the hood. Of course, with the Mugen theme in mind, all the exterior and interior enhancements were either authentic Mugen or Honda parts.



Aside from exterior and interior Mugen parts, Leon was also able to source front and rear sway bars as well as a Mugen master bushing kit.  Dialing in the height of the vehicle were Mugen N1 race-coilovers.  Falken 205/50/15 was the tire of choice.  Fitted in them were 15 x 6.5 inch Anniversary Edition Mugen MR5 wheels which completed the overall theme for this CR-X.  Functional accent to the front end of the CR-X is an Aero Duo carbon fiber hood. Factory Honda paint code from Japan was also obtained to complete this canvas.







Deviating from subtleties of the Mugen CR-X, the Spoon Sports themed CR-X is bold and aggressive.  The body lines of this vehicle are well defined and seemed ready for any track action.  The exterior was enhanced with Password:JDM front lip, OEM rear wing, Zenon side skirts and Golden Eagle rear bumper diffuser.  The widened stance which consisted of the 16-inch Spoon SW388s shoved into Falken Azenis tires and custom fender flares were clear give-a-ways that this sport compact meant business.  Coilovers, camber kits and rear lower control arms were provided by Function and Form.  Complete bushing kits replaced the tired factory rubber  provided by Energy Suspension. With the exterior components already in-line, Spoon Sports calipers were paired with 11.1 inch rotors up front and a complete disc conversion on the rear puts this junkie to a stop.


Every build will not be complete without the huff and puff of the engine. Leon’s poison for the Spoon build was a B16A engine.  This was also dressed with cams, intake and exhaust manifolds from ITR.  Engine timing was dialed in by Toda cam gears and belt. The carbon kevlar spark plug cover and bright yellow engine cover highlights just solidifies that this CR-X screams Spoon all the way through.






Both of Leon’s vehicles have its own unique character.  Looking at them side by side you’ll know these builds were well planned – as the Mugen was more for cruise and very refined while the Spoon provided an antagonistic facade.  Nothing will stop one’s creativity when a vision and execution comes together effectively.  The ensemble of CR-Xs that Leon Casino shared are examples of what to expect from a true Honda aficionado… and you shouldn’t expect anything less…




Until the next one… Peace!


Norm Reeves Honda 7th Annual NHP Car Show

I recently attended and participated in the Norm Reeves Honda 7th Annual NRP Car Show. This event that has always been near and dear to my heart because its main beneficiary is the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. As a survivor myself, I can tell you that Relay For Life is a life changing event that helps communities all over the world and celebrates the lives of the people who have battled cancer, to remember loved ones lost, and to fight back against this awful disease. I was very proud to participate and to represent DaYUUM.com at this worthwhile event!

First of all, I want to give a serious “DaYUUM” shout-out to the event host Chris Pinedo, Norm Reeves Honda Performance Parts & Accessory Specialist. As the point man for this event, Chris and his crew did a seriously great job to insure that everything was organized, on time, and as advertised. The show went off without a glitch, including the ‘roll-in,’ for both vendors and competitors. Plus, they obviously made sure that all the obnoxious ‘look at me go fast and hear my exhaust’ dudes, knew that they were not welcomed! On a very classy note, Chris took the time to match names and faces with the pix of the rides he had received and personally welcomed each and every participant. It was a personal touch that I would love to see duplicated in other shows I’ve attended. “Great job Chris!”

I must admit that I was quite surprised at the awesome reception I received when people realized that I was part of the “the DaYUUM Crew!” We love to get out and meet with the people who follow us and read the coverage that we put out there for your personal enjoyment. “We truly thank you for your continued support, and we’ll always try to get better!

