The Real Deal: Spoon Sports Honda Accord Euro R
“It was a mess,” laughs Will, “As soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to rescue it.”
It was a decade and a half ago, right when Stateside enthusiasts’ lust for all things JDM was hitting critical mass that SoCal native Willem Drees, a SoCal native, first saw this no. 91 Spoon Sports Honda Accord Euro R. “We went to Buttonwillow, for a track day,” he begins, “and this car just showed up out of nowhere. I was blown away seeing it in person really.” He knew Spoon and all the cars from JDM Options videos and the pages of U.S. tuning magazines, but this one was a little different.
Spoon Sports knew the time was right to break into the U.S. and foreign markets. But rather than try to do that solely from Japan, or spend exorbitant amounts of money shipping their cars back and forth between continents, they decided on something different: Build a genuine JDM Spoon Sports race machine at their home base in Japan, and then partner with local race teams in the U.S. and abroad to campaign it on their respective home turfs, winning races and local market shares at once.
Time-attack hadn’t yet caught on here, so they set their sights on what’s still today the gold standard in sportscar club racing: the 25 Hours of Thunderhill—a pretty logical choice, since any performance parts that can survive the brutality of 25 hours of nonstop racing would make great additions to the road-going cars of their target market.
It was a creative strategy, and that first race proved to be a brilliant tactical decision as well. The brand-new car, entered by Spoon and Opak Racing, won the formerly Porsche/BMW-dominated E1-class and finished the race 16th overall out of 73 cars, including much more powerful GT and racing prototype machines. For a brand-new, front-wheel drive car in only its second production year, campaigned by a Japanese brand only a handful of die-hard fans had heard of, in their first year at the grueling race, it was a startling victory.
The following year the car was sent off to the UK to compete in the first-ever Silverstone 24-hour race at the hand of Barwell Motorsport and the Fifth Gear TV crew (as documented in this episode of Fifth Gear), where it again won its class and finished unusually high overall.
The car went on to race at Brands Hatch and other UK circuits before going on to race at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring in Germany, and then to Japan. It eventually returned to the U.S., where it captured the 2008 Nitto Tire U.S. Touring Car Championship and 2009 NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship, and served as a second-string car to other Spoon Sports machines in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill once again, along with other races. For a brand-new, FWD car in its second production year, campaigned by a Japanese brand only a handful of die-hard fans had heard of—in their first year at the grueling race—it was a startling victory.
Fading Into Obscurity
At some point the car was retired from official competition, and from what Will can tell, the battered but unbroken warrior was relegated to unused corners of various garages where it sat and sat…and sat. Will kept up with it, but never was in a position to buy it. Finally, in 2016 while on a personal trip to Japan and in a better place with his career, a friend messaged him a listing of the car for sale. Will phoned the seller, caught the next flight back to L.A. and drove up to the car’s Bay Area resting place to have a closer look.
Racing damage over the years had been poorly patched up, its bumpers were now cheap generic replacement, the brakes and transmission were trashed and someone, somewhere, added a cheap-o auto parts store aluminum wing to it.
By that point, the car’s racing heritage had been built into it. Its roll cage bore the stamps from its initial entry in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. It retained the 22-gallon fuel cell and vacuum-filler system that was installed prior to Silverstone. Once its original engine eventually faded, it was replaced with another K20A pulled from the Spoon FD2 Type R. It still rode on the Nitto tires it won with at its last race, and small modifications were added throughout its life to give it specific competitive advantages.
Beginning the Rebuild
Will’s goal seemed simple enough: to preserve as much of the car’s history and original intent as he could, while restoring it to the best it could’ve been along the way. But considering the amount of race-specific, one-off hardware on the car, that proved to be ambitious. Over the course of a year he deconstructed the car to the sheet metal and rebuilt it in his two-car garage, deciding what to retain and what to replace, and where improvements could be made without going overboard.
Old bodywork was removed and repaired correctly. The car’s FD2 K20A engine was left intact but freshened up and reinstalled with a custom stainless exhaust, blacked-out Radium fuel rail and HPS water lines. Its transmission was rebuilt with a Spoon 5.0 final drive, clutch-type LSD and re-packed Spoon axles (thought to be its original axles!).
