The Japan-only EK9 Honda Civic Type R, introduced in August 1997, is still the fastest accelerating Civic - and boasts a blueprinted 1.6-litre VTEC engine producing a staggering 185hp at 8,200rpm. That's nearly 116hp per litre. A minimal 1,070kg kerbweight and a race-honed five-speed manual enable the EK9 to hit 60mph in just 5.7 seconds, with an ethereal soundtrack and finely-balanced handling to match. Compared to a standard Civic the EK9 Type R boasted a stiffer bodyshell, lower suspension, bigger brakes and revised pedals. Just four colours were available - Championship White, Vogue Silver, Starlight Black and Sunlight Yellow.
Clean styling in stark contrast to new car!
Available today from Japanese importers, exclusive Type R equipment include Recaro bucket seats, privacy glass, unique bodykit, a front strut brace, front and rear spoilers, a titanium gearknob and limited-slip diff, plus of course liberal Type R badging. Aimed at those who fancied themselves on track, the EK9 was facelifted in September 1998, whilst a Type Rx model was also added in December 1999 with a few more luxuries - like a CD player, keyless entry and aluminium pedals. Never officially available in the UK production ran until 2000, by which time Honda Japan had sold an estimated 16,000 examples. Prices start at just under £6,000, and prospective buyers should only consider cherished examples sporting immaculate Japanese and UK service records - and no internal engine modifications.
With a finely balanced chassis set-up explicitly for track racing, the EK9's edgy handling means it's not the roadgoing Type R for the faint hearted. But if you're feeling confident and fancy even greater excitement then a new sports exhaust, induction kit, injectors and pulleys can enhance EK9 performance even further; whilst turbo or supercharger kits can deliver a scary 250hp - but are pricey.
185hp at 8,200rpm. Bring the noise
But most buyers will look to keep their EK9 pretty standard, especially as it's so darn good in factory trim, as Paul West at experts TDI-North emphasizes. "The EK9 is a car that was outperforming similar hot hatches in its day, making significantly more power than any others with only a 1,600cc engine," he says. "The B16 engine effectively gives two different cam profiles offering low speed driving with excellent fuel economy or a changeover to a much more aggressive fast-road cam profile - that pulls hard to the limiter. Pinpoint handling and clean styling means the EK9 is increasingly popular today amongst enthusiasts and a clean example can fetch well in excess of £5,000."
In fact a car that cost around £4,750 two years ago is now closer to £6,500 - and anything with a B-series engine in Japan seems to be on the rise - so the EK9 will continue to appreciate.
Buy if: You want an appreciating asset, or a track day special
Don't buy if: You yearn for creature comforts
We found: 1998 Yellow Type-R EK9, service history, 51K miles, £5,985
Poor: Under £5,000
Good: £5,000 to £7,000
Special Editions: Low-mileage Championship White facelifted Rx models can fetch more than £8,000