Oh, how tantalising the technical ingredients of the Integra Type R were. Still are, in fact, 20 years later. The first Type R model to be launched in Britain used a very special, 8,500rpm 1.8-litre engine that drove 190hp through a helical limited-slip diff - enough alone to grab attention. But the car's structure was also stiffened and weight was saved with thinner glass; it even featured a pair of strut braces from the factory. The Integra's spec read like a recipe fit for motorsport - which is no coincidence, because the car was homologated for Group N racing.
Why, then, do the words 'DC2 Integra Type R' not pass through the lips of as many petrolheads after a performance bargain as, say, Renaultsport Clio or the DC2's younger cousin, the Civic Type R? Probably because of the Japanese coupe's comparable rarity, as well as the fact it's not a hatchback, so it can't be included in your top 10 hot hatchback lists and won't show up on a classifieds search for such a bodyshape. It's also not as practical, apparently. And yes, they are still a little more expensive - maybe that's it.
DC2s have remained a bit of a left-field choice, despite offering so much for the money (so much, in fact, that Honda lost money on each DC2). On the other hand, though, this has only served to boost their desirability to those in the know.
Remember how special a 1.8-litre car producing 190hp at 7,900rpm was back in 1998, especially in comparison to every other Honda (NSX aside)? With the rise of the internet in full swing (including some site called PistonHeads), it meant the 1,797cc B18C engine - which still ranks among the greatest four-cylinders ever - quickly acquired infamy on forums, helping to create a cult-like world of VTEC worshippers, who declared their love for high revs and the clever cam tech kicking in. Yo. In the 1,125kg Type R, it meant 62mph could reach in 6.7 seconds and top speed was 145mph. Strong numbers even by today's standards.
Yet, arguably, it's the Integra's sublime handling that has sealed the car's legendary status. Later hot Hondas could offer the VTEC experience in a similar vein, but very few have recaptured the delicate handling offered by the DC2 and its nimble chassis. It also flaunted a balance so sweet Matt was convinced this remains a better driver's car than the RWD (and much younger) Toyota GT86 in last year's Hero drive. In some circles, the Integra Type R is still regarded as the best handling front-wheel car ever made.
Yet still, used prices remain fairly reasonable. Sure, there are ultra-low mileage examples sat in showrooms with optimistic numbers stuck to their windscreens. But there are also several sub-£10k cars floating around that, generally-speaking, only have higher mileage and age-related wear to hamper their values. Given that the DC2 Integra Type R is deep into the realms of a modern classics, that it's so revered among enthusiasts and that fewer than 900 are registered in the UK (according to HowManyLeft), several examples of Integra Type R on the classifieds look a bit like performance car bargains.
Take today's Spotted, for example. 104,000 miles on the clock shouldn't be too much of a concern thanks to Honda's reliability record. This car is also described as completely rust free and, aside from a little fade in the Milano Red paintwork, looks to be in fine condition. It's fitted with a set of Bridgestone RE002 tyres, which keep them on brand to the factory originals, and the car comes with a full service history. In short, this appears to be a cherished, fairly used example of a front-drive performance icon. Yet it's yours for less than the price of a five-year-old Jazz.
SPECIFICATIONS - HONDA INTEGRA TYPE R (DC2)
Engine: 1,797cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
Power (hp): 190@7,900rpm
Torque (lb ft): 131@7,300rpm
First registered: 1999
Recorded mileage: 104,000
Price new: c. £23,000
Yours for: £5,995
See the original advert here.