In the late 1990’s, Honda brought it’s track-inspired street fighter to the States. The Integra Type-R, badged by Acura for the North American market, quickly became a coveted car among Honda enthusiasts. Sleek, fast and amazingly agile, the lightened and hopped-up hatchback inspired fanatics and cemented the term VTEC in the American automobile lexicon. Even old-school rear drive, pushrod V8 gear heads took notice of the funny little “rice-burners” that suddenly were destroying pumped up muscle cars at street lights all across the country, and doing it with engines half -and even a third- the size.
For many of the young Integra enthusiasts who simply could not afford a new Acura, let alone a limited production, high performance specialty car like the Type-R, posters, magazine articles and service manuals had to suffice. Tuners dug through workshop guides, digitally documenting discoveries in the newly created .pdf format in an effort to record and replicate the performance of the Type R, or at least fuel fantasies of the day when a ‘Teggy’ Type-R of their very own would be parked outside.
The tuner market owes a lot to the Integra Type-R and the rabid enthusiasts that lusted after it. The rarity of the Type-R led many to buy other Honda and Acura products and models like the Integra GSR & LS. And then turn to aftermarket companies to get the kinds of ridiculous power they craved. It wasn’t always easy, and many tuners in the ‘90s made their own performance parts when what they wanted wasn’t available.
Honda has a century-long reputation for reliability and ease of service, and companies like Spoon, Mugen, DC Sports and dozens of others capitalized, producing upgraded suspension components, importing JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) engines and providing kits to add turbochargers, bigger brakes, stiffer springs and all types of goodies to any Honda or Acura.
Unlike working on virtually all exotic, limited production vehicles, the Type-R is nearly identical to most Honda and Acura products of the period. In fact, the suspension components of a Type-R will bolt right on to other Integra models without modification (except for the wheels since the Type-R was a unique 5-bolt wheel lug pattern vs. the normal 4-bolt option found on other Integra models. A service manual and an afternoon, and a Type-R is ready to slice. It really is that easy.
Honda managed to squeeze 195 horsepower out of a version of the dual overhead cam B18-series engine. To do so, engineers increased compression through the use of special pistons, ported and polished the intake and exhaust ports and valves, installed a larger throttle body, and installed a highly efficient oversized tri-y type exhaust header flowing into a larger exhaust pipe, through a performance muffler.
The Variable Valve and Lift Electronic Control system, or VTEC, was demonstrated on the 1991 Acura NSX in the States, and had proven itself in earlier Japanese and European Honda vehicles. VTEC essentially changes the camshaft profile and lift at higher RPMs, allowing the horsepower and torque curves to remain flatter, longer. This technology, along with the careful modifications to the motor enabled the Acura Integra Type-R to set a record for the most horsepower per liter for a naturally aspirated engine.
This all sounds very trick, but looking at an Acura Integra Type-R workshop manual shows the B-Series being used in Honda Civic, CR-X and Integra models. Working on a Type-R engine isn’t any more complicated than working on any Honda with a dual overhead cam inline four cylinder.
The year 2023 will mark the 25th anniversary of the US-Spec Integra Type-R, and those first generation cars will be considered classics. The youth of the 1990’s are hitting middle age and the desire to rekindle some of the passion from those days when a five speed hatchback with bright red badges got the perspiration working has led to a steep jump in demand and the resulting increases in price, particularly for unmolested, low-mileage models.
Recently, a ’97 Acura Integra Type-R with 44K miles on the clock sold for $63,850, a hefty wad of sweat-stained Benjamin’s for a car that could be had brand new for $24,450. Even taking inflation into account, the little wedge shape hatch that came in your choice of two -then three- colors would today sell new for about $39,000, or a little extra scratch over what a 2018 Honda Civic Type-R Touring demands.
The limited production of Acura Integra Type-R cars means that many of the ones still alive today are in great shape, and a number of low mileage, original cars are available nationally on internet auction sites. For those willing to spend the money, a great example of a trend-altering icon can be added to their collection.
Bear in mind, production for the 2018 Honda Civic Type-R is expected to average 400 cars for the US market per month, and should finish the year around 6,000 units in total. In all five years of production, only 3,823 Acura Integra Type-R cars were built for the US market. Nearly that many Civic Type-R cars were produced in 2017 alone.
Buyers today who are more interested in restoring a car to drive rather than buying a piece of art to store in their garage are in luck; a huge number of ITRs, the commonly abbreviated name, were stolen and stripped. Often, the shells show up in junk yards, with virtually every useful component long gone. Many others were wrecked and discarded, particularly in the mid-2000’s before prices began to climb and insurance companies cared little for “just another Honda.”
Due to high demand, even cars that have a salvage title and a history of being stolen or wrecked command good money when restored and maintained correctly.
Most major components are available to restorers today. Armed with a small tool box and an Acura Integra Type-R service manual pdf, anyone can take what seems like a total loss and get it back to it’s glorious originality. All it takes is time, money and a little know-how. Fortunately, resources today are much better than in the 1990’s when the internet was in it’s infancy.
Complete workshop manuals identical to the ones used by factory-trained service technicians are available for digital download in .pdf today. These service manuals make it easy to restore an Acura Type-R, or torque together a home-built Integra rocket that is better, faster and tighter in the twistys than any Type-R Integra ever made.
A normal Acura Integra can be picked up today for less than $4,000 for a nice car and significantly less for cars missing engines, transmissions and interiors. The legendary engine that powered the Type-R can be bought online, and even more potent power plants are now easily purchased and bolt right in.
Today, aftermarket companies produce headers, exhaust kits, air intakes and throttle bodies that exceed the performance capabilities of the original parts. An Integra workshop manual details each step to disassemble, inspect and repair an Integra, whether it’s a ground-up project, or just a matter of sprucing up wear and tear. Manuals even help in showing the various structural components that were lightened, modified or removed all together that contributed to a significant weight drop for the Type-R cars.
Ultimately, what made the Integra Type-R such a historic car was the benchmark it set. At introduction, it generated more power per cubic centimeter than any car in history, and held that record until the introduction of the Honda S2000. Most cars that are track-oriented are terrible to drive around town, but not so with the Type R. The car was perfectly at home puttering around a parking lot at the mall, just as it seemed to relish the chance to put a 5.0 Mustang GT deep in the rearview mirror. The Integra Type-R could get close to 30 miles per gallon all week, then show up for track day on Sunday and post numbers that made prepped racers jealous.
A high quality Acura Integra Type-R repair manual is the first step to take whether it’s time to start doing your own servicing, or if you just found a great deal on a shell and a pile of spare parts. Manuals available as .pdf documents are a great new tool available to today’s tuners and wrench monkeys. Print out a page, or view your manual on a tablet rather than lug around heavy, paper manuals that get stained, fall apart and can’t be zoomed.
The Acura Type-R is certain to continue climbing in price, and good quality cars are becoming rare. Restoring an Acura Integra Type-R is rewarding and could be very profitable some day soon.