The Acura Integra was a legendary front-wheel drive, VTEC-engine’d sports car that could pretty much out-handle anything in its class. So this red example for sale on Classiccars.com would still be cool if it were totally stock. But it’s even cooler because it isn’t, thanks to a huge turbocharged, carbureted V8 engine in the back seat. Even if it makes the car borderline undrivable.
What’s great about this Integra is that it still looks fairly normal. Yeah, it’s missing some badges, and there’s clearly a wide-body kit on it. But at a glance, this is an Integra. And that’s true on the inside, too. Aside from the tall, clear T-handle shifter and the white gauges—fairly common mods on any car—this looks like a factory-correct Integra cabin:
Except, then you look into the back seat, and see a 500 cubic-inch V8 engine out of an early ’70s Cadillac Eldorado, along with a Turbo Hydramatic 425 three-speed automatic from that same car.
The engine is far from stock, with two 65 millimeter turbos and a 950 CFM carburetor hooked up to the intake manifold, and a pair of intercoolers keeping that intake charge nice and chilled.
Strangely, part of what makes an Integra and Integra—its excellent double wishbone rear suspension—has been ripped out. In its place, the entire front subframe of a Cadillac Eldorado has been welded in, complete with the Caddy’s suspension and engine/transaxle mounts. (Yes, you read that correctly—transaxle. The Eldorado was front-wheel drive).
As you might expect, throwing a giant iron-block V8—and a heavy subframe with a Cadillac suspension meant to provide a buttery-smooth ride—into the back of an Integra does cause a few issues.
I called Richard, the sales manager of Streetside Classics, the dealer selling the car, and he told me the car drives “horrendously.”
“It doesn’t handle very well...the weight ratios are just completely out of whack,” he told me. “We got it up to 40, and personally I didn’t have the balls to take it any higher.”
Part of the reasoning why he didn’t want to go much faster isn’t just the suspension, but also the fact that there’s no firewall between the driver and the engine:
The gases from the engine, the heat, and the noise—particularly from the two giant turbos on either side of the driver’s head—make driving this thing for long distances rather sketchy, he told me.
“It’s a fun little car, but I would not take it down the street,” he said. “When those blowoff valves go, it deafens you.”
With that said, Richard told me the point to buying this car, whose asking price is $27,995, is for the novelty. He’s selling it as a show car, but he says that with the addition of a partition between the driver and the engine, as well as a new suspension, this car could be much more drivable.
It’s worth noting that whoever wrote the sale listing on Streetside Classic’s website wasn’t quite as critical of the car’s driving manners, writing:
...thanks to the big Cadillac’s inherent smoothness and the gentle nature of the turbos, it is anything but tricky on the street. Lean into the accelerator and the car lunges forward like it was drop-kicked by God, but it doesn’t get out of hand. Some of the credit still has to go to Acura engineers for their rock-solid suspension tuning...
That last bit about suspension tuning is odd, because that’s clearly not an Acura suspension in the rear.
The whole project is just nuts—a strange meld between a smooth-riding, heavy luxury land yacht and a precise, lightweight sports car with economy car roots.
I love it. If only for its absurdity.