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Car enthusiasts in the UAE are blessed in more than one way. From an outsider’s perspective, almost everyone here answers their nature calls on a gold toilet and the ‘car scene’ here is just about six-digit supercars. They fail to see the real automotive culture that exists – behind the curtains of skyscrapers and Lamborghinis’ are a group of enthusiasts who go back to the roots. And the Honda community here is a sizeable section of these enthusiasts.

However, finding well-done Hondas in Dubai is like trying to find the next exit once you’ve missed yours – you will find one, but they are very few, very far in between.

Most of the Honda’s we see here, are the EK/EG gen, paired with a fart-can exhaust, cut-springs and replica wheels from the most reputable shops in Sharjah. The cherry on top of the cake is, the owners of these cars have the audacity to roll up to a meet and talk about what they call ‘The JDM life’, completely oblivious to the terms true meaning.

‘JDM’ simply put, is an acronym for Japanese Domestic Market – a term used to denote a vehicle that has been manufactured and sold in Japan. Fast forward to 2017, the term now stands for everything car related to come out of the country. ‘JDM culture’, ‘JDM lifestyle’, ‘Eat, Sleep, JDM’, ‘Your car is so JDM bro.’ you know where I am going with this. When I say the ‘JDM life’ does not mean one slaps on fake parts and takes on taxis between signals, I voice an opinion. One that is collectively honest and echoed by the true Honda enthusiasts in the country. People who have now become my closest friends and family, by virtue of the passion we share.

Nhoy Mangune here is a part of this little family of mine. And his DC5 Integra is probably at the very top spots of Honda tuning done the right way in UAE. Adding much needed meaning to the otherwise lost term – ‘JDM’.

Purchased back in 2015 from a close friend who wanted to get rid of it, Nhoy pounced on the chance of picking up the then black coupe – one of the last performance-oriented machines out of Honda’s factory. Before the manufacturer ‘lost its mojo’ and laid more emphasis on commuter cars. (Aren’t we all glad that they are finally rectifying that mistake?)

Looks are often deceiving; because the exterior is simple yet detailed. Only the eyes of a Honda admirer would realize that the bumpers and lip-kit are all Type-R items. The only other additions on the outside are a set of window visors and a carbon fiber Mugen wing – rendering an almost contrasting compliment against the ‘Nardo Grey’ paint

Pop the engine bay and your eyes are greeted by the K20A power plant, paired with an AEM V2 intake system, Skunk2 intake manifold and throttle body, K-Tuned fuel rail and Cusco oil catch can. A Honda in any sense is incomplete without a Mugen touch in the engine-bay. The strut bar, oil cap and radiator cap are items from the Mugen catalogue. The sound of VTEC is further amplified by Spoon Gen 2 header and a Mugen twin-loop exhaust.

One has to agree that this Honda sits just right atop the Enkei RPF1 wheels. The desired ride-height is achieved via a set of D2 Racing RS coilovers. Keeping the RPF1’s mounted safely is a set of Work lug-nuts and ARP extended wheel studs. There is no room for tire-stretch here, as the rubber of choice is the Potenza Adrenaline RE003 Semi-Slick.

Open the door and you are instantly greeted with Type-R goodness. The entire interior set-up, right from the door panels and carpets to the seats and center console is an Integra Type-R item. But wait, I know what you’re going to say dear reader – The Integra Type-R never came in LHD spec!

And that is precisely the reason this car left me, Daniel and our photographer Sami beaming with a smile when we came across it. This is a regular DC5 converted to a Type-R, and as our eyes can witness, no corners were cut during the process.

But what’s truly inspiring is not the car Nhoy has managed to build, but the story behind its coming. A Honda fan-boy since the tender age of 13, Nhoys love affair with the brand began with his purchase of a 2004 Civic ES back in the day. A car soon replaced by a Honda Accord. Then, the Accord was replaced by a FN2 Type-R, the FN2 with an EP3 Type-R, and the EP3 with an EK9 conversion hatch. And the EK9 hatch of course, was replaced by this DC5. Someone, seriously, give this guy a medal for loyalty and commitment!

While many move on to more modern cars, Nhoy has preferred to stick to the golden generation of Honda’s, owning almost every single one of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this DC5 is soon accompanied by a DC2 Teggy or a Honda S2000 in the near future. I was however surprised, at my inclination to get back into the Honda game; After spending just a little over 20 minutes with Nhoy. Talk about influence, eh?

Touching on the topic however, Nhoy holds his father as the greatest influencer, an individual who taught him the values of commitment. A value that is clearly displayed in his personality and the car we have here. After all, a car is an extension of the owner, is it not?