Rob Hollands tuned and modified Honda Type R EP3 blends east and west, track and road, composites and steel. And the result, is bloody spectacular!
Rarely has one particular car built up a rabid, cult following as quickly as the Type R badged Honda. Honda has been making R-badged cars for a little over 19 years, and in that time they’ve carved out a reputation for excellent handling, Swish watch-style reliability, and for being powered by engines far more sophisticated than anything mustered by rival firms. The UK has been particularly swift to embrace cars like the Civic and the Integra Type R, partly because of their success in top tier motorsport (think BTCC over the last 15 or so years). But also because there are few cars on Earth better suited to cutting down a narrow, undulating British B-road than a well sorted Type R!
The modified Honda Civic you see before you could well have been created to support the points made above. Built by Rob Holland, it’s an EP3 which manages the neat trick of straddling two very different car scenes, namely track and show. Take a look at its spec list and you’ll see what we mean. Air suspension shares space with enough carbon fibre to keep a cold war jet designer happy. Rare JDM bolt-ons rub shoulders with Recaro seats. It’s a mix of parts that, on paper at least, really shouldn’t come together as well as it does.
“I didn’t set out to try and blend these two schools of thought. I just built the Civic that I wanted to own,” says Rob with a chuckle. “That said, I have always been very into my USDM Hondas and that was certainly a factor. As was my girlfriend, Alayna.”
Rob and Alayna actually met through the UK Honda scene, and while the relationship has certainly blossomed, the pair’s shared passion has resulted in an intense rivalry and regular competition for key parts. This rivalry means that they now both own very nice Civics. But it’s also created a mad dash for the Buy it Now button whenever a suitably rare or desirable aftermarket part appears online!
We’re fairly used to seeing carbon gracing feature cars nowadays, but Rob’s really taken things to another level, by opting to make use of it on almost every panel. You can read the complete list of lightweight composite materials now on the Civic in the spec below. But some of the most effective additions include the front grille, bonnet, fuel filler cap and boot lid. The latter a direct result of Rob clocking a particularly stunning USDM EP3 with the same panel.
“Most of the carbon came from the same car, a heavily carbon-clad Civic that was well known in the UK until it was written off. I already knew the owner and arranged with him to head down on a weekend. Before long I was heading back with a car full of carbon parts.”
The need to use the car on a daily basis had a direct result on its suspension. Rob soon found the 40mm lowering springs he originally fitted to be more of a hindrance than a help, particularly when they prevented him from exiting his drive without bottoming out! This situation eventually forced his hand and Rob was soon on the phone to his friends at Xquisite Automotive. Bear in mind that this was a good few years ago, back when air ride-equipped EP3s were a far rarer sight than they are now, so getting someone to carry out the work was easier said than done.
“They basically said that if I could get them the kit, they’d fit it,” recalls Rob with a laugh. “I eventually sourced and ordered a kit, then had it sent to them, but we still had to fit it in time for a show the following weekend. It meant a manic day of work in order to get it ready. But we got there in the end.”
Honda’s VTEC motor might’ve become firmly associated with hoodlums terrorising the high streets of Britain in recent years. But let’s not forget that this variable timing engine was nothing short of a race-derived marvel when launched. Developed in conjunction with and intended for motorsport use, the VTEC in Rob’s Civic benefits from a number of proven go-faster goodies, all chosen for their ability to work with this motor’s naturally revvy nature.
“The same EP3 that inspired me to go all out with the carbon also sported a big bore HKS exhaust, and I guess it inspired me to fit a similar system to my own car,” he explains. ‘The majority of the tuning has been aimed at getting the engine breathing better, hence the exhaust and induction work. I managed to get the genuine Mugen air box for a steal.” The mix of styles at play here is probably at its most obvious when we focus on the wheels Rob’s managed to stuff beneath those pristine grey arches. The ones he thought he’d ordered from JDM Distro were the much- loved Work Equips. And indeed he thought these were the hoops he was getting right up until he opened the box!
“They’re actually More Developments three-piece splits, a much rarer wheel over here,” muses Rob. “The order was severely delayed and it ended up being a manic rush to get them to my house, fitted with tyres and fitted to the car in time for a big show that very day. Again, we managed it. But only just.” Rob’s plans for the future mainly revolve around helping Alayna get her own equally praiseworthy Civic ready for show season, furthering his relatively recently found appreciation for detailing, and, eventually, more power, probably via a supercharger conversion. Nice.
It’s hard to escape the nagging feeling that this car really shouldn’t work. A mix of USDM, UKDM and straight up BTCC shouldn’t go together. And yet it really does. Rob’s dedication to his car and his ideas (and a love for carbon fibre that’s perilously close to being a full on addiction) has left him with an EP3 that looks like nothing else around. We’re not one for going around slapping labels on things, but we’d argue Rob’s car is a true hybrid, one that simply wouldn’t have come about in another country, a truly British EP3 – and it’s all the better for it!
OWNER: ROB HOLLAND
TECH SPEC: CIVIC TYPE R
Honda Civic Type R EP3 in OE grey; carbon fibre front splitter, grille, bonnet, side skirts, fuel filler
cap, boot lid and spoiler; Team Heko wind deflectors; Illest numberplate surround.
More Developments OW33 7x17in three-piece split rims; Air Force air ride suspension with manual management; 4 gallon seamless tank in candy red; AZ compressor; c-pillar bar; Beaks lower tie bar; Skunk2 black series lower control arms; DC Sports titanium strut brace; Japspeed rear camber arms; Honda OEM open ended lug nuts; Stoptech brake kit (front); RPB grooved discs and Stoptech street performance pads (rear); Eibach 15mm spacers
Recaro Trendline seats; Takata Drift 3 harnesses; Takata harness pads in the rear; Tegiwa harness
bar; retrimmed roof lining, glove box, pillars and steering wheel; Alcantara gear and handbrake gaiter; Skunk2 gearknob; Type R mats; sticker-bombed dash and door handles.
Mugen air box; HKS Hi Power cat-back exhaust; Tegiwa silicon intake and coolant hoses; silicon washer hoses; Kode bolts, carbon fibre intake cover and spark plug cover; various pinstriping; 6Two1
oil cap; HKS rad cap; K Tuned dip stick; Seeker socks; Tegiwa battery tie down bar.
JVC double-DIN headunit; Hertz HSK130 component front speakers; Hertz ECX 16.5 Coaxial rear speakers; JL audio 12in sub; JL audio amp; Xquisite Automotive boot install.
Xquisite Automotive; Eurospec; 6Two1 JDM; Distro; Fitment Junkies; Mum; my girlfriend Alayna; Alayna’s dad; and the rest of my family.
Words Jarkle Photos Chris Wallbank