The Honda Civic Sort R EK9 is a scorching hatch icon, an unimaginable driver’s automobile and, for a lot of lovers, the first-generation machine is the final word Civic Sort R. Shopping for one isn’t straightforward – or low-cost – but it surely’s value each penny.
Phrases: Daniel Bevis and Elizabeth de Latour. Pictures: Honda
Honda Civic Sort R EK9 – A Transient Historical past
“Racing improves the breed.” Soichiro Honda stated that, and it’s a quote that’s been broadly unfold concerning the motoring sphere ever since. The traditional ‘win on Sunday, promote on Monday’ ethos of Touring Automotive racing runs alongside the identical strains, however few firm figureheads have so concisely captured the spirit of all of it as outdated Mr Honda. It’s as a result of he walked the stroll, he wasn’t simply paying lip service. Are you aware how he reacted to Honda’s first-ever victory in Components One? In a deadpan tone, with a touch of a smirk, he stated: “We won’t be content material with this victory alone. We are going to examine why we received and aggressively apply these successful applied sciences to new vehicles.” This is the reason Honda highway vehicles as we speak are such formidable issues – the corporate works out which bits are working greatest at full-tilt on the race monitor, then shoves all of it into its highway vehicles, hidden behind a veneer of sensibleness however all the time ready to pounce when the cam profiles shift into the shadowy VTEC zone.
Sort R Hondas are essentially the most thrilling and interesting results of this. The ‘R’ stands for ‘Racing’, and this can be a badge that’s solely been glued to a handful of fashions: the NSX Sort R, the DC2 and DC5 Integra, the Accord Sort R and Euro-R, and 5 generations of Civic spanning 25 years – the EK9, EP3, FN2, FK2, and FK8, with a sixth on the best way within the new FL5.
The EK9 was the unique, and for a lot of, it’s nonetheless the most effective. A real EK9 is a lot greater than merely a sixth-gen Civic hatchback with a racy motor dropped into it. Inbuilt Suzuka from 1997-2000, these vehicles used the EK4 Civic SiR as a base, and stripped out all the sound deadening, in addition to finishing up varied different weight-saving measures to make it as svelte and pared-back as doable. Your entire shell was additionally seam-welded for energy, race car-style. The hand-ported B16B 1.6-litre VTEC had, on the time, the best ever hp-per-litre of a naturally-aspirated manufacturing motor, providing a frenetic 185hp, with that marked VTEC crossover level. The EK9 additionally obtained a close-ratio five-speed gearbox and limited-slip differential, whereas the inside sported the trademark particulars which were a beloved characteristic of Sort R fashions ever since – the crimson seats and door playing cards, titanium gear knob and leather-based Momo steering wheel.
The attraction of this iconic mannequin to British followers of a sure age is straightforward to elucidate; as the recent hatch wars raged throughout the forecourts within the Nineteen Nineties, we had been denied the full-fat Sort R. Positive, we had the VTi, which introduced howling VTEC thrills to the UK tuning scene and proved in a single fell swoop that Japanese engines supplied an entire new realm of efficiency potentialities. However the Sort R was the unicorn: made solely for the Japanese market, it took scorching hatches into one other dimension. It’s, fairly merely, one of many all-time greats.
Honda Civic Sort R EK9 High 5 Widespread Issues
- Weak engine mounts
- Sticking rear calipers
- Smoke from the exhaust (valves seals or piston rings)
- Rusty rear arches
- Leaking rear mild seals
Engine and Transmission
The B16 engine is delicate to having the best amount and high quality of oil inside, significantly on this highly-strung hand-built guise, so be sure that it’s obtained the right amount of good clear oil, as this could hopefully be an indication that the proprietor is aware of take care of it. Keenly interrogate them about their servicing and upkeep patterns, and take a very good have a look at the historical past file to again it up. In the event you spot any metallic parts glinting within the oil, you’ll must dramatically cut back your shopping for worth to finances for an engine rebuild (with most vehicles we’d say simply stroll away at this level – though discovering one other EK9 mightn’t be as straightforward as all that).
