Ethan Hamilton’s Acura RSX: Life (and most everything in it) is ever-changing, shifting, & recalibrating day-by-day. Often times, we not even aware of it. I guess that’s because we’re constantly shifting with it. But when you breakaway & get a bird’s-eye view, it becomes clearer. 

clean RSX

Take your hometown, for example.

It seems like nothing ever changed back when you were stuck in it. But then you moved away. Maybe it was just across town, or maybe across the country. And maybe it was just for a summer, or maybe for a decade. But when you came back home, you could immediately & acutely spot the differences. The people who had stayed local mostly took the changes in stride… probably didn’t even notice. But you did. Shoot – you even noticed how the trees had grown. Life is always changing, and we’re always adapting with it. A lot like fish, just rockin’ along with the waves, nibbling at the coral lol. 

RSW rear

But as you get older…

Adapting to the changes takes a little more… effort. And sometimes, change can start to feel more like a loss. Why? Because you have more time & perspective under you belt… that’s all. More room for comparison. Your roots run deeper. It’s not a bad thing. But it does explain how 20-somethings can just live in the moment effortlessly. And why 30-somethings start to look back & really compare the past to the present. I think at this time… this sort of thing hits home for car enthusiasts & car culture. Especially in these times where the automotive industry is currently being forced to change & adapt so quickly. Looking ahead at big changes, naturally causes us to look back to simpler times.

RSX vented hood

See when the import scene first started booming…

And magazines like Super Street, Import Tuner & Honda Tuning were hitting the market… it was a youth-driven movement all around. Shoot most everybody doing it was in their teens & 20’s. But the import scene has been evolving for 4 decades now – let that sink in. Some of the ‘OGs’ are now in their 50s. And golden era imports are now more vintage than muscle cars were when the import scene first hit. In other words, the roots have gotten deep. 

k20 RSX

And I guess the point I’m trying to make is:

The import scene is now old enough to have chapters & seasons in its own life. And to me, Ethan Hamilton’s Acura RSX really embodies one of those definitive chapters. 

RSX side

The era was 2007ish…

And the import scene had kind of been shedding it’s over-the-top stylings of excess… like bodykits, fiberglass, headlight/taillight swaps, TVs, audio, etc. Plus dammit – the economy was about to fully hit the toilet. But all the bad news actually created a rebirth for the import scene. Events like Import Alliance that were ‘by the people for the people’ sprung up & filled the void of fallen mega-shows like NOPI Nationals. Simultaneously, JDM/clean styles were starting to catch-on big time, and the the Honda scene was going through a major renaissance. This is when Tennessee/Alabama-based Ethan Hamilton bought this Acura RSX, in 2007, at the age of 17. 

RSX bumper

Not to take away from the momentum going on anywhere else

But Import Alliance had a huge, unifying effect on the Southeast Honda scene during this time. And as a result, the Southeast Honda scene really got strong & innovative… and had a huge effect back on Import Alliance. A lot of the Southeast guys started catching the eyes of the big West Coast magazines like Super Street & Honda Tuning. And looking back – it was a real golden era in itself… because the ‘golden era Hondas’ were juuuust old enough to where they were no longer pulling primary daily-driver duty, and people were starting to go nuts with them in a 2nd wave. The energy & inspiration was spreading through forums & peer groups like wildfire. Full resprays, shaved bays, motor swaps, JDM inspiration… it brought a whole new generation of innovative aftermarket brands to the surface. 

volk TE37 blue

Watch out – because there is something incredibly addicting about a Honda hatch.

And to me, honestly, no bags or wraps can replicate the way the sunlight caught those poppy Hondas with wide-open hoods, sporting candy-shaved bays & angry engines. They had something to prove. And at the time they were stacked… on deck at IA. 

That’s NOT to say that these cars/styles are outdated today by any stretch. But from my perspective – Hondas with this attitude really helped to define a 2nd chapter/evolution of the import scene. It showed that the import generation had enough strength to double-down & power through tough times like a recession… and come out stronger. It showed that we were in this for life, not just for youth. 

RSX 17x9.5

Ethan ended up getting his Honda Tuning feature with this RSX in 2012. 

And usually what happened after a big feature was – people often sold their cars & moved on to new projects (feature, sell/part-out, repeat). But Ethan never went that route. The car’s been through different evolutions & iterations over the years, but Ethan’s always held onto it. It’s got more value to Ethan than just the attention it gets. In fact – Ethan’s had this car for half of his life now. He met his wife, Jess, because of this car (she also had an RSX & slid into his MySpace DMs lol). They got married & brought two children into the world, which explains why the RSX now once again has interior & backseats in it. Coincidentally, Jess also shot these photos. 

RSX K20A2 turbo

Long story short, Ethan’s in his 30s now.

He knows what he likes at this point – and that’s pretty much his family, 90s Hondas, and blue Volks lol. He & the dudes might not hit every event every weekend like they used to, or worry about keeping themselves at the top of your newsfeed. But hit the garage door, and the cars are still there – ready to roll, and just as mean as ever.

Trends change, styles come & go, and Integras turn into $55,000 4-doors. But mark my words, cars like this RSX will have the power & presence to stop people dead in their tracks 50 years from now… just like they stopped Ethan in his tracks 16 years ago. History just keeps proving them right over & over again. What more proof do you need?

Photos by Jess Hamilton

lowered RSX


Custom 05-06 Backyard Special front bumper 

Siebon carbon fiber hood 

J’s Racing fenders 

OEM window visors 

VIS CSL-style carbon fiber hatch 

OEM Aspec rear lip 

turbo K20A2

Engine / Transmission 

K20a2 engine 

K20z3 cams 

Wiesco 87mm 11.7:1 pistons

Blueprint Racing .5mm intake valves, exhaust valves, springs, & rods

ACL race bearings

RBC intake manifold

Hybrid Racing 70mm throttle body

Checkered Sports idler pulley 

ERL S2000 oil pump 

ID1000 injectors 

255 fuel pump

Hondata Kpro v2

Innovative 95a motor mounts 

K20a2 transmission 

BBC countershaft 

Wavetrac LSD 

Hybrid Racing shifter cables & selector spring 

Kmod turbo manifold 

Precision 6266 gen2 turbo

Tial 44 wastegate 

Turbo Smart blow-off-valve 

Threadstone intercooler

RSX 17 wheels

RSX 17x9.5

Wheels / Suspension / Brakes 

Volk TE37 wheels in Hyper Blue (17×9.5 +28) w/ Volk Racing lug nuts 

Falken tires (255/40/17)

EM2 electric power steering 

Megan Racing street coilovers 

Function7 rear control arms & subframe brace 

HardRace rear camber kit, compliance bushing, & trailing arm bushing 

Acura TL Type S big brake kit 

RSX steering wheel KEYs

miracle X chassis bar


Bride Euroster II seats & door panel inserts 

Cusco B bars 

Miracle X brace 

Mugen brake pedals 

Keys Racing steering wheel 

NRG quick release

Battery relocated to trunk 

Kenwood double din

Pioneer speakers

Hybrid Racing shifter & anniversary shift knob 

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