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1994 Acura integra Ls 5speed sedan. 500$ good buy or bad

So my brother in law is getting rid of his 94 integra and I really want it. It has a blown head gasket and a possible knock in the engine. It’s not the gsr or vtec so that’s a bummer, but I was planning on getting a new motor for it with the vtec anyways. So I just want opinions on this before I proceed. Also I’ve never owned a manual and any automatic transmission I’ve had trouble with had to be put in the shop or completely replaced. Are manual transmissions easy to fix if it has problems? He said the master cylinder had to be replaced but that’s all I know about the manual on that car. Any advise or comments regarding this would be appreciated. Thanks.

I’d stay away from this one; it will cost you a bundle to get it up to scratch.

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The amount of money it would take to make this thing road worthy would buy a nice used vehicle. We are not talking about a collectable here. Your statement that all your automatic transmissions had to be worked on makes me think you have been purchasing older vehicles that may have not been as good as you think.
As for the 500.00 price I think that is twice what a salvage yard would pay.

It’s a good buy at $250 if the interior is in great shape, you can do all the work yourself and want a hobby.

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Five hundred dollars for something that is better off in the boneyard is insane. It MIGHT be worth 200 if it’s reasonably straight and clean, you can do any and all work yourself, and if you like an expensive and fairly lengthy project.

Your brother in law is not doing you any favors at 500.

As for your chronic automatic transmission failures the blame for that can likely be placed on lack of maintenance by the person who owned the car.

This is one of those ‘if you have to ask, then don’t do it’ questions. It sounds like you’re not too familiar with major engine work, and swapping out an engine for a DIFFERENT engine is a huge rat’s nest of problems waiting to happen.

Where are you, and what’s the condition of the body?

If you’re in Minnesota and the body has no rust, then $500 isn’t a bad price for a clean rolling chassis. If you’re in California or the body has any rust at all, then $500 is insane.

If this would be a project car that you do not need to rely on for dependable transportation, and it’s a rust-free car in a rust-prone area, then it might be a good learning opportunity for you. 90’s Hondas are great to work on.

If you’re buying this as your daily driver and you need it to work as soon as you buy it, then pass.


If you live in a area where emissions testing is required, walk away from this one…Engine swapping can be a nightmare to achieve emissions compliance…The engine management computer in the car will NOT accept anything but the exact some model engine…Installing the correct computer with the new engine sounds easy but it seldom turns out that way…

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I can’t speak to the economics of this idea, but early 90’s cars had some good traits. Electronic fuel injection w/O2 sensor feedback, electronic ignition, on-board engine diagnostics, all that is good to have, but without all the complicated stuff that came later, like so many airbags, it’s hard to count them all, no anti-lock brakes, no blue-tooth and other electronic gizmos, no variable valve timing, no overly complicated EGR systems, and no overly complicated fuel tank venting systems.

Manual transmissions are more robust and automatics, so that’s a good thing. They rarely require repair unless the driver has the habit of shifting brutally, like a race car driver would do. So the manual tranny, that’s another good thing going for this car. Even better if it starts with a plain, simple key, has no power windows, no power door locks, and AC only if you want AC. But that’s probably asking too much … lol …

So let me elaborate on some things. So swapping a motor is not an issue for me, I just swapped a jdm motor into my Kia also I put in a new transmission when swaping the motor. But I really don’t like the gutless Kia. It has great gas mileage and will last a long time, but I want something with a little power to it. I found a gsr motor in California that will cost me 2 grand. And the Acura is the Ls sedan so it has power everything, my Kia does not. So it is an upgrade, I just want to make sure that there is no other issues I could run into with the swap. I know that ecu issues could happen when switching motors. I have that issue with my Kia because it was a Mazda protege motor that I put into my Kia. So I have to get the waver when I do emissions. Mechanical wise is what my main concern is with this swap, if there is anyone who might be a Honda-Acura inthisiest to give me some info that would be great.

