Project 96: It’s All in the Details
Exclusive feature of the Mountune USA engineered 1996 Honda Accord Project written by Millennial Motoring.
When you first lay your eyes on this wild looking Honda Accord wagon, you can’t help but feel this sense of nostalgia. Everything about it: the iconic JACCS inspired livery, the Fifteen52 Super Touring wheels that look as if they are pulled right from an early 90's rally car, its low and aggressive track stance, and of course the carbon fiber Ganador inspired mirrors. Underneath this thick layer of nostalgia lies the latest and greatest technology in the aftermarket industry today. When you start to get closer to the car, you begin to notice the fine details. Some symbolizing the past and that nostalgia this car relies so heavily on, and others that represent the technology and innovation of the present that makes the industry so exciting today.
The theme of this car is based on that of the Championship winning 1996 Mooncraft JACCS Honda Accord that raced in JTCC. To those with a keen eye, they will notice that this livery (apart from the sponsor decals) is an exact replica to the JACCS car. Same shade of colors, some exact positioning of the lines. Everything, to the very finest of details is exact. Of course, the roof and rear end are slightly different to accommodate for the additional bodywork of the wagon. The JTCC car ran a naturally aspirated H22A, was on big 18 inch wheels, and slammed suspension, it raced while tucking rim!!
There are a couple of key differences between the original Mooncraft car and the Mountune-built Fifteen52 car. The most obvious being that the JTCC car was a sedan, and Project 96 is a wagon. The other main difference is under the hood. As stated previously the JTCC car was running a naturally aspirated H22A, Project 96 on the other hand is utilizing the HPD K20C1 Crate Engine and Controls Package. This is the same engine you can find in the current FK8 Honda Civic Type R! It's fitment in this chassis is perfect, almost as if it could have been built this way from the factory!
Oftentimes, it’s the smallest details that make the biggest differences. Beginning in the engine bay, one of the most eye-catching pieces is the intake piping coming from the Intercooler, polished chrome with minimal welds. A nice and simple piece compared to the ‘pie cut’ look that a lot of modern builds feature. Hovering right next to it, the TracTuff swirl pot, a beautifully crafted piece that is highly functional, that also helps tidy up the overall look of the engine bay. Following the route of the intake piping up and looking at the firewall you can see where Mountune mounted the electronics and fuel filter for this car. Not a typical location for these items, in the engine bay, but when you look at this build as a whole, it fits perfectly and makes sense. Just below the AEM fuel filter and behind the engine is the Antigravity Battery. An unorthodox location for the battery, but again, it makes sense where it is located when you look at the build. On top of this battery there is a small button, something that you would miss just taking a quick glance at the engine bay. This button allows you to cut power, a built-in kill switch. Such a wonderful feature on this Antigravity battery, that makes this particular part of the build much cleaner. As opposed to having the main kill switch on the cowl that requires extra wiring, the Antigravity Battery has that feature built right in!
Missing from the engine bay are the brake master cylinder and clutch master cylinder, why? This car is running a Tilton pedal box setup and reservoirs, like you would find in any modern track build or GT4/GT3 car. Mounted slightly higher than the factory pedals, they feel perfectly positioned when you are sitting in the Sparco seat. Just behind the driver, in the center of what used to be the backseat area, sits the Radium fuel cell. A precise fit and finish, again another piece of this build that looks as if it could have come that way from the factory. The suede Sparco steering wheel is the optimal size for this application, and a sturdy feeling in your hands. The AEM CD-7 Dash is mounted directly to the top of the steering column rather than mounted in the carbon dash where the factory gauge cluster sits. Anyone that is lucky enough to get to drive Project 96 will always have a clear picture of the instrumentation, even if they adjust the Sparco seat or the height of the steering column itself. Speaking of the dash, it has been flocked, soft to the touch. This not only completes the crisp and clean look, but it also reduces glare when driving. The instrument area is exposed carbon in a matte finish for that dry-carbon look. Where the airbag used to be located on the passenger side, now lives the Tilton Master Cylinders for the pedal box. This is the optimal position for service, and it keeps dangerous fluids away from the driver, and again aids in the clean look of the interior.
Moving over to the shift knob and mechanism, the Type R LE Polished Aluminum Shift Knob is affixed to an Acuity Fully Adjustable Short Shifter. The throws are close and feel tight as a drum, giving the driver confidence when shifting. It feels like my S2000’s gearbox on steroids! Inches in front of the shifter assembly is the switch panel, cleanly laid out, and un-labeled. The top switch, in red, is your main power and internal kill-switch, the switch directly below, is your ignition. When you fire up Project 96, a screen flashes with a beautiful design matching the outside of the car, then it lands on the bright yellow of the Mountune logo. Touch the button on the left side of the AEM dash and your instruments appear in a colorful array. The clutch is heavy and so is the steering without the assist of power steering. To get out, a bright red canvas flight tag is waiting on the door to be pulled.
With all this modern equipment the car still feels analog, it feels as though it could have dropped right into that 1996 JTCC Season and would not have been out of place. When you sit in this car, you can really feel the quality and care that went into every aspect of it. When you look at this car, it makes you feel like a kid again; the bright colors, the loud exhaust, the low stance. You can’t help but smile when you look at it. This car was built by true enthusiasts that are masters of the craft and it really shows. Everything has a purpose, everything is there for a reason, this car is the embodiment of function AND form.