Honda Accord Type R | The Brave Pill

Time to open wide and say R?

By Mike Duff / Saturday, 12 November 2022 / Loading comments

Back in the distant past of 2019, when Corona was a Mexican beer and TikTok was the noise a cartoon bomb made, I tried to make the case that a car wearing a Honda badge could also be a Brave Pill. That was an S2000, and despite it having covered an impressive 158,000 miles the general consensus was that its Hondaness made it barely more risky than a used approved Volvo. Which is why the bar has been raised a bit further for the second Pill to wear the melted H badge.

Yes, it’s an Accord Type R, one that seems to have lost a fight with a chicken run at some point in the past to judge from its silvery front end, and is also sporting a set of blacked-out taillights that some will regard as a crime against taste. But the courageous stuff comes from other areas, the most obvious being an odometer that stands on the cusp of passing through the double ton. Is anyone going to try and argue that a 196,000-mile VTEC is barely run-in?

While the Civic Type R has become a long-running international franchise that has become faster and more exciting as the years have passed, the Accord Type R was a one-hit wonder – in Europe at least. Although it was the first Type R officially sold in the UK it was a marketing exercise as much as an engineering one, an attempt to lend some much-needed excitement to the CH1 generation Accord. A car that, in its more basic forms, was about as thrilling as watching magnolia paint dry.

The Type R added spice by upgrading both sides of the Accord’s power-to-weight ratio. The left of the equation was improved by the unlikely fitment of a variably timed 2.2-litre VTEC engine which delivered a peak of 217hp at a zingy 7,200rpm – a chunky upgrade over the 145hp 2.0-litre version that sat below it in the hierarchy. The other side of the scale was lightened with a level of stripping you normally have to squeeze past musclebound bouncers to experience, or pay £100 for a bottle of warm champagne. The Type R lost most of its sound deadening, the boot shed its trim and it was even denuded of electric rear windows. It gained a sizeable rear spoiler, 17-inch alloys and NSX-derived brakes. The net result was an official 1,306kg kerbweight, more than 100kg less than the V6-powered Vauxhall Vectra GSI and Ford Mondeo ST200 which were aimed at the same ‘BTCC replica’ bit of the market.

Yet the Type R was a much more focussed car than either of those alternatives, or indeed any other front-driven saloon available at the time. The Accord was raw and viscerally exciting, especially given the challenge of keeping the engine above the 5,500rpm point where its cam profiles shift to their more aggressive mode. At which point the VTEC really did kick in, yo. Keeping the racy motor in its happy place was made tricky by the fact the manual gearbox only had five ratios, making it easy to drop into the torqueless hinterland between these.

Driven hard the Type R was great, thanks to accurate steering and a chassis balance that was crisp and exploitable for any performance car, let alone one that happened to be a four-door repbox. But at more normal speeds the Accord was, in truth, fairly miserable – something I realised when I unwisely chose an early press car for a long motorway schlep. The Type R’s ride was lumpy, its cabin was loud, and the low-rent interior seemed to be mostly made from grey plastics that were rattling even in a brand-new press car. It’s hard to imagine refinement will have been improved much by two trips around the odometer.

The Type R also seemed to be the answer to a question that few people were asking, to judge from the fact that fewer than 2,000 were built across four years. (A Japanese ‘Euro R’ also combined a slightly more powerful version of the powertrain with the JDM Accord bodyshell from the period, so there were more Accord Type Rs than that meagre total.) In Britain, the R got cheap quickly and – being a Honda – was tough enough to withstand both abuse and cut-price ownership pretty well.

But even the youngest and freshest examples are now past their 20th birthdays, and they weren’t better at resisting rust than any of the lesser Hondas from the period. Beyond the strong likelihood of crunchy gearbox synchros in early pre-facelift cars, the biggest risk for any Type R these days is going to be corrosion – a point brought home when I wrote a story featuring one a few years ago and the owner admitted to having recently spent more than £5,000 on rot-related repairs; almost all of what the car was worth.

Of course, by the scary standards of Brave Pill bills, a five grand bill isn’t even a snackette, let alone a hors d’oeuvre – but there will also be the challenge of sourcing increasingly rare parts when things do break or wear out. Our Pill is a pre-facelift car that was first registered in March 2000 with the selling dealer promising the reassurance of a “six month engine and gearbox warranty” – although these are arguably the parts that are least likely to go wrong. The MOT history shows that the car’s rate of mileage acquisition was heavily loaded into the first half of its life – it had passed 170,000 miles as long ago as 2011. It was then off the road, or outside the MOT system, for six years before being recommissioned in 2017.

While there is nothing too scary in the online record, 2019’s pass came with an advisory for corrosion, although this not being severe enough to affect structural rigidity. Two clean passes since then suggest this has been either fixed or successfully hidden, but given the Accord’s rep for rustiness, any potential buyers would be advised to give it a once-over. Followed by a twice-over. The current MOT runs out in December, too – but the vendor is promising to screw on another one. It should be similarly easy to unscrew the nasty-looking mesh insert in the lower bumper and swap the murdered-out rear lights.

For £4,995 you can’t really grumble too hard. Our Pill is the only Type R currently in the Classifieds, with the only cheaper example in the wider, non-PH world being a £4,950 car that looks shiny but which is being sold as an ongoing project without an MOT. Beyond the need to standardise its appearance, this one seems both usable and fairly priced, especially considering the rising values of some of its considerably less rare Civic sisters. This is a Type R the whole family can enjoy, or possibly endure.

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