Right when you thought the world couldn’t get any stranger, someone goes and drops 50 large on a two-decade-old Honda Civic Si. With buyer’s premium included, $52,500 was the final number on Bring a Trailer, where this 5600-mile EM1 Civic Si changed hands for nearly double the price of a brand-new Si. Is it the cleanest, most well-preserved example out there? Perhaps. Is fifty stacks for a two-decade-old Japanese compact completely outrageous? At least one person doesn’t think so, although some of you are surely rolling your eyes hard enough to induce vertigo. Stick with us and we’ll try to make sense of this monumental sale.
Let’s recap. Back in 2018, there were two EM1-generation Civic Si auctions on Bring a Trailer that caught our attention. First was a 10,000-mile 2000 model-year example that brought $23,887, followed by a ’99 showing 12,000 miles that sold for $25,228. (Both prices include auction fees.) At the time, the latter sale was a record, and we remarked on the growing collector appeal of cars from Honda’s golden age in the 1990s and early 2000s, an era that delivered the Acura NSX and Integra Type R.
It would have been safe to expect that the value of top-condition, highly desirable Hondas would creep up, but who could anticipated this result? Only two years after those mid-$20,000 sales, an extremely similar car selling for double the price is extraordinary.
The 2000 Honda Civic Si in question appears in superb condition. Aside from the DC Sports lower tie bar, it’s as if the car were shot into the future straight from a Y2K New Year celebration. Painted Electron Blue with a gray interior, and including fog lights that were dealer-installed options, the car comes equipped with Honda’s high-revving, dual-overhead-cam B16A2 four-cylinder VTEC engine, which makes 160 hp at a lofty 7600 rpm and tops out at 8000 rpm. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s 100 hp per liter. As we noted in our drive of Honda’s very own example, the B16 engine had a host of improvements for its application in the Civic Si, including an enlarged throttle body, tuned intake manifold, additional cam lift, 10:2:1 compression ratio, stronger connecting rods, high-silicon pistons, a larger diameter exhaust system, and a fully counterweighted crankshaft. The only transmission offered was a five-speed manual.
“Even at idle the B16 sends a satisfying race car-like shiver up the Civic’s shifter and its visceral and audible feedback once you get it up in its powerband are addicting,” said Scott Oldham. “Above 5500 rpm throttle response is instantaneous and the entire car feels tightly wound.”
Compared to the standard Civic, the Si benefitted from a stiffer suspension, bigger sway bars, and wider 15-inch wheels. Inside, the patterned fabric seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and Si-badged instrument cluster (with 9500-rpm tach!) were what separated the car from the standard EK-generation Civic that ran from 1996–2000.
The average value for a #1-condition (Concours) 1999–2000 Civic Si is $25,000, which means if those 2018 sales took place on Earth, this one might as well have happened in the Hubble Deep Field. Even still, it’s not close to the record-holding Integra Type R, which sold (also on Bring a Trailer) for $86,100 back in September of 2019. In both cases, these were low-mile outliers, but they’re no doubt bellwethers of a larger trend. The drivers of this shift toward Japanese classics of the ’90s and 2000s are millennials, who account for 67 percent of Hagerty insurance quotes for the EK-generation Civic. With that said, the Integra Type R is much more hardcore, and these cars are not equals.
Now that the EM1 Civic Si has commanded such a wild result, we’re likely to see more examples emerge from the proverbial woodwork. We don’t expect this record to be broken any time soon, though.
Then again, nostalgia’s a hell of a drug.