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
ADVERTISEMENT

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.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

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.

Screenshot From 2023 11 16 16 54 20

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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

00o0o 9m6fnwpisrt 0ci0t2 1200x900

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

Location: Sacramento, CA

Odometer reading: 115,000 miles

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

00y0y 2o0qnetpd09 0ci0t2 1200x900

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.

00c0c Evkobxcpxv1 0ci0t2 1200x900

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

00909 6lxendkcqzn 0ci0t2 1200x900

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

00d0d 2qz385mvbd 0ke0fu 1200x900

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

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

00r0r 6qiw8jbhgey 0ke0fu 1200x900

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

01313 6zsxe6zwlvp 0ke0fu 1200x900

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.

00o0o Iskurz4ib67 0ke0fu 1200x900

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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)

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
94 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike F.
Mike F.
8 months ago

JDM car has the cool factor and the no-one-else-on-the-block-has-one factor but that’s pretty much all it has going for it. For that kind of money, I want a much more interesting vehicle. Despite the salvage title, I’ll take the $3500 US-spec car.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
8 months ago

Learning to shift with your left takes three to five minutes

You’re never going to be able to do a safe overtake ever, though, and that cannot be fixed

121gwats
121gwats
8 months ago

Wheel is on the wrong side and you have to learn to shift with your left hand. Hard pass is my initial thought, but it might make a mean postal vehicle. Maybe its the sort of thing you just get used to, but its kept me from pulling the trigger on many Mini Coopers.

JDE
JDE
8 months ago

yeah, automatically the salvage title is a relative no-go, but for the price it is not like it can really lose much more value. it would be a winter beater for me. the JDM unit is probably what it cost the guy to buy and then import, but it is definitely not worth the money in my opinion. I would much prefer even a little Autozam Kei car over that for that money.

Lightning
Lightning
8 months ago

I picked the USDM Integra in this case, but the price differential usually isn’t this different if looking at similar condition. Gavel gazing at Gen 2 Subaru Legacy wagons, a 6k mile USDM 1997 Legacy Brighton manual wagon recently sold for $18,250 on Bring A Trailer. That’s the stripper version with crank windows and no tach. I love my unkillable, much higher mileage ’96 Legacy Brighton wagon, but that’s crazy money.

Meanwhile, the same generation, JDM twin turbo, 155mph Legacy GT-B wagon is going for between 7K and 15K on Cars and Bids. The latest one to sell (for $15,100) was stunning in my opinion – spotless, rust-free underneath/in beautiful condition and in a really nice dark red (maybe the same color as my first car, a Subaru Loyale wagon). Only problem was the automatic transmission. The JDM GT-B came stock with beautiful alloy wheels, a perfectly subtle body kit, Bilstein suspension (the “B” in GT-B), probably LSDs, nice bolstered seats with height adjustment and an interesting upholstery pattern that is also on the door cards. If I had a lot of money, I would have gotten that red Legacy GT-B and done a manual swap and single turbo conversion. Between the USDM Legacy Brighton for $18K and this for $15K, I’d gone JDM all the way even though I want a manual and prefer a left-hand drive.

Fantasy build with more money and time than I have would be to mix the two. I’d build a left hand drive ’90s GT-B wagon.

Last edited 8 months ago by Lightning
Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
8 months ago

If a vehicle was only offered in RHD, which means that it’s the only way to get it in the U.S. then I can only understand the rationale for things like older skylines and 4×4 Japanese vans.

Otherwise, a RHD Integra sedan? Why? Especially not at that price.

You can change the front end of a USDM one to look like the JDM one if you want, weirdly enough, I assisted with that conversions on a 2 door Integra about 20 years ago for a fellow student.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
8 months ago

Easy and Cheap. Which is also how I would describe my dating life back in the day.

Lokki
Lokki
8 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Hmmm From what I heard…none of the girls said you were easy to get along with, but they all agreed with Cheap…..

(Sorry/not sorry- but when you see such a huge opening, you gotta drive a truck through it – it’s the law of the internet.)

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
8 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

I’m just going to head to the drug store to pick up some polysporin to put on that burn!

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
8 months ago

Sad that neither have a sunroof, since most USDM Integras have it.

4 doors are better than 2, but not for that price!

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago

I never, ever vote for salvage title cars.

