About three years ago, Vince and I had a conversation that went like this…
Him: So, do you fancy building a Turbo Acura Integra (the beast) that can beat a record that has stood for over 80 years?
We had no idea how crazy this would turn out to be.
Why do this?
Vince had been driving his Acura Integra in hillclimbs for a few years and had been very successful with it. I joined him in 2017 and we both had a lot of fun driving it together. We actually ended the season joint second in our class. The problem was that the newer stock turbo cars around now have way more horsepower than the Integra could ever make.
We (well Vince actually) did a ton of research on the specifications we would need for this crazy build. Obviously, this would include what turbo to use, but this also extended to engine modifications, cooling, electrical and drive train upgrades, a much larger exhaust, and choosing what wheels and tires to use.
Where do we start?
We decided that the first thing we should do was to get a really strong roll cage as we only had a rollover bar before. Making the car as strong and safe as possible would be absolutely imperative if we were really going to attempt the record.
Next, we set about rebuilding the engine with lower compression pistons, changing cams and adding variable cam timing adjustment, and fitting a much stronger clutch assembly. There was also a bunch of work we had to do on the car itself. Upgrading the driveshafts and brakes, and fabricating and entirely new cooling system for both water and turbo air. This kept us quiet for quite some time…
Getting it running
At this point we had to hook everything up – all the mechanical connections, then water, air, vacuum, electrical, and hydraulics. We had problems getting the car to fire up the first time and found a variety of errors and leaks that needed correcting. However, we persevered and one by one figured all of the issues out. After an initial break in of the new engine we were in the right place to take the car for its tuning session.
We were both positively terrified hearing our tuner run the car up through the rev range to impossible levels… We were both praying we had not forgotten to torque anything up during our nearly two-year build!
After a few hiccups and a couple of schoolboy errors on our part (I won’t mention the blue rag somebody forgot to pull out of the turbo inlet when we fitted the air filter), the tuning went really well and we managed to get 375HP at the wheels.
That is a ridiculous amount of power – more than twice as much as we had before.
The next steps were to basically cover up all of our handiwork… Fitting a new hood with air vents, new front fenders, and a new front panel which we had to butcher severely to get everything to fit under it. And we had to do it twice. Once with the old panel using it as a pattern, then again with a brand-new front panel.
I cannot begin to explain how many hours we spent in the garage fabricating pretty much everything from scratch… All weekend, every weekend, for the whole winter. Two years running. This is NOT for the feint-hearted!
However, it is an amazing feeling knowing that we created this car. By ourselves. In our garage at home. The next step is to test drive the car at a track day, and see how it handles.
I must admit I am positively terrified to drive this beast… I have NEVER driven anything with remotely as much power as this. How the car will react to putting the power down on the track is anybody’s guess.
So, with fingers very firmly crossed and butt cheeks firmly clenched – we will go and try it out… Carefully.
Stay tuned for the next installment on how the track day goes and a look forward to our first race in our Turbo Acura Integra (the beast)! http://www.facebook.com/eli.sharp.52