Honda Type R – used performance bargains

High revs, light weight, great handling? That's the Type R recipe, and it's available for very little money these days

Honda’s Type R badge could not have had more appropriate beginnings.

First applied to the back of the Honda NSX sports car in 1992, that car set the tone for every Type R that followed: An aggressive program of weight removal, a blistering high-revving engine and a chassis ideally suited to high performance use.

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Times have changed and the latest Honda Civic Type R, with its turbocharged engine and relatively civilised cabin, seems far removed from those early cars – hugely capable, but less uncompromising.

Yet it’s not impossible to get a hint of what that first NSX-R offered, as the used market is littered with relatively affordable Type Rs that still offer that original formula – all the while offering Honda’s virtuous reliability.

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Honda Integra Type R (DC2)

It makes sense to start with possibly the best-loved Type R of all: the DC2-generation Integra. Not only are owners smitten with the high-revving coupes, but evo is too – back in issue 095, we declared it the best-handling front-wheel drive car of all time, indeed concluding it is ‘one of the truly great drivers’ cars of any kind’.

While some brilliant front-drivers have come and gone since, it’s hard not to suspect the DC2 would fight hard for that same crown today: It saw off the 2005 Renaultsport Clio Trophy in that test, still a Clio handling zenith.

Amazingly, given the handling on offer and the addictive buzz of that VTEC-equipped 1.8-litre engine (good for 187bhp in UK spec), they’re still remarkably affordable. Prices for the very best are edging ever upward but it’s still possible to find examples in the £4k-£5k range. It’s hard to imagine a better-handling car for similar money.

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Honda Civic Type R (EP3)

If the Integra brought the concept of Type R to the UK, it was the EP3-generation Civic that popularised it.

It is a car of contrasts: The aggressive Type R body addenda and large alloy wheels contrast with the upright body shape, often dubbed ‘breadvan’ styling by fans and detractors alike. The ultra-tactile gearshift contrasts with its MPV-like positioning on the dashboard. And the screaming 2-litre engine contrasts with its general ease-of-use – it’s still a Honda Civic, after all.

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And they’re fabulous value right now. If you accept that virtually all Type Rs will have been driven hard, it’s possible to find early EP3s for less than £2000, while the very best won’t be much more than £8000. And as our full buying guide suggests, they’re not problematic cars to run, with most problems – such as worn synchros – down to careless use. If the seller is giving off the wrong signals, walk away.

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Honda Civic Type R (FN2)

The second generation of Civic Type R imported into the UK (and the third generation of Civic Type R overall) never quite attained the praise heaped on its predecessor, but as time passes and the recipe of a naturally-aspirated engine becomes more rare, the appeal of the FN2 Civic Type R increases.

Launched in early 2007, it’s undoubtedly a more visually-striking car than the EP3, and despite piling on a few extra kilos it’s equally fast, thanks to some small engine tweaks – one of which lowered the VTEC engagement point slightly, so you can enjoy the switch in cam profiles even more often.

It’s almost as much of a bargain as the EP3, with prices now starting from around £4000 for those early 2007 cars. You’ll pay more if you want a late, ultra hardcore Mugen variant – the ones we’ve found are around £14,000 – but it’s hard to ignore the value of those cheaper cars. Problems – you can read a full buying guide here – are much the same as the previous car.

Find Honda Civics for sale on Classic and Performance Car

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