Well, here we are, at the end of the 2020 automotive season, at least here in the Midwest. There are some that will drive their vehicles through this winter and for them, the season is probably never over. However, for me and the R, preparations for the 2021 season are already underway. But before we get into that, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my first summer with the CTR. A moment to share my thoughts on what the car is like and what the summer has been like for me since its been probably 3 or 4 years since I’ve owned a fun car for myself.
First and foremost, I am a die-hard Honda fan from start to finish. I appreciate all cars, and love many, but when it comes down to it Honda’s are my roots, my bread and butter. At the end of the day, no matter what keys I have in my pocket, Ill always have a love for Hondas. I’ve had so many including three integras, multiple civics, an accord, and probably some other ones I’m forgetting.
My most recent was my FA5 Civic SI. This was a great car as it was four doors, peppy, and got great gas mileage! Unfortunately I had to sell it to get a larger vehicle after my kiddo was born.
I think my favorite one however, was my 2000 Milano Red Integra GSR. I definitely put the most amount of work into this one, which is why it holds a special place to me. At 18lbs on a 62mm turbo it made a healthy 430hp and 300lbft tq, and while I had planned on turning the boost up with the hopes of making 500+, my plans were derailed and the car was ultimately parted out.
Selling my DC2 was my biggest regret out of all the vehicles I have had. I had invested a great deal of time, money, and effort into it and there was no way to get back the sentimental value that I had for it. The FA5 certainly was not a substitute, and in a way, neither is my type R. But it certainly is a start to creating brand new memories.
As many of you know, 2020 has been a flaming shit show with the pandemic throwing a wrench in the plans of many events and more. Between lockdowns, quarantines, and other miscellaneous shit, it looked like this year was going to be a dud, at least for me. With multiple show cancellations, I didn’t really know where I would end up getting my automotive fill from.
I started this year off with the intention of trying to find a beater to tinker around with and with my friend selling his EP3, I thought that I might have actually found something to hold me over until next year where I would likely be in a better position to buy another vehicle. I will have finished grad school, put my middle child into kindergarten (yay no more preschool fees), and freed up a decent amount of cash flow for something decent. But like 2020, things didn’t end up playing out the way I wanted to, in a good way.
With my truck racking up miles, eating gas, and steadily degrading (MN winters will do that for you), I enticed the idea of trading it in for a four door vehicle that would make for an easy commuter that I can haul the kids around in and probably drive in the winter. Naturally the idea of a WRX/STI floated into my head. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t get behind the idea of rocking the STI with its dinosaur age EJ motor, and the WRX just didn’t do it for me. While it would have made for a great everyday driver, I didn’t get the same feeling of wanting to own it like I did with the CTR.
At the time, the CTR market wasn’t really competitive with the used STI market. With 2017 being the first year of the Civic Type R, they were literally too new to be coming down into the price range I wanted to be competitive in price with a 2015+ STI. It would be rare to see one come down under the 30-grand mark in this area. Nevertheless, I slept with one eye open on the market in my area. You might ask, why a Civic Type R? What’s the big deal with them and why are you infatuated with them? What makes them so special? The truth is, I don’t really know. When the car first made its appearance on the market, I absolutely hated it. It looked like a spaceship with its aggressive lines and wide body not to mention its weird triple tip exhaust, and that rear end, gross, I hated that the most.
But as time passed and I saw what people were doing with them, I slowly but surely started taking second glances at them. I credit @KazuoWfc and @JeppsCTR for having really badass type R’s, because my repeated exposure to their cars ultimately did it for me in the end. @StigJDM showed me the potential of these cars on the track and its ability to exceedingly outdrive cars that were several classes more expensive was the nail in the coffin for me. On top of this, the CTR checked just about every box available for me. Four doors, aesthetics, power, sense of ownership. Let’s be honest, if you’re a Honda fan, a type R is something special. While the 10th generation Civic Type R isn’t something as rare as the DC2 ITR counterpart, it still isn’t very common to see (especially in my area), and it still has the R badging on it, so it counts for something.
