Ten years ago you wouldn’t have seen me driving a Honda hatchback if my life depended on it. They were great cars, but the “tuner craze” was still in full swing and I wanted nothing to do with it. Now, more than a decade removed from peak Honda fandom, I’ve actually developed quite the appreciation for them…and when this 2002 Civic Si fell into my lap for the incredible price of $750, I just had to bring it home.
A little background: in my adolescence, when I first journeyed into the automotive hobby, it seemed like Honda was the dominant force in the world of cheap import car performance; The Fast and the Furious had just been released and subsequently the world of “import tuners” (ugh) had exploded into popular culture. Few teenagers had the money for the turbo Mitsubishis made famous in the film, so everyone seemed to gravitate towards Honda and Acura products instead. This being the case, I spent my younger years avoiding Honda products like the plague in favor of weird European and lesser-known Japanese cars, as virtually every broke car-obsessed teenager was driving a Honda product. Lately things are a bit different though; the kids are all about turbo Subarus, rear wheel drive Toyotas and Nissans, and hideously-modified Volkswagens. The Honda hype is in the past and I can now happily appreciate them for the great cars that they are…without neon lights, fart cannon exhausts and Auto Zone spoilers anyway.
This Si is just about the best example you could expect for $750. Formerly a coworker’s car, he decided to move on after 200,000-plus miles of service culminated in a minor deer collision. The car has service paperwork going back the better part of a decade, and is shockingly rust-free for a Honda that has seen its share of Wisconsin winters. It also has some goodies like Koni suspension and extra bracing, as it was formerly used as an autocrosser. My coworker had fixed the car up enough after the collision to run and drive well, so I just needed to take care of the cosmetics: namely a hood and bumper. Lucky for me, I located a wrecked one of the same color at a junkyard in West Bend, so I had the car back in presentable shape after a few hours’ worth of work.
What’s next? I don’t want to burn up the snow tires currently mounted on the stock wheels, so I think a set of aftermarket wheels with summer tires are in the cards. It being a Honda, aftermarket support is plentiful and parts are cheap, so who knows what I’ll end up throwing at it. I don’t want to go too extreme, as this is destined to be my daily driver (I have the BMW as a toy, after all). But it certainly is a fun little car to drive, and a nice way to get out from under the $250/month car payment I’ve been making for the past few years.