Me And My Car

Me&MyCar: Rare, racy and reliable Type R

Mr Chew Chen Yang is drawn to the design of the 1998 Honda Integra Type R, a sportier variant of the discontinued Integra.
Mr Chew Chen Yang is drawn to the design of the 1998 Honda Integra Type R, a sportier variant of the discontinued Integra.PHOTOS: JEREMY CHUA

Photographer Chew Chen Yang's two-decade-old Honda Integra Type R still brings him smiles as the miles roll by

Mr Chew Chen Yang is what petrolheads would describe as an old-school enthusiast.

The 46-year-old photographer has never owned a car with an automatic transmission.

His current ride is a 1998 Honda Integra Type R - a sportier variant of the discontinued Integra. He paid $45,000 for it in 2007, renewed its certificate of entitlement (COE) in 2008 by paying a prevailing quota premium of $15,000 and plans to renew it again when it expires later this year.

On why he paid $45,000 for a car with a year left on its COE, Mr Chew says he was simply bowled over by the car.

"My car's 1.8-litre four-cylinder produces almost 200hp at 8,500rpm," he says. "Naturally aspirated engines that produce more than 100hp a litre are rare these days."

He was also drawn to the Integra's design. He lovesthat it has a low "waistline", which allows for a greater glass or greenhouse area.

"Too many cars today have high waistlines and too little glass. I also love my car's frameless windows, which are uncommon among new cars today," he says.

  • Mr Chew Chen Yang is drawn to the design of the 1998 Honda Integra Type R, a sportier variant of the discontinued Integra.

    What's in the boot?

    • Cameras and other photography equipment

Apart from its power and design, the car's handling also pleases him. "Because it weighs less than 1.1 tonnes, chucking it around corners is a lot of fun," says the bachelor.

He has taken the car to the Sepang race circuit near Kuala Lumpur for "track days" and drives regularly to Johor Baru for food and shopping. "I don't think it's at risk of being stolen," he says, adding that it is not in the least "flashy".

Cars such as the Integra are usually modified by their owners and Mr Chew's ride is no exception. His Integra's aftermarket components include a carbon-fibre bonnet, KW coilovers, AP Racing front brakes, Land Transport Authorityapproved Mugen exhaust, Mugen steering wheel and 15-inch wheels, which are a size smaller than the original.

He says the smaller wheels give his car a more pliant ride, which is better for daily use and that smaller tyres were cheaper when he got the car.

You might expect a 20-year-old car to have a host of problems, but apart from replacing wear-and-tear parts, Mr Chew's Integra has been trouble-free. His biggest maintenance expense to date has been replacing the air-conditioning system, which cost him "several thousand dollars".

He admits though, that the car's fuel consumption of about 9km a litre "isn't great".

The car enthusiast's previous rides have included a 1974 Mini, 1997 Daihatsu Charade GTti, 1980 Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI and a 1990 Honda Civic - all with manual transmissions.

If he has to sell his Integra, he says he would probably replace it with a Subaru BRZ or its mechanical twin, the Toyota 86.

But at the moment, he plans to hold on to his Integra. "Honda doesn't make them like this anymore," he adds.

• The writer is a senior writer at Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2018, with the headline 'Rare, racy and reliable Type R'. Print Edition | Subscribe