By on December 18, 2015

1998 Acura Integra GS-R

I have absolutely no idea how the B&B does it.

WordPress gives me notifications every time someone comments on something I’ve written, and the volume of your posts is overwhelming. Please don’t consider this a criticism — far from it. I appreciate everything the B&B has done to welcome me to these virtual pages over the last eight months, and I try to read and I do appreciate every comment you make.

This week, as I looked at German Hatches of the ’90s, I counted at least ten comments asking why anyone would consider an BMW E36 hatch or a VW Corrado over the contemporary Acura Integra GS-R. Perhaps I’ve been trying to hide my inner Honda/Acura fanboy, but I’ve relented to the wisdom of the TTAC hivemind and went shopping at the temple of VTEC.

I’d thought that every ‘Teg had succumbed to the Sport Compact Car trends of the past decade, but I’ve found at least a dozen across the web that appear to be reasonably solid. I even found one car in Houston with over three hundred thousand miles on the odometer. It clearly has had some bodywork, but for under $2000 it would likely make a perfect track day car.

Some might ask about the lightweight elephant in the room: the Integra Type-R. I’m looking at the GS-R today because it possesses about 90 percent of the Type-R’s performance, it’s more comfortable and usable in daily traffic, and I’m a cheapskate who has trouble fathoming the prices. Recall the Type-R that pulled $43k this spring? Yeah, I can’t justify that kind of cash.

No, today I’m looking at a time capsule 1998 Acura Integra GS-R. At $11,800, it’s not cheap, but it’s nearly new with under 32,000 miles. The paint still looks fresh, the leather interior isn’t ripped or cracked, and the crinkle-finish paint on the valve cover hasn’t flaked off. I’d prefer a color other than red — Dark Violet Pearl is my favorite by far — but this is perfect otherwise.

So, thanks readers for suggesting a wonderful car. I’m open to suggestions for next week and beyond. I’m rather disappointed that I’ve had few calls for French metal.

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75 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 1998 Acura Integra GS-R...”


  • avatar
    Dan R

    Nice wee Civic knock off, but $12K?

  • avatar
    NotFast

    I owned a 96 GSR and wished I’d never sold it. But… that price seems high.

  • avatar

    It’s priced high because it hasn’t been modded/tuned/riced/hotrodded so that makes it incredibly rare.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You are correct. I wonder which everyday modern car will wind up fetching money like this in the future, just because it hasn’t been modded or driven excessively. Certainly nothing from Acura. Shall I go purchase a new Mazda MX-5 Miata and drive it gingerly for the next twenty years? Or maybe that’s just a bygone era, with 90s Hondas and Acura being far more mod-worthy than any car ever again will be.

      • 0 avatar
        ExPatBrit

        This was from a time when Acura was trying to find it’s place in the market.

        They abandoned this segment when they replaced it with the rather meh RSX and then focused their efforts on old people.

        We had a silver 5 speed Teg coupe in the family for about 6 years and put 120,000 miles on it, great little car. Just basic DIY maintenance .

        Sold it in 2 hours on craigslist.

      • 0 avatar
        sproc

        In the near term, clean RSX Type S have held excellent value as well. Why Acura seems to have learned absolutely nothing from this is insane.

        Perhaps if VW wasn’t experiencing a circular firing squad, the Mk VII GTI might have a chance at 20 year legend status.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        They’re scorned now, but a stock BRZ/FR-S will be a rare thing in 20 years as the drift kids who buy these secondhand proceed to destroy them all.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          This.

          S2000s have already rounded the bottom of the depreciation curve, and are rapidly splitting into two categories: trashed by dumb kids with bad taste and bad f/i installs; and older-owner, near-stock creampuffs.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Even cars in the first category go for more than I think it should.The cars in the second go for incredible money. It’s one of the main reasons I have a Miata instead.

          • 0 avatar
            chrishs2000

            S2000 prices are going nuts. I bought my 2003 in 2009 with 70k miles for $12k, sold it last fall with 105k miles for…$13k. Ridiculous.

            “the rather meh RSX”…the RSX was leaps and bounds better than what it replaced. The K20Z1 in the 2005+ is a superb engine, IMO Honda’s best 4 cylinder ever. Smoother, more tunable, more tractable, and more power potential than an F20/F22C. My next fun car will be a 200k+ mile beater 2005-6 RSX Type-S.

