The Honda Integra R has always had the ability to frustrate. First off, Honda only officially imported it to the UK in DC2 form from 1998 to 2001. Even then, the Big H only brought in 500 for British buyers to snap up, so finding one of these in fine, unmodified form can take a while.
Another frustration with the Integra R is down to the very nature of its design. Drive one as you would most of its contemporary hot hatch rivals and it will feel almost a bit dull. This is because you have to get beyond 6,000rpm for the VTEC variable valve timing to strut its stuff. Use the full 8,700 revs of UK cars and the engine is a fizzing delight.
Making use of the 190hp on offer from the 1.8-litre motor is simple thanks to a standard limited slip differential and chassis that had road testers reaching for the thesaurus when new. Often referred to as the finest handling front-drive car, a well sorted one is still brilliant. The 15-inch wheels give it a suppleness over bump-battered roads and the steering is packed with feel.
All of this came about because Honda was so single-minded with the Integra R's design. The chassis was strengthened with extra spot welds and thicker metal around the rear suspension mounts, while stripping out most of the sound deadening brought the weight down. There was even a thinner windscreen to save the kilos.
It all adds up to a very special car, though perhaps not one best suited to daily use. However, it's hugely satisfying to drive and with prices starting from £6,000 for tired examples and £8,500 for one that's been looked after, it's an affordable way into a rare machine.
Bodywork and interior
Paint can lose its shine and red cars can suffer from oxidation that gives them a pink hue. Look for signs of overspray if it's been repainted.
Check the body carefully for signs of corrosion and accident damage as plenty have been on track or slid off the road. Rust around the rear wheel arches is common on original UK-spec cars. This can be prevented in the future by removing the rubber seal on the inner arch.
Feel in the boot for any damp as the rear light seals can let in water.
Driver's seat bolster wears quickly.
Look underneath for a loose exhaust heat shield - you'll also hear this as a rattle when the engine is revved.
Inspect the windscreen for chips and cracks. Tt's more prone to the latter as it's thinner than standard glass to save weight.
Be sure to get the red master key when buying a DC2 as replacements are expensive if you lose the ignition key.
Electric aerial can seize due to water getting into the mechanism.
UK cars have the rear fog light incorporated into the bumper while imports will have an aftermarket fog light. Pre-98 JDM cars have single unit headlights.
Engine and transmission
The B18C engine is very tough, but it needs regular oil level checks as it uses a little even with gentle use. Owners and specialists say a good quality oil, such as Silkolene Pro S 5W30, is needed because the engine revs much higher than most. Changing the oil every 6,000 miles is also standard practice unless you take the car on track, in which case you'll need a thicker oil and more regular changes.
Cambelt and spark plugs are due routine replacement at 60,000 miles, but more regular changes are recommended on cars that are only used occasionally, so budget for this every five years.
Original Honda oil, coolant and fuel filters work best as they were designed to cope with the engine's high revs.
Coolant should be replaced every four years or 48,000 miles.
Clutch can take a pounding from inconsiderate drivers revving the car too hard to get it off the line and track use takes its toll. Slave cylinder can weep fluid.
Synchromesh for second and third gears can wear with repeated track use, so listen for any graunching when you swap gears.
Check gear shifts are quick and precise with no slop. If it feels loose, a new linkage mount is £15.
Limited slip differential is standard.
Suspension and steering
Worn bushes will spoil the handling. A full set of replacements using poly bushes won't be cheap but it's easy to do and they'll last longer.
A set of Bilstein B6 shock absorbers for all four corners comes in at £500 and will be needed by the time the Integra has covered 60,000 miles to preserve the handling.
Wheels, tyres and brakes
UK cars came with 282mm front discs as standard, whereas earlier JDM versions have 262mm rotors.
Brake judder points to track use, but new discs are only £60 for a front pair.
SPECIFICATION - HONDA INTEGRA TYPE R DC2
Engine: 1,797cc 4-cyl inline
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power (hp): 190@/8,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 131@7,300rpm
Price new: £22,500
Price now: £6,000 upwards
1 / 5