Welcome to Old School vs New School, the series where we pick out the cars from the good old days, and pair them with their spiritual successors. Last week it was the Mk3 Ford Fiesta RS1800 VS Mk8 Ford Fiesta ST, this week the Honda Civic EG VTI takes on Honda Civic FK8 Type R…
Cast your mind back to the modifying scene of the late-1980s and the go-go nineties. Was it all TSW Venoms, asymmetric Delta bodykits and badly smoothed tailgates with number plates cabletied back on to please the rozzers? It’s easy to be cynical, but the bare bones of what we used to do in those days were pretty similar to what we’re up to today.
Sure, back then it was all about outrageous bodykits, big rims, neon lights, and massive audio installs… but doesn’t that sound familiar? Yep, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Of course, there are some things that were massively popular which have since totally gone out of fashion – everyone used to rock Lexus lights, headlights swaps from random different cars were popular, every other Saxo had four 6-inch exhausts… but a lot of the things that went out of fashion have come back around.
Like what? Well, three-spoke wheels, big aluminium spoilers, wide-arch kits – the difference is that people are focusing more on quality. It’s all in the details, from your obsessively smoothed engine bay to your impeccably retrimmed interior, and there’s a lot more awareness of rare parts; if you spend a year tracking down an obscure OEM+ spoiler that was only available in Austria for six months in 1994, the chances are that people will recognise it when you roll into a show.
The internet has broadened everyone’s horizons, and it’s also inspired a oneupmanship that keeps so many builds truly world-class. The days of building something over the winter and debuting it at a springtime show are largely over, as people are documenting their builds on Instagram, everyone’s open and aware, and it’s all about being the person who’s using the most original ideas to win the most peer approval.
With all that being said, some things really don’t change. At the heart of the tuning scene, now as it was then, we all want to run a car that goes fast, looks cool, and makes rowdy noises. The technology’s moved on, and the bar of quality gets raised time and time again, but we’re fundamentally still doing what we’ve always done. Long may it continue.
That’s enough of the chat, let battle commence!
THEN: HONDA CIVIC VTI (EG)
When the notion of Japanese tuning started to break through into the mainstream in the UK, the EG Civic VTi was right there to show everyone how it was done.
The EG was designed with a keen focus on the use of lightweight materials in order to improve fuel efficiency, which naturally for the likes of us paid dividends with the power-to-weight ratio when it came to tuning.
There was no Type R for the EG generation (that would come later, with the EK9), so the VTi was the one to have – it had a 160bhp VTEC which was smart enough to teach the Euro enthusiasts a thing or two about how to build an engine, and it wasn’t long before Britain’s streets were filling up with hot EGs ready to blow away Fords and Vauxhalls at the traffic lights.
Those raspy, revvy B16 engines are still very sought after today!
HONDA CIVIC VTI (EG) SPEC
Performance: 160bhp, 0-62mph – 7.9s
Top mods: B18 Type R engine swap, throttle bodies, unsilenced exhaust, coilovers, camber arms, stripped interior, rollcage.
Price then: £14,495 (in 1991; equivalent 2018 price adjusted for inflation: £29,584)
Price now: £2,500+
NOW: HONDA CIVIC TYPE R (FK8)
It’s astonishing how far the hot hatch game has moved on since Fast Car was wearing short trousers and writing ‘5318008’ on its school calculator.
We’ve already mentioned the Focus RS and Golf R – 300bhp isn’t a mad figure to bandy about as factory-stock these days, whereas in 1987 that number would have won you some sort of medal.
And the new Type R Civic is emblematic of just how far we’ve come – this is a car that you can drive at 170mph on the autobahn, then pootle into town for lunch, then spend the afternoon ragging it around a racetrack, before trundling home in total comfort.
Trust us, we’ve done just that in an FK8. And we want one. Yes, it’s a bit ugly, but people said that about the Ford Sierra when it was new and look what happened to that.
HONDA CIVIC TYPE R (FK8) SPEC
Performance: 316bhp, 0-62mph – 5.7s
Top mods: Eventuri intake, aFe suspension package, Armytrix exhaust, Eibach springs, Dream Automotive remap