These days it would be hard to imagine Honda without there Type R division, but when the Integra Type R DC2 launched in 1995 many enthusiasts didn’t know about the company’s sporting division. The first car to use the Type R name was the incredible NSX Type R that launched in 1992 with limited numbers.
While the NSX Type R was a hot-blooded, mid-engined, rear-wheel drive supercar, the Integra Type R was a different breed of sports car. It took the front-wheel drive, lightweight formula and turned it up to eleven. However, it wasn’t all about speed, the Integra was a true driver’s car and was a raw, stripped down experience.
Although the Honda Integra Type R DC2 may not be as fondly remembered as some of Japan’s more famous cars, such as the Toyota Supra, Nissan GT-R or Mazda RX-7, it is fast becoming a classic. Prices are increasing and while the Integra Type R retains Honda’s famed reliability, there are still some money pits out there.
Because of this we have created a buying and importing guide for the Honda Integra Type R. However, before we dive into the buyer’s guide, let’s look at the history and specifications of the Honda Integra Type R DC2. If you already know everything about the history of the car, feel free to skip ahead to the buying section of this article.
The History & Specifications of the Honda Integra Type R DC2
While the Generation 3 Honda Integra made its debut in 1993, it wasn’t until 1995 that the Type R version appeared. The Generation 3 originally launched with an unusual four headlight front end that was dubbed “bug eyes”, however, this was changed in 1995 as it proved to be unpopular with Japanese buyers.
Honda’s top Integra model at the time of launch was known as the “Si”, which featured a 176 hp VTEC B18C engine. There were other models that launched as well, including the LS, SE, GS and GS-R, but it wasn’t until the Type R launched that the Integra could really show what it was capable of.
Honda’s Type R nomenclature indicated a more hardcore, track orientated car. The Japanese manufacture had already turned their famous NSX into a road going racer by making it lighter, stiffer and more powerful, and now it was time to turn their attention to the Integra.
The Honda Integra Type R DC2 was introduced into the Japanese domestic market in 1995. Honda equipped the Type R with a 1.8-litre DOHC VTEC in-line 4-cylinder (B18C) engine. For the JDM market, the engine produced an impressive 200 hp at 8,000 rpm, while the US model produced around 195 hp at 8,000 rpm.
JDM and international market Type R Integras came with an 11:1 compression ratio, whereas United States models featured a compression ratio of 10:6:1. The United States Type R was introduced as a 1997 model under the Acura brand, and air conditioning was the only optional extra.
In the United States, the Type R was only available in Championship White in 97 and 98. It was not available in 1999 in the US, but returned in 2000 and stayed until the Integra DC2’s production ended in 2001. Honda (Acura) only offered two colours for the last two years in the US, Pheonix Yellow and Flamenco Black Pearl.
At the time of its launch in the United States, the Integra Type R set the record for the most power per litre (108 hp) of any naturally aspirated engine ever to be produced in the US. It was only knocked off its perch when Honda broke its own record with the incredible S2000 that produced 120 hp per litre.
Honda matted the incredible VTEC engine with a close-ratio 5-speed manual transmission. First gear and final drive were exactly the same as the GS-R transmission, however, gears two to five were spaced much closer.
The car also came with a Helical Limited-slip differential and revised springs and dampers. In addition to this, Honda also installed larger sway and strut tower bars. There were also numerous reinforcements done to the body of the car and rear performance rods on the rear of the frame.
Larger rotors and calipers were installed and the ABS system was revised to accommodate for the increased performance. Originally, the car launched with 15 inch 5 lug wheels, however, the 1998 JDM model would receive 16 inch allow wheels.
To save weight and make the car more of a pure driving experience, Honda stripped out everything that was unnecessary; including the cruise control, air bags, air conditioning, rear wiper, vanity mirrors and moonroof. A new 10,000 rpm tachometer was installed, along with revised cloth seats and an aluminium shifter knob.
For the 1998 model year, the Type R received some significant upgrades. Known as the ’98 Spec R, the changes included bigger brakes, a redesigned rear bumper and 16-inch wheels with 215/45R16 tyres. Gear ratios were also changed with 1st to 3rd gears closer, while the final two gears were longer to increase cruising comfort. Engine power was the same, but a new 4-1 long tube header brought torque down lower to 6,200rpm.
