Without a doubt many of you are familiar with the DC2 Integra Type R but for anyone who hasn’t heard of this car I’ll give you some details. The US spec Integra Type R (ITR) was introduced in 1997 and remained for sale till 2001. The car was a more stripped out, hardcore, tuned, track ready car than the GSR Integra and it could basically do everything from being a grocery getter with plenty of trunk space, to a full on track car with the ability to put more powerful cars to shame all with a small 1.8 liter engine. Add to the fact that the engine was hand built, reliable, made upwards of 190hp at the wheels, and still managed 26-30mpg for driving around town and you have one heck of a car for $24,000 brand new.
Honda continued to make FWD cars like these for other countries such as the EK9 (97-00 Civic), EP3(01-05 Civic), DC5(01-06 Integra), and the FD2(06-2011), but none of them were ever sold here in the US. We only received variants of those cars such as the Civic SI or the RSX Type S. The only real Type R model US received was the DC2 chassis. With only 3,823 made for the US market that makes the car somewhat difficult to find in mint condition. Here closing in on 2017 it’s really starting to show based on the prices some of them sold for.
Now you might think that at this point you'll never own one, especially at the prices these cars sold for. Certainly it will be difficult to track down a completely stock Integra Type R with low miles. Also, not many have the luxury of dropping over 30k or more on a stock 20 year old car and quite frankly not many will see a point considering there are better alternatives in that price range from a performance perspective, including other Hondas. Allow me to elaborate.
It should be mentioned that they don’t all sell for this much. Most of the modified ones sell for significantly less, but those with ITR’s looking to sell now seem to believe they have some kind of “gem” car and honestly now believe them to be a collector car. So now prices seem to be all over the place ranging from 15k on up. Now before I get too deep into this let me preface by saying I own a 1997 Integra Type R. It’s actually badge number 126 and one of the first Type R’s imported to the US. Big deal right? Throughout the years it has seen a lot of owners by the looks. From what I can tell it was modified right from the get go with no real intentions of keeping it stock. According to members of the ITR Expo forums, this car was one of the few ITR’s that the company Comptech used for development purposes and magazine shoots.
It kept the USDM front end for a time until at some point another owner went even further with the show car trend by shaving the engine bay, doing a wire tuck and brake line delete, swapping a JDM front end on it, and repainting the whole car. After that the next owner bought it and re-did the wiring, stripped the interior, and turned it into track car until the motor blew up. Then the car was stripped down of all the track parts it had and sat as a shell for a few months until it finally was put it up for sale on a Kansas City forum called KCSR.
Want to take a guess at what happened after that? Well, that’s where I became the next owner of the car. I’ve always wanted an Integra Type R but for different reasons than most. I did not buy this car to sit in a garage or hope for a decent re-sale value in the next few years. In fact re-sale wasn’t even considered when I bought it. I actually bought this car because I wanted to race it. As it turns out these cars class really well in NASA Time Trials due to having better factory parts that you don't get penalized for and this car also reminds me of my old 1993 Integra because the styling is very similar to the JDM front end (hence why I prefer the look). So what started as a roller ITR shell quickly turned into a street legal track car and despite the chassis having seen 160,000 miles, it has yet to see any rust on the chassis and doesn't have a dent on the body. The rubber bushings have all been replaced with polyurethane ones, PIC coilovers were installed, factory sway bars were bolted on, and the motor is an Hmotorsonline.com B18 Type R swap making a healthy 180hp at the wheels on a factory ecu. How much did all it cost me? Not much at all actually. All this was actually done for less than $8,000 including the price of the vehicle and the car is now a full TTD spec track car in the NASA Central Region.
So this leads me to a question. Why are the stock US Type R’s selling for so much? I’ve always wondered what logical reason someone would have to spend double if not three times what I spent on my car only to have a stock, low mileage version of the same car that is no faster around a track. After buying this car I realized very quickly that there is a major cult following to this car in the US. For instance if you happen to own an all stock ITR, the fanboys (otherwise known as the cult following or purists) will praise you for not modifying the car, not driving it a lot, keeping it garaged, and possibly may or may not enjoy seeing it on a track where it could hit a wall or get hit by another car. Should you choose to sell the car, the fanboys will enjoy seeing what price it goes for on bringatrailer.com or possibly eBay while eating their popcorn in front of the computer monitor while they list everything that’s wrong with the listing such as parts not matching, stickers not being aligned, the VIN # info, or any other possible detail that can be listed about the car. When the cult following knows more about the car than the owner does it’s usually pretty funny to see.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen another group so obsessed with knowing the history of everyone’s car. When the car sells online everyone seems to congratulate the owner on what an amazing purchase it was and encourages the owner to enjoy the car. From what I can tell though it would seem nowadays owning this car is more about re-sale value. The ones with the stock ITR’s or low mileage examples will most likely drive the cars less, keep them in storage, and never really enjoy the car only to eventually sell it later at some point when they feel the market value is high enough. The cult following seem to be really happy when the prices of these cars climb even if they don’t own one and most of the time they try to defend the prices some of these examples sell for which in turn, encourages other owners put theirs up for similar prices. Understandably it's all about the perceived value with this car, but there’s a big problem with the way these cars are viewed.
So what's the problem? Well, for starters what was once a fun, practical, and reliable track car you could buy for a fair price is now selling for far more than it should be. Since most of the all stock ITR's seem to sell for a lot now, let's just take a quick glance at what you would expect if you were to part the car and sell off as an incomplete car.
- DC2 Type R Chassis: $3,000-$6,000 (Varies on condition but shells without the original motor suddenly have no perceived value to most buyers)
- Type R Engine: $2,000-$5,000 (hmotorsonline is another alternative to buyers or complete OEM rebuild is also an option)
- ITR LSD Transmission: $1,300-$1,600 (Another source is hmotorsonline if buying used)
- Factory Suspension: $250 (nothing special about these shocks and can find them anywhere online)
- Full Type R Interior: $1,000-$2,000 (assuming USDM black interior)
- Strut/Sway Bars: $300-$600 (Also very cheap and easy to find)
- 5 Lug Brake Swap: $500-$700 (Can also buy rebuilt calipers from Rock Auto)
- ITR Wheels: $500
Understand that this is just ballpark pricing, but you get the idea. When parted out it's easier to see what you're really getting for your money. When everything is added up, assuming I pay a premium price on everything, I would spend upwards of $16,000 (roughly). This just means that you have a lot of options here and can realistically not pay that much to build the exact same car and get just as much enjoyment out of the vehicle. So again I ask. Why are Integra Type R’s priced so high? Take this same concept and apply it to an older Honda chassis such as an EG or even a non-Type R Integra chassis. That shell price drops significantly almost to $500-$1,000 range and all of those listed parts will bolt right up to those cars with no fab work at all. Think those cars will be much slower than an Integra Type R around a track assuming all the parts are the same?
I can tell you an EG has a significant weight advantage, plus savings from not buying an ITR shell can be put towards other things like upgraded suspension, brakes, gearing, and ecu….etc. Also, let’s not forget about the Honda S2000, where stock to stock the S2000 will run rings around the ITR on any track. S2000’s today sell for less than the asking price of an all-original, low mileage USDM ITR, and it’s also much easier to find a mint condition example S2000 without any rust problems. So why bother with going through all the trouble to get an ITR that's far too over priced? Where is the price line between passion and shear stupidity? Let's get more philosophical shall we? I just recently watched a youtube video called “When Is a Integra Type R, Not an Integra Type R?” Feel free to check out the video below.
He goes on to explain that from his point of view a few modifications to an ITR will basically stray from being the car it should have been. His argument is that it's not a true Integra Type R even after a few modifications and it's definitely not an Integra Type R once the original motor is swapped out for a K swap. It's all about everything matching and remaining untouched. Again, from a purist or cult following perspective they pretty much all believe this and is the very reason they hate seeing modified Type R's. This got me thinking though. Why do we as track enthusiasts like this car? See it’s not really the Integra Type R that’s cool, but more so the concept of the car. A track ready, reliable, and affordable car from the factory? That’s an amazing idea until that concept goes entirely out the window once you see the prices they are now going for. Certainly Honda can be praised for putting forth the initial effort to show what a simple FWD Honda can do. After all there really wasn't much like it when it debuted in Japan 1995 and Honda continued this idea several years after with the other models like the EK9, EP3, DC5, FD2….etc.
If you really think about it though literally any Honda can be converted into a Type R clone or be built in a similar manner for less than buying one based solely on the example I provided earlier. Even cars that were never true Type R’s such as the EF, CRX, or EG chassis can be turned into very fast cars for far less than the US Type R asking price. This even applies to the RSX Type S or the newer FA5 Civics as there is a lot of aftermarket support for them and fully running with low miles still sell for around 9-12k. Also, any current Integra Type R that's been modified can usually be returned back to stock very easily, or at least close enough to drive similar to the way it did 20 years ago. All this can be achieved without spending an outrageous amount of cash. In fact, just to prove this point there was a supercharged ITR on bringatrailer.com. Want to take a guess how many miles were on this car?
