Shed of the Week: Honda Civic Type R (EP3)

It had to happen eventually. Sound the trumpets, batten down the hatches and keep your hand on your ha’penny: an EP3 Civic Type R is making its debut appearance in Shed of the Week.

Shed would not presume to deliver a lecture to the PH community on the merits of this excellent little car, any more than he would tell Mrs Shed how to cook her signature dish of tripe fritters with entrail jus and battered black pudding. If you’ve somehow missed it, the flickering corridors of YouTube, or in this case perhaps YoTube, are all a-glitter with positive footage of owners extolling the virtues of this fizzing and yet entirely practical 197hp 1,200kg Civic, described by many as the ultimate naturally aspirated hot hatch.

There is a catch to our Shed, of course. It’s been around the block a bit. This needn’t be a problem, Shed never fears high-mile cars. Indeed, he often prefers them as they take away some of the fear of the unknown. What better used car can there be than one on which some other poor sap has spent a fortune?

The question is, how much Type R fun can be provided by a near-17-year-old example with 176,000 miles up, not just now but ‘going forward’, as clever people like to say? Some answers to the first question will be found in the car’s maintenance schedule, which we don’t have, but the MOT history does give us a few clues.

Before we get into that MOT record, the 73,000 miles racked up in the course of the current owner’s five-year stewardship show that he has not been holding back on his use and (you would think) enjoyment of the Honda. That’s good news for any well-engineered performance car which, like a finely-honed racehorse or whippet, will always benefit from regular exercise.

Zoning in on the MOT history, some might see last year’s advisories on all four tyres (with edge wear) as a badge of honour, assuming those edge wear issues weren’t down to dodgy wheel alignment. Looking at the scanty pic gallery now, at least one of the tyres looks to have decent meat on it, which might mean that all of them have been replaced since last summer.

Over the last seven or eight years and 80,000 miles or so, plenty of suspension work has been done. Other stuff has been going on too, most notably some sill corrosion at 120k miles which brought about a test failure in 2016. Obviously that was put right, and so shouldn't be anything to worry about in the immediate future. Damaged petrol tank straps also came up as an advisory at that time, but haven’t since. In 2017 a corroded front wishbone was repaired by welding, leading the tester to quietly suggest that a replacement arm might be better.

So, what might the future hold for the next owner? Continuing Type R pleasure will depend on how diligent they are on maintenance. The good news is that, in general, the EP3 is very reliable. It’s simple to work on and there are no major parts shortages. The engine is remarkably strong considering its greed for revs. A suspicion of metallic tinkliness from the top end is probably just the valves telling you that their clearances need adjusting, which is no biggie.

The cams are chain driven, and it’s a Type R trope that the chains and/or tensioners can go west at the drop of a hat, but that hat-drop could be at 150,000 miles or half that amount. Nobody really knows why. If there’s no evidence of this car having had its chains and associated parts renewed for a long time, you’d be well advised to throw some money into that – around £650 at Honda prices. 

As you might expect, given the nature of the car, the gearshift takes a beating. A worn one will crunch going into second, especially when the car is cold. This being a pre-2003 facelift car, the steering may creak a little and not be all that good at self-centering. If it hasn’t already been mended under warranty, your best plan is to replace a creaky rack with an improved one from a facelifter.

Interior build quality went down a bit on 2000-on Hondas, but it’s not that hard to convince yourself that the lightweight cabin materials are all part of the CTR’s sporting proposition. The absence here of a front seat image is disappointing, and you’d want to satisfy yourself that our Shed hasn’t had a shunt at some point in its career. But the overall picture conjured up is of a car that, while not run on a ‘no expense spared’ basis, has at least been kept on the road in every sense, a measure of the high esteem in which these cars are rightly held.

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Comments (60) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Dafuq 29 Mar 2019

    My word....., so much V-tec


  • Arsecati 29 Mar 2019

    WHY DO I LIVE IN DUBLIN????? I'd be on this in a flash - 176k miles is nothing so long as maintenance kept up. Top, top shed!

  • Nigel_O 29 Mar 2019

    If an owner (or his garage?) was prepared to weld a rusty wishbone to get it through an MOT, I’d be looking hard for other cost-saving bodges

    For example, I’d want to know what brake pads were in it - cheap pads can fade easily or simply just be a bit crap. Ditch-finder tyres possibly? Cheap consumables?

    Many things could mean that this is a money-pit, but of course there could easily be a genuine explanation (MOT needed in a hurry and no wishbones available from motor factors?)

  • J4CKO 29 Mar 2019

    Yeah, I am not sure I would be happy with wishbones welded to get them through an mot, may well be fine and stronger than original but alarm bells are ringing.

    It’s cheap for what it is but think it may need a few quid spending, might be better to find a nice one and pay the going rate

  • Turbobanana 29 Mar 2019

    Some people are missing the point of SOTW: it's about running a car outside your pay grade, not finding an immaculate specimen for peanuts.

    If that's what you want you need to spend more.

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