I Bought the Honda Civic Type R of My Dreams and I’m Already Planning Mods

Though the used car market is crazy, I managed to find a dream car at an attainable price, but with some high miles.

byChris Rosales|
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Chris Rosales

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After months of searching, agonizing, and almost talking myself out of buying a car at all, I finally found one that is more than suitable. It’s perfect. I purchased a 2019 Honda Civic Type R in Sonic Gray Pearl, and it’s the second car I’ve owned that left me feeling no buyer’s remorse. I'm enamored, even with its 80,000 miles.

This is the biggest purchase I’ve ever made in my life. The most I'd spent on a car before this one was $8,000 on a 2008 Subaru Legacy Spec.B, and every car before that was $6,000 or less and risky to own, like my 2007 BMW 335i. Out of the 13 or so cars I’ve owned during my short time on Earth, the only other car I felt zero regret buying was my 2009 Honda Civic Si. 

Chris Rosales

Like most good deals, the Type R came together as a last-minute stroke of luck. Anyone who’s been shopping in the current market knows that it’s pure pain. Cars are overpriced and many desirable options are in less-than-ideal shape, especially enthusiast cars. Getting a clean car right now usually means overpaying, something I didn’t want to do. It also seemed like my $6,000 sweet spot of cool cars was fully gone, with the cars I owned previously going for $15,000 or more. 

With my Volkswagen GTI on the way out, I considered a first-generation Subaru BRZ, an E92-generation BMW M3, a 987 Porsche Cayman S, and the Hyundai Veloster N. The BRZ was gutless but pure, the M3 was a little expensive for a clean one with the major maintenance records, a decent manual Cayman S is hard to find these days for around $30,000, and I just don’t believe that the Veloster N will remain a $32,000 car for longer than the market is abnormal. Mostly, I was scared of spending or borrowing money for a car that could bankrupt me in maintenance. I didn’t originally consider the Civic Type R because most of them are at $40,000 and above. 

By pure coincidence, I found out my friend was selling his Type R for much less than that, and everything changed. I also happened to have a decent budget thanks to reasonable financing from my credit union. After some small discussion, I handed over $32,000 for his (now mine) impeccably kept Type R with 80,000 miles.

Chris Rosales

Discussing the merits of cash deals versus financing is for another post, but I am overall incredibly stoked with my purchase. My friend is a detailing maniac, so the car has full paint protection film and ceramic coat, along with a paint correction before application. He also knew a thing or two about quality parts, so the car comes with an upgraded PRL intercooler, Spoon Sports Rigid Collars, AP Racing/Essex J-hook front brake rotors, 18x9.5 Titan7 wheels with wide 265mm rubber, a gearbox rebuild to combat the infamous second gear issue, and meticulous service records from the showroom floor. This is a one-owner, truly tastefully modified car.

The mileage is what helped keep the price to a manageable level. I suspect that these cars will never be truly cheap cars and will maintain value, so I’ve hopefully bought the car at something of a mileage-versus-value plateau. This is certainly one of the higher-mile Type Rs I’ve seen around, but the sheer love and care this car received offsets that, as do the well-considered mods.

But the car is much better for its miles. Compared to the 700-mile press car I had in January, it rides quite a bit better, the engine is less boomy, and the cabin has settled into a nicer, quieter place to be. It has aged very gracefully, enough that I like it a lot more than the low-mile loaner. Truthfully, the main reason I now own this car is because of the magic time I had with the loaner. Now I get to feel it all the time.

Ekaterina Gorbacheva

Taking it on some mountain roads and highways over the past week has reminded me how blindingly brilliant these Type Rs are. The steering is quick and well-weighted, though it lacks a bit of road feel, but that pairs harmoniously with the car’s absurd ability to change direction and settle into ferocious lateral grip. The shifter is delicate but well-built, with communication from the gears and synchros effervescing up the teardrop-shaped knob. 

It makes me feel special no matter where I am, what I’m doing, or where I’m going. I think that’s the mark of a great car. It does everything for me. It’s the sort of car I would have dreamed of driving as a youngling, and it’s a car that I would spot in traffic as an adult and reminisce on those stolen hours I had with one. Now I get to hop in and feel the hug from those red seats and feel the unabashed Honda character whenever I want. 

There are plans on the horizon for this car, however. I will be modding it and using it as a testing platform for the more scientific stuff on The Garage. My first shakedown with the car is happening at Willow Springs International Raceway this Friday, and from there the mod list will begin. 

But first, I need to decide if I should buy bronze TE37s for it.