But this is the rare instance that it might be worth the gamble. $3500 for what seems to be a relatively clean and STOCK (holy shit, a non-molested Integra is hard to find) example is a really good deal. Honestly, I’d rather deal with whatever starter and salvage title issues this thing might have over whatever flat-brimmed, ham-fisted modifications that have been done to most of these.

The JDM sedan price is stupid. It’s certainly a nice looking example, but I’m not paying 20k for the privilege of having to deal with a RHD car in a LHD country. I’m sure a US Integra of that vintage/condition/spec can be found at a similar or better price.

Isis
Isis
8 months ago

A base Integra with the 5-speed is a glorious little buggy to beat the F out of. Salvage title be damned, these cars depreciated pretty quick and were easy to total out and fix if you know how to weld.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
8 months ago

JDM = Just Dumping Money

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago

I own two JDM cars, but they are both models that were never sold in the US (otherwise it wouldn’t be worth the trouble for me). For those who buy Celsiors (LS400) or JDM Honda Odysseys the benefit is often in the specs, but mainly that a 25-year old Japanese car is typically in a MUCH better condition than a comparable US car. They can be better deals than a US car, even with shipping costs.
That said, this particular Integra suffers from being overly popular, Golden Era Honda prices having shot through the roof. Trawl the auctions and you could find something much more interesting for half the price.

DadBod
DadBod
8 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

There’s an awesome Delica 4wd van in my town. I can see the appeal of importing a weird JDM vehicle, just not this dumb 20K integra.

Tiki Bunny
Tiki Bunny
8 months ago

Driving JDM is like being on a nude beach for the first time. You know it’s out of the norm. You KNOW people are looking, and you know anywhere else it’d be illegal and yet, it’s totally cool and even a car that’s not normally cool suddenly becomes eye-catching. It’s the joy of it, it’s the unexpected nature of it and above all, it’s about being different.

JDE
JDE
8 months ago
Reply to  Tiki Bunny

look if you really want to drive on the other side of the car to peacock around, they make student driver steering wheel and pedal kits, drive by wire has made the whole process much simpler. you still look silly doing it and most just don’t care. SO you are really just putting a show on for a very select few.

Tiki Bunny
Tiki Bunny
8 months ago
Reply to  JDE

It’s not for anyone else, it’s for ME. Other people smiling is a benefit of it. Besides, my daily is a 97 Honda Life. It is/was a run-of-the-mill utility car in Japan but here, it’s fun and special.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
8 months ago

The price on that JDM would get you half-way to a very nice BRAND NEW Integra. Plus, my left hand doesn’t shift gears, it steers.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
8 months ago

USDM Integra all the way. It brings back fond memories, and is cheap enough to justify some mods to make it more than a base Integra would otherwise be. It will still not be a Type R, but it will also still be plenty fun in a “slow car fast” manner.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
8 months ago

USDM Integra is bottom tier Intergra with a B18B1 with no VTEC kicking in, yo. Plus you have the pleb open diff, and it’s just black. JDM Intergra is two doors away from being best Intergra. I’m assuming this has B18C5, so VTEC will be kicking in like a no knock raid, yo. All the way past 8 grand. That LSD ain’t cheap either. And it’s championship white. It’s still a at home Type R DB8, but if all the suspension stuff is there, it’s not thattt overpriced. theoretically you could do the same to RS. But all the Type R stuff is real expensive, you probably wouldn’t be saving money. Would have two less doors though. And you could just turbo the RS for way cheaper, but that’s a very different experience, less Honda purity.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago

I can’t remember the last time I even SAW an Integra, let alone one that wasn’t a rusted out shadow of its former self. US one all day. If it inspects OK, that’s a freaking bargain.

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
8 months ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

I followed one down the street just last week. I believe it was this era and color (black coupe, round headlights). It was SO modified that it didn’t really look like an Integra anymore. More like a kit car.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago
Reply to  SlowCarFast

I think that’s a fate a lot of them suffered.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
8 months ago

It always seemed odd that RHD variants were inconsistent in flipping the light and wiper controls. I know, added cost, but imagine if the situation were, well…flipped where RHD was more dominant worldwide except the US and those controls didn’t get reversed here. Lawsuits left and right because of people startled by the wipers when they went for their lights or didn’t have lights on or something.

