Jun 14, 2014

Bossin' In Boston | Sunday Getaway

Pure Honda enthusiasts are few and far between nowadays. Overshadowed by pretentious so called "builders" seeking attention, they often go by unnoticed for lacking oversized wheels on tire sizes most shops won't dare try to mount. Let's not even mention the excessive subframe bracing or alignment that often goes along with those cars. When did proper fitment and quality parts go out of style? And while we're on the topic for that matter, a drivable ride height? Apparently I didn't get the memo...

Believe me when I say it however, those enthusiasts are out there. Enjoying their cars everyday just as they were meant to be and not worrying about fitting in with the latest of trends; a small but key characteristic pertaining to the purist of enthusiasts. 

Corey Braga, a 98' Champ White Integra Type R owner is one of them and for good reasons. Flying to Georgia and making the 16 hour trek back home to buy the pristine 110k mile DC2, speaks volumes about the long term plans of his project by starting off with the best possible specimen regardless of its location.

Yet none of that would've been possible without the support from his wife Alexa, who instead of nagging about his hobby as is the case with a few females, has her own mildly modded Civic Si to join in on the fun. Sounds like a keeper to me!

Kevin Pagan sails a similar boat, when the opportunity to own a bone stock 00' basically fell on his lap, he knew better than to pass it up and his significant other was glad that he did as she's also very fond of the R. Albeit having a whopping 294,000 miles upon acquisition, the body and interior were in pristine shape thus making it the right candidate for a slow but steady restoration. 

Unforeseen hurdles are a common motif when it comes to building cars as any enthusiast can attest to and Kevin's ITR is no exception to the rule. One morning before leaving for work, he stumbled upon the vandalized 00-675 Type R waiting for him with a dented roof and key marks all over the original Phoenix Yellow paint.

Nevertheless this wasn't going to blight his plans so he took upon the opportunity to have the exterior resprayed and simply make the best of the situation. Much to his delight, the insurance company footed the bill and away it went for 2 months.

Now that it was back on the road, we set out to meet in Boston for an impromptu location, "run and gun" style photo shoot of sorts. This meant wrecking havoc in traffic by attempting to stay together as a pack but soon enough with a little street knowledge we found a quiet place to park stress free.

The last time I glanced over 98-0182 was at the MassTuning meet in Boston 2 years ago and just like wine, it has only gotten better with age. Underneath the hood still resides the factory B18C5 power plant that breathes via a Mugen airbox and gets its spark through the impossible to find Apex'i plug wires but is otherwise stock. Aesthetically speaking, the engine bay is pepped up by a candy teal valve cover with a Spoon CF plug cover but not much else besides Spoon reservoir covers and a Greddy oil cap.

Being attentive of the details, it's impossible to overlook the OEM cadmium plating that is still untainted by time, after all, the car is already 16 years old. The fact that A/C and P/S have been retained also tickles my fancy instead of being removed like so many Honda owners do. A trend that is popular in the show scene for a less "cluttered" look but is pure nonsense.

Taking an even closer look, I was amazed by the cleanliness of the transmission case and block. Not a spot of grease or aluminum rust anywhere. Even the designation stamps are still bold!

The interior is as clean as you'd expect from such a low mileage car too. Inexpensive floor mats keep the OEM ones sheltered from the daily wear and tear partly due to the high cost and rarity of replacements. In the audio department, Corey has it covered via the optional JDM Gathers head unit w/ remote and 6 disc changer to boot. A JDM non-SRS Type R steering wheel replaces the regular Integra wheel and a Circuit Hero shifter extender keeps the Mugen shift knob closer at hand.

Exposing the different colored cars properly was proving to be a challenge in the harsh noon sun so we decided to sneak in a back alley to escape it. A circular polarizer would have come in handy but unfortunately it's not a piece of equipment I own but something to look into for future use.

Shifting back to Alexa's EM1, it sits on a mint set of 15x6.5 +45 Desmond Regamasters that goes great against the black body. As you know, I'm a big fan of white wheels on black cars even if it can be a hassle to keep clean.

With CTR headlights and a carbon fiber hood to accent the glossy front end, I'd say she is fancy indeed! 

If you thought Corey's ITR was low mileage, then you'll be surprised to learn that this Si is even lower mileage. At less than 94k on the dash, it's another well preserved Honda; especially for a New England car. Gone however is the factory engine for unknown reasons as it was purchased with a JDM B16A long block swapped in its place instead. A/C and P/S were kept here too so extra bonus points for that!

Now I know what you're thinking. Kevin's bay is looking a little weathered, yes, but for a car that's been driven hard for 299k miles through rain and shine (let's not forget snow), it's impressive how well it's held up. For the memories and enjoyment of racking up the miles, it's a small price to pay for the satisfaction had through the years and it can always be restored back to original form. Too many Type R owners are afraid of driving their cars for the sake of preservation which is understandable but they can find themselves unknowingly missing out on the full experience. After a lifetime of use, it isn't overly complicated to give it an OEM refresh. Simply order various original replacement parts, line up all your ducks in a row and have the engine rebuilt in a few weeks time so that by the time it's back, the bay will have been resprayed and be ready to go with all new hardware and accessories with as little downtime as possible. 

Those are Kevin's exact plans as he intends to pull the motor at some point when he can get himself a workspace and then go straight to town. Being handed the keys and honors, I got behind the wheel for the way home and can confirm that the motor still feels stout and healthy. No hints of excessive oil consumption and going through the gears feels smooth as butter. So tell me, what's your excuse for not driving your R?

In case you were wondering what the Mezurashii plate was all about, it's a Japanese word that means both "rare" and "unique", as well as the name of Mezurashii_Mob; an Instagram based Honda group.

A Mugen Gen 2 wing is usually found on the back of Mr. Braga's ITR however tiny cracks developed in the paint that warranted a fresh coat of paint so it will be a couple of weeks until it's back on. 

Interestingly enough, Corey opted to go with the Honda badging on his Acura but you can't blame him, it is a Honda design after all and mainly a marketing decision to sell them under the Acura brand here in the US.

Shooting in a busy metropolitan city such as Boston can be a hassle with the constant flow of traffic and policemen eager to write you a ticket so taking the time to find the right location can pay off dividends. Anywhere that you can avoid the chaos is encouraged like this beautiful skyline we had came across.

It's hard to go wrong when you have a scenery like this to work with! In my opinion, location is everything and the right lenses will help make the most of it. Thankfully for this shoot I was able to borrow some much better equipment than I typically shoot with and that made getting the shots I envisioned much easier.

Still, my only lens, the inexpensive "nifty fifty" 50mm f/1.8 lens always comes with me for its excellent optical sharpness. Something I took advantage of to capture the details of the MF10s which were featured in Honda Tuning on William Wang's Mugen Del Sol before they were sold to Corey.

One of the qualities that I find amusing about this DC2 is how understated it really is. Besides the Spoon N1 axleback and Champ White 16x7 +43 Mugen MF10 wheels, the Integra is surprisingly simple all things considered and will grab even the average person's attention when out in public.

In a sea of cookie cutter cars, it can be hard not to attract attention but having chosen a Sunday for this rendezvous could of only helped as we had no run ins with the police for live parking in areas we probably shouldn't of had been in. 

This sidewalk overlooking the harbor for sure was one of them but when you see a nice shot, you just have to go and grab it. It basically comes down to having a good eye for them and balancing the risk vs the reward.

That isn't always the case as this open parking lot provided us with a nice backdrop and not the least of which, plenty of space to play around with minus the big city commotion.

For a couple of enthusiasts who haven't been in the spotlight yet, I'd say they go pretty hard in the paint! That's what this blog is for and I hope that I can showcase other cars and builders in the future. It's always a great feeling when your work is recognized and they certainly deserve it for staying true to their values.

On one hand you have a stock Type R that's seen the worst that nature and fate can throw at it, yet it still looks terrific and is a big testament to Honda/Acura's build quality. On the other hand you have a mildly modded R with only quality parts that are equal to or better than OEM while keeping intact all of the sublime qualities that make an R, just that, an R.

From left to right: Chad, Alexa, Corey, Dino and Kevin.

It's often said that your car is an extension of your personality and in my experience that has quite often proven to be true. In other words, if the cars are well put together/kept together, then most likely the owners are interesting characters as well. 

Making one final stop on our way home before wrapping things up, we parked by the famous Tobin bridge. Another grey area to be in as you can see by the signs!

Unfortunately for Kevin, I wasn't able to get rolling shots of his car since I was his passenger but I did manage to get a few in of Corey's in the short time we spent on the tunnel. As you can see, the ride height of the non-adjustable Mugen N1 suspension is perfect and had no clearance issues.

All in all, a learning experience behind the camera and a pleasant time exploring the city. Better yet, no tickets or accidents! 

I hope you enjoyed the read and photos; if you'd like to see more, they are available here on my Flickr. Be sure to comment/share on this post and as always, enjoy Pure Honda Sports!