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 |   |  1992 Acura Integra GS-R - The Never Factor
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1992 Acura Integra GS-R - The Never Factor

Why a car this perfect should never fall into the wrong hands

Sep 27, 2013
Photographer: Sean Bradford

While sifting through a file chock full of photos from a Honda Day event shot by long-time Honda Tuning freelancer Sean Bradford, I came across a car that really stood out to me. While the high-powered drag cars and a few spotless show cars certainly caught my eye, it was the virtually bone-stock, pristine condition, Acura Integra that stopped my clicking, and instead, had me zooming in for closer inspection.

1992 acura integra GS R aztec pearl green 02 Photo 2/7   |  
Less than 5,000 units produced for both the U.S. and Canada, the 1992-93 Integra GS-R is considered by Honda enthusiasts to be a true classic. It was a standout amongst the influx of hot hatches and sport compacts that seemed to assault the U.S. market in 90s.

The vehicle in question was a 1992 Aztec Green Pearl Integra GS-R with the only mods being a set of OEM optional window and sunroof visors. The body was perfect, every bit of the paint shined to absolute perfection, even the engine bay was absolutely spotless. Having recently searched high and low for this exact vehicle year and type to begin a new project, I was taken back by how unnaturally the car defied the laws of general aging. Instinctively, I thought to myself how nice it would have been to find that exact car during my long search, rather than the ragged, weathered version that I'd recently registered. Then reality stepped in and reminded me that this type of car should never, ever end up in the hands of someone like myself.

There weren't a large number of '92 or '93 GS-R Integras produced originally. In fact, figures are estimated at less than 5,000 units for both the U.S. and Canada. They still pop up on Craigslist and Autotrader from time to time, but as the years pass, the "pickens" have become quite slim. You'd be hard pressed to find one that hasn't been modified or slapped with the dreaded salvage title like a scarlet letter due to theft or damage, and because they were so reliable and comfortable, mileage is rarely under 200K on the used market. The car pictured is truly a rare beast in that it carries the cliche "cleaner than the day it rolled off the factory line" appearance and even has its original documentation. For a Honda enthusiast, it's like owning a piece of history. For a nut job like myself, it would be the equivalent to holding a piece of raw meat in front of a hungry lion. Listen, I have a problem with leaving well enough alone. I admit it, I'm not proud of it, so let's move on.

1992 acura integra GS R integrated third brake light 03 Photo 3/7   |  
Acura integrated the third brake light into the GS-R models standard rear wing. With LS, LS Special, and GS models, the third brake is found mounted to the rear glass rather than the wing.

If I were to purchase this vehicle, it would remain in this form for exactly one week - just enough time to get a set of coilovers and a rear sway bar delivered and installed. The showroom fresh 14in alloys would be stacked in the corner of my garage, making way for slightly larger and wider wheels and tires. That meticulously maintained engine bay? Well, its heart would be ripped out, completely disregarding the painstaking detailing process that probably included Q-tips and contorting other cleaning devices into all types of quirky shapes to free grime and corrosion from every nook and cranny. The engine's block and head would be split, perhaps for the first time in its life, and a built bottom end would be on the agenda. Though Honda intended for that B17 to scream savagely to redline in all of its naturally aspirated glory, I'd be willing to look right the other way as I shopped for turbo that was neither too big or too small. That old school A/C with the "good air" would be removed as well as the cruise control module and that jittery unrefined ABS along with it. Truth be told, the above actions are essentially my to-do list on the haggard '92 GS-R that I recently purchased and further proof that a car this nice, this well respected, should be kept far away from me.

And while I have a long road ahead of me, I'm glad I found a car that was destined for further deterioration and perhaps non-operational status rather than a true gem like the one you see pictured. Some quip that you should "never say never" but I'm going to ignore that completely and admit that this type of car should never, ever be registered to someone like me.

1992 acura integra GS R B17A1 engine 04 Photo 4/7   |  
The B17A1 engine found in the '92-93 GS-R model featured a 1.7L, DOHC VTEC powerplant that produced 160hp/117lbs-ft tq with an 8,000rpm redline and a VTEC crossover point of 5,500rpm. A rather conservative 9.7:1 compression ratio was employed and is typically increased by enthusiasts interested in harnessing more naturally aspirated power.
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