For North Americans who are hardly ever privy to the likes of Honda's upper-echelon trims, the Type R remains but a tease, showing face on U.S. soil for just four model years under the guise of the Integra badge. Meanwhile, Japanese and privileged European consumers have had their pick of select racing-inspired NSX, Integra and Civic models since 1992. It's all very sad for American Honda fans that pine for the red valve cover and just as peculiar, for there's likely no Honda fan base larger than what you'll find here and none as devout.
All of this leaves two choices for the Honda steadfast: import your own Type R—a costly and almost prohibitive proposition in most cases—or replicate one—an equally costly albeit more manageable solution. Joe Cooper will tell you that his dream car has always been the DC5 Integra Type R. "When the car came out, I just fell in love," he says. "[It's] one of the best-built cars in my opinion-from the engine to the exterior to the interior." Cooper managed to get himself into a 2002 RSX shortly after the model's introduction more than a decade ago and threw on what Type R supplements he could. The remainder of the story is a familiar one: Honda guy wants to go faster, Honda guy rides in Evo, Honda guy sells Honda for Evo. It's true that Joe traded in his partially converted RSX for the factory-turbocharged Mitsubishi, but it's also true that, according to him, he regretted getting rid of the RSX almost every day, which soon led to him buying a 2006 Type-S and ultimately seeing the Type R conversion through.
A Type R conversion in accordance with the laws of JDM and Internet forum monkeys who know better than you is key, though. Here, details matter. Here, the wrong coin-holder can lead to ridicule and the subject of chat forum lambasting by means of self-appointed Type R gatekeepers—a digital lesson for would-be ITR converters to read about for years to come. Cooper knows this, which is precisely why he's addressed nearly every detail, all the way from the right-hand-drive conversion right down to the clutch pedal. A spitting image of a nearly stock Honda hatchback this is not, though. Cooper's now re-badged-RSX-turned-Integra begins with the obvious, like its Championship White paint scheme, a pigment derived from Honda's racing efforts and one that's been synonymous with Type R heritage since the company's first sample-the 1992 NSX-R. The subtleties end there. A hard-to-find Max Racing front bumper and corresponding side skirts were added that tie in with the J's Racing hood and front fenders. Discovering such Japanese-only treasures wasn't easy. "There was one Max Racing front bumper cover in the states so I knew I needed to purchase that one, even if it was used," Cooper says. "I purchased another [one] from Bulletproof Automotive along with the side moldings—the only set and the only two bumpers in the U.S." Along with the equally rare Safety 21 roll cage and Chargespeed rear quarter panels, Cooper's ITR double toes the fine line between replica and something you've likely never seen. But nothing was as difficult to source as the Japanese Integra windshield—a component requisite to the right-drive conversion, albeit an unglamorous one, and a part that, first time around, arrived at Cooper's front door shattered. "It was hard to find because no one wanted to chance shipping [it]," Cooper says.
Never mind the Mitsubishi that's since been sold, Cooper's been a Honda fan ever since he first got acquainted with a gas pedal and steering wheel. A Euro R-converted TSX predates the RSX and a newly acquired 2013 Civic Si will likely succeed it. All of this Honda adulation is what led to his hooking up with famed Honda supercharger maker Comptech for its roots-based package of boost. "A lot of RSXs are turbocharged, but you don't see many RSX engine bays fully tucked with a supercharger in there," Cooper says of what led him to the kit. "It gives the car that surprise factor, where no one really knows it's boosted until the hood's opened or, of course, until they hear that whining [sound] when I go full throttle." All of that boosting and whining leads to the nearly stock K20Z1 engine making upward of 300whp and exactly 233lb-ft of torque—a much more generous figure when compared to the Type R Cooper's RSX was modeled after and every bit more fun to drive as you think it would be.
North American Honda fans have long come to terms with being excluded from the automaker's Type R cast. Delusions of such future American-spec trims are, at best, dim, and following through with a conversion like Cooper's is often protocol. The de facto solution as it may be, but executing it properly is every bit as important as you'd expect, making even the most accurate of conversions like Cooper's just one coin-holder shy of ridicule or Type R purity.
Power 302whp, 233 lb-ft of torque
Engine Hybrid Racing edition Innovative Power engine mounts; ARC airbox; Skunk2 74mm Pro Series throttle body; Walbro 255 lph fuel pump; Hybrid Racing fuel rail, fuel lines and radiator hoses; RC Engineering 750cc fuel injectors; KiddRacing header; J's Racing 60mm exhaust system, thermostat and valve cover; NGK spark plugs; Odyssey battery; Comptech supercharger; Koyo aluminum radiator; custom tucked engine wiring harness
Drivetrain Exedy Stage 2 clutch; Exedy lightweight flywheel; Buddy Club shifter
Engine Management Hondata K-Pro
Footwork & Chassis BC Racing coilovers; DC5 Integra Type R front and rear anti-sway bars and front lower control arms; J's Racing front strut tower brace; EM Racing rear strut tower brace; D2 Racing rear lower control arms; Ingalls adjustable rear camber kit
Brakes Spoon Sports front and rear calipers; EBC front and rear pads; Spoon Sports lines; DC5 Integra Type R booster; StopTech front and rear drilled and slotted rotors
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" +22 Volk TE37 SL wheels; 245/40 R18 Falken Azenis RT615K tires
Exterior Max Racing front bumper and side skirts; optional OEM rear bumper spoiler; J's Racing rear diffuser, rear spoiler, front fenders and hood; Chargespeed rear quarter panels; DC5 Integra Type R taillights; Championship White paint
Interior Safety 21 roll cage; Miracle X bar; EM Racing trunk bars; Bride Vorga seats and seat rails; Takata harnesses; Key!s Racing steering wheel; Works Bell steering wheel hub; J's Racing shift knob; DC5 Integra Type R pedals, gauge cluster, center console, panels, carpet and dashboard; Sony headunit and speakers
Thanks You Tim, Red, and Drew at D&D Kustoms; Kevin Pogorzelski; Danyelle at J's Racing; Hybrid Racing; Falken Tire; Bulletproof Automotive; Matt Jones; my mom; Tiffany, for putting up with me through this build