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NOPI Street's 2002 Honda Element

The Crutchfield Crew works some installation mojo!


Charlie Pastorfield

Charlie Pastorfield writes about car audio for Crutchfield. Raised in Connecticut and the U.S. Virgin Islands, he graduated from the University of Virginia, but was having way too much fun to leave Charlottesville. After a long, beautiful career touring the East Coast from Boston to Atlanta as a professional guitarist (Skip Castro Band, The Believers), he married Emilie, had two daughters (Morgan and Emma), and got his first full-time job at Crutchfield. Still an extremely active musician, he's now a member of The Gladstones, a 4-piece group that plays just about anything, and Alligator, an 8-piece band that plays late 60's Grateful Dead.

More from Charlie Pastorfield

Kenwood KVT-911DVD DVD receiver with 6.5" monitor
(2) Kenwood LZ-601 6.4" monitors
(2) Kenwood LZ-701W 7" monitors
Kenwood KDV-C810 10-disc DVD/CD changer
(3) Polk/MOMO 6-3/4" component systems
(6) Kicker 10" Solo-Baric L7 subwoofers
Kicker SX1250.1 mono subwoofer amplifier
Kicker SX700.4 4-channel amplifier
StreetGlow neon accents
StreetWires interconnects and power wire
Dynamat vibration damping material

Chris Caracofe
Eddie Armstrong
Jason Lambert
Matthew Kennedy

This Honda Element has come a long way since it rolled off the factory assembly line in 2002.

The Car:
A distinctive look and supreme functionality has made the Honda Element a big hit with a new generation of drivers. Recently, when NOPI Street Performance Compact magazine decided to deck out a 2002 Honda Element for a feature article, they handed the job over to the talented installers at the Crutchfield store in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A four-man crew, headed by Lead Installer/Operations Manager Chris Caracofe, went to town on the Element, totally transforming the interior into a showcase of fiberglass, neon, and some very cool audio/video equipment. Kenwood donated video screens and a DVD receiver, Polk provided three sets of Polk/MOMO components, and Kicker kicked in with six L7 subs and a pair of new SX amps.

The remodeled dash features the monitor screen from Kenwood's KVT-911DVD receiver. Touchscreen controls allow the driver to make quick system changes.

Chris Caracofe wanted to make the dash installation a little different, with a video screen permanently mounted in the dash instead of the more typical retractable screen. Repair technician Luke Hammond (from Crutchfield's Charlottesville, Va. repair facility) began by separating the Kenwood KVT-911DVD's video monitor from its housing (which contains the DVD player). The crew then shaped a new section of dash (made from MDF, fiberglass, and body filler) to house the monitor, and painted the dash to make the monitor installation seamless. The monitor display offers touchscreen control over all system functions; the KVT-911DVD's hideaway box (containing the AM/FM tuner, TV tuner, built-in amplifier, etc.) is mounted in the rear. All system connections are made through the hideaway box which includes two audio/video inputs, an audio/video output, three sets of preamp outputs, changer port, and antenna jacks.

This photo shows the almost-completed "utility closet," which houses the KVT-911DVD's hideaway box, the StreetWires fuse box, and StreetGlow neon accent.

The finished "utility closet" sports the neon-accented Crutchfield logo and Kenwood's KDV-C810 10-disc DVD/CD changer.

Transforming the interior
The crew stripped the rest of the interior down to the metal, and built a network of five fiberglass pods in the rear to house the amps, speakers, subs, and all other goodies:
  • Center Pod: houses the two Kicker amplifiers, two Kenwood LZ-701 monitors, the KDV-C810 10-disc DVD/CD changer, and a fuse box;
  • Two Side Pods: each side pod houses three 10" Solo-Baric L7 subwoofers;
  • Two Speaker Pods: each speaker pod contain two Polk/MOMO component systems.

Each pod is formed from fiberglass, and then covered with vinyl or paint to match the factory dcor. The resulting arrangement of pods looks so natural, you'd almost think it came that way from the factory.

The "utility closet," located directly behind the front seats in the center pod, contains the KVT-911DVD's hideaway box and the system's fuse box. Its flip-up lid is emblazoned with the Crutchfield logo, illuminated from below by StreetGlow neon. Since the KVT-911DVD's built-in DVD deck was removed for this installation, Kenwood's KDV-C810 10-disc DVD changer, mounted at the front of the center pod, stores all movies and music.

Check out the heart of the installation: Kicker SX amps, Polk/MOMO component speakers, and Kicker Solo-Baric subs artfully arranged in 5 neon-accented fiberglass pods.

Bring on the crowd!
The primary purpose of a show car is entertainment, and, to that end, the Element sports five separate video monitors. You can watch a movie on the KVT-911DVD's screen in the dash, on the Kenwood LZ-601 6.4" monitors in each side door (built into fiberglass pods where the windows used to be), or on the two LZ-701W 7" monitors in the rear pod. No matter where you are in the crowd around the Element, you can see at least one monitor and hear sound from at least one set of components.

The Crutchfield installers replaced the window in each side door with a fiberglass pod containing Kenwood's LZ-601 monitor.

The Element's system projects clean sound at a high volume level, thanks in large part to the Polk/MOMO components. The first component set is mounted in the passenger compartment, with 6-3/4" woofers in the front doors and 1" tweeters in the sail panels. The second component set fires forward from the front of the speaker pod, while the third set, installed at the rear of the pod, pumps out sound to the crowd at the tail end of the vehicle. The Kicker SX700.4 4-channel amplifier drives the two front sets of components (wired in parallel) with 175 watts RMS (at 2 ohms) from each of its front two channels, and the rear components with 85 watts (at 4 ohms) from each of its rear channels.

Six Kicker Solo-Baric L7 10" subs and Polk/MOMO components deliver powerful sound to the crowd at the rear of the Honda Element.

Bass reinforcement comes from a total of six 10" Solo-Baric L7 subwoofers, mounted three to a side. The Kicker SX 1250.1 mono subwoofer amp powers up all six subs with a total of 1250 watts RMS; the subs are wired in a series/parallel configuration so that the amp sees a total .67 ohm load (please don't try this with just any old amp). StreetWires patch cables and power wire provide all power and signal connections.

Watch for the NOPI magazine Honda Element at NOPI competition events across the United States this year.

The crew installed Dynamat in the door panels and speaker pods to keep any vibration and rattling out of the sonic picture. Each amplifier pod (and amplifier) is surrounded by a border of sandblasted acrylic, allowing the StreetGlow neon accents to shine through. The overall effect of the installation in the Honda Element is stunning, and the sound system's power and clarity is awe-inspiring. Chris, Eddie, Jason, and Matthew — that's some beautiful work. Look for the Honda Element at the NOPI Nationals, and check out the feature article in the December/January issue of NOPI Street Performance Compact.

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