Home » Help Me Understand The Appeal: 1996 Acura Integra vs 1995 Honda Integra

Help Me Understand The Appeal: 1996 Acura Integra vs 1995 Honda Integra

Sbsd 11 17 2023
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Happy Friday! On today’s Shitbox Showdown, I’m asking a serious question: Why JDM? What is the appeal of having virtually the same car you can buy in the US, with maybe a little more power and some different trim, for many times the price? I honestly want to know, so I’m putting it out there to all of you to debate and discuss over the weekend. So I’ve found what I think is a fairly desirable but still attainable Japanese import, and an equivalent US model that’s nice but not perfect.

But first, there is the matter of yesterday’s silly Jeeps to finish up. The idea of taking two hulks and making one working car out of them is intriguing, but it never really works out quite the way you planned. At best, you have a “parts car” to store somewhere or dispose of when you’re done with it; at worst, the car you thought was the “good” one ends up being worse than the first one and you end up junking them both. Ask me how I know.

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The whole idea is so troubling, in fact, that it even drew a comment from our esteemed Master of Ceremonies, a man who until recently would have been all over a two-fer like this. Maybe he really is growing up. In any event, the “both” option proved popular with most of you, at least theoretically.

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Now then: I don’t know how often this happens wherever you are, but here in Portland, at least once or twice a week, I see a Japanese car that almost looks familiar. I recognize the make, and can almost make out the model, and then I notice that the driver is sitting on the “wrong” side of the car. Japanese domestic market imports have become big business up here, and several large importers will either help you bring in the car of your dreams, or sell you one they have already imported.

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But it’s not cheap, and I can’t help thinking of all the drawbacks. Say goodbye to drive-thru lines, and good luck at parking garage kiosks, for a start. You’ll probably just have to live with it if you get a minor ding or crack in one of the trim pieces that’s nothing like the US version of the same car. And I don’t even want to know what sorts of hoops the DMV makes you jump through. So why do it? Why not just be satisfied with a US-market version of almost the same car? Let’s look at one of each, and then you tell me.

1996 Acura Integra – $3,800

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.8 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, FWD

Location: Sacramento, CA

Odometer reading: 115,000 miles

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Runs/drives? Yes, but might have starter trouble…?

I do like the Acura Integra, despite my personal history with one bad buy. We spent too much on an automatic Integra that ended up having some weird electrical issues, and I listened to the wrong forum idiots about fixing it, going against my gut, and wasted a lot of time chasing gremlins, which soured us on the car. But it was a nice little car to drive for the most part, if a bit dull with the automatic. With a manual, I imagine it would have that wonderful lively Honda zippiness that everyone loves.

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This one has a scant 115,000 miles on its odometer, though they haven’t been easy miles, from the sound of it. It has a salvage title for an undisclosed reason, which I know is an immediate red flag for some, but I’ve had two salvage-title cars, and they were both fine. I guess it depends on how it happened, assuming the seller even knows. As it sits, the car runs and drives just fine, but it sounds like it might have to be push-started. The ad is a bit unclear. I do know that one of the problems we had with our Integra was a bad starter; I spent a lot of time mucking about with the ignition switch and some big relay under the dash before just replacing the damn starter and fixing the problem.

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Salvage title or not, it’s a sharp-looking little car. This looks like a basic RS model, with few options, but that means there are fewer things to break. And I like the fact that it’s stock, right down to the steel wheels and plastic wheel covers.

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I’ve generally had good luck with Hondas, particularly manuals, so I think I’d be willing to at least look at this car, and find out how it ended up with a salvage title. The price still seems a little steep, but I know these are getting more desirable, and a rising tide lifts all boats, as they say.

1995 Honda Integra – $20,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.8 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, FWD

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Location: Shoreline, WA

Odometer reading: 163,000 kilometers (102,000 miles)

Runs/drives? Yep

The Japanese-market Integra carried Honda badges; Acura is primarily a North American nameplate. From the looks of it, it also has a different nose, and a far less interesting one. It looks a lot like a contemporary Accord, actually. The fact that this one is a four-door sedan and not the sportier two-door hatch doesn’t help, nor do the exact same wheels as our Accord EX sedans.

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But as has been said of other high-performance machines, “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.” Under the hood of this Integra is a VTEC-equipped twincam 1.8 liter four, sending 180 horsepower to the front wheels through a five-speed manual and a limited-slip differential. So there’s some fun to be had here, for sure.

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Of course, you’ll have to learn to shift with your left hand. And from what I’ve heard, unlike British right-hand-drive cars I’ve driven, the turn signal and windshield wiper stalks are reversed, so you’ll have to signal with your right hand. Odds of you turning the wipers on accidentally when approaching an intersection are significantly greater than zero.

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It’s a cool little car, no doubt, and it’s probably close enough in spec to the US models that a lot of basic maintenance and replacement parts available here will work. But it’s also probably close enough in spec that it wouldn’t feel much different to drive, except that you’re sitting on the other side.

