The Forgotten Samurai
2001 Mugen Integra Type R
More often than not, whenever the Honda Integra Type R is mentioned, we always assume we are talking about the iconic bubble eyed 90's hatch with its perfectly neutral handling, often being referred to as the greatest handling front wheel drive car ever produced. But what of its replacement, the 2001 Integra DC5 Type R? Despite some fantastic on and off paper credentials it has yet to achieve the status or receive the admiration of its predecessor. Perhaps this is partly because it was never officially sold in Europe, or perhaps because its story has rarely been told.
In our opinion the DC5 type R is one of the Honda greats, and the Mugen enhanced version takes the recipe further. A poor man’s GT3 and GT3 RS perhaps? Maybe not, but for sure a car which is hugely underrated. We explain why.
ii 2001 – Welcome to the DC5
The fourth and final iteration of the Integra was launched to the market in April 2001. It featured a long list of improvements over the DC2, and was never offered officially in Europe, probably because it would have cannibalised sales of the UK produced Civic Type R (EP3).
The chassis and platform for this car was based on the xxxx. However what makes the DC5 very special is that it was designed from the outset as a Type R and a single make race car. The body was 116% stiffer than the DC2 …
The cab forward shape was the work of Hideaki Uchino, who had recently finished a stint at Pininfarina. He cited the success (in his view) of the Ferrari 360 Modena's higher stance compared to the old 355, so the DC5 could be viewed as 'Uchino's 360'. Four multi-reflector headlights set in pairs into the V-shaped nose were echoed at the rear with cylindrical taillights.
At the heart of the DC5 is a 2 litre iVtec engine which out of the box produced 220 horsepower and up to 8,400rpm. Let’s consider this, in 2001, a ‘cheap’ honda hatch was developing 110 horsepower per litre without forced induction. So impressive was this engine, that it is understood that Ferrari sourced a DC5 in the UK for benchmarking during development of the incredible 458 engine. The engine is far superior to that of the DC2, with more lower end torque and a more usuable rev range. Matched with the 6 speed short ratio gearbox, it meant that it was no longer necessary to redline the car in each gear to stay in Vtec. The engine and gearbox saved 12.5kg compared to the DC2 equivalent which was an impressive weight saving.
Other highlights included the Front strut and rear independent wishbone suspension set up, a limited slip differential, the red Recaro seats, Momo steering wheel. Due to its increased dimensions, the DC5 came in 60kg heavier than the DC2 but that is still a very light 1180kg.
With all this combined, the DC5 is extremely capable and very fast point to point in the right hands. For those who have not driven a FWD car with an LSD, it is quite an enlightening experience using the throttle to pull the car into the corners. Many newer hot hatches now feature an LSD with FWD set up, although many use electronic set ups. The DC5 hits a sweet spot of not too much power with the mechanical LSD making it a very responsive and effective cornering machine. Much more power and torque steer becomes prominent. Although the car was never developed for European roads, it can be easily improved with some springs and fast road set up offered by many specialists such as TGM Motor sport in Surrey.
iii Mugen Preparation
On first impressions, the Mugen Integra Type R may look like a regular Dc5 with a bodykit but there is more to this car than that. After all, reputable car model makers don’t often make models of tuner cars but AUTOART have made the Mugen DC5.
Mugen was formed in 1973 by Hirotoshi Honda, the son of Soichiro Honda. The company tunes and races Honda vehicles in the Super GT championship, and, additionally, sells aftermarket parts to enthusiasts. Mugen was also involved in Formula One as an engine supplier from 1992 to 2000. Mugen, means "Without Limit", "Unlimited" or "Vast", (hence the commonly placed word "Power" after, denoting "Unlimited Power")
Mugen had been developing racing parts for the DC5 in parallel with the development of the car itself. In July 2001, only a few months after the DC5 was presented to the world, two Mugen prepared Integra Type R’s lined to race at the Tokachi 24 hour race. The cars raced in Class Four, for naturally aspirated cars with less than 2000cc. The results speak for themselves, the two cars finished first and second in their class but even managed 3rd and 4th overall, only 10 laps behind the winning Nissan GTR competiting in Class 1, (3500cc+). The winning car is kept in the Honda Collection Hall in Japan, sharing space with some of Hondas most important cars.
iv The road car
Following this victory, Mugen continued to develop parts and sell them as aftermarket accessories and performance enhancements for the DC5. Usually regarded as the holy grail of performance parts, partly due to the price but also because these parts were both windtunnel and race tested, these parts made their way onto road cars and now discontinued are highly sought after.
This particular road car is an early 2001 DC5 and was imported into Europe by specialists Tegiwa in 2008. The car had almost all Mugen parts fitted before it was imported although a few final modifications were made since then. Improvements are made in almost every area, the car has more power, more revs, less weight.