A latest timing belt is an effective signal. Formally these want altering each 5 years or 60k miles, though a conscientious proprietor would hopefully be doing it extra often than that. Improve to a harder GReddy belt and you may doubtlessly go twice the mileage based on homeowners.
A metallic whining sound could also be indicative of a dying energy steering pump or oil pump – not a large deal, however an excellent bargaining chip. And as soon as the engine’s as much as temperature, discover a good open little bit of highway and take it out and in of VTEC just a few instances to make sure the lobes have interaction and disengage accurately. If the engine isn’t fortunately switching into VTEC, there are a variety of doable causes – it might be down to grease stress or coolant temps – but it surely’s one thing that wants a specialist’s eye. Examine that the valve clearances have been achieved, and likewise examine to see if the engine mounts have been changed. These are a weak level, particularly the rear mount that’s bolted to the subframe, they usually can put on out in as little as 40,000-50,000 miles.
Examine for smoke from the exhaust too: black smoke means it’s operating too wealthy, white smoke might point out head gasket failure, and blue smoke might be all the way down to worn piston rings or valve seals. The commonly accepted rule of thumb is for those who’ve obtained smoke on whereas the throttle, it’ll almost definitely be the rings, whereas smoke while you carry off suggests stem seals, although plenty of smoke when crossing into VTEC would recommend valve seals. These are less expensive to do, as a result of if it’s the piston rings you then’re an enormous invoice for an engine rebuild.
The gearbox needs to be slick with no crunching or grinding… and if the proprietor’s modified the transmission fluid on the proper instances, will probably be. Third gear is the primary synchro to put on, so if it crunches going into third, that’s a reasonably good signal that the automobile’s been thrashed. Additionally, examine for clutch slip as these can put on surprisingly shortly, and clutch slave cylinders are additionally weak, although fortunately these are low-cost to exchange.
Chassis – Suspension and Brakes
A lot of the issues to look out for with the chassis can be age-related. Each bushes and ball joints will almost definitely be drained and can need changing. Rear trailing arm bushes are often the primary to point out indicators of damage, and homeowners advocate sticking to the OEM ones, and a contemporary set will tighten up the rear finish. Inside CV joints are weak, so pay attention for any grumbling noises when at full lock, whereas clunks when driving are almost definitely brought on by worn anti-roll bar drop hyperlinks. When it comes to brakes, the rear calipers generally tend to stay, so be sure that the handbrake releases accurately.
Interiors are usually fairly robust, though you’ll nearly actually discover that the crimson seat cloth has pale to pink and the seat bolsters are worn and sagging. The motive force’s right-hand bolster is the one which wears essentially the most, however alternative foam from Recaro is accessible and isn’t too costly. Additionally, make certain the seats simply slide on their runners and don’t transfer backwards and forwards when the automobile’s in movement. The rear mild seals fail, so examine for leaks within the boots – some sealant will present a simple repair if yours are letting water in.
Relating to the bodywork, you could examine fastidiously; in contrast to later Hondas, there’s potential to discover a good bit of rust in an EK, particularly on vehicles which were within the UK for some time and have by no means been undersealed. This implies it’s a good suggestion to examine alongside the sills and throughout the underbody, and throughout the windscreen – however bear in mind that you could be discover corrosion wherever on a automobile that’s lived outdoors. The rear arches are one of many foremost areas to examine, and never simply from the skin – you’ll be able to take away the speaker covers and look inside with a torch, and you too can see a part of the inside arches utilizing the rear mild entry holes. Accident harm can also be not unusual, so make certain every thing strains up and be suspicious of areas of overspray.
Honda Civic Sort R EK9 Pictures
Tech Spec: Honda Civic Sort R EK9
Engine: 1,595cc 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed handbook gearbox
Max Energy: 185hp @ 8200rpm
Max Torque: 118lb ft @ 7500rpm
0-62mph: 6.6 seconds
High Velocity: 146mph
Weight: 1040 to 1090kg
Worth When New: Approx. JPY2,000,000 (£16,500)
Information from Pure Efficiency.