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I get the desire for “something different,” but is that something different worth all the hassle of registering an imported car, and all the day-to-day headaches of right hand drive? There’s a $16,700 price difference between these two cars that are 90-95% the same, and close to the same age and mileage. Yes, there is a performance difference as well, but not that great. So what is it? Bragging rights? Cool factor? I know both of these cars will sell for the asking price. Which one is worth it to you, and why?

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
7 months ago

I think part of the JDM thing is, that while there is a chunk of my generation are Anglophiles,a chunk of my son’s generation are Japanophiles, or whatever the word is. The grew up on Anime and Dragonball Z, and all things Japanese are cool.

As far as these cars, I like the idea of the performance, manual 4 door better than the coupe, but not near enough to justify the big price difference.

Erik McCullough
Erik McCullough
7 months ago

I’m not really sure you are making your point by having so much dissimilar cars. I don’t want either of them. One is a salvage title, overdoing the price difference.

Christopher Glowacki
Christopher Glowacki
7 months ago

I don’t really get the appeal of going JDM on this specific example. And certainly not at 20.5K. Integras were nice little cars in their day and certainly sporty enough with the higher zoot engine and manual. However this car is not the proverbial “forbidden fruit” that import enthusiasts tend to lust over, it’s just a RHD version of a car that we got plenty of in the 90s. This one puzzles me beyond the “I want to be (slightly) different” buyer. It’s not different enough for the ask.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
7 months ago

If you spend the suggested $3,800 on the black three-door, fix the starter, do your basic fluid and pad changes, and put a set of grippy tires on period factory Honda/Acura alloys – say you’re five or even six grand all in, hell, say at least six to factor in, I dunno, a possible clutch job or something else major coming up that we don’t know about, or maybe you’d just want the driver’s seat reupholstered properly – and then the head gasket gives out or rust starts to creep through the rockers and you sell the car for a grand or so, well, that’s about $5k for what’s likely to be at least a few years of slow-but-nimble two-lane enjoyment.

And they want how much for that sedan?

Edit: Goo-net suggests that the crazy Integra pricing starts at home, so it’s not just the dealer being optimistic. Still, I’d take my chances with that salvage title!

Last edited 7 months ago by FuzzyPlushroom
John E
John E
7 months ago

They both will spend their lives staringing at a 90’s LT2 Camaro’s taillights on Fridays, so I vote for buying the crack pipe. A lowly 90’s 3.8L Camaro would smoke these things. The only reason they’re becoming popular again is video games and the shaved ape’s Fast and Ridiculous movies. They weren’t very good performance cars unless heavily modified. Oh no! I told the truth about Japanese shitboxes. I must not be a “real” (string back driving glove, gold chain wearing, shirt unbuttoned to the navel, pretentious, Speed Racer wannabe) car guy.

Last edited 7 months ago by John E
Jerry Thomas
Jerry Thomas
7 months ago
Reply to  John E

Fuckin eh! (Cheers emoji)

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago
Reply to  John E

With curly white chest hair and sockless boating shoes?

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
7 months ago
Reply to  John E

Why do I sense you wrote this wearing an oversized Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts?

John E
John E
7 months ago

Real men don’t wear short pants like 3 year old little boys. That was a whiff of epic proportions. Wrong white guy stereotype, esé.

Lottie Arplusse
Lottie Arplusse
7 months ago

As the former passenger of a four-door 2nd gen GS from my childhood, I disagree with the previous poster, and a four- or five-door Integra is just as valid as the three-door models

I rent a lot of cars in Japan, and got pretty used to right-hand signaling after half an hour of driving. After returning to the States, I spent about three weeks constantly hitting wipers instead of turn signals. So it’s okay! I still wouldn’t spend that much on a 3rd gen sedan, though, unless it’s a DB8 Type R.

Last edited 7 months ago by Lottie Arplusse
Ricki
Ricki
7 months ago

A four-door Integra is no Integra at all, I don’t care where it comes from or what badge is on it.

Von Baldy
Von Baldy
7 months ago
Reply to  Ricki

What if i told you the o.g. integra was born as a 4 door in 86

Ricki
Ricki
7 months ago
Reply to  Von Baldy

I appreciate it, but I don’t acknowledge it. *crosses arms*

Von Baldy
Von Baldy
7 months ago
Reply to  Ricki

Hey, i dont blame ya, im none to fond of then either, lol

Addlightness
Addlightness
7 months ago

They’re both overpriced but the JDM price is laughable.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
7 months ago

“A plague on both your houses!” I can get a Toyota Century V12 for $10k including shipping.

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
7 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

By 3:00 o’clock, with polish?

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
7 months ago
Reply to  XLEJim700

My son “knows a guy” and has been trolling Japanese auction sites, he showed me a 97 Century with 100,000 miles for $3500, shipping etc. runs about $2500 to get a car to Portland or Seattle. It will be slight departure since his friend mostly imports and flips Nissan Cedrics. Time frame is about 6-8 weeks to get it to Oregon.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
7 months ago

The black one looks horrible on the passenger quarter panel. I wonder how much bondo exists on that car.

