The Chronicles Top Ten Hondas of 2012…10-6…

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I should apologize in advance for the delay. Every year this list drops on the 1st of January but I got set back for two days because it took me quite a bit of time to collect and build the content for the list. I wanted to try something new this year and incorporate some more images just in case there are some of you who aren’t very familiar with the cars or weren’t as exposed to them as much as I or many others were. I think you guys who have seen the lists the previous years will enjoy the changes and like the new look of the list. I’ve put a lot of effort into the graphics and making the list streamlined with the layout of the site so if you could, please view it on a desktop computer to get the full effect…

On that note, the 2012 Top Ten Hondas list was, by far, the most difficult one to put together. I even turned to some of the people normally associated with the site to gather input from them and there was some debate as to who would, should, and shouldn’t make the list. Even after the discussion where we thought we had finalized the list, major changes were made. I appreciated all their input and they had a great deal of information to give me but after going over the list over and over in my head these last couple of weeks, I just had to make some changes. In the past, I’ve done all of this on my own as with mostly everything else with this site but I started asking for some input around last year when I had some difficulties with the list. Sometimes it helps to get some input from people and that’s why I’ve ask you viewers on Facebook as to who you thought was deserving and I took all of it into consideration. This Top Ten list is a big part of this site so I really wanted to make sure that it was a good one. It gets harder as time goes by because I feel that I’ve gotten a larger scope of the world wide Honda community and have to look everywhere to see what Honda builds were noteworthy. With the horizon being so broad it becomes difficult to try to find just 10 people to fit the list. There are some many really high caliber Honda builds out these days and that is why you will see ties or two people holding one spot. That’s nothing unusual though because it has happened in the past. There is just so much to consider and often times you have to give a spot to more than one person…

I should remind everyone, especially those who are seeing any of the Top Ten Hondas lists from this site for the first time, that this is THE CHRONICLES Top Ten Hondas list. As in, this is my list and solely based on the views of this site. If you don’t agree or you have a different opinion, that is fine. But don’t be immature or ignorant about it. If you don’t like it then move along. Nobody is forcing you to look at this and take it as gospel. It is far from anything anyone should really take seriously and I’ll be the first one to tell you that. It all started back in the early days of this site in pure fun and entertainment. I thought it was a cool way of giving credit to some really good cars and enthusiasts so I did it. Somehow it caught on and people really enjoyed it and looked forward to it every year. If for whatever reason you don’t like what I’ve presented you, by all means, go make your own list….

As with every year, there are a number of factors that I take into consideration when I put this list together. First and foremost, there are no repeat picks from previous years, unless they have dramatically altered their cars and “rebuilt” them. There are a lot of great builds out there that it just wouldn’t be fair to consider the same cars every year. If they have gone through a drastic makeover and rebuild, then I will consider it because they are essentially “new” builds. Another factor that I look into is how much the car was seen throughout the calender year, i.e. media exposure, amount of events attended, etc. It would be kind of hard to consider a build for this list if I had never seen or heard of it before, right? It only makes sense. The most important factor of course, is how well-rounded the build itself is and overall build quality. Quality of parts, execution of a particular style, originality, are very important and paramount when putting a car into consideration for the Top Ten Hondas list. When you think about why your car or your friends car wasn’t on the list when you’re finished going through it, ask yourself and try to consider the attributes that I look for and it will probably answer your questions. What’s a great car without quality and how is that high-quality build if no one has ever seen it?

Something new that I’ve considered in the last two years is “impact” on the Honda community and global impact worldwide. Often times there are some builds from regions where they don’t have a whole lot of events to attend where they don’t get a whole lot of exposure. These builds are still highly respected in the community and builds that people look up to. Regional limitations shouldn’t be an eliminating factor when putting a car into consideration for the list and that is why you may see a car that you may not be too familiar with…

Oh I have also made an effort to attach some build photos where appropriate. It’s something I haven’t done before but I think it helps to give the audience a good grasp of the quality of the build itself…

With all that said, I think now would be a good time to get started on the first half of our Top Ten Hondas of 2012 list…

At number 10 we have a tie with two very unique Hondas who make the Top Ten for different reasons, both of whom are deserving of their spot. With the number 10 position on The Chronicles Top Ten Hondas of 2012, we select….