One of the first people I met at the show was Glen Villanueva, the owner of Long Beach Auto-Tech, and the winner of “THE BEST S2000” trophy. He immediately took me over to his “911 Red” S2000, opened up the hood and proudly showed me his gold leaf ‘DaYUUM’ sticker on his engine. Needless to say, I was very impressed! But it got even better because everyone in his crew, who were also in the show, had ‘DaYUUM’ stickers on their engines, or the back of their seats, or even on their personal gear. They all wanted to buy more but unfortunately, I didn’t happen to have any with me!  Glen’s S2K is definitely one of the TIGHTEST ones I’ve seen around and you can clearly see all of the love, time, and attention to detail that went into it. Should you find yourself out in “the LBC” and need to get your JDM fix on, then I suggest you check out Glen’s shop.

As with any Honda only show, the Civic’s were more than well represented; so you really have to bring your “A-game” to make a splash at one of these events. Even if you owned a stock Civic, you could have gotten enough new ideas to empty your wallet for at least the next 12 months or more. I always admire creativity and ingenuity, and it was in total abundance at this show! The Acura’s were represented on a smaller basis, and there was a small sprinkle of Prelude’s, even a Ruckus or two, but the Civic’s ruled this show! One of the Civic owners I met, who went by the name “Biz,” was probably one of at least a half a dozen guys there with K-24 engine swaps. I can also tell you that some of these guys had more dollars invested under the hood than the base price of a new Civic! “WOW!!”

I also ran into Rudy Guzman from “The ENDZ” and it was especially nice to finally meet him and connect a name with a face. They specialize in promotional services merchandise, event coverage and aftermarket automotive support. Rudy had his camera glued to his hand and picked up some serious nice pix. Another super good guy I ran into was Darryl Lamano from JPHUSA. It was great to see him out there showing all the Honda’s some love. In my opinion, JPHUSA is definitely one of the very best Honda JDM aftermarket companies around. Hector Consuegra and I were there representing Elemental Motorsports and Honda Elements; both Hector and Darryl drive 2008 Root Beer Metallic Element SC’s, and mine, “Darth Raider,” is a 2005 Element EX.

As usual, the “itsjdmyo” team was well represented out there, especially with Michael Mao taking home the honors for “BEST NSX,” as he should have! Flat out, this is by far one of the most beautiful NSX’s that I’ve seen out there. I always love to see a ride where you can clearly see that it was… “BUILT NOT BOUGHT.” Michael, you definitely get a big “DaYUUM” salute for one hell of a gorgeous build!

I also had the pleasure of meeting Chris Pham of “My8thGen” Accords, and his lovely lady, Marukh Madad. Chris took home the trophy for “BEST ACCORD” and as far as I was concerned, his ride was my thumbs up favorite in that competition. They were well represented including a serious ‘lowrider’ Accord that was bagged front and rear, and even one that was “DONK’d!!!” They definitely had a little bit of everything there to fit your taste!

You can clearly see why we like to get out there and ‘meet n’ greet’ as many people as we can. You just never know who you’ll meet, or, as in the case of Sean Corbett of JDMReverend…“what you’re going to see!” Sean drove all the way from Arizona to display his extremely rare RHD 1984 Honda City Turbo II “Bulldog,” and an even rarer 1981 Motocompo motor bike. Back then, the bike was an available accessory you could order with the car in Japan. Other than being in an actual Honda museum, these are two vehicles that you are NEVER going to see on the streets! The City Turbo was the brainchild of Hirotoshi Honda, who is the son of Honda founder Soichiro Honda, and he is the founder and owner of Mugen. So basically, this was the first car that actually put Mugen on the map. “Way to go Sean!!!”

On behalf of “DaYUUM.com” I just want to thank everyone who participated in the show for this wonderful cause, because every dollar counts in the fight against cancer. I tried my best to get around and talk with everyone, but if I missed you, then please say hi the next time you see me. I am still always amazed at all the great people I meet when I’m out there and how much you guys care about what we do. DaYUUM.com keeps on trying to outdo itself because we actually feel like we owe you that much. So please stay tuned and always remember that…I’ll see you out on the streets!!!

Chief DéMarks

%d bloggers like this: