Change is a good thing. It keeps things interesting, leads to progress, and opens opportunities and new experiences. Change forces us to challenge ourselves and adapt to new surroundings and lifestyles. However, this principle doesn’t always seem to apply to the game played out by most of you reading this. When the time comes to decide which four-wheeled canvas to work with next, many seem to stick with what they know: another four-wheel drive, the next drift weapon, or a rotary with more displacement than the last. While some move on to a fresh idea once ownership is signed over, many go back for seconds, and arguably this is particularly the case for Honda owners.
There must be something addictive about them, a theory that definitely rings true for Wellington-based NA enthusiast, Matt Kotsifakis. Having grown up surrounded by Hondas thanks to an older brother and his crew, Matt climbed aboard the high-revving train and hasn’t yet found a reason to jump off. “Researching the motors and seeing their potential and how they perform, I wanted to follow suit,” Matt said, and, “Seeing my brother and his mates progress with their cars and do them up made me want to do the same.” Matt’s previous rides were an EF Civic and an Accord Euro R, which served as building blocks for the ’99 Integra Type R weekender we see here today — a culmination of inspiration, experience and research-fuelled expertise.
Originally he was set on the later model K20A-powered DC5, and Matt searched high and low for one that would justify parting with funds before he became distracted by an unmolested example of the DC5’s predecessor. “Nothing was catching my eye,” Matt explained. Then, “I stumbled across this DC2R, and I thought I’d check it out as it looked extremely clean in the photos. Sure enough, after seeing the car in person and taking it for a test drive, I was sold on it.” Scoring a clean example of any 16-year-old car will always be a challenge, and being close to stock, with a couple of tasteful modifications, the Integra was somewhat of a rarity — the perfect canvas for his next VTEC project.
After he’d bought the car he squirrelled away funds while slowly chipping away at the build. Being a student, Matt worked hard and savoured the bulk of his earnings while researching, deliberating, and not too hastily coming to a conclusion on what would make his Integra different from the rest.
Meantime he saw to necessary aspects of the car. BC Gold adjustable suspension replaced lowering springs to correct the ride height and improve the Honda’s handling, and a couple of carefully-selected braces complemented the new shocks. Because the intention was to eventually add a good amount to the power and test the car’s limits on the track, an upgrade in stopping power was required, and larger NSX brakes were sourced to ensure the car would pull up as well as it would take off.
As a steady stream of modifications slowly formulated the pieces of an ongoing puzzle, Matt began to contemplate bigger ideas, when his plans were unexpectedly brought forward. “I was pulling away from an intersection, and at about 2000rpm a rod welded itself to the crank,” said Matt, laughing. “The engine died, and that was that.” Naturally, it was time to reconstruct the B series with a bit of a twist, and what ensued set this innocent-looking ride apart from others of its kind. “The idea of a K swap did cross my mind,” Matt admitted. “But, in doing that, I’d feel like a bit of a sheep, and I’d also lose the B series title. I wanted to keep the car clean, and genuine to its roots.” Having investigated all rebuild options, he decided to order a Toda stroker kit through Mac at 41.co.nz. “It would be something different,” Matt explained. “It’s very rare, even internationally. I thought it could be something special, instead of just another Skunk2 engine, or whatever.” Hey, if you have to rebuild the motor, you may as well do it properly, right?
Utilizing Toda parts to breathe new life into the engine without the input of someone who knows what they’re doing is akin to building a drag car and running it on snow tyres: you’d be wasting your time and hard-earned cash. Enter Vinay of Bhikha Brothers Performance, who met with Matt and went through the installation of the kit and a blueprint of the B18C to make sure there would be no hiccups, and to guarantee an optimal end result. Before the construction of the new four-banger took place, countless hours were spent cleaning any parts that were to be reused, as well as polishing the engine bay until the Queen herself would be content to consumer her breakfast from the chassis rails.
The process of getting everything ready took some time, but the plan was to complete the build all at once. “And that happened, thanks to Vinay, who worked four days and nights straight, completing and installing the motor.” BBP bored, honed and readied the humble donk ready to receive an array of new internals. The block saw a new crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons, while the head received Toda cams and valve springs and cam gears, matched to the ported and polished bottom end with a Toda head gasket. The new parts not only increased cylinder capacity, but enable a substantial increase in compression, which combined with the upgrade of the intake and exhaust departments is something VTEC motors respond to favourably with a good tune.
Once the install was all but complete and Vinay had the car running right enough to be finished, Matt took it to have the deal signed and sealed by Chris at STM, who tickled the Hondata S300 ECU to produce 149kw and 187Nm at the wheels, impressive numbers for a naturally aspirated four cylinder with only 1820cc of displacement. We’re told this is only a run-in tune, mind you. Once the engine has settled in, more work on the timing combined with a slightly larger exhaust should net a very enjoyable power-to-weight ratio indeed. As it is, the car responds well, sounds amazing, and continues to generate usable power and torque throughout the rev range. By the time this goes to print, we will have seen it being thrown around track one at Taupo, but as we write this, we can’t wait to see how it stacks up against the competition.
It’s often said that when it comes to modifying cars, you get to pick two out of three options — cheap, quick or reliable. You can’t tick all the boxes. However, some cars are closer to disproving that theory than others, and this is one of them: a great example of a reputable classic that’s been enhanced in order to hold its own, yet stands apart from the rest. There’s a definite line between substantial change and quantified improvement, and this car draws it at
1999 Honda IntegraType R (DC2)
- Engine: Honda B18CR, 1820cc, four cylinder
- Block: Bored and honed block to suit Toda stroker kit, Toda 81mm pistons, Toda connecting rods, Toda crankshaft
- Head: Ported and polished, Toda C2 cams, Toda valve springs, Toda adjustable cam gears, Toda head gasket, ARP bolt kit
- Intake: Ported Skunk2 Ultra Street manifold, S90 74mm throttle body, custom intake, K&N filter
- Exhaust: Toda V2 headers, 2.25-inch Spoon N1 exhaust
- Fuel: 560cc injectors, ballast resistor, Walbro 255 pump
- Ignition: NGK V-Power spark plugs, Spoon leads
- ECU: Hondata S300
- Gearbox: 1998 five-speed, short-shift kit, Cusco LSD
- Clutch: Exedy Heavy Duty
- Flywheel: Toda
- Struts: BC Gold coilovers
- Brakes: NSX conversion, Znoelli S6 Discs (F) Znoelli S6 Discs (R)
- Wheels: Volk Racing CE28N 16x8-inch (+35)
- Tyres: 205/45/R16 Bridgestone Potenza RE002
- Paint: Touch ups and panel work done by Darren Galvin
- Enhancements: Spoon CF mirrors, CF front lip, CF front duct
- Seats: SR3 Recaro
- Steering wheel: Nardi Personal Trophy
- Instrumentation: Oil temperature and pressure gauges
- ICE: Pioneer head unit and speakers
Power: 149kW at the wheels
- Driver/owner: Matt Kotsifakis
- Age: 21
- Location: Wellington
- Occupation: Student
- Build time: 10 months
- Length of ownership: 2 years and 10 months
- Previously owned cars: EF Civic, Euro R Accord
- Thanks: First off a big thank you to Vinay at Bhikha Brothers Performance (BBP) and his team for the rebuild, Darren Galvin, Mac at 41, mum and dad, my partner Mariah Hori Te Pa, CJC boys, Chim Patel, Chris Wall at STM, The Stallions, Caleb at Honda NZ, Keith at BMT, Speedmagnet, Total Towing, Ben at Vogel Motors, Tony’s Tyre Service Petone, and NZhondas.
This article was originally published in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 229. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: