Written by Ravi Dolwani, Owner of CSF Race
It was Spring 2019, and I was on my way to work, dodging cars through traffic on the infamous 91 freeway in Southern California. This was pre-COVID-19, so there were tons of semi trucks and commuters clogging up all six lanes of Calfornia concrete. On my usual +/- 1 hour drive to and from work, the light bulb went off my head…
I had been driving a completely stock “past its prime” 2005 RSX Type S, flipping through channels on the radio, trying to find something to listen to, while holding a phone up to my ear to listen to a message that just came in (because I had missed the phone ring). My steering wheel was falling apart, and looking down, there was a big cut in the cushion of my driver’s seat. The car was past 150K miles, and although I maintained it well, it had seen better days. From the paint cancer on the roof and scratches all over, to its curbed rims and worn interior, the CSF daily driver/parts hauler/DGAF car was in need of a refresh.
Well… that idea of a refresh, in typical CSF fashion, went on to develop into what you see here – a full-blown import resto-mod, done in the best OEM+ spec I could think of.
It all started during a visit to MotoIQ, to catch up with owners Mike and Martin. As I rolled up to their garage to check out the progress of the CSF Evo X race car they project manage, Martin mentioned to me that they were looking for the right customer to do a badass K24 DC5 build with. Mike had an idea to build a super top-spec naturally aspirated engine that could hit 300hp on California 91 pump gas. Trusting their know-how, connections, and rolodex of manufacturing sponsors of their website, they ensured they could help build a memorable, performance-driven RSX.
After meeting them, on my way back home, I was contemplating the entire project. Mentally, I was already half way there to pulling the trigger… I knew the guys at MotoIQ could deliver an amazing performance build, but in order to be a great build, the car needed a lot of TLC in terms of body work, paint, and interior.
Enter my good friend, long time industry mentor, and owner of LTMW: Long Tran. When I told him about the build, he cut me off and all he said was “JDM Type R conversion” – and that was that. Long took it upon himself to order all of the parts for a proper Type-R conversion (lights, mirrors, wing, front bumper, fender, badges, etc.). He coordinated with Rogelios Upholstery to get the interior reupholstered in the OEM black perforated leather with some red stitching for some pop, and took it up a notch, wrapping the JDM steering wheel and shift boot in black Alcantara.
Okay… so at this point, I was committed. I had the right team to do the performance plus the looks, just needed to sort out the last bit – the wheels. After spending way too many hours on google searching DC5 wheels, I ended up on a final few choices. The obvious choice was TE37s, but then again, everyone has them. Yes, they look good on just about everything, but I wanted to do something different. Then I started thinking, maybe a more multi-spoke design would be better. When walking by the RAYS booth at Formula Drift Long Beach a few weeks prior, I started to consider some mag blue ZE40s.
Out of the left field, talking to Vince (MotoIQ’s resident Honda Head), he threw out the idea of Desmond Regamasters – but they were white, and I always wanted to put bronze wheels on a black car. I was thinking of powder-coating the Regamasters in bronze, but that was starting to become an expensive mission and its a heavier wheel, so I scratched that and turned my focus back to the RAYS catalog. I ended up looking at the Gram Light CR and DR. I wanted a 5-spoke wheel to show off the incoming StopTech trophy BBK, so I settled in on the 57CR. I hadn’t seen a lot of them out there on DC5s plus, I like what I like, so fuck what the internet thinks.
Now the next snag… I hit up Mackin Industries, official importer of RAYS to the USA, told them my wheel choice, offset, and color I want, and in typical Japanese-style long lead-time fashion, I was told “we can rush you a set, but it’s going to be about 4 months.” I was scratching my head, thinking, one, if I told any of my customers that something would take four months, I’d be out of business and, two, that’s going to miss the entire summer show season.
So here I was, trying to figure out the next best option – again, light bulb goes off – I had remembered my buddy Ryan who works at Eibach had gotten a set of Fifteen52 wheels done in RAYS bronze for the SEMA show the year prior. It was an awesome match, so I hit him up and he connected me to Chris at Velocity Powder-Coating. So I hit RAYS back up and asked for the best price on the correct spec Gram Light 57CRs in whatever color finish I could get the best deal on… two days later, here came Sakura Pink wheels, which where over-stocked (for obvious reasons).
One week later, boom, I had my bronze wheels… just what I had envisioned.
I did the entire car build in reverse (don’t ask me why I did it this way, I knew it was happening, but at the time it all made sense in my head). I did the paint job, the interior, then the wheels, then decided to do all the mechanical. I thought the work at MotoIQ would be the fastest part of the build, but we ran into a huge waiting game on custom made pistons from JE. What was supposed to take 4-6 weeks, ended up taking almost four months.
Then came SEMA 2019, then PRI, then trying to dyno in the midst of the holidays, fixing loose ends, then I left for a two-week trip to Tokyo Auto Salon 2020. By time the car was back in my possession, it was February 2020. Damn, that time flew by fast.
The end result: 300 HP/210 TQ, awesome handing, awesome looks.
To everyone else, the car was done. To me, I still didn’t think it was complete… I felt like the car was 95% there, it needed a little bit more…
Make Sure to Tune in for Part Two