What’s this? An early 2000s Japanese performance hatch that’s…affordable? In this market? Imagine that. Some lucky duck just paid $17,500 for a clean, one-owner 2002 Honda Civic Si with only 38,000 miles on the odo.
It’s tempting to connect this to the cooling market. Our December market rating update showed slight decline for the third month in a row, the first time we’ve seen a streak like this since March 2020. But the (relative) bargain-basement price paid for this plucky little Civic isn’t a symptom of that. We don’t track the EP3-generation Civic (yet) in our valuation tool, but a quick flip through both Bring a Trailer and Cars and Bid’s completed sale archive shows this most recent blobular Si hatch hit exactly where we might expect it to, despite the explosive value growth of the preceding sixth-gen Si.
Compare this spotlight sale to that of a 2004 Civic Si sold on Cars and Bids back in August. That car wore both a rare Si Performance package and the same mileage as the most recent sale, and an active bidding gallery pushed the car just over the $20,000 mark. Meanwhile, the last EP3 sale on BaT was a 61,000-mile silver hatch that claimed $14,700.
What’s the deal? Based on the Hagerty Valuation tool’s $33,900 average for a previous-gen Civic Si in Condition #2 (Excellent), it might appear that enterprising enthusiasts are stealing these EP3 Civics for a five-figure discount. We turned to Hagerty Price Guide Editor Greg Ingold, our in-house Japanese collector car expert and avowed Civic slappy for the low-down on what makes this both a great buy and lesser-than when compared to the Si it replaced.
“EP3s are interesting because Honda/Acura fans often—and rightfully so, in my opinion—accuse Honda of nerfing the Si to pump up the [Acura] RSX Type S,” explained Ingold. “Both are K20 powered, but the [EP3] Si made 40 less HP than the Type S, and VTEC engagement was at a comically low point in the rev-range for a Honda.”
That low VTEC engagement isn’t just marketing; power is unchanged over the B-series engine it replaced, but the EP3’s K-Series 2.0-liter upped the torque at the low-end for a more usable and “punchy” experience around town, where we do most of our driving. That said, critics are quick to point out the EP3’s questionable cost-cutting switch to MacPherson struts in the front suspension over the prior double-wishbone design, exacerbated by a 150-pound weight penalty compared to the old coupe.
Let’s not dogpile. Much of this weight gain came as a result of increased structural rigidity, with the EP3 Si packing a 95-percent boost in torsional rigidity and 22 percent spike in bending rigidity. Also, the hatch’s spunky console-mounted shifter won as many fans as it did detractors, but you can’t claim the car doesn’t have character.
Ingold agrees. “I think a hot hatch with low miles (when you consider it is a Honda) for under $20,000 is a bargain in this market,” he muses. “EP3s in the mileage range of Cars and Bids’ Civic seem to be selling in the $15,000 – $20,000 range. There are cars with 10,000-20,000 more miles that have sold for more than this one, so I think it was a good buy.”
Is there room for the EP3 Civic Si grow? Naturally, but the underdog Japanese hatch remains a spot of rare affordability on the growing portfolio of investment-grade Japanese classics.