The vans are coming, the vans are coming! This is not as horrific as yelling fire or flash flood, but in the world of custom trucks, many people thought we were crazy when we proclaimed that vans are coming back. As explored in each of the '04 issues, Sport Vans are becoming popular, with new tricks that even the most hardcore van enthusiast could not have seen coming. Some of these mods include chopping the entire roofline, 'bagging the huge barges, and even adding blown and nitrous-equipped mills under the dog boxes. Teaching old dogs new tricks in the sport utility and van segment is Honda, with its new younger-audience-targeted Element. With total versatility and the aftermarket slowly coming around, the Element provides a unique platform for enthusiast to try something new and wild. Enter Diamond Bar Honda's performance division, DB Motorsports, located in Chino, California.
Taken directly out of the Element fleet at Diamond Bar Honda, in Diamond Bar, California, the Element began life as any multi-tasking sport utility, however, it would end up as a SEMA 2003 feature vehicle and ready for nationwide exposure. With wild paint and woodwork slated for the venture, the crew at DB Motorsports also planned on bringing the performance of the Element to a sport-like level. Starting out with big hopes and great minds working together, this small SUV found its home in a performance element.
After the sticker was removed from the passenger window, the Element was brought onto the rack in the DB Motorsports bay for an extensive suspension upgrade. First up, the crew modified the stock strut and coil setup to house a custom Air Ride setup, complete with a small air tank mounted underneath the body and an air gauge underneath the dash, with two switches for front and back action. Now, the crew needed the perfect wheel and tire combo to add both sport and new-age styling to the Element. Ace Alloys were chosen for its superior wheel design and manufacturing process, and shortly thereafter, a set of Ace Alloy Zeus wheels were mounted in Falken Azenis rubber. Measuring a staggering 20x8.5 inches, the wheels completely fill the Element's wheelwells and, with the air out of the 'bags, almost tuck inside the fenders. Moving on to the body, a custom design was created using both paint, real wood, and Honda Original Accessories for an all-out, in-your-face Honda no one would forget.
Wood 'N Carr of Signal Hill, California, was the shop of choice for the custom wood fabricating, and while there, the Element's exterior panels were measured and molded to create wood perfection. With the wood panels crafted, the Element was dropped off at Santini Paint and Body of Westminster, California, where the rest of the bodywork was arranged. After shaving the door handles and smoothing the plastic body panels, endless coats of House of Kolor Kandy Pearl Ultra Orange were applied to the entire shell of the Element. Pete Santini is responsible for the beautiful paint and also for applying the custom wood panels from Wood 'N Carr to the sport woody. In front, the Element received a Stull Industries billet grille, and on top, the Element is equipped with a Honda Accessories surfboard attachment, complete with a one-off Hobie 9-foot, 6-inch Alter Squaretail surfboard. Under the Element's altered body is a Eurolite Toucan Industries blue neon light kit. Now that the bodywork was complete, it was time to open the doors and move to the interior.
Removed and discarded, the factory seats left a huge blank surface for total freedom among the interior. The entire dash was removed and painted by Color Zone Design, and new racing seats were sent to Stitchcraft Auto Upholstery, in Huntington Beach, California, for reupholstering. New tweed carpet was added, along with a suede headliner and re-covered door panels, and all of this was finished before installing the newly covered cream suede with orange vinyl insert seats. Wanting this to be the sickest Element anywhere, the sport woody was then dropped off with the pros at Precision Sound in Chino, California. While in the capable hands of Precision Sound, the Element received a host of audio/video goodies, including a new deck, speakers, amps, and subs. Residing inside the cabin now is an Alpine 6.5-inch motorized monitor, Alpine DVD player, a 6.8-inch overhead monitor, and plenty of Toucan Industries neon. Providing the sounds for the video goods are two 500-watt Alpine amps, one 400-watt Alpine amp, six sets of Alpine components, and two 12-inch Alpine DVC Type R subwoofers mounted in trick new rear panels. The entire system is wired by Scosche and is powered by three EFX dry-cell batteries.
Providing some extra get-up-and-go, the Element was outfitted with a 75-shot wet system by Nitrous Express and now sports 215 hp. There is no doubt about it, this Element has found its niche in the custom Sport Van and woody wagon segment of the customized world, and the only question we have left is, where are the keys?