Mix of Old and New
A Hondata ECU was chosen to replace the car’s original thread-cable prototype Spoon unit. A fresh Koyo radiator was added under the hood, but many other accessories were left as-is, to preserve the history of the car.
The car’s aging Ohlins dampers were sent to Sweden to be internally rebuilt and were paired with fresh Swift springs. Spoon camber arms, rigid collars and solid steering bushings that weren’t available in 2003 were ordered and added, along with custom spherical bushings. Even the car’s original AP Racing air-jack system was restored and retained (with added jack stand collars), which might have been one of the biggest challenges of the whole build. “There was absolutely no information anywhere about that particular system,” laughs Will.
Will decided to keep the massive, 22-gallon fuel cell and filler necks, despite how much weight they added so high in the car, and the fact that they’re not legal for most racing here in the States. “They’re just such an integral part of the car’s history,” he explained.
A genuine 6lb Spoon Sports dry-carbon hood was found and added, along with a carbon trunk and ultra-rare Mooncraft carbon rear wing (since that aluminum one just had to go).
Lightweight Weds TC105N wheels and a fresh set of ultra-sticky Nitto NT01 rubber replace the required stock from years ago. Today, with the whole car now a little lighter, a little faster and a whole lot cleaner and more solid than it has been since its debut over a decade and a half ago. It’s ready to fight once again.
Back in Action at VTEC Club
We met Will and saw this beauty in action at VTEC Club’s season-opening competition round at Chuckwalla earlier this year and were impressed with its 2:01.8xx lap times in only Will’s second outing with it, and his first time at Chuckwalla. He’s planning to run more VTEC Club events in 2019, along with his HFF Challenge time-attack series held in conjunction with Speedventures.
“There are definitely areas where I could improve it even more,” he explains. “And I could always decide to just go all-out with it.” He continues, about the car he began his story with all those years ago, “But for now, I’m happy with it just the way it is.” So are we.
Click through our gallery below for more of Will Drees' genuine Spoon Sports Honda Accord Euro R, and look for more Honda content from Driving Line all year long!
Spec Sheet: Willem Drees' Spoon Sports 2003 Honda Accord Euro R
|Engine:||Spoon Sports FD2 Type R K20A engine; Honda RSP adapted intake manifold; custom exhaust manifold; custom carbon-fiber intake tubing; factory airbox; Radium fuel rail; Sard fuel pressure regulator; Koyo radiator; TrackTuff waterneck; HPS water lines; custom titanium exhaust; Bosch 044 fuel pump; Holley Hydromats; FuelSafe 22-gal fuel cell; ATL filler plate and nozzle ports; Hondata K-Tuned ECU|
|Transmission/Driveline:||Spoon Sports 5.0 Final drive, clutch-type LSD, axles|
|Suspension:||Spoon Sports strut bar, camber arms, spherical bushings, rigid collars, solid steering bushings; custom spherical bushings; custom-valved Ohlins dampers; Swift Springs; APR wheel studs; Work lug nuts|
|Brakes:||Spoon Sports front calipers (factory Euro R aluminum rear calipers); Porterfield R4 pads; AP Racing brake-bias valve; custom brake lines|
|Wheels/Tires:||Weds TC105N 17x9-inch +35mm wheels; Nitto NT01 255/40R17 tires|
|Interior/Electronics:||Spoon Sports six-point roll cage; AP Racing airjack system; Krontec airjack pneumatic connector; Recaro HANS SPG driver seat; Willans six-point racing harness; Defi Advance ZD gauge display; custom carbon-fiber switch panel; Spa AFFF and H3 halon Fire suppression system; Deutsch Motorsport connectors|
|Exterior/Aero:||OEM Honda Accord Euro R bumpers, sideskirts, lip kit; custom-spaced OEM front fenders; custom front lip splitter; Mugen tow hooks; MoonCraft carbon-fiber touring wing; Craft Square carbon-fiber mirrors; Spoon Sports CL7 dry carbon-fiber hood; carbon-fiber trunk; Ship to Shore radio antenna; custom Land Rover Defender number plate puddle lights (ala Barwell Motorsports); PIAA HID headlights|