Our 2003 Civic EP3 may seem like a strange choice of a track car to some. But, there was some reason behind the choice.
We've heard the jokes. Civics are lawnmowers with lawn mower engines, they don't make power, Civics are "wrong wheel drive." We know that Civics aren't the most popular cars in the world that kids put posters of on their walls.
Sadly, in the real world, Ferraris are a little out of reach for most people (though we do absolutely love them and would happily drive them!) so we have to look at realistic cars with realistic, grounded expectations. So, considering our expectations are to just make a simple, safe, reliable track car that does the trick to get us seat time, well, why? What drew us to the Civic?
Civics are simple. Not much in a Civic is an unnecessary feature. Their engines are relatively trustworthy and well-built, with factories that put together the engines with regimental structure and tolerances meant to make the cars run for hundreds of thousands of kilometres.
The car and its parts are all some of the least expensive options in the world. Spare engines for $500? Yes please. Axles for $80? Transmissions for $600? Relatively small tire sizes? Yes please to all of them! Our full race car transformation for the Civic might cost less than $15,000 total, which is an incredible feat, considering that I'm factoring in the previous two years of track days and time attack expenditures into that, too. All new control arms, brake calipers, coilovers, wheels, tires, sway bar, petrol, oil changes; everything. You'd be hard pressed to find a better deal anywhere.
The Civic EP3, with as much as we've removed from it, will barely weigh anything. We're talking ~2300 pounds with engine, gearbox, exhaust, and so on, and maybe ~2400-2500 pounds with cage. Even without much power, the power-to-weight ratio will keep it sporty. This does not even mention the idea of brake and handling performance, efficiency, and just general sportiness, agility, and feeling. Lightweight cars are some of the best fun to drive.
There is a plethora of aftermarket parts available for the EP3 Civic platform, and indeed all Civic platforms. If you want racing parts, you'll get racing parts.
Falcon Autosport authors are a team of track day organizers and motorsports enthusiasts in general. Drew drives a 2003 Honda Civic EP3 with 17 previous owners and 320,000+ km.