I see you’ve already posted on Good. That’s about the best H/A swap knowledgebase on the internet. Unfortunately, they can be… Snarky about it, so don’t be surprised if you get flamed a few times before you get your answer.

hmmm … one downside of early 90’s cars – even will all the good traits they have — is many of them are noticeably under-powered compared to today’s cars. They weren’t under-powered then, but now-a-days the roads are packed with newer cars having 50 to 100% more HP, and it seems that’s what you don’t like, not being able to keep up w/traffic as well as you’d like. So if you’ll allow me to change my mind, I’m now thinking this 94 Acura isn’t the right car for you. Sure, with enough time and money you can make it work. But you’d likely be money ahead by starting with a less aged car to begin with, like something in the 2006-2008 era.

I just want a little more hp. I’m not looking for anything super fast. I don’t like the newer vehicles because of all the computer crap and are much harder to work on. Plus if I can fix it and save money than that’s always the better option for me. I could acquire another car payment or get something that has problems that might have me spending more money in the long run. But since I’m doing the work and know what’s going in I know that it’s going to be worth my money. To get this car up and running is going to cost me 2500$ I appreciate your opinion with this but I’ve gotten many used vehicles that were lemons. Since I started doing my own work things have gotten much better. My Kia is that way, I bought it for 500$. I put a 45k motor in and a 12k transmission in so that car could last for 15 years, and I only spent 2000 total on the car. You can’t spend 2 grand on a used car and get it to last that long nowadays.

Bad buy. No other term could explain it better.

(My Kia is that way, I bought it for 500$. I put a 45k motor in and a 12k transmission in so that car could last for 15 years, and I only spent 2000 total on the car)

Above statement by OP.
Expecting that vehicle to last 15 years is beyond optimistic dreams.

You’re not thinking this car is going to be your daily driver after you’re through, are you . . . ?!

Okay so maybe 15 years for the Kia is a little much but I hope you get my point that it was cheap to fix and will be reliable for a good while as long as you keep up on the maintenance. And yes I do plan on having the Acura as my daily drive. I don’t live to far from work so it’s not going to put very many miles on the car or ware and tear.

I think this is a very bad plan :slight_frown:

How so? Because I’m getting the impression that this a very bias response. I still can’t see the bad in this project. Fairly low cost, reliable motor. These cars can go a very long time if there well taken care of. I don’t understand how this car would be a bad idea for driving a short distance to work.

It IS a biased response, as a matter of fact, based on my own professional experiences

I turn wrenches for a living, have for a long time now

I’ve seen many modified vehicles firsthand, and the end result isn’t always a good thing. In fact, the end result is sometimes a total hack job. I’m not implying you fit that description. But many of the hacks out there don’t think of themselves as such, and are under the mistaken impression that their vehicles are in good condition

The Integra is an old car. It’s over 20 years old. Nothing’s ever going to change that

All the components on that car are very old, as well, unless you’re planning on replacing everything

You’ll never come out money ahead.

The car is FAR less safe than anything built within the last 5 years. There’s so many safety features this car does NOT have. The crash standards in 1994 were far less strict, versus today’s. If I were to get t-boned, rearended, etc., I’d rather be in a far newer car. Not all accidents can be avoided, so it could happen to you. Even if you’re the safest driver, don’t assume everybody else is

Everything on this car will continue to age, unless you know something I don’t. At some point, you may have a hard time getting parts, if you really plan on getting another 15 years out of this vehicle

Things will continue to break down, wear out, etc. At some point you may need the headliner redone, seats reupholstered, etc. Your exhaust may rust out and need replacement, due to age and environmental conditions. If you live in the rust belt, the unibody and suspension may start to rust away, possibly making the car unsafe.

How are you planning on registering and insuring this theoretical modified vehicle, with the wrong engine? Maybe you live in a state with no emissions inspections. I don’t know . . .

Do you really want to be driving such an old car, when newer cars have more power, are roomier, get better fuel economy, are safer in every possible way, have more creature features, etc.?

No, I’m sticking to my guns

I still think this is a very bad plan :frowning2: