When it debuted in the United States for the 1997 model year, the Acura Integra Type R was an instant hit, thanks to its crisp, precise handling and a glorious, 195-horsepower inline-4 that would scream to its 8,400-RPM redline without skipping a beat.
Two decades later, it has already become one of the most sought-after cars of the late 1990s; one low-mileage example sold for $82,000 on Bring a Trailer in September.
Between 1997 and 2002, the Type R won five Sports Car Club of America SPEED Touring Car championships running in nearly stock form, and while the Type R might be old enough to buy booze, in the hands of Hall-of-Fame Sports Car Club of America driver Peter Cunningham, it can still hang.
"We knew it was a great street car; we knew it would be a fantastic race car, but we had no idea how just how successful the car would become," said Cunningham.
Cunningham was won of the drivers who won those championships. He found his former race car, the #42 RealTime Racing Integra Type R, and restored it. After some much-needed TLC, the car made its return to racing at the WeatherTech International Challenge vintage race weekend at Road America in July, where it competed against some 60 cars, including class-above cars like the Porsche's 914-6, some older Porsche 911s, and the Datsun 240Z.
The #42 car qualified fourth in its class and finished fourth overall, including those cars in the class above. After dropping several positions in early laps. Cunningham was able to fight his way back toward the front of the pack to secure a solid finish for the resurrected race car's first outing.
"We knew from the start the Acura Integra Type R was a very special car," said Cunningham. "But now, after all these years, it’s achieved legendary status, and rightly so. I believe it’s still one of the best performing front-wheel drive cars ever built."
Cunningham founded RealTime Racing in 1987 and still is semi-retired but competes in high-profile race events. He's won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb three years running and was the youngest driver ever inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame.
Watch the video above for more on how the car was restored and footage from the Type R's run in the vintage race.