Keepers: Acura Integra Type R—Shopping

By Christopher Smith

February 02, 2010

“Is that a real Type-R?”

Seems like a dumb thing to say, but don’t think for a moment that there aren’t a couple million Acura Integras with big wings, body kits, and faux R badges running around the country. These clones can make finding a true R something of a challenge, but there are some sure-fire ways to separate the purebloods from the mixed breeds.

White was the only Type-R offering for 1997 and 1998, and when the R model returned for 2000, yellow and black were added to the palette. The Type-R had its own front fascia, and aside from the myriad engine, suspension, and brake upgrades, all Type-Rs had a carbon-fiber gauge cluster, unique seats, and a glance at the rear suspension should reveal a second rear sway bar. Of course, those items could be transplanted to a lower-trim Integra without much difficulty, but the R’s five-lug wheels are a bit more telling. As a last resort, you can check the third digit of the VIN—if it’s a four, then you have the real deal.

Once the authenticity is confirmed, the inspection can begin. Like its Honda/Acura siblings of the day, the Type-R is quite the reliable performer. In fact, considering the high strung nature of the beast, it’s quite impressive to see just how much abuse the R can take. The biggest issue is whether or not the car in question spent its days in a garage, at the track, or worse, in the hands of an inexperienced driver with more bucks than brains. Considering average use with average wear—including a few track events with knowledgeable drivers—engines, transmissions, and even clutches can last beyond 100,000 miles with little to no maintenance. For a performance ride, that’s a pretty good track record.

With the ground rules established, it’s time for the greatest challenge yet—actually finding a Type-R. Despite a four year production run, only about 5000 copies were built for the U.S. market from 1997 through 2001, with 1999 being an off year. Their rarity and status as one of the ultimate tuner cars also translates to some serious coin for an Integra—good condition cars with fewer than 100,000 miles can still climb uncomfortably close to $10,000, so you can imagine what the mint condition rides sell for. The Type-R in the gallery above was a recent 29,000 mile eBay find that we suspect sold outside the auction. The buy-it-now was $18,000—whether or not it actually brought that much is unknown, but in our opinion, it wouldn’t be out of line for the age, mileage, and condition.

The Type-R does have its own unique community within the sprawling Integra genre, and they’re a pretty darn helpful bunch at that. We’ll be back soon for some Type-R community discussion, but if you can’t wait, review our Type-R introduction and join us right now in the Winding Road Forums.