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Acura Integra Type R: America's Only Type R Honda

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author photo by Doug DeMuro December 2016

Throughout the late 1990s, performance-craving Americans often complained that foreign automakers saved all the cool stuff for basically any market that wasn't the United States. The BMW M3 had more power in Europe, for example, and wagon versions of the BMW M5 and the Mercedes E55 AMG didn't make their way over here. But the biggest offender was Japan.

Burned by the poor sales performance of sports cars in the mid-1990s and faced with increasingly unfavorable exchange rates, the Japanese mostly kept their high-performance cars out of the U.S. in the late 1990s. Although some American car enthusiasts clamored for Type R Civics, Mitsubishi Evos, Subaru WRXs and the Nissan Skyline, none of those cars came to the U.S. in the late 1990s.

Except one. One single Honda Type R made its way over here -- in the form of an Acura.

It was the Acura Integra Type R, and it was sold in the United States for four model years: 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001, with an unusual break in 1999. The rarest model year was 1997, with 320 Integra Type R models imported, while the next three model years saw 1,002, 1,355 and 1,173 examples, respectively. Perhaps even stranger were the color choices: You could only get yellow in 1997 and 1998, while white and black were added in 2000 or 2001.

But the Integra Type R was an impressive car. Somehow, it managed to eek 195 horsepower out of its tiny 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine without the help of forced induction -- and its tachometer went all the way to 10,000 rpm, with redline starting around 8,400. It went from 0 to 60 miles per hour in the sub-7-second range -- that was pretty good for back then -- and the ITR, as enthusiasts call it, reportedly handled like it was on rails.

But the Integra Type R suffered from some issues. None of these were problems with the car itself, but rather reactions to it: A huge number of ITRs were stolen for their rare engine and other lightweight Type R parts, and many more were modified to the point of being nearly unrecognizable. Today, a stock Type R is almost impossible to find.

And that's a shame, because the Integra Type R ended up being the only Type R Honda we ever got, as the brand chose to skip high-performance Type R versions of cars like the Honda Civic and the Acura NSX. Or at least until this year, as Honda says it's finally resurrecting the Type R name for a high-performance Civic. I wonder if it'll rev to 10,000 rpm.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Acura Integra Type R: America's Only Type R Honda - Autotrader