Never This Nice: 1987 Acura Integra LS 5 Speed

By the late 80s, Japanese auto manufacturers had mastered the creation of relatively simple, affordable, reliable and moderately attractive entry-level front-wheel drive economy cars. You wanted these over a Chevy Cavalier any day of the week.

This Acura is a great example of such.

Firstly, you never see these on the roads anymore, at least not here in the Northeast, where older cars are a rarer sight as harsh winters take a toll. When you do see them, they are in tatters, if even on the road at all. In California, with a warm dry climate just an ocean away from Japan, these may be commonplace. But not in New England.

The Acura story is mildly intriguing. Honda started it in 1986 for North America only. Just as Ford and General Motors notoriously cross-sold identical platforms under different brands, Honda used some Honda platforms for their Acura cars. The idea was to sell vehicles based straight off their Honda lineup for cost efficiency but charge the customer slightly more. Since upscale, upwardly mobile tastes were all the rage then, U.S. car consumers bought into it, and other automakers like Toyota followed suit (with the creation of Lexus in 1989). But to avoid seeming like a huge rip-off, the cars were given different and arguably better looking sheet metal than the average Honda, as well as different engines and more comfort features. When American automakers did this it was usually offensive. But Honda pulled off Acura quite well, mostly because they unveiled the flagship NSX sports car in 1989, a totally new and incredibly brilliant car under the Acura name to solidify the brand in the minds of Americans as serious makers of great products (they have yet to top the NSX, however).

This is a first-generation Integra from the early days of Acura. As such, it's nowhere near the level of luxury cars have today. Instead, you have a large greenhouse, minimal use of sheetmetal, and a stark, angular and hyper-functional but handsome interior in black plastic and cloth seats.

Under the hood is a "Browntop" 1.6-litre 4-cylinder DOHC fuel-injected 16-valve engine producing 113 horsepower. It is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.

So how is the ripoff factor stacking up? Mostly in the consumer's favor. The most comparable Honda offering would have been a first generation Civic Hatchback, which was smaller, but lighter and faster. Still, if you wanted more space but at the same high build quality, the Integra would make more sense.

The seller is a dealer and mentions the tires seem to have a lot of tread left. They list the mileage as 111,613, low for a 1987. They say the paint has a showroom shine, but I do notice a small chip or rust spot on the rear driver's side corner. Otherwise, this qualifies as a remarkable survivor that could be good to go for many more miles.

Find it here on ebay in Riverdale, New Jersey with a $4,750 buy it now but also entertaining offers.


  1. Neat find. Very rare to see a decent condition Integra survivor these days. I forgot how angular the design was. Vintage 80's, but not in a bad way. In feel and content, these were more like a slightly smaller Accord hatch than a Civic.

    The dealer annoys me though. How hard would it be to change the damn headlight before taking the pictures?!? Don't they realize that sort of thing influences potential buyers? Maybe their customers have lower expectations.

    On this particular car, the multiple instrument binnacle shots showing that the tachometer needle is clearly not steady isn't inspiring confidence either.

    This seller usually has some interesting inventory, but there always seem to be issues that make me question whether I'd ever want to buy a car from them. Assuming I was willing to go to Paterson, NJ, in the first place.

    1. Yeah I noticed the light, very foolish to not replace.
      I also expected you would complain about the buy it now price. I think it's outrageous.

    2. Geez, I got so caught up complaining about the dealer, I totally forgot to complain about the price!

      You're right. Crack price. Good luck getting anywhere near $4750.

  2. Somewhere down in the Japanese mountains lies a test track that outrightly copies the renowned worldwide Nurburgring circuit in Germany. This is Honda's play area and they're not apprehensive of the examinations. Japanese auto creators have constantly taken the best bits of European autos and enhanced it themselves, so why not do likewise with dashing circuits?