Video: K20-Swapped Integra Squares Off With 300-HP BMW E36

DannyDC2’s Integra has become an aspirational target for fans of Honda’s modern classic. Lightweight, high-revving, reasonably priced, and very capable, the DC2 Type R is a startlingly quick car in the right hands. With nearly a decade spent touring the best circuits in Europe—including the Nurburgring—and refining his little Honda for track work, Danny has become one of the quickest Integra drivers around.

High Revs, Low Weight

His speed is partly due to a thoughtful set of modifications. For a moderate amount of power, the K20a engine is mildly fettled; an RRC intake manifold, a 3-inch exhaust, and a Hondata ECU bring output to 240 horsepower at the front wheels. With 17×9-inch Team Dynamics wheels to deliver power, it puts everything down decently.

Yellowspeed coilovers, Spoon big brakes, a pair of Recaro fixed seats, and plenty of weight reduction complete the main modifications. Though revvy and fairly punchy, it’s this Honda’s weight—a mere 1,875 pounds—which allows it to hang with much more powerful macinery.

The lighter Integra, blessed with brakes less prone to lock, has an advantage when slowing.

Torquey and Tailhappy

One such car is an equally focused BMW E36. This car sports the garden-variety M50 engine, but with an M54 bottom end, Sunbelt cams, and Jenvey individual throttle bodies, the motor makes a healthy 300 horsepower, 270 lb-ft of torque, and a broad powerband. Even though these two accelerate at roughly the same rate in a straight line, the BMW’s throaty inline-six makes torque where the Integra’s K20 is wheezing.

It’s not quite as light as the Integra, but at 2,425 pounds, it isn’t far off. It also corners like you’d expect; M3 Evo rear trailing arms, HSD coilovers, Federal RSR tires (255-sections in the rear, 235-sections in the front), and a Kaaz 2-way limited-slip differential gives it a fun, friendly balance that edges towards oversteer in slower corners. Porsche 996 Brembos adorn the front axle, and M3 Evo rear brakes help that front-rear balance. Along with a strong suspension setup, it has torque and an ideal layout to help it around the tight Cadwell Park.

Without a doubt, the E36’s slightly loose balance helps when leaning on the front end, as in longer corners.

The Difference Layout Makes

When there’s so little room and plenty of hairpins, driving the front wheels can be a disadvantage. These narrow bends which force the revs to drop and ask a great deal of the front end favor the BMW, as its the car that can induce a little rotation with the throttle (4:05 and 4:15). Even in the longer corners, keeping the steering lock on for an extended period delays Danny’s throttle application (5:02).

While it looks easy, getting this tailhappy BMW to drive neatly takes a soft touch. After Danny changes seats, we see just how lively the E36 can be when his Integra-appropriate technique is used. The Bimmer’s also quite easily agitated under braking, which simply means Danny can’t quite lean on the pedals like he can in his Honda. Additionally, that torque is enough to spin the driven wheels in tighter sections, but when it slides, it does so progressively. By the end of the session, Danny is dialing in countersteer just for the thrill of it.

Clearly, the man has an affinity for Hondas, and why not? They’re lively and reliable. Nevertheless, the convincing performance of the E36 and the added adjustability seem to have convinved him. Recently, he picked up a RWD car of his own—albeit one with a high-revving Honda motor.

Some habits die hard.

 

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About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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