Without going further into the other boring details, the end result was a 2018 Civic Type R with less than 5,000 miles finding its way into my garage and in the color of my choice might I add, crystal black pearl.
I wish I could say that the day I picked it up was “magical” or memorable like most things are, but the truth was I took a half day off work, skipped breakfast (I dont eat breakfast), skipped lunch (because of the 4-6 hour round trip including paperwork I was in a rush), and with the pandemic, I really just wanted to get in and out.
During the test drive the R behaved and performed the way I had anticipated in every aspect. The firmness of the suspension and feedback from the steering wheel was every bit the dream that most people have of these cars. The tightness and precise steering made every input predictable and the quick spool of the small turbo gave the car a decent 1-2 punch in any gear at a moments notice. I was sold.
The looks of the CTR is without a doubt a love it or hate it type of look. The aggressive lines and boy racer wing on it screams attention whore, and can attract the wrong attention while garnering compliments from high school kids and puzzled looks from senior citizens. Nevertheless, I am totally infatuated with it.
Within the first few days I had right around 1,000 miles on it and while driving it was a blast I knew there was plenty of work ahead of me to get it where I wanted. First things first however, it needed some fresh fluids. I quickly contacted an old friend of mine from back in my Integra days who now runs his own shop. Josh at Precision Automotive is your guy if you need any sort of automotive work done.
Having the car up on a lift gave me a good look at the undercarriage and as expected, it was really clean. With a fresh oil and filter change the car was ready to go. I hadn’t even taken it to redline yet (only had it about a week at this point) because I was unsure of how old the oil was. But with a fresh change, I was ready to give it hell.
Right around the corner from me is a nice country road with several twisties that allowed me to see what the car was capable of (within reason). The car defied all of my expectations power-wise. Its rare to have a Honda that makes this much torque, and it was a refreshing feeling being able to power in and out of corners easily without having to rev the piss out of the engine to do it. The car responded well, and powered in and out of sweepers effortlessly. Despite being on 20’s with rubber band tires, the Continental Extreme Contact Sport 6’s showed no signs of struggling on the beaten road. The car simply went the way you pointed it. My previous turbo GSR was a great baseline to compare the Type R to. While both were powered by forced induction, they similarities simply ended there.
Here we see the top plot of my GSR with a 62mm billet turbocharger on it and below, a baseline dyno of Full Race’s Civic Type R on 91 octane. My GSR was a lot of fun north of 5,000 RPMs where the turbo hit full boost. It brought on a somewhat violent acceleration that held strong all the way to its 8300 rpm redline.
The CTR on the other hand is much different. Power is available as soon as 2500 rpms and hold relatively strong until the turbo begins to run out of breath after 5,500 rpms. Both setups bring about unmanageable tire spin even with both being equipped with LSD. The nice thing about the Type R however is its ability to fit ungodly wide tires (by civic standards) on it, and the suspension geometry that virtually eliminates all signs of torque steer. In stark contrast, the torque steer on my Integra could get you killed if you weren’t paying attention. The boost response from both cars are also night and day. Where the Civic takes very little input to get moving in any gear, the GSR was virtually worthless if power was needed at any given time. You would need to put the throttle down and wait a few seconds for it to come on because of the lower displacement and larger turbo despite having 10:1 CR pistons and a slight overbore.
My overall thoughts on the CTR is that it was an exceedingly capable car with the ability to compete with vehicle several classes above its price tag. Its easy to see how this car was able to set records on Nurburgring in its stock form and how it has come to be the gold standard for FWD hatches. My car however, was not about to be left in stock form much to the dismay of my wallet.
