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 |   |  1997 Acura Integra GS-R - Plum Crazy
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1997 Acura Integra GS-R - Plum Crazy

The V-6 powered right-hand conversion that almost never was

Mar 26, 2013
Htup 1303 07+1997 acura integra GS R+JDM type r front lip Photo 1/7   |   1997 Acura Integra GS-R - Plum Crazy

Impulse buys aren't always the most sensible of actions. In the exceedingly expensive automotive world, purchases made hastily have been the cause of many a blown budget further on down the road (or even worse-a blown engine). A great acquisition that seems too good to pass up on has its merit, but under pressure we sometimes fail to weigh all of the consequences related to making a pricey purchase. In short, a great deal will sometimes turn around to bite you in the ass if you aren't careful.

For Mitch Backscheider, that's exactly how his build began. An impulse buy gone awry led him to the brink of crushing his '97 Integra, but instead of pocketing $100 for the frame, he let his intuition lead him in another direction entirely. What you see in front of you today is the end result of hours of turmoil and an attention to detail that only rivals one man's determination to succeed.

Htup 1303 06+1997 acura integra GS R+JDM type r rear bumper Photo 2/7   |   1997 Acura Integra GS-R - Plum Crazy

When Mitch bought his '97 Integra back in 2008 on a whim, he imagined driving the piss out of the H22-swapped ride, and then modding it that winter to make it even better. Well, as we all know, the economy took a massive crap around that time, and before he knew it, Mitch was parting out his impulse buy just to get by. Everything was sold off to make tuition, and all that was left was a shell of a car that housed nothing more than broken dreams. He had such big plans for the car, only to see them all go up in smoke. Scrapping the car completely was suddenly looking like a tempting option. Whereas just a few months prior there was a feeling of excitement, now there was only dejection.

After mentioning his intentions to a few close friends, Mitch was persuaded to not scrap the car. Instead, they inspired him to do the complete opposite and do a RHD conversion! All of this felt like it was in jest at first. He lacked funding for such a project but taking a Sawzall to the chassis seemed like a great way to blow off some steam. There was no going back now. Funding was still nil at the time, so Mitch decided to start with what cost him the very least: bodywork. After he removed the USDM firewall, he drilled out every last spot weld, welded up every last unused hole in the bay, and shaved the antenna hole. All winter long Mitch concentrated on every facet in the engine bay and continued to pray for funding.

In the spring of 2009 Mitch got his first big break. A part-time job yielded enough financial cushioning for him to pursue another funding source aimed exclusively at the Integra. His friends recommended they all start flipping cars to fund their various project builds, and Mitch quickly became a Craigslist junkie. Hondas all over the Cincinnati area landed in his garage and were quickly made road-worthy for profit. Thanks to stacks of green bills the grass was growing greener by the day.

Mitch's first major purchase came that summer, when he found a complete RHD firewall from a JDM Type R in Indiana for cheap. It fit the chassis perfectly, and he couldn't have been happier with the ease of installation. With the firewall conversion complete, Mitch began thinking about a powerplant again. The answer came that year at Import Alliance in Nashville, when he saw a number of Hondas sporting a nasty V-6 through their custom-cut hoods. He was immediately sold. The sound of the car paired with those aggressive shaker hoods had him hooked, and upon his return to Cincy he began the long process of combing the forums and compiling a list.

Htup 1303 03+1997 acura integra GS R+f1 spec type 5 bucket seats Photo 3/7   |   1997 Acura Integra GS-R - Plum Crazy

While perusing Craigslist one day, Mitch struck gold as some guy in Indiana was selling a JDM Type R front end for pennies. After the nose's acquisition Mitch landed a '98-spec rear bumper and an ITR wing. His funding had suddenly been depleted, so Mitch found himself back in the engine bay cleaning it up for the millionth time while finances began to trickle back in for the J-swap. Many a cold night was spent in the shop sanding until everything was exactly the way he wanted it. Even then, his discerning perfectionist eye said it was not enough.

In the spring of 2010 Mitch finally found what he had been looking for: a 2002 CL Type S dropout with a six-speed CL tranny for a steal. It was spring break, and to cut loose and have some fun, he opted to spend his hard-earned cash on something other than overpriced condo rooms and tequila shots. He loaded into his buddy's SUV and proceeded to drive 14 hours to Tallahassee, Florida, for a tuner's idea of spring break! After purchasing the 3.2-liter CL powerplant, Mitch snagged some HaSport mounts and had the engine in the car within a week after his return. But it was not meant to be at least not yet anyway.

Mitch's engine bay was smoother than a baby's arse at this point thanks to all of the countless hours of sanding he dedicated to the bay. But black primer isn't exactly a winning choice of colors, so the J32 came out so that a spray gun could coat the car's chest cavity. After a lot of debate (both with others and himself) Mitch opted for the new Dodge color "Plum Crazy" because he had never seen an Integra sprayed this color. Why purple, you ask? Well, standing out from the crowd was part of Mitch's intention, but frankly he was just plumb crazy about the color!

A brief hiatus from the build came in the fall of 2010 when Mitch began a co-op job in Huntsville, Alabama. While he hated leaving the purple monster unfinished, he knew the money was good and he needed to land some coilovers sooner than later. Three months came and went in no time, and upon his triumphant return, Mitch purchased some K-Sport coilovers and put his nose back to the grindstone. With the suspension standing by, he threw the engine and tranny back in and hooked everything up. Once the engine was turned over he was greeted by every imaginable CEL, so it was back to square one all of the sudden.

Htup 1303 05+1997 acura integra GS R+BBS LM wheels Photo 4/7   |   1997 Acura Integra GS-R - Plum Crazy

Mitch and his buddies tweaked the AEM standalone day after day eliminating one CEL after another. Eventually a crank position sensor was found to be at fault, so a TL Type S long-block was swapped in since being from an automatic, it would supposedly play nice with the AEM setup. Sure enough, everything started running a lot smoother, though a few codes were still there. During this time he ordered his all-time favorite wheels: BBS LMs that he refinished himself in satin pearl paint. At this point the car ran well enough to drive around town, so he began eliminating CELs on a daily basis while zipping around town. It was summer 2011 when the last CEL was knocked out, and Mitch couldn't be happier. Just in time for Import Face-Off, he loaded up his bags and headed up to Columbus, Ohio, without incident. Needless to say that while there he turned a lot of heads.

This car fascinates me. It went from something that was destined to be crushed in a scrap yard to what you see in front of you today. Mitch's determination to have something unique has pushed him to the point where he stands out no matter where he goes. His attention to detail and ability to make things happen even in the face of negative coercion are a standing testament of what kind of person he is, and I personally look forward to seeing what he continues to do to this car in the future. Stay tuned...

Bolts & Washers

J32 V-6 swap ('03 TL-S)
CL Type S LSD transmission
HaSport mounts
AEM Series II management
Custom stainless steel headers
3-inch mandrel bent exhaust
Custom 3-inch intake
Intake manifold butterfly delete
EGR delete
Zex 75-shot wet nitrous kit
Custom tucked radiator
Chase Bays CM1 harness
Black nylon fuel line conversion

Htup 1303 04+1997 acura integra+J32 V6 swap Photo 5/7   |   The torque of the new 3.2L V-6 dwarfs that of the factory mill.

K-Sport coilovers
Custom axles
Hard Race trailing arm bushings
Hard Race camber kits, front/rear

ITR 5-lug conversion
Russell stainless brake lines
Custom brake line tuck

Wheels & Tires
BBS LM 17x7 +36
Falken 512s 205/40-17
Muteki SR48 lug nuts

Plum Crazy purple paint
JDM ITR front end
Ti edition headlights
Shaved side moldings
Shaved antenna/badges
JDM Type R lip
JDM Type R wing
'98-spec Type R rear bumper
'98-spec Type taillights
KGS F1 mirrors

Htup 1303 01+1997 acura integra GS R+zex nitrous kit Photo 6/7   |   1997 Acura Integra GS-R - Plum Crazy

JDM Type R dashboard
JDM Type R gauge cluster
JDM Type R interior trim
Hybrid Racing shifter box
Hybrid Racing shift knob
MOMO Monte Carlo steering wheel
NRG slim hub
NRG 2.5 quick-release
F1 Spec Type 5 bucket seats
Team Tech 4-pt cam lock harnesses
Autopower 4-pt rollbar
Autopower RHD cross brace/harness bar
ITR rear seats

Johnny Nguyen, Andrew Nguyen, and everyone who supported me along the way. Also, I would like to thank for being a wealth of resourceful info. And a big thumbs-down to all of those companies that denied my sponsorship applications.

Owner Specs

Daily grind
Full-time student, engineering co-op

Htup 1303 02+1997 acura integra GS R+JDM ITR front end Photo 7/7   |   1997 Acura Integra GS-R - Plum Crazy

Favorite site

Screen name

Building Hondas
5 years

Dream car
Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG

Inspiration for this build
Colt "Blacklist" Burns

Future builds
LSX-swapped "something"

A Word From The Builder

I would like to note that this build has taught me a ton along the way. It has instilled patience in me that I never could imagine. The support of all my followers on the forums and, more importantly, the support from my friends has provided me with the motivation to make this project successful. This build is proof that if you want something bad enough, you will work hard enough to make it happen. That being said, everything on this car has been done by myself, with the help of friends in our own garages. From the welding, bodywork, paint, brake lines, wiring, wheel refinishing, and wiring, we did it all ourselves!

Micah Wright
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