Nothing best illustrates the changing performance car landscape like the demise of the fast saloon. Nowadays the notion of something quick and affordable with four doors sounds about as silly as the track humbling crossover would have seemed only a handful of years ago.
Oh sure, you can still get M3s, C63s and the like, and hopefully still will for a while yet. But below that, where the WRC homologation specials and the hotted-up repmobiles once resided, what is there now? Giulia Veloce? S3 saloon? And not much more besides, it seems. Can't grumble too much - manufactures must make what people want to buy, and they don't want to buy saloons - it just seems incredible that the market turned as fast as it did.
Imagine a car like the FD2 Civic Type R being launched now. While import only anyway back in the late 2000s, its niche appeal would surely only be smaller now in a world so soft it doesn't even want three-door hatchbacks. Or would it? See the original logic behind not launching the saloon Type R in the UK was that it was deemed too hardcore for our tastes. The Megane R26.R that was launched a year later arguably backs that up (because Renault didn't sell out the UK allocation), but then 2008 wasn't exactly the year to be launching stripped out track specials - particularly not those based on Renault Meganes.
Fast forward a decade and hardcore limited editions are seemingly all the rage, even if that's as much for collectible value as driver appeal. Still, gets manufacturers making them, doesn't it? As driving on the road becomes ever more frustrating, so something ruthlessly focused on track satisfaction - with just enough civility on the public highway - becomes more appealing.
Therefore while the screaming Civic would hardly prove attractive to the masses in 2018, there's an argument to say its stock amongst the committed is higher than ever. Like so much of this era, it represents a point where 20th century ideas - in this car, super sharp fast Hondas - reached their 21st century summit, with the most power, engagement and driver reward. Then, thanks to various legislative measure, the cars were extinct, never to appear again. This sort of car, with an engine that makes peak power at 8,000rpm, only uses a (presumably fabulous) manual gearbox, and rides in what most would call an 'abrupt' fashion, just wouldn't work in today's market of Swiss army knife hot hatches. But that was the joy of cars not so long ago, wasn't it? The remits were far less broad, so cars could excel in certain areas, rather than offering broad brush strokes of passable talent that can pervade today.
This particular Civic saloon stands out through being the Type R colour (Championship White), boasting a reasonable mileage (68,000) and appearing standard to the untrained eye. The last service was in May, the car is fully undersealed and the MOT still has a good few months remaining. Cars cheaper than this £13k example are available, though inevitably with higher mileage. And while overnighting parts from Japan might sound cool, the reality is probably less enjoyable.
Tell most people that you've spent £13,000 on an 11 year-old Honda Civic and they'll probably walk in the opposite direction, but it says much of the FD2's reputation and rarity that they've clung doggedly to their value. Comparison with a contemporary UK Type R is tempting, of course, though really the Civic deserves pitching against the rally-bred four doors it shares a bodystyle with, such is its unrelentingly focused nature. This Evo 8, for example, is for sale at £14k; recently imported and with only "a few choice modifications", it's a worthy alternative. As is this Impreza Spec C, bought from the original importers and no doubt an absolute riot.
However for those wanting something a bit different, a car even rarer than the various Evos and Imprezas and with a status as one of the best Type Rs ever, there's really only one thing for it. Get in before we start looking at finance...
SPECIFICATION - HONDA CIVIC TYPE R (FD2)
Engine: 1,998cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 225@8,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 159@6,100rpm
First registered: 2008
Recorded mileage: 68,000
Price new: £22,995 (import)
Yours for: £13,420
See the original advert here.