|FACTORY TUNERS GO MAINSTREAM|
1997 – 318 1998 – 997 1999 – 263 2000 – 325 2001 – 1,234
Auto manufacturers have released limited-edition, higher-performance versions of their production models for almost as long as there have been production vehicles. But the modern concept of a factory tuner car usually defines it as having roots in a relatively common, affordable compact car. Japanese marques have been producing hopped-up versions of their compact models since the late 60s for their home market, but in the U.S., one of the first was the Dodge Omni GLH in the early 80s. That Mitsubishi-made, Shelby-wrenched Dodge, however, never achieved enough mass appeal to carve out a loyal following. It wasnt until the Acura Integra Type R bowed in 1997 that factory tuner cars really hit the mainstream.
From 1997 to 2001, the Type R represented the pinnacle of factory involvement in the renegade tuner world. Offered in limited numbers, the Type R featured race-inspired suspension, higher-compression pistons, flow-optimized exhaust, improved brakes and an all-business interior that lacked many of the creature comforts found on less performance-oriented Integras. It has been compared with the 1964 Ford Thunderbolt in concept and execution.