The final revision to the Type R DC2 came in 2000 and was known as the ’00 Spec R. This featured more balanced drive shafts and a revised intake camshaft. There were also some slight interior and trim changes as well.
Interestingly, Honda lost money on every DC2 Type R there sold. This was because they had to finish the car in various small fabrication shops in Japan and the early versions required hand tooling, which led to increased manufacturing costs.
Honda’s main intention with the Integra Type R was to create a car that would meet homologation requirements for the FIA. They wanted to create a car that would be more competitive in the N-series and World Cup Racing. In addition to this, Honda believed that the car would improve their image and accepted that each one would be a financial loss.
The motoring press labelled the Honda Integra Type R as the greatest front-wheel drive performance car ever and it was known to be one of the best handling cars of all time. Check out this review of the Type R from Top Gear below:
Honda Integra Type R DC2 Specifications
|Body: two-door coupe|
|Engine: 1.8-litre DOHC VTEC in-line 4-cylinder (B18C) engine|
|Power & Torque: 195 – 200bhp @ 8,000rpm, 131Nm @ 7,300rpm|
|Performance: 0-100km/h 6.1 to 6.8 seconds (depending on who tested it)|
|Transmission: five-speed close ratio manual|
|Brakes: disc front, disc rear with ABS|
|Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza RE010 195/55R15 tyres and later 215/45/ZR16 tyres|
For more information about the Honda Integra Type R DC2’s specifications and performance figures visit zeperfs.com.
Buying a Honda Integra Type R DC2
We have gone through the history and the specifications of the Honda Integra Type R, now it is time to get to why you are really here. While the Type R is not as complicated or unreliable as many other sports cars of its era, there are still some things you need to know about buying one.
There are some right lemons out in the wild and finding a good example is becoming increasingly difficult. Many Integra Type R’s have been extensively modified or badly maintained, so we are going to tell you what to look out for when you are purchasing or importing one.
You also need to decide whether you want a completely stock standard car or if you don’t mind, a modified one.
Let’s look at some things you should check out and be wary of when buying a Honda Integra Type R.
The B18C VTEC engine in the Type R is incredibly tough and durable, but it requires regular oil level checks. This is because it burns through a small amount of oil even with less spirited driving. Good quality oil such as Silkolene Pro S 5W30 is recommended by specialists and owners as the car can rev much higher than others.
Oil should be changed every 6,000 miles or so, unless the car is used for track or race days in which case it should be changed earlier. A fresh cambelt and new spark plugs are required every five years or 60,000 miles. Additionally, check that coolant and fuel filters have been replaced as they should be changed every four years or 48,000 miles. These should be original Honda units as they are designed to cope with the high revs the engine produces.
Watch for any modifications, especially after market air filters. Non-stock air filters tend to strangle the engine at high revs when compared to the official Honda one.
If the car is smoking from the exhaust it could be a sign of abuse and worn piston rings, so watch out for this. Smoking could also be caused by a range of other problems as well, which could mean major headaches in the future.
You may hear a rattle from underneath the car as you are driving it. This is typically caused by a loose heatshield on the exhaust, which can be tightened in a few minutes. If the car knocks when it is being revved it is most likely caused by the engine making contact with the bodywork due to a failed engine mount. This is not usually a big problem as the rear engine mount can be replaced fairly easily.
While the transmission is strong in the Integra Type R, it can only take so much abuse. Many Type R’s have taken a pounding from drivers who have revved the car too much off the line or used it for track use.
Every Integra Type R DC2 came with a five-speed manual gearbox, limited-slip differential and hydraulic clutch. The slave cylinder for the clutch can weep a little bit, but this shouldn’t be too much cause for concern.
Make sure you take the car through all of its gears during a test drive and listen for any graunching sounds coming from the gearbox. Graunching can be a sign that the synchromesh is worn, which is especially common for second and third gear.