10. Kei Takafuji and The Banzai Attack K20 EF (TIE) | Location: Japan

These two representatives from Japan take the number 10 spot on the list because of what each of them represent to the Japanese Honda scene. Kei Takafuji’s EG6 hatchback represents the newer, more “American” or “USDM” look that has become quite popular within the Honda community these last couple of years. The styling is purely something inspired from a look you would find on a Honda here stateside. The near-flawless execution of the style and the overall build is important to Japan because it helps further this new, popular genre in the Japanese car community. The Banzai Attack EF however, represents the great Honda community in Japan that has been in existence for decades now. Takafuji’s Civic is the definition of a pure Honda show car while the Banzai Attack car is as raw as it gets and holds true to the original motorsport roots that made Honda tuning popular in Japan. The Banzai car is a race car that does exactly what it was built to do. It tears up the track and you’ll even find it occasionally on the highways of Japan doing some “spirited” driving. Both are very different and created with different intentions, but both are equally important to its respective community…

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Why It Made The List:

Kei Takafuji’s EG6 is perhaps, the closest living example that you will find today of what the Phaze2 Civic once was. Many will try to debate and tell you otherwise, but it was Hondas like the Phaze2 EG that helped popularize this particular style within the Honda community. It was everything you see today in the ever-popular and trendy “flush” or “stanced” style, before it became its own sub-genre in the Honda scene. It inspired a whole lot of people in the country and it helped pave the way for this style to become popular. Many Honda guys hate or can’t stand this style now, but there’s one thing that you can’t deny about the Phaze2 EG; it was built (inside and out) correctly and thoroughly. Never would you find it with some haggered, chewed up fenders, or bullshit fake wheels. The car was created by one man, built by him, and executed cleanly. Takafuji’s EG6 parallels the Phaze2 EG in many ways. If both were around during the same period, they could almost be twins side-by-side, minus the right-hand drive of course, and the white tone…

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It is the creation of one man, with labor all done by the owner, from bodywork, to paint, to the shaved engine bay, wiring harness, interior, and hydraulic suspension set-up. There is nothing crazy done to the motor, except for the polished parts and custom fuel set-up. It’s no race car, so you won’t find any crazy power adders to indicate that. Everything that was done to the motor was to give it that “less is more” approach and to eliminate anything unnecessary to hinder its cleanliness….

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It is a very important build to the Japanese Honda scene because Takafuji has done an incredible job of executing this style the way it should be done. Everything has been re-touched, massaged, and re-painted. No sticker bombing, no rusted panels, and proper suspension products to achieve the look. You can dislike the “stance” stuff all you want, but you can’t argue with the labor and effort put forthe by Takafuji to build a beauty of a show/street Honda. It makes no attempt to lie to you with race-tailored parts that will never be put to use. What you see is what you get…

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It should be noted that this EG wasn’t all built in one year. It has been around for a couple of years now and took some time to reach its current state. If you’re wondering, Kei has always stuck to this style with his car so it has always been clean. He just waited until this year to give it a makeover with the hydraulic adjustable suspension set-up, new wheels, and refinish of the engine bay. You might even remember the car more when it was on white Work Meister S1s. He lands on the list this year because this is a culmination of years of work for Takafuji and he was rewarded for his efforts by landing on the cover of  Custom Car magazine, which is a popular publication in Japan…

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Takafuji’s EG6 as it appears on the cover of Custom Car | Larger Version HERE…

Below I’ve attached a consolidated image of his efforts in his 2012 makeover…

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Larger Version HERE…

Overall it is just a very well-done Civic built with a specific style that is becoming increasingly popular in Japan. It’s a build to look up to if those enthusiasts choose to recreate that style and its importance to that community shoots it straight to the number ten spot on this year’s list…

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Why It Made The List:

There is just something intangible about this build that makes it so undeniably cool. On paper, you wouldn’t really think anything of it. It’s an older EF chassis, that isn’t perfect, and it has a K20-swap. Still, when you actually look at it, you can’t stop. It’s just raw as hell and a Honda that we’ve probably all at one time thought to build. What is also interesting about it is that there isn’t anything unattainable about it. It’s basically a lightweight chassis with a K-swap…

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Though it is simple in every way, it is that simplicity and rawness that holds true to the original style of Hondas in Japan, particularly with Japanese enthusiasts who are into the Osaka Kanjo style. Not everyone is into the newer trends today but the gutted and gritty nature of Japanese race cars is timeless. The EF chassis itself also holds quite a bit of respect on its own with Honda guys and you toss in the fact that it has a K-swap and people will instantly fall in love with it…

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There are two immediate identifiers that have made it a very recognizable car in 2012…one being the not-too-common Japanese Barramundi Design Eleven wheels, and the second is the red TODA Racing fuel rail that sticks out through the carbon hood. The rail is exposed primarily because of hood clearance issues with the swap, but it is something simple as that which makes it an interesting car. The idea that no one cared and just cut into the hood also adds to its rawness…

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While it is an important build to the Japanese Honda community, it also has a global impact and is very relevant to the North American Honda enthusiasts. Here, race-bred and race-inspired Hondas are all the rage so Honda heads over here relate to the Banzai Attack car and are attracted to its gritty nature. It is just one of those cars where you would either spot it in the background of another photo or see a singular photo of it floating around online and you’ve said to yourself “oh what’s up with that EF and where can I find more photos of it?”…

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Here’s a shot of it blasting down the track at a Historix Wars track event in 2012…

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The Banzai Attack EF also managed to make a couple of appearances at non-race events as well in 2012, appearing at local meets as well as bigger shows like the 2012 Hellaflush Kansai show. It fills the shoes of both a race car, street cruiser, and sometimes show display vehicle…

Here are some consolidated images of the build-up process prior to 2012…

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Out of all the Hondas that will make this list, the Banzai Attack car would probably get the vote for the most intriguing….

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Both Hondas are very different in many ways but both are definitely deserving of the number ten spot on the Top Ten Hondas of 2012…

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9. Eric Dabbert | Location: Minnesota and Steve Thomsen | Location: Ohio (TIE)

Like the two Japanese builds at the number 10 position, Dabbert and Thomsen also both possess Hondas that exist on very opposite ends of the tuning spectrum. Dabbert’s Civic hatchback is very subtle with a more timeless appeal to it, while Thomsen has built a very over-the-top, one-of-a-kind Civic coupe build. Both make the 2012 Top Ten Hondas list because the two are very good examples of what the Honda scene outside of the West Coast has to offer…

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Why It Made The List:

Eric and his Civic make the list because he probably has the most labor-intensive build of everyone on the 2012 list. He took a very beat-up Civic hatchback, tore the entire car down, and basically did a group-up restoration. In the internet era where build threads have defined a lot of good Honda builds, Eric’s is perhaps the most elaborate of them all. The most commendable factor in his entire build is that he’s done pretty much all of it on his own. I’ll attach a link to the build thread itself at the end but I’ve done my best to create a photographic “cliff notes” version of the build, which turned out to be rather lengthy so you may want to wait for it to load…

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Eric deserves a ton of credit because he literally took a turd and transformed it into a beautifully done, Spoon-themed Honda. No part of this car was left untouched and no shortcuts were taken to achieve the final result. Restoration-type builds have become pretty popular these days in our community and Eric’s is a great example to follow for others who are diving into their first builds…

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Dabbert was on the cusp on making the list last year, but his build wasn’t completed until midway through the year and there were others that made a stronger showing in 2011. I told myself that if he had a full year under his belt and made it out to some events, he would probably be a lock for the list. A Honda as clean as his deserved to be seen in person and he made the drive out to the major events in his region in 2012. Weather wasn’t always ideal either and his Civic being able to tread the extremes shows that it was built right…