The car posted above had 75,000 miles on the car and other than the supercharger that had been installed recently with a Hondata S300 ECU, a proper fuel pump and injectors, the car was otherwise stock (besides the notable NSX front calipers). Anyone could have turned this car back to OEM very easily as Hondata S300's can be programmed to match the factory ECU. Simply sell off what you don't need if forced induction isn't your thing and by making simple changes you would have what basically is an all stock ITR with the original B18c5 for less than half the price of the ones posted above.
So when you’re about to throw 20-40K at a 20 year old car, you really should stop and wonder why you’re buying the car in the first place. Are you looking for a fun track car that’s affordable or are you simply buying to try and re-sell it? How much do you really think you’ll profit on? For those not thinking about re-sale, why is buying all stock so important? Why not just create your own Type R? As I said earlier, Honda can definitely be thanked for the initial idea of the car, but this doesn’t mean you need to source out the exact car Honda made. Do something original or different. This is why I don’t mind when people modify their car. I have no problem with someone “ruining” the car as most of the cult following would say. These cars really aren’t so special that we have to keep all of the remaining ones stock and look down on anyone that chooses they suddenly want to go a little faster than the next guy or create a car that stands out from the rest. Those of us that track these cars are never truly satisfied with our lap times on the track anyways and we always want to get faster. There is a point to where the car will have to be modified in order to get faster lap times. I don’t see many frowning upon the RealTime Racing Team for their SCCA World Challenge Type R's. In fact many of the fanboys have posters of the car on their walls, yet at the same time they hate seeing modified ITR’s now because they are “rare”. It would now seem their philosophical perspective is self defeating. Apparently RealTime Racing ruined several of these cars too or I guess they aren't real Type R's anymore now.
Perhaps they should have used a 90's Civic instead to save more ITR's? Should we start a campaign called “Save the ITR's”? Many have taken these cars and went crazy with them to create a car with their own vision or goal. Ever heard of the orange Rywire Type R that appeared at SEMA? What about James Houghton’s K-Tuned time attack car that runs in Global Time Attack? What about BYP's time attack car at WTAC? There are almost too many amazing cars to list off from what started as a stock Type R. At the end of the day these are just cars and people will do whatever they want to them because they can. Some things are simply out of the fanboy's control and they can't do anything about preventing people from “ruining” these cars other than making pointless youtube videos or dumb comments online. Here's a thought though - Any time someone tells you that you have to buy a stock ITR to experience the fun or joy of the car, your fanboy radar should be going off very loudly. We live in 2016. Cars like this are very easy to replicate with the amount of aftermarket support Hondas have. So next time when you find yourself staring at your glamorous, mint condition Type R in the garage just remember, someone else is off in the world having way more fun than you in the same car and actually using the car for what it was made for. Care to take your low mileage Type R to ITR Expo next year and actually track it (http://itrexpo.com/register.php) or will it be another year sitting in a garage doing absolutely nothing? I bet your response won’t surprise me.
A word from the Author:
Bio: Hey guys! My name is Cooper Pierce. I'm the driver of the J32 Civic hatchback that runs in Global Time Attack called the GuessWork Civic. I've been running it for 2 years now and plan to further develop the car. Currently I have 2 other cars. My daily driver car is actually a GSR Civic with about 190,000 miles now. I've put it through a lot the past 5 years and I've been tracking it since it had 100,000 miles including 2 round trips to Georgia for the Global Time Attack Road Atlanta event. After struggling to class it properly in NASA TT I decided to drop it for an ITR chassis as they simply class better for points. The purpose of this article is mainly to get you thinking about the cost relative to the actual performance you're getting for your money. As I had mentioned in one of the bringatrailer pictures $30,000 is actually in the Lotus Exige price range (along with STI's, Evo's...etc). My roomate currently has an NA Touring Lotus Exige with 42,000 miles and he paid $33,000 for it. You think ITR production numbers are low? You should look up how many Exige's were brought over to the US. I've raced it at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit and I can definitely tell you it's much more of a drivers car compared to my ITR. As I said, this is just something to think about. At the end of the day we here at track tuned want to offer advice based on experience and saving thousands of dollars can be put towards seat time on an actual track. A car is only as fast as the nut behind the wheel after all.