Grinding noises when you dip the clutch could mean that the release bearing is gone, or it could suggest that the gearbox bearings are worn out. All these issues could suggest that a gearbox rebuild is on the cards, however, this isn’t particularly expensive.
Check that the gear shifts are nice and precise with no slop. If they are not and gear changes feel loose, a new linkage mount may be required. However, this is not an expensive part.
Suspension, Steering and Brakes
The Integra Type R is designed to be driven hard, especially around the corners. However, hard driving can cause excessive wear and the suspension and brakes can certainly suffer.
Despite having no real weaknesses in its design, the suspension bushes (particularly in the trailing arms) are likely to be worn out, so they should be replaced. You can replace these with polyurethane units that are readily available.
Remember to check the shock absorbers and springs. If they have travelled more than 60,000 miles than they should probably be replaced. Worn shocks and springs will spoil the incredibly handling of the Type R, so a fresh set will transform the driving experience.
The brakes are perfectly fine for spirited road driving, but extended track use will lead to them wearing out pretty quickly. There is a vast array of spare and aftermarket parts available. Upgrades are plentiful and unless you go over the top, they are not too expensive.
Early JDM Integra Type R’s came with 262mm rotors, whereas some other markets were fitted with 282mm front discs as standard.
If the car judders under braking it suggests that the car has experienced some track use. This could mean that a new set of pads and discs are required, however, they are fairly reasonably priced.
The original Type R came with 15-inch wheels (later ones came with 16-inch), which may seem a bit small. Despite this, don’t be tempted to swap them out for some larger wheels as this is a sure fire way of destroying the Type R’s amazing handling. The Type R was optimized for the original rims, so keep them on!
Body and Exterior
Corrosion is a significant problem in cars that have not been looked after well. You may find rust on the real wheel arches, which is caused by water creeping below the rubber seals in the inner arch. However, JDM and US-spec cars are not as likely to suffer from this problem as they do not have the seals. You can remove them if you wish as well, which can help to prevent the problem.
We recommend that you avoid any cars with rust problems as you should be able to find a rust free example out there.
Expect to see some paint chips on higher-mileage cars and also check the windscreen for chips or cracks. In its mission to save weight, Honda reduced the thickness of the glass so it is more prone to cracking or chipping.
While prices for the Integra Type R are starting to climb, there was a time when they could be bought for cheap. A large number of them got into the hands of people with more driving enthusiasm than skill. Because of this, you should check the bodywork for any signs of crash damage or replacement. Look at the panel gaps and make sure they tight and even. Check for any signs of rippling in the paint and triple check areas that you think may have been resprayed.
Cars that were sold in your country originally should have a service history, so you can possibly use that to ascertain if the cars has been in a crash. If you are looking at JDM imports, it can be impossible to find out about the history of the car.
Damage to the frame of the car is permanent. You can use a magnet to go over the steel sections of the car to check for any repairs.
There is not much to the interior of the Type R, however, you should watch out for the Alcantara seats. These can attract dirt and the bolsters, especially on the driver’s side, can wear badly or fail completely. The seatbelts also rub against the seats, which can wear out the material. You can repair the seats, but it can be expensive to do.
Electronics and Other Things
The electrical system is pretty bulletproof, unless it has been tampered with. This is because it is stripped down and was not fitted with luxury equipment you would find on many other cars. However, make sure you check that the radio aerial opens and closes, as water ingress can cause it to seize. The motors for the aerial can also pack up as well.
Always check that the owner has the red ignition key when buying. If you don’t have it, you are in trouble when it comes to ignition repairs or when you want to use the immobiliser. These can be bought from a Honda dealer, but they are expensive as they require reprogramming.
Check The Service History
When looking at a Type R (or any car for that matter), you should always check that the owner has the service history. The service history will give you an indication of how the car has been looked after and will tell you things like how often the oil has been changed.
Ask the owner if the car has ever been in a crash and double check the service history to back this up. You can also ask other things like has the car ever overheated and has it ever been taken on any track days.
Should I Buy a Honda Integra Type R with Modifications?
Many owners have modified their Type R Integra’s and it may be hard to find a completely original model. Modified cars can be a minefield of potential problems and in some cases owners have completely ruined the original characteristics by modifying them.
You should always inspect modified cars closely. Check that the work was done correctly and that the modifications won’t affect the performance of the car. Look for any receipts and see if the modifications are legal.
Where to buy a Honda Integra Type R DC2
Finding a Honda Integra Type R in good condition is starting to become more and more difficult. There are a number of different places you can look to buy a Type R, from local dealers, to private sellers and even foreign countries. We are going to cover everything you need to know about where to buy a Integra Type R below.
Find a Honda Integra Type R DC2 for Sale Locally or Domestically
Looking for a Type R locally is obviously your first port of call. Finding a Type R that is close to you will allow you to test drive it before buying. Test driving a car is undoubtedly the safest and best way to make sure that it is suitable for purchase. However, depending on where you live it can be difficult to locate good examples or they might be priced excessively.
Prices for Type Rs can vary depending on where you live. Where we live in New Zealand, you can find examples ranging from about $8,000 NZD to around $25,000 NZD for a car in good condition. A number of these cars were modified, so if you are looking for a completely original condition car in good order, expect to pay a premium.
Unless you see the ideal Type R for you, we recommend scoping out the market for about six months. Don’t rush into buying anything as this can lead to headaches in the future. Waiting can also let you work out what price Type R’s are worth in your local area. Just remember that good condition models that are original will be snapped up quickly.
Looking at a Type R in your local area will also give you the chance to take it to your mechanic or specialist. If the owner doesn’t want you to do this, alarm bells should be ringing in your head.
Buying a car locally or domestically will mean that you do not have to worry about the hassles of importing one and the costs associated with that.
Where to Find a Honda Integra Type R for Sale?
There are a range of different places where you can find Integra Type Rs for sale:
Websites such as eBay, Piston Heads and TradeMe (New Zealand’s version of eBay) all have sections where you can purchase cars. Both dealers and private sellers will often advertise their cars for sale on these websites, so they are a great place to start looking. They will also give you an indication of the prices that Type Rs command in your local area.
Dealers or Specialist Importers
This sort of ties in with the above as most dealers have websites that show what cars they have in stock. Dealers can often be more expensive than private sellers. Private importers can find a car that meets your needs and import it for you, saving you the hassle of doing it yourself.
Something like a Honda owners club or Integra Type R owners club are great places to find cars for sale. The people in these clubs are often enthusiastic about their cars and even if they do not have one for sale, they may be able to point you in the right direction.
While social media can be a bit of a minefield, you can find some good examples out there. Facebook groups are a great place to start and you can also look at places like Reddit or even Instagram.
Contacts or Events
You can always ask a friend or acquaintance if they know of any Type Rs for sale. Another option is to head to a car meet or local event to see if anyone has anything for sale.
Import a Honda Integra Type R DC2
Looking for a Type R in your local area is always the best place to start, however, sometimes it is better to import one. The Integra Type R was sold in many countries across the world, so they can be found almost anywhere. However, if you are looking to import one, Japan is where you should start looking.
Owning older cars in Japan is incredibly expensive and a truckload of Type Rs were sold there, so you should be able to find plenty of examples for sale. Additionally, Japan has a very large car enthusiast market, which means you will be able to find anything from completely original models to extensively modified ones.
How to Import a Honda Integra Type R?
Check the Internet
The first place to check is obviously the internet. There is a vast array of websites that sell and export Japanese cars worldwide, so that is a great place to start. You can search for your ideal model based on the price, features, year and even the condition (we’ll get to the Japanese grading system later).
While these websites are an excellent place to start looking, you should always be cautious. Check out the seller, website and company behind it to make sure they are safe to use. You can do this by looking up reviews of the websites and getting other peoples feedback who have used them.
Below we have listed some examples of Japanese car auction and export websites:
Everything You Need to Know About Importing a Honda Integra Type R from Japan
Importing a car from Japan (or any country for that matter) can seem a bit daunting. The risk is much higher than buying one locally and you can wind up wasting your money if you are not careful. Private importers and dealers often snap up the best models quickly as they are always in contact with their Japanese agents. However, it is still possible to find a good example and we are going to show you how.
