Wabi Sabi

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BY
VIVEK VENUGOPAL

February 13

Not all cars are created equal. And not all of them need to be. Meet Ajay Varghese’s ongoing project – a Honda City VTEC- that pays homage to the Japanese track spec cars. It comes from an era when body kits were not deemed necessary and the car had one purpose – to be driven. Everything else was less secondary. No shiny paint was added to make it gleam under the sun and only period details were used to accentuate the form and function. Welcome everyone to the concept of Wabi-Sabi.

Wabi-Sabi is Japanese philosophy centred around the acceptance of Imperfection and flawed beauty. It is what artists use as an ultimate expression of transience and only very few understand. In cars, this means, you present your car as a daily beater. And the ‘I don’t care much’ look is only appreciated by those from the particular school of thought. This City thus, is in stark contrast to the nine cars we featured in our last issue.

The minimalist look is what Ajay had in mind, when he bought it about two years back. The City VTEC is a huge phenomenon; Ajay says, he bought the car to understand it better. The plan was to research and develop specific parts for his company JDM Factory (division of UrbanR) and then sell it off to get another one. “Over the period, I started liking it more and more for its simplicity I’ve decided to keep it”- he chuckles. When he picked it up, this 13 year old VTEC with over a hundred thousand kilometers on the clock was still going strong. A dyno run proved the engine was still in the pink of its health and it was decided not to do much to it initially. A mushroom foam filter was added to aid breathing and a 4x2x1 exhaust from Bhai was fitted with a rorty end can for some aural pleasure.

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Then came the time for wheels. This car sports the only set of Rota 15 inchers in the country at the moment. “I was inspired by the EK Civics from Spoon Racing when I got these” says Ajay. The Rota Slip Streams are an ever green classic , with distinctive performance and weight advantages. The old school look of the wheels is complemented by the modern tread pattern of special Advan A048 tyres from Yokohama. It was then time to lower it slightly and a special delivery from Vogtland arrived in time just for that. The lowering is just about 30mm, making it a practical daily driver.

The engine bay was dressed up with painted rocker cover, snazzy oil catch can and new hoses all set against a painted black surface. A set of AeroCatch bonnet fasteners were fitted for safety and to add to the Motorsport look. What made it all so easy was that, unlike the rest of us, Ajay didn’t have to run around to source all these parts. He just had to dig into his own inventory at UrbanR to come up with everything from AeroCatch to Vogtland springs and Rota wheels.

The car has stock seats with reworked upholstery and a deep dish steering wheel. There are electronic gauges sitting on top of the dashboard that provide additional driver info. A set of racing buckets were in hand, ready to be installed in the car, but we planned our photoshoot ahead, there wasn’t enough time. For now the car is going to stay as such, before the second wave of mods come along. Performance is top of his list, but Ajay is not going to go overboard with power. It will stay naturally aspirated in true Honda tradition. ‘Are we going to see some JDM Factory ITBs?’, we quipped. “It’s a secret, but you will be the first to know” says Ajay.

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BY VIVEK VENUGOPAL

ASSISTANT FASHION EDITOR

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