The Amelia Island auctions have officially wrapped. Over the course of three days, four auctions offered 451 automobiles and motorcycles, and from that broad automotive swath emerged several viable candidates for our Sale of the Week. An easy and obvious choice would have been the new all-time Amelia Island auction record-setter, Gooding & Company’s 1962 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spider. Other sales of note included what Hagerty Price Guide publisher Dave Kinney considered the steal of the week, the $84,000 pre-merger AMG Mercedes-Benz SL 500 6.0 “SL-Hammer” sold at Bonhams. American iron (and fiberglass) acquitted itself well with some strong Corvette and Trans Am sales. Several world record sales were had: Ferrari 206 and 246 Dinos set new bars, along with a Lotus Esprit S4 and a duo of Pre-merger AMG Hammers that consecutively set new records.
But it turns out that the one result we could all agree on was a record-setting 1997 Acura Integra Type R, which Broad Arrow sold for $151,200. Here’s why.
If you hung around the car long enough during the auction preview, you’d eventually run into a group looking at the car in bewilderment wondering what the heck a front-wheel drive Honda product was doing at a catalog auction. It’s a fair question, though one that this sale may well have begun to answer.
To further contextualize, The ITR was never “just” a typical front-wheel drive import. Already an engaging platform in base spec, Acura introduced the Type R in 1997 and added extensive chassis reinforcement and upgraded suspension. The cherry on top, though, is the screaming B18C engine under the hood. This rev-happy 1.8-liter four-cylinder pumps out 195 horsepower and begs drivers to wind it out all the way to an 8400-rpm redline. Ask any Japanese car enthusiast with time behind the wheel and they will assert that the DC2-series ITR is quite possibly the best front-wheel drive car ever made. Period.
But does that add up to the sale price? This example is practically brand-new for a Honda at 6200 miles, and it’d be hard to find a better, lower-mileage example out there outside of a museum. But still, $151,200 is some significant coin. You can pick up an equally nice R32/R33 GT-R or an early NSX for that sort of money, or an above average twin turbo Mk IV Supra. Does the little ITR belong among these Japanese titans? Today’s sale is another piece of evidence that answers that question in the affirmative, and that’s a big deal for the model.
It's not just the step that this Championship White example took for its own legitimacy that drew our attention—it was the ITR’s performance at this venue. You see, these cars, along with the Japanese sports car heroes mentioned above, have long brought top dollar at online auctions (especially Bring a Trailer), only to fall a little short at traditional in-person events. Given that live auctions for modern Japanese cars can be very hit or miss, this sale is a strong suggestion that attitudes are changing and Japanese collector cars are securing mainstream acceptance. It’s even more pronounced when you consider the last record for the ITR was set prior to the peak of the market ($117,000 on Bring a Trailer in January of 2022).
Looking ahead, it appears that there’s even more room for the ITR to grow in value, and it would not be a surprise to see more ITR owners try the market as a result of this sale. But let’s keep things in perspective: exceptional cars will bring exceptional money and the rest will lag behind. However, it is clear the Integra Type R has reached new heights, and isn’t going anywhere, so get used to it.