Tommy Fitzgibbon appears every part fresh ex-military—even his friends think the guy looks a little rigid and intimidating. There is a lot going on under the surface, though, from the logical, inquisitive mind it took to engineer a reverse-head H22 and customize a 1995 Odyssey minivan to house it (as well as many other tasteful mods); to the memories he keeps of the years he spent and paths he crossed watching a nascent sport compact tuning scene take some important formative steps in Southern California (get him started on that subject and it's like a Pandora's box of remarkable stories from the streets—fast and furious before The Fast and the Furious). It's easy to see why Tommy's friends hold him in such high regard.
In Part 1, we laid out the scenario of why Tommy's van needed saving and how that would get done—thanks in extremely large part to a hard-working crew of friendlies from The Accord Collective led by Daniel Hill. For Part 2, we offer this photo log of how the build came together; the day it was revealed to Tommy at the 2018 Cali Accord Meet; and finally get some beauty shots of the Odyssey all cleaned up and ready to go.
This is the June 2013 issue of Tuning magazine, and if it looks a little weathered and worn (that cover used to be red), it's for good reason. This is the issue Tommy's Odyssey first appeared in, and believe or not, the build team for this project relied on the photos and descriptions in that story in order to piece everything back together better than before.
With the unique H-series power plant out, this gave the team the opportunity to both clean up the power plant and bay. As much as could be removed (which includes unbolting stuff from the mill) was, right down to the front subframe, and then refinished if necessary, cleaned/polished, and put back together, or in some cases replaced with an upgrade altogether.
And speaking of the subframe, here's the freshened version installed. The rear HASport engine mount was bolted to it in anticipation of the engine.
At the firewall, Hill cuts out a couple of holes in order to create an oval opening for the auto-to-manual transmission conversion. This is actually where the shifter lines will pass through, and while we didn't photo it we should note that those rough edges of the firewall hole were filed down and grommeted. A similar hole was punched out on the original Fitzgibbon Odyssey; no ever sold in the US came stick, so making a provision was unavoidable.
The brake system master cylinder and booster also went back on the firewall before the H22 went back. Project partners Fat Four Customs (FFC) also came through with these cool billet block-off plates for unused firewall holes.
The custom exhaust parts that came out of the old Odyssey were rough, with some cracked joints needing immediate attention if this thing would fire again. Daniel sent the mid-pipe and header out to get rewelded, and when they came back the team sprayed the plumbing with a few coats of high-temperature exhaust system paint.
Daniel took one marathon 24-hour stretch to clean up the engine wiring harness, which Tommy admits is one of his weaknesses (we can relate). This and the cleaned-up header go the furthest to add a little show quality to the Odyssey's engine compartment.
Oh—and this, too; Daniel fabbed up a simple shelf and metal strap so he could tuck the vehicle's battery under the right front fender. Having the battery concealed cleaned up the bay considerably.
And since we're on the dual topics of electrical and hiding stuff—Daniel relocated the fuse box into the glovebox.
As the May date of the 2018 Cali Accord Meet, activity on the Odyssey began to pick up; at that point more than any other, Daniel needed the help of his Accord Collective crewmates. And so while Daniel worked on one part of the car, others were busy installing the suspension (with new FFC extended billet top hats) and brakes, including the front BBK with custom "Sgt. Fitz" calipers.
The reverse-head H22 that made Tommy's Odyssey famous went in over the course of another long (sleepless) night. One of the questions the builder gets most often is how he gets oil in the engine without a fill hole; because of the head's flipped orientation, the valve cover is a one-off job with no fill provision. Captured in this group is the only way to fill the H with oil—with the cover off.
As we pointed out in Part 1, Accord Collective's Ralph Vega came in clutch getting a proper interior assembled and cleaned. The inside of a 25-year-old minivan never had it this good—looked fresh from the detailers.
A couple of the guys tackled installing the interior bits of the auto-to-manual conversion kit from Fat Four, which is basically adding a clutch pedal and shifter. Because the floor where the shifter sits is flat (which is to say, no trans or exhaust tunnel), the kit includes a laser cut aluminum box as a platform to raise the transplanted assembly off the floor so the driver can reach it. Solid bushings for the shifter baseplate add race-car stiffness to rowing through the gears.
The fenders were rolled, the Racing Hart Type-Cs meticulously gone over then bolted on, and the PCI side skirts installed. The skirts actually come in a universal black but Hill and co. had them color matched.
After weeks of thrashing on his Odyssey—a thrash that went right up to and past the deadline—Tommy was presented his van at the Cali Accord Meet in what was visibly a pretty emotional scene. Just as the entire rebuild had to be done in secret, so too did Accord Collective members have to sneak the big, boxy Honda into CAM. Originally believing he would have hours before the show to deliver the van and properly hide it in plain sight, Daniel ended up not finishing in time, so Tommy's wife Renae and others from the Accord Collective had to distract Tommy from the modified Odyssey rolling in late to the show. CAM emcee Big Mike gathered around a big crowd for the announcement before handing it off to Ralph for the reveal and handoff. Tommy was speechless.
We've been doing this a very long time, and sometimes find the instances of unselfishness in this biz—of real kindness—to be few and far between. We chose to follow this story because the H22 and Honda Odyssey that Tommy Fizgibbon created are groundbreaking, but also because there aren't enough of these kinds of narratives going around. The altruism that Daniel Hill and the guys from the Accord Collective showed was admirable, and it was the honor of lifetime to watch this project come together and get executed, giving this story the happy ending it deserves.