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Obsessive Compulsive

The wildest Honda CRV in the world?

By Greg Brindley

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Given that the sticker 'the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys' is very bloody close to the mark, you'd have to say that Kelvin Bourke is a man's man. Umm, looking at his Honda CRV has you wondering what I am talking about, right? Okay, I would understand your concern if you were of the impression that Kelvin's only expensive toy was this body kitted Honda CRV. Well boys and girls, it's not - far from it in fact.

See, Kelvin is so obsessed with cars that within a few months of buying the CRV as a 'practical daily runabout', he became annoyed with its lack of performance. That his 'weekend stable' includes two 'worked to the max' European exotics, you'd reckon that they would be enough, certainly considering both offer performance levels way in advance of virtually any other car on Australian roads. (Unfortunately, Kelvin's a dentist, so we can't tell you anything about these cars, so you'll simply have to trust me when I say they're killer combos.)

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So, with two gun cars taking up space in the home garage, you wouldn't bother modifying a crappy old CRV, now would you? Well, it turns out that the only inspiration Kelvin needed was a total lack of power (44kW at the wheels!) and seats providing virtually no cornering support. Thing is, the Honda - a special factory order - came with some sporting pretences, and as far as Kelvin was concerned, the time had come to make it go as fast as it looked. Say what? Yep, Kelvin has this ability to make things happen, so when he told Honda he wanted a 'different' CRV, that's exactly what he got. The package started with a base 'sport' model to which Honda added a complete Mugen body kit, 17 x 7.5 inch rims with 225/45/17 Bridgestone SO2 tyres and a suspension package. The latter consists of 40mm lowered springs, Mugen struts and front and rear sway bars - required to keep the high centre of gravity CRV from scraping the door handles.

Freedom Of Choice

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Choosing a specialist customizer capable of 'the works', is never easy. Fact is, few companies have the ability to create a complete package, however Kelvin's freedom of choice proved worthy. Motorsport Styling (MSS) is the name, an importer of top name performance parts and accessories, but with a well-equipped workshop and a proven track record of creating full on packages.

Mind you, head honcho, Darren Parker, reckons there's no need to reinvent the wheel, so when it came to breathing on the engine, he simply went out and bought a bolt-on HKS turbo kit. Jobs right! Yep, a small T25 turbo with appropriate plumbing and a maximum six pounds of boost, saw power at the wheels jump to a less than astonishing 70kW!

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Concurrently, the boys kitted the Honda with a heavy-duty clutch, radically shorter shifter with alloy knob, while decking out the interior with four (yes, four) Cobra Sidewinder bucket seats. The seats required the manufacture of base frames to which the boys added custom covers. They even added a custom fabricated rear console (due to a gap left between the seats).

The new seats ensured that the driver and passengers could enjoy the Honda's handling attributes and acceptable performance. Of course, acceptable is a subjective term, and I can assure you that Kelvin was far from happy. So it was back to the drawing board, only this time the MSS boys were given carte blanche. The bottom line was that the CRV had to pump under the bonnet as well as inside the cabin.

Big Bucks

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Now came the time to reinvent the wheel! Off came the HKS turbo, and out came the engine and much of the interior - for a second time! The engine was pulled because of a decision to go with a bigger turbo and more boost. Which all seemed simple enough, however MSS weren't going to take any chances, and after considerable research, decided that for integrity, the block was to be re-sleeved, 'wedged', 'O' ringed and equipped with a custom alloy head gasket.

The B20B's bottom end was further bolstered with shotpeened, beam-polished and ARP-equipped rods, and forged APEP pistons (based on Cosworth blanks) providing a full 1.5 point drop in compression down to 8:1. The long motor was completed with a mildly ported cylinder head. Now, if the core is impressive, the bolt-on component is bloody amazing. It starts with a 320 horsepower Garrett ball bearing turbo sitting abreast the previously fitted HKS manifold. On the other end is a custom mandrel bent 3-inch stainless dump pipe leading to a single catalytic converter and centrally placed single entry, dual exit muffler. Smaller 2.25-inch pipes exit the muffler and make their way to the rear of the car through two rear bumper cut outs.

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Other bay changes are of custom mandrel bent stainless steel intercooler pipes running to a custom AVO Turboworld front-mount intercooler, which in conjunction with the need for clean cold air flow to a HKS pod filter mounted behind the front bumper, meant considerable bumper modification. MSS grafted in two air intakes, performed surgery to allow for the intercooler while also adding a custom splitter.

Ancillaries include a Blitz Supersound BOV and the intercooler pipes are painted in two pack Glasurit.

Managing The Modifications

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Allowing the engine to achieve its optimum output, MSS added four management solutions including an auxiliary HKS computer - its only job being to manage the MAP sensor to allow the engine to accept boost. An APEXi AVC-R boost controller and AFC fuel controller reside in a fabricated front console complete with genuine carbon fibre insert, while an APEXi ITC (Ignition Timing Controller) is mounted under the dash.

Kelvin steers the car with a MOMO Sport tiller while using a remote control for the killer multi media centre. Talk about serious. The combo consists of a Kenwood VZ-907 TV/DVD/CD/Tuner complete with SATNAV interface. Currently, the car runs a Carin navigation unit, however this, along with a few other goodies, is scheduled to be replaced literally within days of our shoot. The Carin is making way for a VDO MS5000 unit.

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Getting back to the sound system, it continues with a front stage of Swedish DLS splits, rear fill comes with two-way DLS speakers in the factory side pods, tweeters reside in the C-pillars and the carry section plays host to a custom sub box with single 10-inch DLS subwoofer and Kenwood CD310 10-stacker. Power is delivered from a Genesis five-channel amplifier mounted under a false floor, and on either side are containers for a capacitor and fuse block.

All that was left for MSS to complete was the body kit. Having modified the front and rear bumpers, further integration came with a lengthened roof-mounted Mugen Honda Civic spoiler. Also, in an attempt to aid stopping power, the rear end was updated with a disc brake conversion using factory Honda parts.

More To Come

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The existing package is bloody impressive, however there's more on the drawing board. As the Australian distributors of Tarox braking systems, MSS feel that with almost three times the power output of the original engine, it's only logical that further improvements be made to the braking system. In turn they have ordered floating 335mm 40 groove billet alloy rotors and hubs and six piston Tarox calipers for the front end.

Then there's the engine. MSS engine guru, Brad, saying; "We ran out of injector at 10 pounds boost and 120 wheel kilowatts, so the next step is to upgrade the injectors and fuel pump, and up the boost to around one bar. With these changes I feel confident of achieving between 135 and 140kW at the wheels."

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We can only assume that Kelvin will finally be happy. Then again he's a man possessed. One needs only scope the engine bay to realise that there's room to spare. So, could a larger more powerful engine be the next mod? Who knows. Then again Kelvin may want to further modify his European exotics. Only time will tell of course, and for those of you who may be interested, we'll keep you up to date with Kelvin's exploits.

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