To many, the 2g Accord doesn’t seem like it has much potential. The aftermarket support is nearly zero, there’s almost no information about them, and no real enthusiast following. It’s probably in just about the worst spot of any classic Honda out there. If you’re the owner of an 84 or 85 Accord with the ES2 engine, I’m going to let you in on what you can do. The options aren’t as limited as you thought.
Bolt on power.
The biggest complaint that most people have, is power. Yes, this car comes with a whopping 86bhp. It doesn’t exactly give you a tingly feeling in the seat of your pants when you romp it. You gotta drop it to 4th on the slightest inclines on the freeway. Grandma and her walker will beat you in the 1/4 mile.
Meet the Weber carburetor. By ditching the tiny, finicky stock carburetor, you open up a couple of possibilities. First, if you’re looking for just a BIT more oomph, but want to keep your MPGs, you’ll want to go with a DGV 32/36. If you want your car to actually get some serious seat of the pants feel, pick up a DGS 38. The main differences between the carburetors is that the DGV is smaller, and has a progressive throttle plate opening, while the 38 has both barrels open at the same time. What this means, is that the DGV will open the smaller, 32mm barrel first. Then as you give it more gas, the bigger 36mm barrel opens up. Meanwhile on the 38, both barrels (both 38mm, how about that?) open simultaneously. This gives the DGS has a much better throttle response, and will actually open up your poor, starving engine considerably more.
If you do decide to go the route of converting your Accord to a Weber carburetor, you’ll need to find the adapter plates. There are many places online that sell them, from Redline Weber, Carbs Unlimited, and others. You can buy the DGV in a kit with the adapter plates, and bolt it all on your car and go. And to make it easier, it’s pre-jetted for your car. The DGS will take a bit more work, as you will probably have to buy it desperate from a kit, and it may or may not come pre-jetted.
The stock engine also has the same style of exhaust ports as the later 86-89 Accord, A20 engines. This means that you can bolt on any header that fits the A20 onto your block. There are a variety of headers available. There are some discontinued DC Sports headers floating around, and OBX currently makes a long tube 4-1 style header. Pacesetter is also another option for you. And, if you want to go a bit cheaper route, the 2g Prelude comes with a nice 4-2-1 header that is a better design than the stock 4-1 cast manifold.
The only caveat of using an aftermarket header is that your EGR tube and your air suction tubes will not line up with the header. Your only option is to figure out how to delete and cap these systems, or reweld the bungs on the exhaust. If you’ve already got a Weber on your car, chances are you have thrown out this junk anyways.
Gear ratios are another problem with the Accord when it comes to fun. The stock gearing is tall. There are huge gaps between shifts as you’re rowing through the gears. This just won’t do. The solution for this is really simple, actually. Get a 2g Prelude transmission. The transmission from pretty much any Dual Carb Prelude (Non-Si) is a direct bolt-on to the Accord. I’m not sure if it makes the car actually faster or not, but it sure feels like it is. For $50 from a wrecking yard, it’s one of the best boosts you can give your car.
While you’ve got the transmission off, you might as well go for a lightened flywheel. Clutchnet sells a very nice aluminum unit for the car that will help the engine build revs, and smooth shifts. Pair it with an OE-style clutch and pressure plate from Exedy (which is what I actually got when I ordered from Clutchnet), and you’ll find no decrease in drivability.
On my car, I had pretty much done all of the above to the stock engine. I had a DC header, Weber DGS with complete vacuum delete, and and aluminum flywheel. On the engine’s last dyno, before swapping to a B20A (I’ll get more into this later), I put down 97hp and 125lb-ft of torque at the wheels. Not bad considering it makes 86bhp stock. Oh, and did I mention that was with 310,000 miles on the engine? Not bad at all.
Engine & Head Swaps
For some other easy horsepower options, you can swap out your cylinder head. Canada featured a non-CVCC version of the ES motor, in both 1.6 and 1.8 liter variants. Named the EZ and ET1 respectively. They were much simpler versions of our cars, both featuring 12 valve heads that should drop right on to the ES2 engine block. One might suspect that the EZ head could raise the compression of the ES bottom end, due to it being built for a 1.6 liter. But it’s not 100% known if this engine is actually a de-stroked, or de-bored version of the ES. It’s also not known for sure if simply swapping these heads will gain you any power, but it’s a simpler head to start with for modification, if you’re looking to build something up.
If Canada is too far away for you to travel, why not stick with a very commonly available cylinder head from the early 2g Prelude? Sharing the bottom end with the ES2, the ES1 motor was still a CVCC engine with dual sidedraft carbs, but was good for around 100hp. The interesting thing about this engine is that it has a little tiny 3rd carburetor between the main carbs to feed the CVCC system. This upgrade should be good for 15hp, and dirt cheap at any wrecking yard.
The best bang for your buck though, is going to be doing a complete engine swap. And your simplest and cheapest swap is the A20 engine from the 86-89 Accord. The A20 can be picked up in both carbureted and PGM-FI models. The injected one making the most horsepower at around 115-120, depending on who you talk to. The great part about the A20 is that the block is externally identical to the ES motors. This means you can grab yourself a $300 motor from the wrecking yard, bolt it to your stock transmission and mounts, and be good for 30-40 hp.
The power to weight ratio of an A20 in a 2g Accord improves the car dramatically. Weighing 200-400lbs less than the 3g Accord, the increase in torque, and the benefit of fuel injection will bump you up into the 32-34mpg highway range. And those silly D-series Civics will never see you coming.
If you’re just plain crazy, you have one last (almost bolt in) option. And that’s the Honda B20A engine. No, we’re not talking about the B20A from the 3g Prelude, this is the original B20A from the 3g Accord and 2g Prelude. It was an engine not available in North America, and makes 140hp in blacktop form, and 160 in goldtop form. The reason I say you gotta be a bit crazy, is because finding spare parts can be a real pain. Transmissions, oil pan gaskets, and head gaskets, and a few other things are all not available here in USDM land.
To get this engine into your car is actually pretty straight forward. It’s probably a 98% drop in. Your shift linkage bolts right up, and if you get a rear mount from an Accord B20a, it can stay on the engine (the rear mount from a Prelude B20A sits at a different height and will tilt the engine back too far). And the frame rail engine mount bracket comes off of the ES and goes right onto the B20A. You can use your speedo cable, clutch cable, and everything else.
You will, however, need to upgrade your axles to the 85 Accord SEi axles. For those of you who already have an SEi, the swap is even more straight forward. This is because the input splines on the transmission are bigger than the ones on the ES2 transmission. But they do happen to match up to the SEi axles. To fit the SEi axles though, you’ll also need to have the SEi wheel bearings and hubs pressed into your spindles.
For more information, check out some of these links from the 3geez forums. If you browse the 2geez section, you will find tons more information to help you out:
- The JDM B20A 2g Accord Thread
- Phrenology’s 2g A20 Swap
- The 2g Performance FAQ
- 2geez Section on 3geez.com
I hope this gives you a good summary, and shows you that there is hope yet for your car. Make sure to check back with Honda Roots in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be covering the basics of suspension and brake upgrade options for the 2g Accord, as well as diving into some details of the information that was touched on in this article. If there is anything you’d like more detail on, post it up in the comments and I’ll take your topic for consideration for a future article.