First thing was first, the CTR transmission is really finicky. And I mean REALLY Finicky. It is smooth, and not smooth at the same time, people get gear lock out and worst was the 1-2 crunch people get. It had happened to me twice and I silently shed a tear each time it happened. I found that CTR owners were switching to Amsoil or Synchromesh to alleviate these issues, so $60 later and a trip to Josh at Precision Auto, and I was out and rowing gears in no time. Difference was night and day.
The first modification that had to be done was to get rid of the god awful 4×4 suspension and triple tip exhaust. With the help of my trusty Discover rewards, I promptly ordered a set of Tein S Tech springs and a Greddy Supreme SP exhaust system for the car. While Swifts were a popular spring of choice for the CTR platform, they were sold out everywhere due to the pandemic and with my previous vehicles having been on Tein S Tech springs, I was more than comfortable with having another set.
The exhaust came pretty quick, courtesy of Kami Speed and I was digging the dual tip exhaust over the triple. Now the car had the aggressive tone that it should’ve came with from the factory. Installation was straight forward but I gotta say I am somewhat annoyed with the fact that the factory cat back was all ONE PIECE.
While I waited for the springs to show up, I paid a trip to Garry and Kyle at Amped Auto Accessories in Rochester MN. Kyle is a long time friend of mine and I definitely wanted him to do some work to the car. The first order of business for the exterior was to get some paint protection film on it. I already accumulated a couple of small chips in the front of the car and I didn’t need anymore. In addition, I was going to have the car paint corrected and detailed which meant the PPF needed to go on first if it was going to adhere correctly. Garry got me setup with some 3M film on the front end along with some additional security and the car was ready to go after a few days! Not long after that my springs showed up from Kami Speed.
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate cars that sit high. So once I got the springs… guess what? Off to Josh at Precision Automotive the car went. Some of you might ask, why not do your own work? While I am fully capable of turning a wrench, I have found that my fat figure and short attention span can no longer tolerate being contorted underneath a car for long periods of time. In addition to that, I wanted to show some local businesses love during these hard times. So the option to have it done by professionals or to do it myself was a no-brainer. The end result of the springs was perfect!
The car was now sitting perfectly flush with the top of the wheels with the S-tech springs. As expected, it rode stiffer but with the spring rates that were published online it was expected. R mode was still the same, just a tad stiffer, and sport mode was perfect for every day driving. Comfort mode got a bit too bouncy for me so the car rarely ever goes into that.
With the PPF finally done, it was time to bring it to Jeremy at Five Star Detailing, another wonderful local detailing company. For those of you who don’t know (which is almost everyone reading this LBS) Jeremy and I have worked together on photos for cars he details for clients. After seeing his work first hand for the last couple of years I already knew that any vehicle I was gonna get would make a stop over to his shop at one point or another.
Jeremy’s previous evaluation of the car showed that someone had already gone to town on it with a rotary buffer as there was marring and swirls all over the paint. Aside from a few light sanding marks, there wasn’t anything glaringly bad that would be a cause for alarm. So I dropped the car off to him and let him do what he did best. Another reason I brought the car to Jeremy is that he is a local one man operation who isn’t afraid to give his opinion. He is straight forward and honest with his recommendations and evaluations and I appreciate that in a company. I know who will be working on my car and the level of work I had already witnessed first hand. I knew I could expect great things!
**WARNING** GRAPHIC PHOTOS AHEAD
Please don’t be upset that I let my car get into this condition before dropping it off with Jeremy, after all, it makes for better before and after content. But you can see from these photos that there was plenty of swirling that needed correction. The dust was from the rain the car had gotten caught in before sitting in my garage until it was time to get detailed.
After Jeremy worked his magic on the soft black paint, the difference was stunning. A 1.5 step paint correction and ceramic sealant later and the paint was better than when it arrived on the showroom. I can’t say enough about how happy I was seeing the end results of Jeremy’s detail.
