A couple weeks ago I got a call from Ben from the UK in the morning and he said in his mildy thick British accent, “Hey man, you ever heard of some American ZDyne ecu for Hondas? Can you check out their site and see if you can download their software? My mobile sucks for internet and I'm at my mate's place in the middle of nowhere. I'm supposed to try and get his CRX started with a B-series in it…something that might be up your sleeve.” Even though the last time I touched a turbo B-series was about 10 years ago, I think the rest of the world assumes that anything Honda with a B-series swap has its roots in America. Any kind of turbo Honda even more so. I never heard of a Zdyne, but it looks like a Hondata type mod for your stock Honda OBD1 ECU where they rewrite processor instructions to make the stock ecu more tuner friendly.
Anyhow, I was able to download the Zdyne software and email it to Ben. I think Ben checked it out for a little while, but ran out of time…or maybe it was patience. He is used to the Maclaren TAG software that he uses in Cosworth F1 and previously the Prodrive/Subaru World Rally Team (SWRT) for WRC. He knows the ins and outs of the Pectel ECUs since he was a development engineer at Pectel (the Cosworth brand of ECUs), but is also well versed in Motec, Ecutek, etc. Yes, Ben the world class race engine calibration engineer was playing with a B series Honda with a hacked and modded stock ecu. How's that for covering the spectrum of automotive racing: 1988 Honda CRX to 2010 F1? Then again, we're talking about a guy who used to drift his ECR33 Skyline GTS to work (he literally has videos of him drifting almost all the way to work), take the long road to work just to blast his Hayabusa (yes, he has videos of this too) and currently drives a GD Impreza STi Spec C as his daily driver when he's in the UK. I cannot even hear him on the mobile phone while he's driving the Spec C because the road noise from the lack of sound deadening material and big tread block s-compound tires is pretty ridiculous. If he is driving faster than 25 mph, forget about a conversation. Basically Ben is a car nut just like you or I, but he gets to play with cooler shit at work than you or I.
Later on that day Ben sent me these pictures. It turns out his buddy who built the CRX, Elmo, was a fabricator. But Elmo isn't just any fabricator; he was one of the fabricators at SWRT/Prodrive until the demise of Subaru's WRC program. If you've ever seen a Prodrive WRC car then you know that they are works of art. Those Imprezas were probably the best prepared unibody race cars in the world. Keep in mind that they had to jump 30 feet in the air, land at full power, and last the remaining nine stages. Naturally some of Elmo's skill leaked out on to his own retro CRX track car project he built for fun. It isn't quite a WRC spec CRX, but it is probably the cleanest prepared CRX I've seen. I wish Ben sent me more pics, but it sounds like the car isn't quite done yet. Maybe later on Ben or Elmo can send me some more pics for a full feature.
As with all properly built cars, it's all about the details. Check these pics out:
It looks like the base engine is a B18 from a Type R Integra. There is the proven TiAL 38mm wastegate and 50mm BOV. I think the exhaust manifold is a cast BLOX Racing unit. Why Blox? Probably because it was dirt cheap and it works well. Sometimes you can't beat performance vs. value and being cast makes for good reliability. Its not like this car will have any issues with weight being a CRX. The turbo appears to be some kind of a T3/T04, but it could be some Garrett GT in one of ATP's GT to T retrofit conversion housings. If you look at the turbo's exhaust outlet, you can just see that the outlet has been formed from stainless steel which probably took countless hours. On the inlet of the compressor is a cone filter on a base with a machined velocity stack.
Here you can see that the core support has been cut off and replaced with a single layer sheet of stainless. It has been made rigid and lightened at the same time with radii on either edge and dimple dies. Also notice the formed WRC style endtanks on both the radiator and the intercooler. These take a lot of time, effort, and skill to fabricate so you'll only usually see hand formed tanks on high end race cars.
The interior is ultra clean and the RHD dash is JDM, yo. Well not necessarily since UK cars are RHD also. Anyhow, you can see the cage is so damn tucked up on the A-pillar and roof that they are connected directly to the A-pillar and roof. It appears Elmo cut out the bullshit inner layers of factory sheet metal that would normally make up the A-pillar and roof structure and replaced the useless stamped factory crap with tube. There is no need for gusseting plates to connect the cage to the A-pillar and roof because the cage IS the A-pillar and roof structure. You'll notice the side impact tubes look a lot like a Prodrive WRC car:
This is the type of stuff Elmo is used to building I think. Triangulation is the key word here I believe…
And some more triangulation. I believe WRC rules state that you cannot cut out the factory roof, A, B, or C pillar structure so that is why it is all intact on this chassis. The WRC chassis and cages are fully engineered and developed with FEA for optimized strength and weight.
Some of that WRC chassis trianglulation made it over to the CRX, but since it won't be jumping 30 feet in the air and having to last 10 stages of getting beat to shit on some god forsaken pice of tiny road, I'm guessing Elmo took it easy on the number of tubes. It looks like the wiring loom has been taken down to the bare minimum. The newly plumbed rear brake hard lines and fresh white paint make the interior ultra clean.
So overall Elmo's CRX is really just an ultra clean looking road race car, but the attention to detail is what does it for me. I'm really digging how clean it is and would like to see some pics of the car when it's up and running. Knowing Ben, he will probably make Elmo cough up for a Pectel ECU so at least the engine will run as good as the rest of the car. We'll see in the coming months.