Brian Spiker's '94 Accord EX
The term "sleeper" has often been misused and misunderstood. Having gained popularity during the Hot Rod era, it was used to describe a vehicle with an unassuming exterior containing high performance upgrades that couldn't be seen by the casual observer. Hearing this seven-letter word will often bring a sinister grin to the face of any automotive fanatic. The mere idea of building a car that's unassuming on the outside, yet armed with a fire breathing heart under its skin is the stuff dreams are made of.
Today, as enthusiasts rarely bat an eye at engine swaps that appear in just about every type of Honda on the road, flying below the radar has never been tougher. As a matter of fact, spotting a lowered Honda on the freeway that isn't powered by an engine swap is becoming much less common. Even the muscle car crowd, easily duped by innocent looking Honda hatchbacks years ago, caught on to the "sand bagging" that took place. The initial shock upon seeing these small wonders raising hell down quarter mile industrial streets that doubled as makeshift racetracks in the early morning hours was almost comedic. Now, as the information superhighway eradicates any possible sneak attack and shares with the world every imaginable Honda motor swap available, it's apparent that the element of surprise is long gone.
When Brian Spiker emailed us about his Accord, we were a bit confused. He'd stated in his message that he'd love to see a picture of his car in Honda Tuning, but upon viewing the attached images, we saw nothing more than a bone-stock EX. Though his four-door sedan appeared to have cheated father time with its sixteen-year-old chassis looking pristine, we really couldn't understand what would motivate the Seattle, WA, resident into contacting us. That is, until we clicked on the last image labeled "enginebay.jpg." Like a slap in the face, what we saw completely blew us away.
In 2005, Spiker gave his friend a $3,000 handshake and drove home in this '94 EX sedan. "I was new to the Honda thing and I just really liked the body style and the color. The car already had wheels, coil-overs, and a header, but it didn't take long for me to get bored with the factory F22," he recalls. Rather than diving headfirst into a modification money pit, Spiker began combing the web, day and night, looking at possible turbo options. Soon enough, he ran across realhomemadeturbo.com, a "do-it-yourself" motivated forum that would serve as his second home. The countless pages of knowledge that he spent hours clicking through taught him an incredible amount about understanding and building a proper turbo setup. With his head full of ideas, the Accord owner moved forward with boosting the factory F series motor and had no problem breaching the 300hp barrier. "I surprised a lot of people; they just couldn't believe me when I told them it was the good ol' SOHC motor. They always thought it was a boosted H22." The swoosh of turbo power kept Spiker happy for a while, but after a year of abuse, the stock motor finally let go with a cracked ringland. His first thought was to piece together another F series and pick right back up where he left off, but after weighing his options....."I just decided to sleeve an H22 and go all out-fully built top to bottom!" Spiker immediately began stockpiling parts in anticipation of the swap just as fast as his wallet would allow. With the help of a few close friends, they built the bottom end, pieced together the now bionic H22, and the car was ready to roll. That is, until he ran into serious clearance issues. He states, "I'd got most of the kinks worked out with the new motor and everything was good, but due to a manufacturer error in piston-to-wall specs, I was forced to rebuild the motor." Never discouraged, Spiker and his buddies went right back to work and in no time they had the car up and running with a new heart. Dyno tuning on the simple CROME system resulted in a remarkable 615whp, with 444 ft-lbs of torque. One major issue with that kind of horsepower on a street car is successfully transferring the fury to the pavement. Spiker chuckles as he explains, "I went through about 14 different transmissions; no joke. I was splitting cases, breaking ring gears, and absolutely destroying second and fourth gear sets." Essentially the Achilles heel of the high-powered Accord, Spiker stumbled across a Saenz straight-cut and syncro'd setup that he knew would help with his breakage issues. Adding an OBX LSD, the tranny has held itself together with plenty of abuse, and this seems to be the magic combo. "It's solid now, but previously I'd beat on the car Friday night, break a tranny, limp it home, and remove it in about an hour and a half. I'd either put a new one in it, or have the original one fixed and back in the car. Sometimes I'd finish by the next day; other times I'd finish the same day."