With the bulk of the work I wanted to get done on the Type R done, It was time to find an autocross event to attend. With the pandemic wreaking havoc on the planet, I wasn’t sure how it would affect the local autocrossing events. I had heard that nationals were cancelled (though I cant confirm). Thankfully, it looked like the Minnesota AutoCross group was still holding events with social distancing integrated into it. I quickly signed up for a event at DCTC and was eager for how the R would perform.
Come the day of the autocross I was pleasantly surprised by how many other Type Rs were out there (6 including mine). It would give me a good baseline on how well these cars performed at these events and how rusty I was.
I guess first off, the CTR is an absolute blast to drive around on these slower tighter courses. As expected, the turbo responded wonderfully, giving me power at a moments notice. Powering me out of turns and likely making up for a lot of mistakes I made in the day. I was worried that the larger frame of the car was going to give me problems throughout the day especially in the slalom but I found that I only ate one cone for in the 8 runs that I had. I probably wasnt driving aggressively enough, but I certainly was pushing it quite a bit as understeer was definitely a nagging factor in my runs. Even with the tires at 38-40lbs I still found myself rolling the sidewalls a tad. At this point I knew the next time I ran it would need to be on 18s with wider and stickier tires.
I did neglect to mention that there were plenty of meets and cruises in between this time, and that my brother had picked up a 2017 Aegean Blue Metallic Type R three days after I got mine.
In case anyone is curious what the CTR weighs with a full tank of gas, its likely around 3100lbs. This scale rounds up to the nearest 20lb. What can I say, its a little piggy.
With the help of my friend Samir I was able to tackle the issue of the heat soaking stock intercooler earlier than expected. These size of the stock core was probably only 60-70% of the core I received. I decided to go with HKS and their tube and fin style intercooler over the PRL bar and plate intercooler. Mainly because I dont think you can go wrong with HKS, and the intercoolers ability to allow more airflow through to the radiator over a bar and plate style was important to me as well. Oh, and PRL stuff right now is constantly backordered. If you need any parts please hit Samir up at Midwest Performance Parts https://midwest-pp.com/
With the help of my buddy Victor, we were able to get the intercooler installed in record time, much less than the 4-5 hours quoted by the install directions. The intercooler was an unexpected opportunity, the pricing was literally too good to pass up, and with additional rewards to utilize I pulled the trigger. The last piece of the puzzle was trying to figure out what wheel and tire combo to go with.
Volks and the like were certainly out of the question at this point in time. I couldnt justify that with everything that I had done so far. But the set of wheels I wanted now, I want to be able to use for the track. I wanted to have a set of wheels that had form and function that wouldn’t destroy my wallet. The options for me were truly limited. However, I caught a sale on a set of Konig Ampliforms that I liked way before I even purchased the R. I saw it first on the United Speed Racing Type R.
The wheels were flow formed, meaning they were a great combination of weight and strength, and best of all, they were on sale with free shipping. I decided to compliment the wheels with a set of Federal RS-Pro tires, 255-35-18 for the 18×9.5 wheels. Federal’s from what I understand run a bit wider, so the 255’s are likely closer to 265s, and I didn’t want to run into clearance issues. I think Federal gets a bit more grief than they deserve. While they are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, I was willing to give them a shot. After having done research to gain some feedback on these tires I learned that the previous model, the RS-RR, were a 200aa wear tire that held its own against similar tires of its class, at least in autocrossing. The major drawback of the previous model was the amount of noise it generated. Federal went back to the drawing board to address this issue and the end result is the RS-PRO.
After having put a few thousand miles on my set I can confidently say that they were worth every cent. They are incredibly sticky, pretty quiet (slight hum at 30mph), and did well for me even down in 30 degree weather (Though I dont recommend it). I would gladly buy another set. Get yours at Phil’s tire service (https://philstireservice.com/shop/federal-595rs-pro/).
When the wheels arrived I test fit them and they looked perfect. I complimented them with a set of extended open ended lugs. Shortly after, the tires arrived and my buddy got them mounted up for me. Shoutout to my boy Sopheak!
