Sam Preston | EP3 Civic Type R
Being the sensible person that I like to think I am, the Civic was given a complete once-over this month before the more serious modifications start to unfold.
The more I drove the car after buying it, the more I got a sense that it hadn’t been given much TLC in recent months. Nothing serious, but I could almost hear it crying out for a bit of freshening up.
For this reason I recently spent the day down at the Hond-R headquarters in Oxfordshire. When it comes to Hondas, if these guys don’t know about it, it’s probably not worth knowing. Once I’d torn myself away from some of the incredible engine-conversions the guys were undertaking, we tentatively got my EP3 up on the ramps to see what was what.
Expecting to be greeted with a mass of oily, rusty suspension components, I was amazed at what we actually found. The flat underbelly of these cars is a work of art in itself, and I was blown away by how clean everything seemed to be. If you haven’t checked out the suspension setup on a standard EP3 Type R yet, you’re likely to be pretty impressed with how comprehensive and well thought-out it is.
Hond-R’s Russell proceeded in draining the gloopy oil to make room for some top-notch Millers 5w40 NT fluid, which the car happily slurped up all five litres of. As the VTEC system in Honda engines relies on oil pressure to work effectively, I was expecting a notable difference in the way the car pulled itself down the road following the service, and I wasn’t disappointed…
After the plugs and filters were also replaced, we decided to further freshen up the engine bay by adding my Spoon Sports carbon-Kevlar spark plug cover supplied by the guys at Spoon Sports Europe. This eye-catching, super-light strip should really set the engine bay off once I’ve got shot of some of the excess clutter under the bonnet and given the rocker cover a lick of paint. It also carries quite a back-story, having been taken off the company’s ex-development blue DC5 Integra which has been doing the rounds up and down the country.
Things were going well then, as I headed West in my sharpened-up car, aiming to partake in the VTEC Challenge dial-in trackday the following day. What could possibly go wrong the day before a planned trackday? Well, I was about to find out, as driving over a considerably deep pothole on the M4 resulted in a dreaded hissing noise coming from my front right tyre. I don’t want to dwell on this nightmare of an evening, but one thing I’ve learnt from the whole experience is that the spacesaver tyres on EP3s stupidly don’t fit on the front axle thanks to its larger brakes than the more boring versions of the car. A lot of shuffling around of wheels on the side of the motorway later, I limped home.
Thanks to my friend Kris, who kindly lent me the wheels from his Accord Type R, I headed to Castle Combe as normal to experience my first track time behind the wheel of the Type R. After just a few corners, I was giggling like a small child as I began to experience its true colours. Taking this car to the limits is something that is very hard to do on public roads. On track though, the way the car buzzes through the close-ratio box and keeps itself pinned through even the tightest of corners has really proven to me how special and capable cars sporting the ‘Type R’ badge really are, even in standard trim.
But watching the racing versions of my Civic fly past me has made my craving for modifications reach melting point. Hopefully it won’t be long now before I can start seeing my lap times shaved off considerably…