Alejandro Salcido's '95 Acura Integra LS
Internet forum cool guys often tout how they modify their cars for themselves. The meets, the shows, the online post whoring-it's all for themselves. Or so they say. Each one be damned if their peers think otherwise. But dig down deep into the psyche of the modern day car enthusiast and it isn't hard to see that the ego is responsible for nearly all of it. Cast yourself away onto an imaginary island of solitude for a moment; would you really care whether or not the hatchback you commute to one side of the island to the next in search of coconuts has a real-deal Mugen steering wheel or not? Doubtful.
Alejandro Salcido came to terms with his Honda-modifying motivations early on, and he'll be the last to tell you that he built his car solely for himself. "I've always been very competitive," Alejandro says. "It's in my nature." Alejandro tapped into his competitive side early on and set a goal to hang with the fastest cars within his hometown, El Paso, TX. His Integra is better for it.
The philosophy was formulated when Alejandro was still in high school. "I've been into racing and hooking up cars since I was sixteen, but the passion started when I got my second Honda, an '88 Civic DX hatchback," he says. The $600 commuter that he went in halves on with his girlfriend served him well. It needed work, but eventually his minimum-wage salary lent itself to a turbocharged LS-VTEC power-plant. The DX looked like hell but got the job done and taught Alejandro a thing or two about wrenching during the short time he owned it. Turns out he was replacing or fixing things on it nearly every week, though. The failed parts did well for his self esteem as a burgeoning mechanic but little for the man's checking account. As interesting as all of this may be, though, you're not here to read about Alejandro's old Civic.
Alejandro put the hatchback aside to look for something newer, like a '95 Integra LS-a "more serious" project that he could "build on the side," he says. The plan was simple: to use as many leftover parts from the Civic as possible and complement those as necessary. As is often the case, though, plans never go as they should. The Integra's non-VTEC engine spun a rod bearing no more than a month after Alejandro paid for the thing. The decent paint job and straight chassis served him little so long as the engine was inoperable so he began phase two of the project by selling off his old Civic's turbo parts and starting from scratch. The new JDM B18C short block that replaced the blown B18B1 was sent off to Golden Eagle, the shell was rendered bare, and more parts were sold off. Each day the Integra looked to be veering further away from completion, rather than closer, but Alejandro knew his project compass was pointed in the right direction. "Starting from a bare shell allowed me to create something I knew I'd fall in love with," he says. "Once I started the project, it consumed me."
While the engine was off in another corner of the country, Alejandro made use of the down-time tucking the car's wiring harness and brake lines as well as shaving its engine bay. It was in between bending brake lines and running looms of wire that he envisioned a carbon-fiber upper half for the Integra. And so the roof was laid in the exotic, race-car inspired fabric-it's sunroof eliminated-its trunk lid and hood both swapped with pieces from VIS, also in carbon-fiber. The rest of the chassis was doused in Honda's own Kiwi Metallic hue, including the JDM Integra front end. Inside, Alejandro added a 10-point roll cage that wraps itself around Memoryfab bucket seats and a genuine Mugen steering wheel.