The wheels had an offset of +35, much lower than the stock wheel offset. Yet despite this difference in scrub radius, the car still handled incredibly well with zero torque steer. I was more than pleased with the look, the car at this point is finally complete for the 2020 season.
My brother had also made a decent amount of progress with his car.
Nothing left but to enjoy the car and the remainder of the weather for the summer. By this time I managed to put right around 6,000 miles on it since picking it up for a total of 10,000 ish miles. The car rides great on the wider tires and the additional sidewall makes for smoother riding over rougher roads. I don’t quite find myself in comfort mode anymore, as its much too bouncy, but sport is perfect.
The final task of the year was to see how much improved the handling was with the wheel setup now. What better way to do it than by autocrossing it at the same place as last time? For the second to last event of the year, the temps were hovering around 40 degrees in the morning, topping out at about 50ish degrees by the afternoon. The layout of the course was identical to the one I was at earlier in the year, however, the finish line was extended to a straightaway.
The difference in handling was apparent as I could push a the tires harder without worrying about understeer as much. The car still pushed in areas but I still attribute that to being rusty since its been about 5 1/2 years since my last autocross. That and with the temps dipping down the tires needed time to get sticky. Oh and I was probably pushing way too fucking hard.
I found 40psi to be a tad high so I dropped it slightly to 38/37lbs for the afternoon, which was still a tad high. I managed to improve upon my time by a tenth but nothing after that. Overall, I was pretty happy with how the car did. I raced with other CTRs that were present at the first event I was at, and was much closer timewise this time around. With a few more events and experience under my belt, I hope that I can be a decent contender in SMF. Shout out to mah boi Nick for coming out and racing his SI and keeping me company while also almost getting run over by a mustang.
Overall, I could not be happier with my purchase of the CTR. For me it is the complete package. It has great power given the size of the motor and turbo, great handling, and wonderfully aesthetic. It has plenty of room for passengers, and hauls groceries perfectly. In the right hands, this thing can be a rocket.
Though, don’t get me wrong, the car does not have blistering fast speed off the line. In fact, I think its 5.1 second (or so) 0-60 is absolutely dismal. But that’s not where the strength of the R lies. The potential of the car to navigate corners for its drivetrain layout and price is almost unmatched. There isn’t another vehicle in its price range I would trade it for. There isn’t another vehicle that comes from a lineage as coveted as the R, and to me, that’s priceless. I hope to hold on to this thing for years to come, to enjoy it in the company of my kids who already enjoy cruises, and friends both new and old.
2020 has been an unconventional season, but despite this, I think I made the most of it. Being able to get back to enjoying cars has been refreshing and a welcomed change of pace to this hectic year. Next year’s goals is to at least put a tune on this car to wake it up, as well as some cooling modifications so I can get on at least one road course. A second set of wheels with sticky tires dedicated specifically for track days and autocross is a must as well. Though I have yet to make a decision on what. Mostly though, I want to make sure I can bring it out for all the shows that I hope will happen next year. That includes Wekfest, Automotion, TunerEvo, and more. With the car officially stored away for the winter, its time to make preparations for what I hope will be a productive 2021 season.
Thanks for reading through my long ass post! Before I end it, I want to give shout outs to all the people who gave me a helping hand.
My wife for putting up with my bullshit.
Josh @ Precision Automotive for always being down to wrench
Jeremy @ Five Star Detailing for the detailing help and knowledge
Garry and Kyle @ Amped for the PPF and Security
Samir @ Midwest Performance Parts for the parts hookup
Victor and the rest of the Ruthless MN Gang for the help and support
Mr. Sopheak Solo for the wheel and tire help
Sambol for aligning the car
Nick for the encouragement and listening to all my bullshit about wheels I say Ill buy but probably never will.
And everyone else thats been down for a good drive, meets, racing, etc. You all know who you are.
To follow my build and other things I shoot follow me on IG @Alphadigital_