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The quality of work is there and some would even argue that it deserves to be higher on the list. If there was one criticism I would make, it would be that there is nothing “unique” about the final product. The Spoon Sports theme has been done a lot over the years and there are more than a handful of Civic in the country that follow the same theme, with the same color scheme, and same overall look. Had it not been for the detailed build thread documenting the process, you could easily overlook the end result. That’s not to say that it’s not a great build because it is, it just lacks a bit of originality. In a competitive setting, it would be a little too simple when placed against other more standout builds but I don’t believe Eric ever had any intentions of building a competitive show car so it’s irrelevant. He built the car for himself and down the road, it’ll hold onto its identity as a timeless Spoon-themed Civic. A great deal of respect goes out to Eric for putting forth the man-hours to create this Civic and that is why he is one of the best of 2012…. A+++ for the effort.

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Why It Made The List:

Steve Thomsen’s coupe is interesting because there wasn’t anything else like it in 2012. It is by far the most unique build on this list and like Dabbert’s Civic, also went through a pretty extensive build process. He’s had this Civic for a decade now and has been collecting parts for it ever since. Aesthetically it might not be to everyone’s tastes but I’ve looked at the sum of all its parts and commend him for being different. In a community that often struggles to find individuality, this Civic stands alone…

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The engine bay of Thomsen’s Civic is where the build truly shines. I was first introduced to this build when I discovered a shot of the bay and admittedly, I too was a little shocked by the exterior styling of the car. It wasn’t until I looked into the build did I really learn to appreciate it. When you really think about it, I guess it shows a bit of ignorance on all of our parts if we easily look past a car because it has shaved moldings or a kit that wouldn’t be deemed “popular” by today’s standards. Underneath the body is a great deal of good labor and high quality parts. Like Dabbert, he too did not take short-cuts and did not skimp when it came to selecting the right products for his build.

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We’ve conditioned ourselves into thinking that we can only accept current trends and disregard everything else that isn’t popular. Steve’s Civic is a wake-up call to the Honda community and THE example of building a car by your own standards…

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Though his engine bay is as clean as it gets, his motor is no slouch. It makes a little over 500whp and the motor has been built to sustain that power. He’s also paid attention to other important aspects of the build like the interior, suspension, brakes, and wheels. Nearly everything on this coupe other than the rear windshield has been replaced with new components. There is no area where this build is really lacking anything. 2012 was a big year for Thomsen as his efforts were also recognized when he received a feature in Honda Tuning magazine.

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Like the others, I’ve attached a grouped photo of his build above. It took a number of years for him to get the car to this state so above is obviously not everything. Thomsen and his Civic land in the 9th spot on the list because it just falls a little too far out of the box. It is such a unique build that it really does stand on its own. There isn’t really a place for it. It’s different, no doubt, but not different in a way where you would consider it ahead of its time or where it would change the perspective of how Hondas should be built. If anything its a mix of styles from the past and present, combined with a recipe of quality parts and hard work. Like Dabbert’s build we should respect the effort and be inspired by how much work they put into their projects.

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8. Reggie Mah | Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

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Why It Made The List:

Reggie hits the list at number 8 in 2012 because his Integra Type R was one of the more talked about and recognized builds of the year. Photos were regularly circulated of his car and he had a build thread that attracted a lot of followers. It is also one of the more prominent Honda builds to hail from Canada and a great illustration as to what the thriving Canadian Honda community has to offer…

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The ITR itself has some history and relevance to the Canadian scene because it was one of the first Hondas in Canada to have a K20A swap years ago. That was before Reggie acquired it however. The car wasn’t in his possession until 2011 when he purchased it from his friend as a rolling shell with the K-swap intact. He immediately tore the rest of the car down and started collecting parts for it. The previous owner tracked the ITR a lot and over the years it had started to show some wear and tear. Reggie had a set plan for what he wanted to do to this car, set a gameplan, and has worked throughout the year to get the car to achieve his level of satisfaction. He went through a couple of different sets of wheels, switched back and forth between different aero components, and the most major operation for the build was redoing the entire engine bay.

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He pulled the motor, bought new mounts for it, and then reworked the entire bay by grinding off unnecessary components and smoothing it out. The bay was then taken to a bodyshop where it was re-sprayed. A custom fuel set-up was created, combined with a Rywire engine harness and brake line kit.

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I’ve made a conscious effort over the years into following what goes on in the Canadian import scene. Some of the Hondas that have come out of Canada are very nice and they have a good sense of style about them. One thing that I’ve noticed is that full custom engine bays aren’t as prevalent as they are in the U.S. I can name a number of really nice builds from some of the top crews out there that look very good aesthetically, but under the hood they have basic bolt-ons. They are still very high quality parts, like J’s Racing themed bays with some rare products but you don’t see a whole lot of the tucking and customization. Maybe priorities are just different up there or they don’t feel the need to get that intricate with their builds but one of the reasons why Reggie makes this list is because it shows that their are enthusiasts up there who are. He had a very good starting point to work off of in that the car was previously modified before with a swap but he took the time to tear the car down and rebuild it his way. And what he has come up with is a great looking Integra Type R with a plethora of really good, quality, parts. This would be considered a top-notch Honda build anywhere in the world…

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If you really take the time to appreciate this car, you would think that it would probably be a top tier car that should go higher on the list. My reason for it being at the 8th position is because of the fact that he sort of had an advantage over everyone else in that he bought this chassis with a K20A swap already. It wouldn’t be fair to say that he didn’t build the car because he undoubtedly did, but the right pieces were already there for him. He just made everything better and changed the car to cater to his own tastes. Another reason is, I’m sure, obvious to everyone; Reggie’s ITR is essentially a bizarro-world/opposite doppelganger to Anh Truong’s ITR from ATS Garage. It even has a few of Anh’s old parts on it. The formula to create what you see in these photos had already been figured out before. The teal accents really contribute to that idea but it is a different shade of teal (Project Mu tea) so it is still different in some ways. Teal has been highly overused in 2012 regardless so you can’t really say that this is a “copy” of Anh’s ITR. It just resembles it in more ways than one. Even still, you can’t really deny that he put forth a great effort into getting his ITR to this stage. I’m sure Reggie himself has heard the comparisons throughout the previous year, that’s why he is constantly changing things up on his car and trying different looks. As of the end of ’12, he’s rocking a complete C-West aero kit and recently started looking for new wheels and possibly changing the accents in his bay. 2013 may be the year where he creates his own formula and starts to really set himself apart. His ITR is a Top Ten Honda for 2012 because of the overall build quality/execution and because it represents a Canadian Honda scene that shouldn’t be slept on….

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7. Mike Estebar aka Mike Jones | Location: California

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Why It Made The List:

2012 had to have been the year of the EF chassis. For whatever reason, they were just popping up everywhere throughout the year. A number of very clean examples were seen here in the U.S. and Japan looked to have a sudden resurgence with the EF chassis as hatchbacks, sedans, and wagons were plentiful at events throughout. The most recognizable EF from Japan in 2012 was our #10 Honda, the Banzai Attack EF, and in America, the most popular one had to be the cream hatchback you see above from ATS Garage. A lot of enthusiasts seem to have a soft spot for the EF and builds like Mike Estebar aka ATS Mike Jones’ EF are the reason why. It has a very minimalist approach with just functionality in mind and aesthetically, it will never go out of style because it has parts on it that will out live any current popular trend…

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Mike originally built this as a tribute to two close friends of his that were a huge inspiration to him back in the early 2000s. Both Vince “jdmEFsedan” Pascua and Randy “RHanDy Questoyz” Gagan have since passed on, but their memories and ideas live on in this build. They were around before all the craziness started and back when it was okay to just have a clean Honda. You didn’t need wheels that didn’t fit or bike racks that weren’t necessary. You found ways to make your car stand-out without having to do anything gaudy to it or adding things that screamed “look at me”. People in the Honda community were also less competitive with one another and a better sense of camaraderie existed between fellow Honda heads…

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This EF is a throwback to the days when guys just worked on their cars in their garage with the help of some friends. Everything from the bodywork to the engine swap were all done at home minus the repaint of the body with assistance from fellow ATS Garage members…

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Mike’s EF hatch makes the 2012 Top Ten Hondas list because it was one of the most talked about EFs in 2012 and it is a project that is completely homegrown and built from the ground-up. It’s one of those builds where you can look at it 10 years ago or 10 years from now and it will be appreciated.