          • 0 avatar
            ExPatBrit

            Yes the newer K-series motor in the RSX is better, what a surprise. Overall IMHO the Teg is better looking than the bland RSX and also handles better.

            The RSX is too much like a civic 2 door.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Good observation! Yeah, that’s probably the one. Maybe I should get one while the getting is good.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        WRX?

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      Absolutely, the price is this high because it does not show any mods. Very rare to find one not trashed by buzzy Japanese build crowd. But in today’s standards. This car is extremely slow and probably would have a one star in today’s crash test ratings.

  • avatar
    ronbo101

    Coincidentally I had a 91 Corrado (G-lader supercharger) which I liked, but thought I could go home again to my Fiat 124 Sport Coupe of the early 70’s, and bought what I figured was sort of its spiritual successor, a 1994 Integra GSR, though in this case the 4 door. The Fiat was very revvy, as of course is the GSR, but it turned out that by that time in my life I just didn’t want to have to rev the wee out of a car to make it go. Just not a whole lot going on below around 6k rpm with that GSR. Really liked how it looked. It was geared short though, so it spun at 4K at 70 mph, making it really raucous at anywhere near a reasonable cruise speed. Also, 1st to 2nd upshift would grunch the syncho when shifting from higher rpm’s, which I found really annoying. Don’t know if that was typical of the breed though. Ended up trading it in two years later for a GTI VR6, which kept me very happy for many years thereafter (turns out the older I became, the more I appreciated the torque of that VR-6 engine). Having said that, the GSR was still a great car, but it just wasn’t the car for me at the time.

  • avatar
    Power6

    I have to be some sort of wierdo, i owned one of the last and best examples of this car in the one year only silver. It was mint and i paid less than this one here costs years ago, a stock GS-R def holds its value!

    And i didnt like it. I sold it after 6 months albeit for more than i paid for it. Let the Honda fanbois put this car on a pedestal. It was loud with a flimsy interior. It was slow unless you were revving the wheeee out of it, and even then i got smoked by minivans regularly. The handling was pretty good, but hobbled by small tires and tiny honda brakes. So its not a good street car, and its only good for the track as a modding platform. It was like the FRS/BRZ of its day, without the RWD goodness.

    Perhaps i experienced this car too late, by 2004, the 2001 GS-R had been on the market for years and was already based on an old Civic platform when it was introduced. Maybe it was a great car in 1994 but not so much in 2004. The SRT-4 I replaced it with blew it away in every possible way except that my girlfriend at the time wondered aloud why i sold my Acura for a Dodge ha.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The temple of VTEC has been flattened by turbocharged torque today.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You go Norm, VTEC sucks & turbo is the greatest automotive technology since the ICE. Next you’ll tell us turbo is somehow better than 3800 and end up in a holy war with Church followers.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          As a member of The Church that enjoys turbocharged engines, I shall not place the false idol 2.0T over the divine V6. The path to heaven shall be paved by engines made of cylinders six and greater.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ye be blessed, my son, for thy has seen the divine light which leads to eternal torque.

          • 0 avatar
            quasimondo

            These newfangled 2.0T’s are the work of the devil himself. With their low pressure turbos and direct injections and redlines set to a lowly 6500 rpm, they bear false witness to what a real 2.0T should be. So sayeth the 4G63, the EJ20, the 3SG, and the SR20.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Amen

            quasimondo speaketh the truth

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Norm may be a little bit of a wingnut, but I call him right on with this one.

          And I don’t care if the 3800 was the most reliable motor ever made by the hand of man, what they bolted it into universally sucked donkey balls.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Naturally aspirated displacement is a hill I’m willing to die on, but I’m glad both sides get representation in TTAC’s comment section

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The 3800 was not made by the hand of man. It divinely forged in the fires of Saginaw Metal Casting, and assembled by angels in the Holy City of Buick.

            “For God so loved the world, that he gave his son, Buick 3800, that whoever believes in him shall not breakdown, but have eternal torque.”

            Twenty Eight Cars Later 3:16

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Lol.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      You ain’t weird, in my book you’re level-headed for being able to see a Hondas shortcomings, rather than fanboy all over it.

      Theres a reason why Hondas get modded so much.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    Maybe it’s just me with my history of multiple Honda cars, but that paint looks too shiny for 1998, especially for Honda/Acura product. Honda cars have some of the industry’s worst paint jobs, and back when i was working in IT consulting for local Acura dealership in Seattle area, i overheard several times salespeople discussing paint peeling on roof/hood of brand new Acuras on the lot. There was recall for that. So Integra for 1998 with shiny paint to me just screems repaint job.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      My 1995 Legend with 185,000 miles has paint that good or better, and it’s definitely original. It’s just a matter of keeping the car garaged, polishing it once in a while (but not too often, so you don’t wear through the clearcoat), and avoiding abusive treatment.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        From what I’ve seen, sometime after ’95 Honda started using thinner paint and cheaper glue for their badging.

      • 0 avatar
        andyinatl

        Maybe older products were better… My current daily driver is a’12 Civic and while i love this car, i was very happy when deer hit a side of my car and it involved some damage to fender and doors, because my car would get a nice re-paint. The bodyshop did much better job on the paint than Honda does. Before that my hood looked like it usually does on 15+ year old cars that spent all their life on highways driving behind semis.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Now this is actually collectible by most.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I like the weird, not so collectible, collectibles better. This is actually a nice car and I have nothing bad to say about it besides the price seeming high. However, if it’s a low mileage, unmolested, non-snow seeing example, I get why it’s priced like that.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        These things are actually cool for what they are and most have rusted into oblivion which limits supply. I’m not buying it for 12K but I wouldn’t be surprised if when it sells it does even 9ish assuming its clean underneath and those no miles are real (and not clocked).

        There are folks who would purchase a used up BMW hatch with an unpopular trim package or an odd VW with a rare V6, but those are the Leno types with more money than brains and a huge collection. This Integra appeals to a much wider audience… even the Xer who doesn’t collect but simply wants to relive youth a little with 10K to burn in his savings account and a spare space in his garage. I don’t see the prototype non collector salivating over the previous two German hatches at all.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          To me its a fancy Honda Civic, and I don’t pay more than $3k for Civics.

          Decent eco-cars but I dont collect thief-magnet delicates.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            Yes, I was going to say the same thing.

            This car would get stolen within 11 minutes after being parked on the street in Seattle.

            No joke.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I was thinking $9500, if I’m WAY into the Integra. However as you say it’s incredibly rare to find a basically new one.

          I hate those wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Yea those wheels are kinda ugly, the paint job doesnt look factory either.

            I’d rather buy a semi-used example for about $2k, then use half my savings making it look new. It may not be a GS-R but it’ll still be a Teggy, and I wont feel bad about driving it.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Hey, that sounds kind of like what I’m doing with my Legend!

            It’s a good starting point — it was impeccably maintained — but after 185k it needs some work. Have already replaced the timing belt and water pump, some rear control arms with dead ball joints, some crunchy hoses, and done the thorough EGR system/intake cleaning that these cars need every 60k or so to prevent blown head gaskets. Still on the list: motor mounts, front axles, struts all around, and some new foam in the front seats. As of today it’s very unlikely to break down but it doesn’t drive like new yet.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            At Dal:

            I’ve been doing that with Volvos, except I usually pick them up for $800 (here in St Louis people dunno what RWD even is).

  • avatar
    ajla

    “I’m open to suggestions for next week and beyond.”

    1. FWD cars from ’85-’92.
    2. Personal luxury coupes from the late 70s and early 80s.
    3. Nonconcourse restored but still running cars from before 1950.
    3. Rare trim packages/editions (like the Malcolm Konner Corvette, Reatta Select Sixty, Crown Victoria Touring)
    4. Cars with weird vinyl roofs (like Maximas, Ls400, etc.)
    5. Japanese off-roaders from before Y2K.
    6. “Normal” cars from ’60-’70. Like no muscle cars or restored show cars.
    7. Luxury cars with manual transmissions
    8. Toronados
    9. Cars with V12s

  • avatar
    tubacity

    High price. One thought is “if you can keep it”. If not always under guard, these tend to get stolen without delay. Or have the engine removed to transfer to some fart can Civic with stolen licence plates driven by a suspended licence wonder with blood alcohol 3x the intoxication level who is racing with another honda fanboy with an equally shady Civic.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    How is parts availability for these cars? A friend owns two Eighties CR-Xs and he has had to swap out the engines because some parts are no longer to be had.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Most parts are still available; body and interior parts are usually harder to find than mechanical parts. But they’re on the downswing and there will be challenges in another 5-10 years.

