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1992 Acura Integra GS-R - Strategic Migration

Uncommon in the U.S., non-existent in Japan, this restomod GS-R has seen both sides

Mar 29, 2018
Photographer: Yosuke Ishihara

In late '89, a young and eager Acura brand celebrated the launch of the 2nd-generation Integra, a vehicle that along with the heralded NSX, would eventually help cement the brand as a power player in the U.S. market. The designers and marketing heads had no way of knowing that the sporty coupe they were building and selling in record numbers would be a catalyst, helping to launch an entire industry of speed-thirsty teens and 20-somethings who related more to high-strung, front-wheel-drive four-bangers than their parents' V8 upbringing. The enthusiast movement at that time, already busy wrenching and experimenting on imports of that era, would get a glimpse of the future with a fourth Integra trim level introduced to sit above the RS, LS, and GS model lineup. Armed with a different engine entirely that brought with it a slight drop in displacement and allowed for a screaming-high 8,000-rpm redline at the mercy of a quick-shifting transmission and a shorter final drive, it was not only a performance improvement over the previous models, it was an introduction to Honda's DOHC VTEC least for the "average Joe."

1992 acura integra GS R OEM acura headlight assembly Photo 2/20   |   1992 Acura Integra GS R OEM Acura Headlight Assembly

The NSX had already relied on variable valve timing, electronically controlled, a few years prior to the GS-Rs debut, but many weren't aware of it and even fewer knew what it was. DOHC VTEC-equipped Civics and Integras in other countries had also been used widely by this time, but this was long before the Internet, and engine swaps weren't a common occurrence. All of this meant the DB2 was North America's first tangible introduction to a technology for which Honda has become famous.

Today, finding a second-gen GS-R in great shape is rare. Finding one that looks anything like Masafumi Eto's Milano Red '92 is virtually impossible. Especially when you take into account that less than 4,000 were ever produced, the last of which hit showroom floors about 25 years ago. And, no, this build isn't intended to resemble a standard restoration as Masafumi has added his personal touch to just about every corner of the car, from the pristine paint and intricate interior work to the highly detailed engine bay.

1992 acura integra GS R B17A engine Photo 6/20   |   1992 Acura Integra GS R B17A Engine

You could say Masumi has a thing for USDM cars. Previously, he'd daily driven a left-hand-drive GE8 Fit, and he became pretty well known for the bright yellow 8th-gen Si coupe (also USDM) he'd built as well. He stumbled upon this U.S. native model via his friends at a shop called Concept. Though it was already modified, Masumi had plans to completely rebuild the car, top to bottom, in his style.

1992 acura integra GS R TE27 RT black edition wheels Photo 7/20   |   1992 Acura Integra GS R TE27 RT Black Edition Wheels

You've seen a thousand different modified versions of Acura's early '90s icon with every conceivable bumper, aero kit, and wheel configuration in varying degrees of good taste. Masafumi, like many other hard-core DA/DB fans, believes in taking a simple approach and letting the car's classic lines do all of the talking. An OEM lip, mud flaps, a tiny hatch extension, and side window/moonroof visors surrounded by a complete respray and nothing else to distract from Honda's vision are joined by a set of TE37RT wheels. The ride height, a dramatic drop by way of IMAI-spec custom coilovers, is joined by a long list of suspension upgrades and a set of R Crew custom Alcon front brakes that bring the 26-year-old chassis up to modern standards.

1992 acura integra GS R renown monaco dark rosso suede steering wheel Photo 8/20   |   1992 Acura Integra GS R Renown Monaco Dark Rosso Suede Steering Wheel

Step inside the cabin of Masafumi's Integra (after you've thoroughly wiped off your shoes, please) and you find yourself in the midst of a mix of old and new. The distinct, sharp angles of the Integra dash are no doubt still there, but buried under what seem like miles of suede with painstaking red stitching that travels across almost every interior panel and front and rear seat surface. Further updating includes a 3rd-generation Integra gauge cluster, Mugen din-gauge lineup, and K-Tuned billet shift lever along with a slew of audio upgrades.

Being that one of the most unique aspects of the 2nd-gen Integra is its B17 heart, Masafumi was intent on keeping it rather than swapping to the more popular B18C or K20 setup. In addition, he didn't want an engine with all bark and no bite. His friend and engine builder Kazu Imai had a friend working for Toda at the time, and through some friendly networking, the 1.7L received extensive massaging by the engine-tuning legend. Of course, off-the-shelf parts like Toda's header, cams and adjustable cam gears, valve springs, and pistons were installed, but not before the Toda Racing Factory bored and honed the block using Toda's patented Power Liner kit along with giving the head a proper port and polish. To maximize all of that naturally aspirated potential, Kinsler ITBs were bolted in place before everything was dropped back in to its chest cavity via Hasport mounts.

1992 acura integra GS R B17A engine Photo 12/20   |   1992 Acura Integra GS R B17A Engine

The clean look and feel of this GS-R's bay goes beyond the expertly shaved sheetmetal. Every nut and bolt has been black-coated or replaced entirely by Downstar Inc. hardware and the OEM valve cover was ditched for a slick Frontline Fabrication billet piece that also incorporates space for the coil-on-plug conversion. It's the type of engine bay that in person might surprise you with all of its minute details that you simply won't catch the first time you view it. Rywire wiring harness and tucked radiator? Sure, but what about the brake booster delete? And then there's the clutch line that disappears into the framerail. Keep looking and you're bound to find some tricks you missed the first time.

Masafumi's to-do list doesn't go far beyond respraying the underbody and changing out a few different hoses. That's just fine in our eyes because it doesn't get any better than taking a somewhat rare model and giving it a complete restomod treatment with attention to detail that flirts with OCD levels of dedication.

1992 acura integra GS R EK9 civic rear brake conversion Photo 16/20   |   1992 Acura Integra GS R EK9 Civic Rear Brake Conversion
1992 acura integra GS R r crew racing alcon big brake kit Photo 20/20   |   1992 Acura Integra GS R R Crew Racing Alcon Big Brake Kit
By Rodrez
944 Articles
1992 Acura Integra GS-R - Strategic Migration
Tuning Menu
Owner: Masafumi Eto
Hometown: Yamanashi, Japan
Occupation: Kyocera Office Equipment Sales
Engine: B17A; Hasport engine mounts, hydraulic transmission mount kit; Kinsler ITBs; Super Flow trumpets; Toda Racing port and polish, high-compression piston kit, Power Liner kit, High Power camshafts, adjustable cam gears, valvesprings, retainers, valveguides, exhaust manifold, timing belt; DC2 valves; RDX ignition coils, injectors; coil-on-plug conversion; Skunk2 billet VTEC solenoid and cover, lost motion assembly; ATI Performance Super Street Damper; Golden Eagle vacuum manifold; FUELAB mini fuel pressure regulator; Checkerd Sports fuel pressure gauge; SARD in-tank fuel pump; K-Tuned billet TPS V2, upper coolant housing, thermostat housing, high-pressure radiator cap; SpeedFactory Racing oil catch can, thermal intake gasket, titanium stud kit; Frontline Fabrication billet valve cover, coil cover, oil cap; Locash Racing billet distributor cap cover; Rywire mil-spec tucked harness, quick-release adapter, connector plate, tucked radiator, CPR coil harness; Billet Specialties overflow tank; Mugen thermostat switch, fan switch; Hush Performance brake booster delete, cable-to-hydro conversion kit, billet aluminum clevis; Earl's plumbing and AN fitting; Downstar Inc. hardware; Hondata S300 V3, coilpack retrofit; Kazulmai exhaust system
Drivetrain: OEM Civic EK transmission; Toda clutch, flywheel, clutch cover
Footwork & Chassis: IMAI Spec damper custom coilovers; Skunk2 Pro Series front camber kit; Special Projects KIWI signature series rear LCAs, camber kit, toe links and sway bar endlinks; EK9 rear trailing arm assembly; Mugen Hard Bush RR trailing arm; ASR subframe brace, reinforcement brace with sway bar; K-Tuned Pro-Series traction bar; OEM knuckles shortened
Brakes: R Crew Racing Alcon custom big brake kit with 300mm rotors; EK9 rear brake assembly; Wilwood billet reservoir tank
Wheels & Tires: 15x8" Volk Racing TE37RT Black Edition wheels; 225/45R15 Nitto NT01; Checkerd Sports racing lug nuts; ARP wheel studs
Exterior: Milano red respray; OEM Acura headlight assembly, front lip spoiler, sunroof visor; Honda door visor
Interior: Corbeau GTS II seats; Renown Monaco Dark Rosso suede steering wheel; Mugen gauges; NRG innovations carb fiber decklid; USDM DC2 floor mats; upholstery restitched in black suede with red stitching throughout; Carrozzeria AVIC-ZH0999 deck; Kicker tweeters, mids, subwoofers; Kinetik PowerCells batteries



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