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6. Terry Suvonnarith | Location: Washington

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Why It Made The List:

Terry, better known to the internet Honda world as “Spriggan”, makes this Top Ten of 2012 list based on just perseverance alone. He originally bought this Integra when it was brand new in 2001 and has been building it ever since. Many guys would have been on their third or fourth build in a 12-year span of time but Suvonnarith has stuck by his car and has consistently made changes to it to improve it as well as keep it current and relevant. There are a group of guys in the Northwest who have single-handedly helped carry the Honda scene up there and Terry is one of them. He’s a highly-respected enthusiast up in the Northwest and for good reason. He and his car have been through it all.

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Like Mike’s EF, the exterior of the Integra is frozen in time. A couple different sets of wheels have gone on the car over the years but other than that, it has remained the same with the rare Integra FEEL’s front lip and OEM optional lip kit. The original paint is still good as new even though he resides in the Northwest where weather is anything but ideal. The engine bay is a perfect example of how a great engine bay in 05-06 would have been executed but he’s managed to upgrade various components on it like the engine harness and C.O.P. set-up to give it more up-to-date technology.

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One of the main reasons why he makes the 2012 list is because of the fact that he is still very active in the Honda community. Even though there aren’t very many automotive events up in the Northwest, he still makes the effort to get out there. His Integra has been to all the major shows through the years and he has even tracked his car. In 2012, he even made the journey down to Socal for the first time to be at the famed Nisei Showoff event, which was a first for his car. I’ve always kept an eye on this build because it is one of those rare builds that has passed the test of time. It has lasted this long because it was built right from the start. The bay looks pretty but the motor is fully-built and tuned by the latest in AEM electronics. The exterior is perfect and the interior is mint. Suspension has been accounted for and the StopTech big brakes are a recent addition. Terry’s Integra is a true beauty and that is why he is as deserving as anyone of being one of the Top Ten of 2012. He sits a couple of spots higher than some of the other guys who have gone through major restorations because he has had his Integra since it was brand new and he’s preserved it in a state where he’ll never need a major tear down. That in itself is worth a round of applause. Nevermind that he had a great year in 2012…he’s been doing it big for 12 years…

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That wraps up the first half of our Top Ten Hondas of 2012 line-up. Who will hold spots 5-1? Stay tuned!…

19 thoughts on “The Chronicles Top Ten Hondas of 2012…10-6…

    • You’re only allowed to see what I’ve made clickable to see, haha. There’s no advantage to clicking on the other photos because they are the same size as presented on the site.

  1. Ahhhh dude! I need to read the rest of this! Thanks for the great write up so far. The first two cars are my favourite so far. The panel fitment on the EG is insane. Why won’t mine do that! :O

  2. I normally don’t read these things because I have to like get up from my chair, take a break and come back to it later to process everything. But I like what I’ve read so far. It’s got to be hard to nail down just 10 cars instead of coping out and giving ties to people but it is what it is. And in the end if props are due to a fresh ass car during it’s time to get them. Then the mission is clear!

    I’ve gotten to see a few of these cars at nisei and number 6 was definitely one of my favorites at the show. From the standpoint of someone who always is tinkering with his car the convenience of things like quick seal fuel line’s and catch can lines, granted they may not match a color theme. You cannot help but appreciate not getting fuel or oil everywhere when removing a valve cover or having to get to a part that those components are in the way of for tune ups or future mods.

    And those idea’s definitely rub off and give me idea’s of things I’d like to incorporate over time into my car. And I’m sure others would feel the same!

  3. HAHAHAHA, my wife has now made an appearance on The Chronicles!!! She’s the one making the frowny-face in the background of the pic of Eric’s EG at the Hondas w/ Heart Charity Car Show. How awesome is that….

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