In a world where everything moves at a million miles an hour, I have the utmost respect for those who take their time to achieve a goal. And that is especially true when the goal is developing a car from the ground up.
Built By Legends (BBL) is a name you’ve likely heard of before. It was around this time last year that I visited Mine’s to check out BBL’s interpretation of the ultimate BNR32 Nissan Skyline GT-R. As this was happening, the Built By Legends crew already had their next project under the knife.
Their 1994 Honda Civic SiR (EG6) is not quite finished yet, and there is no deadline for its completion. It will only be deemed done once BBL are satisfied that their vision has been truly realized.
That vision is something that makes total sense for those that have followed and respect Japanese tuning outfits for what they achieved in their heyday. This time around the legend in question is Spoon Sports, a name we are all familiar with.
Much like the first BBL build where Mr. Mine’s himself, Niikura-san, was directly involved in the project, Spoon’s founder, Tatsuru Ichishima, has fully embraced the BBL project. Which is why you’re seeing the Spoon Sports EG6 race car in a very quiet Tsukuba paddock.
I was invited to check out the BBL car’s second test session, where the team hoped to iron out some of the wrinkles and bring the Civic another step closer to completion.
After a slight delay due to transportation issues, the Built By Legends EG6 finally entered the paddock sporting some prototype-car-like front end camouflage.
There was a long call list of things to be addressed on the day, the main one being handling performance and what bearing the new carbon fiber-reinforced floor had on it. Yes, you read right. More on that particular detail shortly…
First up, it’s what everyone who’s familiar with this build is talking about – the engine. You’re looking at a complete, off-the-shelf, blue-printed Spoon B18C unit with a unique addition.
In the Built By Legends EG6, the engine sits 40mm lower than stock, helping lower the center of gravity without having to slam the car excessively. The concept here is to create the ultimate street EG6, but one that carries Spoon race car heritage with it.
To facilitate the engine lowering, Ichishima-san and BBL needed to rethink the headers, which usually curve downward and pass under the engine. That’s how the ‘Titanium Side Flow Exhaust Manifold’ was born.
These wild, hand-built headers are probably unlike anything you’ve ever seen on a B-series and bring some real theater to the project. Under-hood heat management has been a slight issue because of the pipe routing, but BBL think they have it sorted now. This was another aspect of the build being tested on the day.
Along with the floor, the front suspension turrets have also been reinforced with carbon fiber for Nismo Z-tune-like attention to detail. Check out how the top adjusters for the Spoon dampers have a little plastic cover on them to avoid the metal finish becoming tarnished. I love this sort of stuff!
Literally seconds after the EG6 had pulled into the makeshift BBL pit area, the mechanics went to work prepping the car for its first laps.
If you’re still not entirely clear about what Built By Legends is trying to achieve with their cars, the message on the back of their jackets sums it up pretty well.
While all fluids were being checked the car was put on axles stands and the engine and transmission warmed up. Spoon SW388s (their weight is in the name itself) are one of the best wheel choices for an EG6, and I loved the look of Spoon’s compact 6-pot front calipers peeking through as the five-spokes spun.
While the exterior is pretty well sorted now – including the Spoon fenders and newly-designed Spoon front bumper (not fitted at the Tsukuba test) – the interior is still in a raw form. When this car is completed – perhaps near the end of the year if we’re lucky – it will have been given the full BBL treatment, including the same upholstery as we saw in the GT-R build. That side of the build is being looked after by the company that trims the seats in Shinkansen bullet trains. We can also expect an Alcantara headliner and carpeting that partially exposes the carbon fiber floor.
The Defi-based instrument cluster that’s currently fitted will soon be replaced with a custom BBL setup. I’m also interested to see if they carry over the dark chrome-finished switchgear and controls used in the GT-R.
I was told that the shifter is going to be very special BBL-designed diamond-like carbon (DLC) plated titanium piece. I can just imagine the tactile experience something like that will provide the driver.
Once all the testing is complete and the car is fully developed, it will be totally stripped down and repainted.
Even at this stage, I love how subtle the whole execution has been. The focus is solely on those aspects that positively impact the performance and feel of the car. It’s a beautiful fusion of form and function.
A few more minutes passed before Ichishima-san was suited up in his iconic livery.
As I mentioned, this was the car’s second testing outing, its shakedown having taken place at Ebisu Higashi late last year. Ichishima wanted to get an overall feel for the car and gather as much data as possible in order to optimize the damping and spring rates. With the way this EG is set up with a carbon floor, carbon suspension mounts and lowered engine, it achieves a 50:50 weight distribution, so there is some fine tuning to do.
Despite taking it easy, Ichishima-san still lapped consistently in the low 1.06 range, which is impressive. I wonder what it will be able to achieve when fully set up and driven at maximum attack…
However, as the Built By Legends guys always remind me, this isn’t a track car – it’s a street car with street radials, so breaking records is not what it’s about.
After a quick consultation with Ichishima-san, it was decided that the suspension needed a little adjustment and small spacers added to the rear to slightly increase its track.
Another thing being considering is whether to increase the width of the rear wheels the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RSs are mounted on.
A quick oil check and top up later, and the car was ready to go out again.
One thing you don’t see with a simple glance in the engine bay is the JGTC-inspired radiator and swirl pot setup, fitted to ensure temperatures are kept in check at all times. Furthermore, heat-shielding added to the lower section of the air box proved successful in keeping intake temps within a normal range.
Taking a closer look in the cabin, I really wanted to check out the carbon fiber floor.
The carbon work was handled by Opera Performance, and it looks amazing. I can totally see why something like this would add a lot of added rigidity to the chassis, and also why BBL want to partially leave the carbon fiber exposed.
The custom BBL fabric has already been test-fitted to the door cards, protected with plastic while the car is still in its development stage.
The day at Tsukuba netted a great deal of data and positive feedback from Ichishima-san, meaning that BBL can continue with the build as it heads towards its final specification. I’ll definitely be connecting with the Built By Legends team later in the year to see how the project has evolved.