PAINT: Touch-ups and panel work done by Darren Galvin ENHANCEMENTS: Spoon CF mirrors, CF front lip, CF front duct 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,” he says, 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 admits. “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 Fortyone Automotive. “It would be something different,” Matt explains. “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 (BBP), 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 fourbanger 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 consume her breakfast off 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,” Matt tells us. BBP bored, honed, and readied the humble donk to receive an array of new internals. The block saw a new crankshaft and 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 have not only increased cylinder capacity but also enabled a substantial increase in compression, which, combined with the upgrades in 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 fourcylinder 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, along 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 that stands apart from the rest. There’s a definite line between substantial change and quantified improvement, and this car draws it at 9000rpm.