I’ll take the Accra (see title tag of the CL listing). I could be off in thinking this for the trim but the JDM Integra doesn’t feel oddball enough to go with for me personally, certainly for the price and miles.

My ’97 Maxima had a no-start issue that sounds familiar as the ’96. Only when the weather was nice – a nice sunny ~70 degree day, but not when hotter or colder – it wouldn’t start, just click. Even after replacing the starter it was still an issue, so probably something electrical. My college apt parking lot was a downward slope, so if I knew the weather was going to be nice I tried to back in or pull through spots to just bump start it when I had to go.

AlterId
AlterId
8 months ago

The 1968 Datsun 1600 roadster I had in college was LHD but still had the signal stalk on the wrong side, which was really unnerving the first few times I drove it.

Autonerdery
Autonerdery
8 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

At least Datsun had the excuse of having been originally designed as a RHD car. Nobody seems to be able to explain why BMWs had the turn signal stalk on the right well into the ’70s. Switching out of my ’73 Bavaria into any other car, I ALWAYS turned on the wipers at the first turn.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
8 months ago

This was my experience renting cars on a trip to Australia years ago. The Saab 9-3 convertible I got had signal and wiper controls on their “usual” (LHD) stalks, but the Australian-built Mitsubishi Magna I drove later had them flipped, which made lane changes funny, then not funny, then exasperating.

Redfoxiii
Redfoxiii
8 months ago

I fully plan to import a very late model (1999-2000) RX-7 at some point.

But that feels like a different ball game then the one we’re playing here. US FD’s ended in 1995 and never got the revised vacuum system and other reliability items that the later JDM models did.

The price can’t justify what’s little more than an oddity, here.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
8 months ago

Obviously I’ve thrown an enormous amount of shade at JDM fanboys on these threads and will continue to do so….mainly because of the fact that money seems to be no object to them and they continuously pay way over what cars are worth just to have bragging rights. There is no way in bloody hell that this import is worth $20,000, but will some bro looking to live out Gran Turismo IRL sprint to pay that much? Of course he will.

It’s particularly infuriating because their obsessiveness and lack of financial sensibility has made the market thermonuclear for the rest of us. With that out of the way, I do see the appeal of JDM imports on paper…at least before the car market broke mid pandemic.

It can be a way to have something unique and interesting without breaking the bank. You can still bring kei cars and trucks over relatively affordably, and if you’re willing to deal with the fact that they’re deathtraps on American roads and the sacrifices right hand drive requires, you’re getting a discussion piece without having to sell your soul. On that level I do understand it and I have no choice but to respect a lot of the folks who drive them.

Of course there are also big ticket cars that never sold here as well…like the R32 and R34 Skylines, etc. The values on stuff like that are so bonkers that I’d never even vaguely consider one. But alas…there’s an infinite supply of people with more money than sense and nostalgia’s a helluva drug.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
8 months ago

I live in California and I see TOOONS of barely driven JDM cars being sold on Marketplace for cheap. I wonder how many are “couldn’t register” or “can’t pass emissions” or “this isn’t as cool as my internet-derived car fetish led me to believe it would be” or “oh yea driving around like a mailman every day”

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago

There are thousands of other interesting JDM cars that were never sold here – aside from keis, Granturismo cars, and RHD Civics and the like. I drive a Toyota Caldina, I absolutely love it, and it cost me $5,200 landed in port with a US title. I am low key looking for a Daihatsu Pyzar or a Toyota TownAce Noah; either should be less than $10K. $20K for an Integra feels kinda pointless.

Soso Tsundere
Soso Tsundere
8 months ago

I can see importing one of those charming little oddballs that Japan loves to make, but they also tend to be a heck of a lot cheaper. I can even see paying $20k for some rad 80’s classic if it’s in good condition. But not for a boring looking ’95 Integra with too many doors and not enough zip.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
8 months ago
Reply to  Soso Tsundere

This dealership isn’t that far from me. The Integra is one of their least interesting vehicles, just slightly more exhilarating than the ’98 CR-V they have.