The problem with this Shitbox Showdown is that hte black one is probably smashed/repaired poorly, and by that nature, it will NEVER be a nice car. It will forever be sort of a beater, and not worth much.

The white one, while cool, is overpriced. Realistically that is probably more like a $10-12k Integra. If that is factory paint, maybe even more. The JDM front end is worth a lot to people converting them, and being RHD gets cool points, even if I don’t really like RHD at all.

I guess what I’m getting at is that hte white one will hold some actual value, which helps justify keeping it nice. The black one is a black hole you will toss money into, not a lot, but it just won’t ever be worth much.

Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
7 months ago

Only reason I’d go jdm is because I work at the post office and it would be sweet to roll up to the mail boxes in an Integra. Of course there is the lack of space for parcels, but fuck Amazon!

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
7 months ago
Reply to  Geo Metro Mike

HiAce vans are common in the PNW, RHD and space, and diesel

Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
7 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Hell ya I’d try to import one of those for rural delivery! Unfortunately, I ended up on the city side solely because there are too many cars at home in the garage, driveway and street; and adding more to the collection for a job I might not stay at didn’t pan out in the budget.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
7 months ago
Reply to  Geo Metro Mike

One of my local mail carriers has a Honda Concerto formerly owned by a little old English lady: https://i.imgur.com/mQe113h.jpg

Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
7 months ago
Reply to  FuzzyPlushroom

That car is awesome!

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
7 months ago

I had a ’92 Integra GS coupe, just like the red one in the brochures. Totally loved it. Totally miss it.

Madewithgenuineparts
Madewithgenuineparts
7 months ago

The 3-door, a JDM front end swap, maybe even a GSR engine swap, and a full respray in any color you want is the price competitor for the JDM sedan??? Insane. Easiest decision I’ve ever made in the NPOND/ShSh series.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
7 months ago

That JDM Integra is GROSSLY OVERPRICED. The stealership selling it is crazy. The ONLY way it would be worth the asking price is if it was a rare JDM-only performance version of the Type R. But this example is not a Type R. It’s a plain vanilla sedan version. I don’t even think it’s an Si-R as claimed by the seller… unless it’s a custom job. I would think that if it was a real Si-R, then we’d see some OEM badging to back that up.

The sanely priced 1996 Integra got my vote.

Rexracer
Rexracer
7 months ago

I voted the honda, its in better condition and was surprised how cheap it was. Then I saw it was losing the vote so badly, it didnt make sense. I came down to the comments and everyone is complaining how expensive it is… what, why are people complaining about a $2500?!?!!?

Oh… there is a 0 in there $20,500, yeah no way its worth that.

Aaron Slater
Aaron Slater
7 months ago

Is there a third option for a crack pipe?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
7 months ago

Why do 36 members have access to better drugs than the rest of us?

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
7 months ago

I’ve had a couple JDM cars, but they were always stuff that wasn’t sold here, and both were far cheaper than this. The issues on the US car make me not want it, but the JDM is certainly not worth 5x the price for a sedan. I love imports for the weird factor, but not that much.

Mike B
Mike B
7 months ago

I kind of dig the black one. Who cares about the salvage title, this car is at the bottom of depreciation, and even if it goes to zero it’ still worth it if it lasts a few years as a beater. I never cared for these cars when new, at that time I was lusting over LT1 WS6’s and Chevy Z71’s, but now I kind of miss the simplicity of 90’s Hondas and Toyotas. In a way I think the 90’s were a high-water mark for cars in some ways.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike B

“In a way I think the 90’s were a high-water mark for cars in some ways.” Yes, especially Japanese, very bulletproof, and enough power to be fun.

Thancr
Thancr
7 months ago

Who wants to bet that the salvage title is due to theft? Weren’t all of these stolen at least once?

Mike B
Mike B
7 months ago
Reply to  Thancr

I was going to comment that after reading that article from the ins. adjuster yesterday, it was probably a door ding.

Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
7 months ago
Reply to  Thancr

All the hondas I’ve had (4) have been stolen at some point.

Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman
7 months ago

Where’s the “95 Park Avenue” button when ya need it

Black Peter
Black Peter
7 months ago
Reply to  Saul Goodman

Like “neither, I’ll take the 95 Park Avenue”? I like that, maybe that way people won’t whine about how “both are garbage and over priced”..

Bill D
Bill D
7 months ago
Reply to  Black Peter

“JDM I love you, but give me Park Avenue”

Lokki
Lokki
7 months ago
Reply to  Bill D

Big and Square!
Space-Saver Spare!!
Lots of Chrome!
It’ll get you home!

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
7 months ago

I am buying the JDM damnit. I don’t buy cars to sell later, so I don’t care about appreciation, or depreciation. I drive my cars into the ground.

Parsko
Parsko
7 months ago

“How is that ’96 only $3800???” “OOOHHHHHHHH, salvage title.”

Parsko
Parsko
7 months ago
Reply to  Parsko

Said every single one of us.

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