  • avatar
    PeterKK

    Wow. I didn’t think the looks of this car were aging well. But when you see it in pristine condition… I like it. A lot.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    You could write so many articles for cars in this category in the ’90s.
    Integra, Civic Si, Prelude, Eclipse GSX/T, Talon TSi, 240sx, MR2, Celica, Neon ACR, Miata, GTI

    The 90s were a great time for inexpensive sporty coupes.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Add to that list the RX-7, Supra, 300ZX, maybe even the Ford Probe. While not cheap these cars followed the same basic formula: small-ish, light, often turbo powered with a hatch or short rear deck.

      I owned 2 such examples: a ’89 Prelude Si and ’96 Eclipse GS-T. While I was a Honda fan (owned 2 Civics) I never fell in love with VTEC stuff. I had buddies with those engines and once you drove something with torque (like my turbo Eclipse) all of Honda’s offerings seemed so under powered. No wonder why V8 Mustang and Camaro owners always pointed fingers and laughed.

      So to me the Integra was a Prelude with hatch: awesome handling, high reving, near perfect clutch/shifter and generally a blast to drive, just weak on power. The interior was a step up from the Honda with leather and other goodies, but the simple logical dash and great visibility were common strong points.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        One note about that leather interior… if you get an Integra, get it with the velour seats. The “leather” seats in the GS-R are one thing I’ll never miss and probably my least favorite thing about that car. Super cheap quality material and hard as rocks. That combined with a switch to Tokiko shocks was beating me up quite a bit on commutes back home from work, and was a big reason why I sold it and got a much less fun car.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So Chris, I’m going to put in a request for you to do a Digestible Collectible on a clean 89 Ford Probe GT.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      Find me a clean one and I’m all over it. Hell, find me one that is all the same color and has four inflated tires in the photo, and I’m in.

      Seriously, I dig those (though I prefer the 2nd gen) but they are thin on the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        They sure are – if I cold find one it would be in my driveway.

        Thought I might have found one this summer but the seller was super shady, and it started to feel like a scam. A buddy of mine after hearing the story reached out to see if I was sparkling personality or if the dude was shady, concluded totally shady. Never actually saw the car.

        I checked one out in Portland, Oregon two summers ago where the body was 8.5 out of 10 – just a small scuff on the corner of the rear bumper, otherwise perfect, even the clear coat. Mechanically the car was a huge project. Hemorrhaging oil from every imaginable seal, exhaust system was Swiss cheese, but it still ran like a raped ape. Hardly anything worked on the inside (power seat, trip computer, etc. etc.). It was just going to be too much work.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Rough roads, salty winters, wild shopping karts, big door CUVs, eager would be thiefs, these are not favorable conditions for a Honda.

    I dont see riced out Teggys that often, usually they’re just worn out and rusty from neglect. A neighbor has a more basic Teggy coupe they’ve kept stock, and despite being out in the sun the paints held up better than any Honda paint job should.

    If I paid $11k for something I’d have to baby and pamper it’d better be something nice, something thats not just a fancy Civic.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I owned one of these, but I actually prefer the Prelude. It’s a more refined package that feels like it was designed from the ground up to be a sports coupe, while the Integra feels like what it is, a premium take on the Civic. Still a cool, fun car though. Also, the RSX sometimes gets accused of being a step backward, but it was actually a better overall car. The engine and interior were big improvements; the only area it really took a step back in was with the handling, just like the 7th gen Civic vs 6th.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    These were great cars, probably just about as reliable as a 90’s Japanese car could get. A great value for someone that wanted a quality “sort of” sporty luxury car for about the same price as a loaded Mustang.

    This one though is way too high in price, and the worst part is, how do you really enjoy driving it because when it gets more miles, the value is going to fall off a cliff. I’d rather have a $3,000 one and just not worry about it. You can still find ones that don’t look like an extra from Fast& Furious.

  • avatar
    buffaloboxster

    I had a ’97, first new car I bought out of college. It was fantastic. Best stick shift I’ve ever driven. Revving the wee out of it was the whole point, and all the fun. It handled great. Plenty of space, good mileage.

    I wish I still had it.


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