Driven: Honda HPD CR-Z and B-Spec Fit

Piper-Honda DF5 Formula F

Honda Performance Development calls its Formula F engine its "first real product." Priced at less than $12,000 including the electronic-control unit, this inline four-cylinder, already familiar from the CR-Z and Fit, is revised for use in the F1600 Formula F Championship and other series of similar spec. The open-wheelers are seen as the next step for the driver who wants to move up from karting and can sink around $70,000 into a car.

The engine is designed to fit into any of eight available chassis, including the Piper that was demonstrated here. HPD says it has sold about 50 of the crate motors since sales started in February 2010.

The engine features a unique cast-aluminum induction system and a dry sump for compact packaging. Offered in a slightly detuned state to ensure longevity, the 1.5-liter mill produces 117 hp and 105 lb-ft. Redline is at 6800 rpm, just as in the stock Fit Sport.

In the Piper, the engine was matched with a Hewland four-speed transmission with low ratios and an open differential.

The single-seater's suspension is by pushrods with coil-over shocks and stabilizer bars front and rear.

Fully trimmed, the car weighs just 920 pounds, so the power-to-weight ratio is nothing to sniff at.

With its low mass and tremendous cornering capability, the Piper-Honda was by far the fastest car on the track. But the engine's buzz was all Fit.

1.5L SOHC inline four-cylinder with VTEC, 117 hp @ 6600 rpm, 105 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm, redline 6800 rpm, compression ratio 10.4:1

Hewland four-speed with open differential
First gear 5.53:1, second 4.56:1, third 4.07:1, fourth 3.49:1 Final drive: 2.77:1

Piper DF-5

Suspension f/r
Pushrod with coil-over/pushrod with coil-over, stabilizer bar 13 mm/12.5 mm

Brakes f/r
Disc/disc (9.8 in/9.8 in)

Tires and wheels f/r
20 x 6 x 13-in/22.5 x 7.5 x 13-in racing slicks on 13 x 5.5-in aluminum wheels

920 lb

HPD Desert Pilot

As long as we were paying attention, HPD also showed us its Desert Pilot. The offroader was developed as a way of investigating the potential of a new market.

Those of us who take no succor from the sterile, if competent, roadgoing Pilot found some relief in this light-heavyweight bruiser. But there's about as much in common between the two as between a NASCAR Ford Fusion and one you'd find at the local dealership. Honda is guilefully allowing the Pilot name to be dragged through the mud.

The 3.7-liter V-6 from various Hondas and Acuras is mid-mounted in the space-frame chassis, but the engine is modified for more than 320 hp. A five-speed manual transmission with torque converter handles the output. The Desert Pilot uses the torque converter as a damper to help reduce stress to drivetrain components like axles and CV joints. Four-wheel drive is a necessity.

All the suspension components are custom-fabricated; front A-arms allow twenty inches of wheel travel, while those in the rear allow eighteen inches. A 24-millimeter stabilizer shores up the rear.

Huge and powerful brakes and 35-inch off-road tires complete the package.

The HPD Desert Pilot ran the Pikes Peak Hill Climb last summer and is entered in the upcoming Baja 1000.

Given Honda's success in other types of motorsports, we won't be surprised if the Desert Pilot leads HPD into a whole new segment of the motorsports market.

24-valve SOHC 3.7L V-6 with VTEC, 320 hp, 275 lb-ft, redline 7000 rpm, compression ratio 11.2:1

5-speed manual with torque converter

Suspension f/r
A-arm (20-in travel)/A-arm (18-in travel) with 24-mm stabilizer bar

Brakes f/r
Discs/discs (13.5-in with 4-piston caliper/13.5-in with 4-piston caliper)

Wheels and tires
35-in BF Goodrich Mud Terrain KR on 17-in ATX Teflon Mojave wheels

3600 lb

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