Words and photos by Michael Chandler
What we have here is, arguably, the best front wheel drive sports car ever made. Perhaps one of the best sports cars to come out of Japan in the late nineties. It was light, it was agile, it made 197 horsepower from 1.8 liters. It was the thing of legends: a giant slayer made by the same people who made humble econoboxes. From 1997-2001, skipping 1999 entirely for some reason, Honda sent a little over 3800 of these glorious cars over here. And my friend Jeff has one, and has had one as long as I’ve known him.
He’s kept his build simple. So simple that he ditched the supercharger that was on the car when he bought it. I think the car is better for it. “Why fix what isn’t broken? It came with many interior, exterior and performance upgrades from the factory.” Indeed it did Jefferson, indeed it did.
He’s kept the exterior mods to a minimum. A Seibon carbon fiber hood replaces the factory metal piece, and a Shark2 antenna replaces the bigger OEM aerial. The wiper for the rear window has been deleted, and some S2 Carbon Works winglets add a little something extra to the front end. Interiorwise, the car hasn’t really been changed much. You aren’t seeing any pictures of it, because I always think that the interior is 99% OEM and unchanged. That’s wrong, because I always forget about the AEM UEGO wideband and oil pressure gauge in the gauge cluster bezel. ALWAYS!
Anywho, the Integra Type R was already a brilliant handling car from the factory. Other Honda owners would clamor for OEM ITR springs, struts, chassis bracing, and other suspension bits to improve the handling of their cars. The only thing not OEM on Jeff’s car are the H&R springs.
A set of Highland Bronze powder coated Kosei K1 wheels are on, instead of the OEM wheels. The Kosei’s measure in at 15×7, with a +35 offset. Those are wrapped in a set of 205/50 Yokohama S.drive tires, which provide plenty of grip for some spirited driving.
Under the Seibon hood is the ultimate version of Honda’s B series of engines: the B18C5. 1.8 liters, twin cam, variable valve timing, with hand polished intake and exhaust ports. It has higher compression, lower friction pistons compared to the Integra GSR. It has a single port intake manifold, and a larger throttle body. The camshafts have higher lift, and longer duration. Everything about this engine is better than the B18C1 in the GSR. And Jeff has done nothing to any of that.
He’s added a Comptech Icebox intake, and replaced the header with a JDM 4-1 piece. Between the header and the Tannabe Hyper Medalion exhaust is a high flow catalytic converter. The combination makes for a sound that isn’t the raspy garbage people think of when they hear “modified Honda”, it sounds good. An Exedy clutch replaces what would be, at the youngest, a 14 year old clutch. A B&M fuel pressure regulator and 255 lph Walbro fuel pump are still around from the supercharged days, but why replace two fully functioning parts? Crome engine management runs inside the P30 ECU.
A carbon fiber spark plug cover sits atop the classic Wrinkle Red valve cover.
“What makes a great Integra Type-R isn’t what’s done to it, it’s what isn’t done to it.” That quote has guided Jeff in his build, and it’s a good one. The Integra Type-R will live on as a classic, an example of the epitome of how good a front wheel drive car can be.