While the demise of much that we love in fast cars is all too familiar by now, it doesn't make the fact any less depressing. Furthermore, while an obsession with classic, racy Japanese metal isn't a new phenomenon - and may well be linked to a future not many are sure about - it also shows no signs of abating. If anything, as the future looms more ominously, the desire to return to a simpler time for fast cars only gets stronger.
The problem now being faced by our Japanese obsession is age - and not just of us, as prospective buyers. While there are some fantastic Japanese cars still on sale - see Civic Type R, Nissan GT-R, Toyota GT86 and Mazda MX-5 - it's probably fair to say that the glory years for Japan are somewhere around the turn of the 21st century. The original Subaru Impreza ended production in 2000 and the R34 Skyline GT-R was introduced to the world in 1999, which was also the year of Tommi Makinen's last WRC title; you might have heard about the car that bore his name from that year, too...
Point is, that's nearly 20 years ago, making the vicious circle surrounding Japanese cars - particularly those imported from their home land - even more concerning. These are typically cars that suffered pretty badly from rust, but begged to be driven hard and created a whole new modifying scene around them as well. To find presentable examples as they approach two decades old is getting trickier, seemingly by the week.
But we might have one here. This EK9 Civic Type R is recently imported, meaning it hasn't had to face a series of British winters. Consequently it's said to be rust-free, though that would be well worth investigating properly. And while there are modifications, those iffy gauges can surely be pulled and, while the intake and exhaust tweaks take the car away from standard, they might be quite hard to reject once they've been heard...
Because here in this little Civic is what we're now realising we missed. A super slender kerb weight, a great manual gearbox, a screaming little engine and a chassis of unflinching focus. Sure, it may not be the best ever hot hatch to drive by some accounts, but as a reminder of why so many of us fell in love with the Japanese Domestic Market it's damn near perfect. The cars were just so raw, while also presenting this fascinating dichotomy of the impossibly exotic and really quite humdrum - this was 116hp per litre in 1998. In a Honda Civic.
As such, the £9k being asked for this Championship White car doesn't look out of place. Our Hero story from a couple of years ago put the values at £6-£9,500, so there's been plenty of warning. And sure, there are plenty of other fast Civics at the money - leave alone the front-, four- and rear-wheel drive JDM alternatives - but, as is often the case, nothing else is going to match up if your heart is set on something. While it might be hard for many to see the appeal in a dorky little Honda from the 1990s, we absolutely can here; with turbos, automatics and whatever else only set to become more prominent, expect the original CTR's stock - and value - to rise further still.
SPECIFICATION - HONDA CIVIC TYPE R (EK9)
Engine: 1,595cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive, limited-slip diff
Power (hp): 185@8,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 118@7,500rpm
First registered: 1998
Recorded mileage: 76,000
Price new: £16,500
Yours for: £8,995
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