Almost every single auction house or export company gets their cars in the same way. What differs is how the vehicles have been treated and what information they are prepared to give you (service history, condition, etc.)
Companies will provide what’s called an ‘auction check sheet’ that tells you most of the information you need to know about the car. If a company or website will not give you a translation of the auction check sheet, you should walk away, as this could be a sign they are trying to hide something from you. You could also find someone who speaks Japanese to go over it with you.
There is quite a bit of information on an auction check sheet, but the main thing you should look for is the grade. This grade will give you a rough idea of the overall condition of the vehicle and how it has been treated over its life. However, companies and auction houses can have slightly different quality levels. What this means is that a grade 4 for one company could actually be a grade 3.5 or even 3 for another one.
Use the grading system to whittle down the number of Type Rs you are looking at, and then use the auction check sheet to find out more information about the car. Buying a car based off its grade is asking for trouble.
Companies will typically give you two grades to look at; one for the overall and mechanical condition of the vehicle (usually a number), and one for the interior (a letter). However, remember that auction houses and companies can have slightly different grading systems, but they should all be roughly the same.
How are Japanese Export Cars Graded?
We have laid out a quick guide below for how the Japanese grading system works:
- Grade 7 to 9 or S– New vehicle that only has delivery mileage.
- Grade 6– Same as above but with a few more miles.
- Grade 5– Car is in exceptional condition with low miles.
- Grade 4.5– The car is on excellent condition but can have up to 100,000 miles on the clock.
- Grade 4– Good condition, but can have low or high miles.
- Grade 3.5– Similar to a grade 4, but with more miles. Car may also require some minor work.
- Grade 3– Can be a grade 3.5 in condition but with some serious miles on it. Grade 3’s can also have serious panel or paint problems that need fixing.
- Grade 2– About as low as you can get condition wise. They may not necessarily be write offs, but will tend to be in very poor condition. The car may have significant mechanical, rust or body problems. Buy at your own risk!
- Grade 1– Are modified in some way (can be extensive or something simple).
- Grade 0, A, R, RA– Repair history that could be significant or minor.
The Interior and Exterior Grading System of Japanese Cars
As we said earlier, the grade number on the auction check sheet will often be accompanied by a letter that shows the interior and/or exterior grading of the car. An A means that the car is in exceptional to good condition, while a B is average and a C is below average or terrible.
In addition to this, a car map may also be provided with the auction check sheet. This gives you additional information about the grade of the car and where any problems may be located.
Other Things to Think About
Always Check Your Country’s Importation Laws
Before you even think about importing a Type R, take a look at your country’s importation laws. They may have rules around the type and age of a car that can be imported, so you may find you can’t even import one.
Additionally, if you are looking at modified Type Rs you should make sure that they comply with your country’s local road laws.
Get Somebody to Import a Type R for you
If you are not up to importing a Type R yourself, you can always get somebody to do it for you. Dealers and private importers can be found who will be more than happy to import a car for you. Just remember that there will be an added cost with this, but it can be a safer option.
Go to Japan
Taking a trip to Japan is a great way to get close to some Type Rs. You may not get to test drive them, but at least you can check them over to make sure they are not a dud. However, this will add significant cost to your purchase, but at least you get a nice holiday out of it.
Think About Importing a Type R from Other Countries
While Japan is undoubtedly the best place to find Integra Type Rs for sale, there are plenty of other countries you can look at as well. The Honda Integra Type R was exported globally, so you may be able to find one a little bit closer to home. Remember that there is less information on importing cars from other countries, and different regions received slightly different cars.
Wrapping Up This Honda Integra Type R Buyers Guide
As you can see, there is so much information to consider when looking at a Type R to buy. It is undoubtedly one of the best front wheel drive performance cars ever made and will only increase in value.
It is starting to become more and more difficult to find Integra Type Rs in good condition, but they are out there. Be cautious of modified cars and check that the car has not been in a serious accident. While the engine is fairly robust, continuous thrashing can lead to them wearing out.
This Type R buyers guide is designed to give you a general idea of what to look for in the car. It also covers the history and how to buy or import one. There is plenty more information on various websites that you should take a look at as well.