When done right, a Cali Type R conversion was one of the cleanest front ends you could put on your Acura Integra to set yourself apart.

Real estate agent and import enthusiast Nguyen Le’s been chronicling, over the past several weeks on Instagram, the painstaking process he completed two years ago sourcing a clean Acura Integra and installing all the right parts to faithfully recreate a Cali Type R conversion.

This passion project picks up a decade later after his first Acura Integra with a Cali Type R conversion was totaled, including most of his exterior body parts, except for the front and rear bumpers which live on today.

A bit of history first. Super Street does a great job chronicling (no pun intended for those in the know) the Cali Type R conversion but essentially the look was a combination of import tuners wanting the looks of a JDM Acura Integra front end conversion without spending thousands of dollars on parts from Japan. A real JDM front end conversion meant new fenders, hood, front bumper and a modified core support.

By enlarging the headlight area around the original Integra dual roundels, stuffing headlights, often sourced from junkyards, from not-so-popular first gen Acura CLs, and finessing fiberglass to make it look as clean as possible, you could pull off a JDM look at a fraction of the price.

Aftermarket body kit manufacturers caught onto this trend and soon incorporated this fresh look on their front bumpers adding in their own variations. Somewhere along the line someone called it a “Cali Type R” front end conversion, and it stuck.

Nguyen’s first Cali Type R aero kit had a Cali Type R front bumper with Invader aero kit, a snapshot of what import tuning looked like in the early 2000s but was showing its age around the time JDM became all the rage. An authentic Cali Type R front end, while different in 2008, was a cleaner look. After his aforementioned collision, this aero kit was mothballed until sometime in 2015 when his comeback project began.

Nguyen sourced an unmolested 1998 Acura Integra LS from San Diego and began sourcing a laundry list of period correct mods including

  • modified Apexi WS2 axle back with six inch exhaust tip.
  • fresh Acura CL headlights
  • custom Cali Type R decals
  • all the underglow outside and in
  • a Kaminari KTR wing
  • Razo Sport pedals
  • and eBay electric turbos that replicate the sound of turbos but do not add power

Most importantly, his original Cali Type R front and rear bumpers were repaired for damage and repainted to match. After adding some finishing touches like powder-coated Fat Five Wheels and real-deal Type R seats and interior trim pieces, Nguyen slowly installed the rest of his parts.

When Nguyen finished in 2018, what he pulled off was a Cali Type R conversion for today. With 15″ OEM wheels, devoid of decals, and a mostly stock side profile, it’s a subdued Cali Type R that would’ve been much wilder a couple of years ago.

Those electric turbos? Here’s what they sound like.

The best part is Nguyen recreated some of those iconic high school car shots with modern photography. Check out his finished product below.

In this modern times where a build is considered a popular JDM front end, coilovers, wheels, and a wrap, creativity and ingenuity is lacking. Tuners just a few years ago had to improvise, taking what they saw from other enthusiasts, like lowriders, and adapting it to imports.

This Cali Type R conversion is a reminder we don’t always have to copy what’s popular but, should instead, sometimes, forge our own paths.

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