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MOTORING: Big Issuez – Honda Accord

Featured in Freestyle Volume 04 2008. Story by Jeremy Shields. Photography by Phil Cooper.

A wagon fit to serve any self-respecting, cane-rockin’ pimp? What else are you gonna call it except a pimp wagon with… big Issuez

You gotta wonder sometimes what possesses people to use something like this as a basis for a balls-out, off the wall burner of a build, but ask owner – and obvious nut-job – Adrian Mancini why he chose a ’94 Honda Accord wagon and he’ll tell you straight up; “I wanted to build a car no one else had thought of”. You see it’s people like Adrian that keep our scene alive and kicking. The follow-up “I just like the shape of the car” drives home the underlying theme here that this guy is certainly an individual! We’re not saying we don’t dig the Accord’s smooth, rounded shape, but it probably wouldn’t really register in the forefront of the mind when short-listing suspects for a new project.

At the end of the day, the man’s vision has been realized, and while there’s always going to be those knockers along the way basing opinions on a work-in-progress, the end result speaks for itself with serious build quality and a level of engineering to match. By now you’ve probably seen under the bonnet, so let’s jump in the deep end and find out why there’s a replica of the Harbour Bridge lurking underneath.

Believe it or not, Adrian is not in the scaffolding trade, although you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise with the crazy framework crossing the 2.2L 4-potter’s cam cover. Far from being a strut brace that’s on a whole new level of overkill, this custom tube frame is actually part of the extensively modified chassis, aimed squarely at getting the wagon lower than Lindsay Lohan on a bender. Steel plates welded to the tubework form the upper mounts for a pair of Slam Specialties air bags, with
the other end sitting on custom fabricated A-arms. Moving things around as much as he had, Adrian also had to modify a set of radius rods to keep the suspension geometry acceptable, while custom mounting hardware was created to attach the engine to the new front chassis members.

The standard chassis rails remain in place, albeit with serious strengthening in critical areas, as well as a notch job on each side to keep the driveshafts happy when those bags get emptied.

Continuing rearwards, it was obvious from the outset that the ribs and rails on the underside of the body were most likely going to cop a bashing from time to time, but once again Adrian was ahead of the game, plating up the protrusions with steel to give a tough, sacrificial surface. Sacrificial? Well if you think about it, apart from strengthening, this also provides something other than the body itself for tarmac to eat through when it’s rail time!

As with the front, there was a long list of jobs to be done before Adrian could dump the rump, including tubbing of the rear guards to get those whitewall’d Alba ‘Bertha’ 18”s tuckin’. Custom tube suspension arms were also required, as well as a custom fuel tank as the factory example did not have a bright future ahead of it. Once again Slam Specialties bags were used at this end allowing the driver to pick a ride height from comfortable cruiser to speed hump bruiser.

Despite being an electrician by day, Adrian proved he’s a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades by plumbing everything up once the fabrication was complete. Air lines run from each of the 4 bags to a belt-driven compressor mounted to the engine, while a set of Danz valves make sure that whenever any of the 6 switches is tripped, the result is rapid and dramatic – is there any other way? The bottom line is – if this wagon’s rockin’… Sit back and watch the show.

Ask 99% of guys and they will tell you; a good body with curves in all the right places is very important, and Adrian is no different. So when it came to prepping the body for the slick BMW Statos Grey it was like a whole season of Nip/Tuck jammed into one crazy episode.

Minimizing lines was the key objective, and the best way to do just that is by removing them altogether. So off came the door handles, front and rear windscreen washer jets, badges, side indicators, fuel flap, rear wiper… the list goes on. As if that wasn’t enough, Adrian also got out the equivalent of a giant eraser and scrapped the roof mouldings along with anything else that was cluttering up any large surfaces, such as the front and rear bumpers, the tailgate, any body mouldings – even the crash pad.

Speaking of bumpers, the original front was binned as well, replaced with a later ’96 version that was then slapped with billet grilles and topped with US-spec headlights.

We mentioned the deletion of the fuel flap, and you may be wondering how the hell you fill it up. Well, Adrian’s custom streak wasn’t fading yet, and the trusty behind-the-taillight trick was the perfect solution.

Custom mounts for a pair of early Volkswagen side mirrors were knocked up, along with a one-off custom sheet-metal bonnet, the result of many hours of rolling and tapping. The end result is one of patience and determination to create something different – a goal that’s been well and truly achieved. Adrian wasn’t finished yet though…

The next port of call was renowned trimmers/audio installers Platinum Car Audio and Interiors where the brief was basically to make it as unique inside as it is outside. This was obviously no problem for Peter and Vanh, who took the project to the next level with a no-holds-barred re-trim of the wagon’s cockpit. This involved the sort of luxury normally kept for the crème de la crème of the motoring world, with Mercedes carpet and enough hide to clothe a large number of the world’s best-dressed bovines.

