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One Day As A Lion - 1994 Acura Integra DC2

If There Was One Car To Help Represent The Past 10 Years Of Import Tuner, It Would Have To Be Chris Rios' Turbocharged And Mugen'd-Out '94 Acura Integra DC2

Text By RC Faderoga, Photography by Jeff Creech

It's only fitting that in the 10 years this magazine has existed, amid the countless dime breezys who've graced the covers, through the traffic jam of the freshest whips this culture has witnessed, that the most iconic figure of our time is on the cover. Much like Muhammad Ali to boxing and Jerry West to basketball, the Acura Integra has stood out as the most recognizable car to tuners nationwide since it debuted in the mid '80s. The car endured the hearty evolution of our culture, from naming conventions (once just called an "Integra" to a more defined chassis code) to preferred racing genres (from ruling the drag strip to taking over the road circuit) to a growing competition (outselling cars from Mazda to Dodge). It even tops the rest by being one of the most stolen cars in the country. The one mainstay that never got old for the Integra and its owners is how well the car performs on the showroom floor. From the DA to the DC5, the Integra was built to attract, as if Honda/Acura made it exclusively for young adults to drool over. So when it's tuned and dressed up, it naturally attracts a crowd everywhere it shows.

It's reliable, sporty, affordable, and most importantly, filled with an infinite amount of tuning potential. All of which are reasons why Chris Rios bought his DC2 Integra the minute it came into production in '94. His is one of the most popular in the nation, what with it's endless Hot Import Nights first-place trophies, magazine exposure, and boast of being one of the most complete Integras ever buit-a popularity that's well justified. "I've been into cars since I was young. I would watch my father and uncle working on cars when we lived in Boston," Chris explained, "When the DC2 came out, it was love at first sight. I purchased this one and began tuning it in '96. I've been working on it ever since."

His love was intensified by the fact that during this time, the import tuner culture was at its budding stage. When drag racing ruled the streets, Integras were the weapon of choice. The most storied examples lived in Southern California, constantly battling each other and breaking front-wheel drive drag records almost every time their tires touched the strip. Names like Tony Fuchs and Ed Bergenholtz come to mind, and these were the dragsters who inspired Chris to mold his Integra into celebrity status. It was a magical time for our culture, when passion wasn't embroiled in monetary values, publication exposures, and television ventures. It was all about being downright focused on your car and how well you can perform in it.

Chris initially built his car to run all-motor, to compete with the balls Honda made it with, but with the growing competition that began using modifiers like turbochargers and nitrous, Chris did away with the all-motor approach and refocused his energy to compete on the same level. "It pretty much came down to horsepower," he said, "In order to stay on top, I had to turbocharge."

Working on a GSR B18C1 platform, Chris installed a Garrett Big Kahuna turbocharger, which consequently forced him to also upgrade the engine displacement to 2.0 liters. He bored the motor from 81mm to 84mm and stroked it to 87.2mm, while balancing and blueprinting the entire setup. Naturally, with a turbo as a big as the Garrett Big Kahuna, internal parts also needed to be stronger than stock. Chris opted to use CP pistons and piston rings, while using Inline Pro connecting rods to support them. He also installed a GReddy Type R blow-off valve, and a custom intercooler and piping to help delivery proper horsepower. Along with a Venom intake manifold, Mishimoto radiator, and Inline Pro 1000cc fuel injectors, Chris' DC2 is as ready as any to take on the rigors of any track or strip it may encounter, with over 533 hp on tap.

By RC Faderoga
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