Right now they have a ton of Kei trucks and tiny SUV’s (Never seen a Daihatsu Terios before, but there one sits…) They’ve got a Bongo pop-top camper which looks pretty damn neat, a sexy Isuzu Gemini R Turbo AWD hatch, a Lancer Evo V GSR, a pair of Legacy GT-B wagons, a freaking SUPERCHARGED CONVERTIBLE Subaru Vivio…

I know he had a theme to go with today, but damn he picked the most boring crap he could have from there.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
8 months ago

JDMs are cool to spot in the parking lot of Whole Foods — someone in my neighborhood owns an early-90s Toyota Crown, and it’s pretty sweet — but I would think less cool to drive on a regular basis.

Anyway, we’ll take the Acura. It can keep my 2nd-gen TL company.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
8 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Buchholz

Feel like the novelty wears off pretty quick when your 30 year old Japanese sedan needs a window regulator only available on ebay.jp for $900. Even the rich Santa Monica gen-Xers can’t stomach that for long.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
8 months ago
Reply to  Rabob Rabob

Yeah, every time I think about self-importing something fun from Europe (1st gen Twingo, Opel Monza), I think about parts availability and come to my senses.

Brett Goelz
Brett Goelz
8 months ago

I don’t get the love for these JDM. The difference isn’t that great from what we got. Spend 20k on a much newer Honda and it will perform better in almost every way and be cheaper to repair. Now something unique like a KEI, that’s a different story.

Alexk98
Alexk98
8 months ago
Reply to  Brett Goelz

A lot of the interest comes from the variants that we never got in the US. The SIR-G seen here is a B18C stick shift sedan, with more power than the USDM GSR ever got (about 10 hp so not crazy, but something) and JDM cars of this era got much more fun and playful interior touches. While absolutely not worth 20k in this case, the ability to have something unique and more charming than its USDM counterpart, but with tons of aftermarket support and parts availability is why these JDM imports are still popular.

I am a big JDM car fan, and looking to get into something imported within the next 6 months or so, but I see your point and would much rather get something never offered in the US here (I’m hoping to hunt down a nice Crown Wagon or something similar)

Brett Goelz
Brett Goelz
8 months ago
Reply to  Alexk98

I get it, but the price differential in this case is horrible especially with the JDM being a four door. I often like 4 door vehicles in domestic automakers because I like being different. In this case it makes the Integra look too much like the Civics and Accords of the era. Put $5000 into the Acura and you can get way more than 10hp and have money left over for some cosmetic upgrades.

Also a Crown Wagon would be awesome. Those cars that are hugely different than we ever got are awesome. I still would have to be in a different income bracket to justify buying one at the prices they usually command.

Alexk98
Alexk98
8 months ago
Reply to  Brett Goelz

Oh I absolutely agree, especially, here, with that big a price delta between the JDM and USDM cars, you could easily build a Type-R Tribute with a full on JDM B18C, paint, interior redone, and suspension and brakes. I get the premium for people who can drop 20k+ on a toy up front and just want it to work, but I’d rather get the cheap project and be in it for 20% of that.

As for the crown, I have my eye on one at Duncan Imports, but I’ll have to first sell off a car or two to free up the cash. Also, it might be one of the cars they’ve had for 2-3 years since it went up on their site, and due to overflow has probably been outside suffering from lot rot which will break both my heart and bank account

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
8 months ago

So far, only 8 votes, but we’re at 100% for the Acura. I can see this one staying at 100% for a while.

Last edited 8 months ago by StillNotATony
Data
Data
8 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Somone ALWAYS votes for the other vehicle. It could be a vote on a fully running vehicle against something like Project Cactus pre-restoration (i.e. a planter) and someone will vote for the planter. The contrarians.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
8 months ago
Reply to  Data

Some people just want to watch the world burn…

Lokki
Lokki
8 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Hey! I missed the announcement! What time do we does it start?

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
8 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

Thursday at 11:30 CT. We’re all gonna lower still frozen turkeys into big pots of hot oil sitting over an open flame. Make sure to either do this inside your garage, or right next to the wooden part of your house!

Lokki
Lokki
8 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

It’s ON! I just checked my Renter’s Insurance policy!

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
8 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Either way, there’s a 100% chance that the Integra wins.

Racingtown
Racingtown
8 months ago

I can confidently say that the JDM model is not worth $20k.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago
Reply to  Racingtown

As a JDM lover and multiple owner I agree.
Go get a Toyota Corona ExiV for like $7500 and be much cooler.

94
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x