Same Same, But Different: Alex and Balance’s Type Rs

Last week I received a message from Alex that he was about to head over to Balance Auto to drop some supplies off for his car, which was getting a bit of work done. I had to go out anyway so I thought I’d stop by to check it out and just see what was going on over at Racecar Headquarters – there’s usually something interesting in the shop.

Now, I should probably clarify at this point that when I said ‘Alex’s car’, I didn’t mean his TL-S – as the title suggests he recently purchased an Integra Type R! Alex’s life motto should be “No Half Measures” – a favourite saying of ours as Breaking Bad fans – because when he decided to get a track toy he didn’t just get an Integra, but a Type R specifically – and one with a good selection of parts already on it to give him a bit of a head start in the build.

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This is the car in question; yes it’s blue, but yes, it’s a real Type R. Originally Championship White, it was previously re-sprayed to this OEM Honda blue (presumably when the front was converted to the JDM nose) everywhere except the engine bay. The door and hatch jambs were sprayed too which was expected, but what did surprise me was that the interior was blue as well! When Alex lifted the rear carpet I saw that indeed the inside of the car had been painted – so if (I mean when, right Alex?) the interior gets gutted it’ll match the exterior.

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There are other goodies too like a J’s Racing intake, Spoon mirrors and front calipers, coilovers, JDM DC2R Recaros, and so on. The basics are definitely in place but more parts are already on order – and arriving – so it’ll soon be turning into his vision of what it should be instead of someone else’s. He had already added the all-important Broadway mirror (We love those things) and air freshener as a start.

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You’ll have surely noticed the dent in the passenger fender here, and perhaps the tiny spot of rust on it too – the white fender resting against the stairs is the replacement for it…and ironically it’s Championship White. The skirts the car currently wears are of course CW too, but they’re merely temporary pieces so that mis-match will also be remedied. A perfectly mint, showroom-fresh exterior is not among Alex’s priorities though as small damage is likely to happen on track anyway, but it’ll still be cleaned up a bit.

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Along with that fender, the wheels will also be getting replaced because they’re Rotas (Authentic parts or nothing!); Alex had ordered a brand new set of Gram Lights 57DRs to take their place, which arrived before the car did. He’s also using the wheel upgrade as a chance to step down to 15s and run a fatter sidewall for the track.

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After showing me the car he offered to take me for a spin so of course I said yes – I had never even sat in a Type R, let alone ride in one. We hopped in and he took it for a run around the area.

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Since the roads were still slick he took it easy (ish) but boy was it fun! One thing that was clear was that I was definitely not used to the insane redline – he kept holding on to gears and I’d look over thinking “he must have to shift soon”, but he would still be 2000 short of the redline! As the car is set up it revs to 9K even – a far cry from what I’m accustomed to, to say the least.

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After our quick spin we came back to find Brad and Errol had stopped by Balance as well, and Jackie was starting to cut into the shop ITR to continue preparing it for the coming track season. Along with more power (more on that in a moment) Jackie also wants to continue refining and improving the aero package on the car this year; meaning the undercarriage is scheduled to get a makeover to help with keeping the car planted.

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Step one to work towards that involved removing the unneeded spare tire well, so cutting began – there was definitely no turning back now! As we joked though, he had no choice because there was a tiny bit of rust in the well. Makes sense right?

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Jackie had already removed the rear diffuser not just because it would of course be in the way of the sawz-all, but also because it’ll be going on Alex’s car now as the start of its own aero updates. It’s going to get more aggressive and serious as the year goes on.

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Cutting continued, and before long there was a gaping hole in the back of the ITR…I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t be able to see the hatch from here! Until it’s filled in Jackie has the added convenience of being able to change his brake light bulbs without having to pop open the hatch.

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As for the power side of things, he’s making the switch from NA to boost with the plan being a turbo setup for the K series. This will definitely be a crazy car and this will only be its second season too! Jackie has no chill. ‘No half measures’ also applies here.

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In case the previous shots didn’t show, the turbo setup is still a ways away from being functional (if only it were as easy as placing it there, right?) as it’s still very much in the mockup stage, but seeing it resting there should be extra motivation to get it all up and running.

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As for the interior, the main change this year will be a new digital display to replace the factory gauge cluster. The protective film was still on here hence the fuzzy display – but boy will this be nice! Errol said to me “you need one of these!” – would if I could! This will be a great addition to the car for track use, and I think Brad was starting to delve into researching the range of options for its setup here, of which there’s no shortage.

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This is another thing I have missed about summer – the impromptu meetups and hangouts, usually spurred by there being something to do with the cars. What would’ve been just a pretty plain night turned into an opportunity to catch up with friends, work on cars, and share some laughs.

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Looking ahead there’s a small to-do list for Alex’s Type R but it’s all straight forward; with a few items addressed it’ll be ready for a season of track use and cruising. He has his TL as his luxury cruiser/summer daily, and now he has the ITR as a track toy/summer fun car.

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The Balance ITR meanwhile will continue getting crazier with the target of setting even lower lap times. Both of them may now have ITRs as track toys, but Jackie’s will be a turbocharged K-swapped RHD example with Alex’s being a naturally-aspirated B-series LHD model; it’ll be very interesting to see how they take these similar-but-different cars and build them for the same purpose with different methods; Alex’s retaining more of its original aspects and engineering while Jackie’s will retain not much more than the shell – and as we’ve seen even that won’t be left untouched. It should be an interesting year!

-Bill

 

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