The makeover is more than skin-deep though, wrapped around some major changes to the interior panels themselves, starting with custom fibreglass door trims and speaker pods, glove box-mounted A/C and heater controls, and a classic rod mod in it’s own right – the centrally mounted Dakota Digital gauge cluster, mounted dead-centre in the middle of the dash with it’s billet surround giving a hard edge to the bone-coloured environment. A matching billet aluminium air switch cluster also found it’s way in, along with an iPod controller with it’s own custom-moulded holder.

We seem to be forgetting something though… Oh yeah, there’s also that absolutely mind-numbing ‘entertainment system’ that’s got enough bass to warrant plastic seat covers. Lucky he got the wagon…

The mastermind behind it all is a Clarion MAX676UD double-din TV head unit, which sends out orders via no less than 5 amplifiers – one DPX1800 for each of the 3 Clarion XW1252 12” dual voice core subs, and the other pair for the 8 Clarion SRS1752HX 6.5” splits mounted in the dash, front and rear doors, and within the custom enclosure in the boot area. The subs themselves have their own fiberglass enclosure, with a pair of Optima deep cycle batteries, 0-gauge wiring, and a custom in-board charger/power supply providing enough current to power it all up.

It’s certainly testament to the high standards seen on all Platinum productions, with the custom, suede-trimmed amp housing on the roof (complete with mood-setting down lights!) providing the perfect centerpiece to the whole experience, and when the volume’s up that’s exactly what it is – an experience.

Slammed, bagged, blinged and trimmed, not to mention it’s structural integrity to rival a tank, Adrian’s wagon is a rolling billboard for determination and a huge amount of plain hard work. Making it all possible was the help of a select few who helped out wherever they could, including “Jeff and the guys from Clarion for the car audio, Peter and Vanh from Platinum Car Audio and Interiors for the interior and car audio installation, Richard and Leigh from Tuckshop Customs for the air suspension supplies and other accessories, all my family and friends who helped out and made it possible to build my ride, to all my other NC members worldwide, and my girlfriend for putting up with all the long hours I have put in building my car.


Specs

Owner. Adrian Mancini

Vehicle. 1994 Honda Accord Wagon

Engine. Honda F22BI 2.2L Vtec 4 cylinder

Engine Mods. Pod filter on custom chrome intake, stainless extractors, chrome inlet manifold, rocker cover, P/S pump, alternator, A/C compressor, twin core aluminium radiator, billet P/S and radiator reservoirs, braided lines, detailed engine block, hidden wiring, battery and fuse box relocated to interior, 2.5” exhaust, twin chrome tips

Chassis & Suspension. Custom tube-frame front end with custom A-arms, modified radius rods, custom engine mounts, relocated shocks, reinforced and notched factory chassis rails, steel plated unibody rails, belt-drive compressor, air lines, 4 x 4 gallon air tanks on custom tank rack in boot, Danz valves, custom lower rear tie rod bar

Body/Paint. BMW Statos Grey paint, custom sheet metal bonnet, shaved roof mouldings, door handles, front and rear washer jets, badges, side indicators, front and rear bumpers, body mouldings, fuel flap, tailgate, crash pad and rear wiper, ’96 Accord wagon front bumper with ’94 lower section, billet grilles, USDM headlights, door poppers, relocated fuel filler behind taillight, custom mirror mounts for early VW side mirrors, tubbed rear inner guards, rolled and strengthened arches

Wheels & Tyres. 18” Alba ‘Bertha’ rims with 215/35 Nankang white-walls

Interior. Front seats moved to rear, shaved dash vents and controls, centrally mounted Dakota Digital gauge cluster with oil pressure, water temp, volts, tacho and speedo, Mercedes carpet, new bone seat belts, billet air switch cluster (6 switches), A/C and heater controls relocated to glove box, B.A.D Tribal billet steering wheel with billet adapter, billet Razo gear knob, custom fiberglass door trims, speaker pods and roof mount for amps, full re-trim in bone leather and suede

Audio. Clarion MAX676UD double din TV head unit, 3 x Clarion DPX1800 amps for subs, 2 x Clarion APX6360 amps for speakers, Clarion SRS1752HX 6.5” splits in all doors, dash and custom rear enclosure, 3 Clarion XW1252 12” dual voice core subs in custom enclosure, 0-gauge wiring, 2 x Optima deep cycle batteries with custom inboard charger/power supply, iPod control with custom mount, 2 x 7” monitors in boot

Future Mods. New wheels and more power (possibly turbo)

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