Is this turbocharged Integra vs. nitrous big-block Cuda a fair fight?


The import vs. domestic race is literally as old as the automobile itself, but we never tire of watching the sides go head-to-head. The spectacle is especially fun when the competitors are as wild as the pair that Hoonigan rounded up and put side-by-side in its latest “This vs That” video. Even on an unprepped surface, this episode packs some good racing—and, as the results suggest, also hints that one drivers was probably telling tall tales during the initial walk-arounds.

First things first, though. The concept of the video is simple: Bring two fun machines to the same spot and pit them against each other in a best-two-out-of-three race series. Distance can be negotiated, though most pairs choose the 1000-foot option, since it is closest available distance, at this particular venue, to the quarter-mile strip for which most quick cars are built. The starting line arrangement is an old-school arm-drop and the pavement is, well, just pavement. Drivers and machines set up for a fully prepared drag-strip will struggle; those who come ready to tackle some rough edges will shine.

The first car is an Aztec Emerald Green 1992 Acura Integra and no part of it is stock—not even the shadow it casts. The 1.8-liter B-series four-cylinder is pressure-fed by a massive turbocharger hung just below the driver’s side headlight. The transmission is a custom unit that eliminates fifth gear in an effort to save weight and increase durability. Big 26.5-inch-tall wrinkle-wall slicks are housed in the widened front fenders and make this car look all business.

The 1967 Cuda in the other lane also appears to be all business, despite the driver claiming that the engine under the hood is his “backup” option. This 440 V-8 sports a host of Edelbrock parts, and those in the know will be able to tell it makes big power: It boasts a 13:1 compression ratio, and a 200-hp shot of nitrous gets only a passing mention. Dang. The driver claims to only be making around 650 horsepower in a car that weighs over 3000 pounds with him in it—but the first launch tells a different story.

Lined up and ready to go, the Acura drowns out the Cuda with engine noise, but once the arms fall, the Cuda leaps out front and stays there. There is no doubt that the Cuda driver underestimating the horsepower of his V-8 just a bit as he runs away from the 1100-horse Acura. Race two is arranges so that the Acura “gets the hit”: the Cuda launches when its driver sees the Acura move. This typically evens out races in which one car is having traction issues at launch, and it does help in the front-wheel-drive Integra’s case—but at the finish line, the Cuda is a clear winner.

Does this reinforce the old saying of “no replacement for displacement?” Maybe. In our eyes, this video testifies to the truth that a driver’s skill and their car’s mechanical well-sortedness will always out. The Cuda ran hundreds of passes with the setup it used in this video; the owner of the Acura admitted to building the engine just two days prior to the race. Still, this fight was fair enough to be fun.

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