Bhavin Patel’s stanced Honda Accord is just the car to make you reconsider the potential of ’90s spec estates and wagons…
There can’t be a more unlikely basis for a modified car project than the humble Honda Accord. Especially one that’s very nearly two decades old and happens to be an Estate, or, as the car in question originates from across the Atlantic, Wagon form.
Now we’re well aware that Honda’s engineering nous and clever thinking filtered all the way down from the likes of the NSX to the ever-popular Civic. But it’s fair to say that the fifth generation Accord never exactly set the world alight in factory guise. Worthy load-lugger and dependable family transportation device, sure. But a car capable of startling performance and stunning looks? Nah, not really.
Thankfully there are plenty of individuals out there who refuse to be put off by silly, preconceived ideas about what cars can and can’t do. And it means we get to gawp at things like the utterly bonkers Accord you see here. It’s been built by Bhavin Patel, and it takes the accepted wisdom of what an Accord Wagon should look like and well and truly turns it on its head.
“I think Hondas from this period are brilliant, really well designed and with loads of potential, especially some of the less commonly tuned models,” says Bhavin. “The fact that mine is a true JDM import just makes it even better.”
The Accord certainly didn’t start off looking anything like as immaculate and well presented as it does now, and it actually had to be towed back to his house because the original engine had thrown in the towel. Not that he was even remotely put off by this less than auspicious start, as Bhavin knew that there were plenty of tuning options available for the car – he just had to look to other models in the Honda range for inspiration. A JDM-spec H23A four-cylinder was soon sourced and fitted, though of course a standard, naturally aspirated lump was never really going to cut the mustard, especially as this engine is perfectly well catered for by the US scene.
“I bought a complete H22 Treadstone turbo kit, which included an intercooler, a Turbonetics ball bearing turbo and a Tial wastegate, then set about fitting it to the new engine,” muses Bhavin.
Now that’s an impressive list of hardware in anyone’s book. But Bhavin also opted to fit a set of free-flowing manifolds, a stainless steel exhaust system and a pair of Brian Crower Stage 2 turbo cams with Skunk2 adjustable cam gears. This array of high-end tuning kit is kept in check by Hondata S300 management, with a subsequent dyno session revealing this unassuming little wagon to be making 300bhp in low boost mode and a staggering 375bhp in high boost form.
Impressive as those figures are, they’re probably not as eye-opening as the manner in which this Wagon can handle that power, with Bhavin having devoted a huge amount of his time to perfecting its chassis.
Peek under those arches (you’ll have to get very low indeed to actually achieve this) and you’ll spot all manner of trick chassis gear, including coilover suspension, a Progress Technology ARB, Skunk2 Civic EF upper Adjustable Control Arms and a traction bar from Explicit Speed Performance. While the rear end now runs camber adjustable control arms and FFC lower arms with uprated bushes throughout. Bhavin’s even fitted a Limited Slip Differential to the Honda five-speed ’box, meaning that this Accord now has a lot more in common with a full-on track day warrior than a family hold all.
“It’s certainly not a dedicated circuit car, but it does get used for the odd track day and a fair bit of drag racing,” says Bhavin. “That’s partly why I spent so long sorting the suspension, as well as a desire to make it
that much lower of course.”
It’s incredible how much of a difference to a car’s appearance a set of wheels, some well thought out exterior tweaks and a decent altitude adjustment can make. And that’s never been truer than in the case of Bhavin’s Accord. Okay, so the standard cars are nice VIP Modular VRS-11, yummy enough looking things. But it’s only since he’s fitted the VIP Modular VRS-11 wheels and JDM exterior trims and fittings that you truly appreciate the neat styling and cool lines present in the fifth-gen model.
“I’ve ended up following the VIP route with the car, though that’s something that happened pretty much organically – I certainly didn’t set out to build it like this from the start.”
Those beefy 18-inch wheels are the most obvious nod to the VIP look. But there are many more examples when you move inside, with those JDM-spec leather seats one of the first things you notice. They’re trimmed in plush leather and have set in motion something of a theme, with the front and rear doorcards now also coated in lashings of cow hide. Look closely and you’ll also spot all manner of rare JDM clobber dotted throughout the cabin (which must’ve been a bit of a challenge to source), such as SiR gauges, Accord sill guards, cub holders and a VIP-style fold out table. It’s certainly a lot posher in here than an old Accord has any right to be. But that just adds to the appeal of the whole car.
There’s a lot more to come though, with Bhavin readily admitting that the coming months will see some fairly substantial changes to the car in an effort to keep it at the very forefront of the US scene.
“There’s a massive amount still to do and I’ll be installing air suspension in the next few months,” he says. “Then having the whole car resprayed. I’m going to stick with the same colour but add some pearls and flake to make it really pop. I also plan to shave and tuck the engine bay when swapping in my new 500bhp H23A.”
￼OWNER: BHAVIN PATEL
TECH SPEC: HONDA ACCORD WAGON
JDM H23A DOHC 16V with Kaizenspeed balance shaft delete kit, OEM oil pump; Brian Crower Stage 2 turbo profile cams with Skunk2 adjustable cam gears; Treadstone H22 Turbo kit consisting of Turbonetics Stage 3 ball bearing 60-1 HIFI turbo with 57mm turbine wheel and .63 a/r turbine housing and wastegate; 2.5in TR-8 FMIC and Tial BOV; Spoolin Performance turbo manifold; stainless steel exhaust system; port matched Euro-R inlet; ID 1,000cc injectors; AEM fuel rail and FPR; new fuel tank and Walbro 255 LPHour pump; KS Tuned manual timing belt adjuster; Hondata S300 with PLX DM6 wideband; five-speed gearbox with LSD.
10x18in and 10.5x18in VIP Modular VRS-11 alloys with brushed faces and high polished lips; coilovers; FFC strut brace; Progress Technology ARB; ESP traction bar; Skunk2 Civic EF upper adjustable control arms; rear adjustable camber control arms and lower rear tow arms; five stud converted hubs with extended ARP studs; Acura Legend callipers with Brembo discs.
JDM leather seat conversion with matching leather doorcards; custom LED door lights; retrofitted Digital Climate Control; Acura MDX wheel with functioning audio controls; Acura CL wood grain console insert; Panasonic HU with rear view camera; JDM SiR gauges; Accord sills guards; half-mast antenna; cup holder and custom table; custom RHD pillar gauge pod with PLX wideband gauge and Inovate boost and oil gauges; Odyssey overhead sunglass holder with working Homelink for garage doors.
1997 Honda Accord Wagon Vi with original Bordeaux red paint; retrofit JDM Headlights with HID projectors and electric elevation control; secondary headlight EDM fluted headlights with electric elevation control; JDM clear indicators; Stillen front splitter; Mugen side skirts; Wings West rear valance; Value Sports upper wing; Azect front grille; JDM rear parking sensors; parking pole; power folding mirrors; window guards; Honda of America eagles and headlight elevation control switch.
Words Jarkle Photos Mike Kuhn