“You’re not the typical Acura Integra GSR-with-graphics-on-the-side kind of owner,” Craig Lieberman said while interviewing Bill Kohl—a man now in his 70s—who owned the red Integra that Ja Rule drove in 2001’s The Fast And The Furious. He wasn’t, but his car was quietly one of the best in the movie.
Kohl, who was clearly into tuner cars before the F&F movie franchise was even scribbled out on a storyboard, replied: “People would look at me–at that point I was 60 years old–and, wondering ‘who is this guy, this old guy, if you want, who’s got this teenage car’... everybody wanted to race, everybody wanted to see it.”
The red Integra from the first street racing scene in The Fast And The Furious had a brief moment in the spotlight, but it was one of the coolest cars in the movie. It was one of the relatively few tuner-show cars of the era that actually looked like a capable racing car, as opposed to an over-the-top over-illuminated caricature, and the build sheet makes it sound like the thing could really stand to be driven.
It was a 1996 GSR; a pre-facelift third-generation car that would have had the B18C1 1.8-liter VTEC engine. That was not quite as hot as the B18C5 in the Integra Type R, but it was pretty close, and with Kohl’s bolt-on mods (“cams, headers, a few things like that”) it actually would have been fast without extreme sacrifices in reliability.
All this is a roundabout way to say, of all the cars in the first Fast and Furious flick, this is a strong contender for the best real-life all-rounder.
As you’ve probably noticed by now if you spend much time on this site, Craig Lieberman, the Technical Director for the early Fast and Furious movies and now tuner car culture sage, is making a tour of interviewing people to get the real stories behind the cars and they’re all pretty interesting. The video above is his sit-down with Kohl.
Another fun fact I learned here is that Ja Rule’s character was called “Edwin.” I’m guessing all you remembered about him is the best-delivered line of his career: “MONICAAA! NOOO!” Me too.
In case you need a refresher:
Apparently, movie director Rob Cohn liked the car for Ja (Mr. Rule?)’s character as soon as he saw it, which brought Kohl some validation: “Us old guys can do this too, you know!”
Indeed! I hope I’m still putting fun parts on cars in my 60s. And as an aside, I had a red 1996 Integra myself around 2004. Mine was a lowly non-VTEC LS model but it was still fun to whip around my hometown backroads. Too much fun, as I ended up binning it, twice, and had to move on but that’s a story for another time.
As for the fate of the movie Integra, Kohl was keen to sell the car while the first film was hot and auctioned it shortly after the release. “I think we sold for about $35,000,” he says in the video, to which Lieberman says is “so cheap” but to be honest, I feel like that’s a decent chunk of change for a tuned Integra in the mid-00s. The movies got a cache bump recently but back then, the F&F-appearance status would have more of a novelty I think.
Today, the car reportedly lives in Flordia and is probably worth a bit more than $35,000.