Everybody Come See The $50,000 20-Year-Old Honda Civic

“Old Import Car Now Valuable” is a story we’re all getting used to seeing, as lucky elder millennials can now afford car collecting and naturally want the items we lusted after as teens. The EM1 Honda Civic Si is such a car, so it’s no surprise to see a mint one sell for, well, a mint. But it’s still kind of wild.

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Bring A Trailer closed its auction for this exceptionally clean-looking 2000 Honda Civic Si today at $50,000. BaT takes a 5 percent buyer’s fee, so the car’s new owner will drop $52,500, plus transportation, taxes, title fees, registration, and insurance for the privilege of owning one of the few remaining stock examples of a turn-of-the-millennium icon.

This particular type of Civic Si, the EM1, only sold for two model years (1999 and 2000) and only came in three colors. Electron Blue Pearl was uniquely awesome, the other options being less distinctive red and black.

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I was lucky enough to whip one from Honda’s museum up and down Angeles Crest Highway one time, revisit that writeup and photography if you’re wondering what a well-preserved example feels like to drive now:

What makes this car historically significant is that it was the first U.S.-market hot version Honda Civic that was really significantly zippier than its econo-car counterparts. The B16A2 DOHC VTEC engine had a lot more power (and a lot more upgrade potential) than the D-Series single overhead cam engine that the next-best contemporary Civic (the EX) had.

Previous-gen Civic Sis simply weren’t as much of an upgrade over other trim levels, and of course, you couldn’t buy a Civic Type-R stateside until very recently.

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But you don’t even need to be that much of a car nerd to appreciate the coolness of the EM1. It’s a high-revving Honda in a cool and unique factory color from the prime days of import tuning in America. Very few of them are left in decent shape. And all the above-described factors come together to make such a vehicle very valuable. It seems that the market would agree with me now, based on the auction result.

Here’s how Honda Civics have performed on Bring A Trailer over the last five years
Here’s how Honda Civics have performed on Bring A Trailer over the last five years
Screenshot: Bring A Trailer
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That said, this $50,000 EM1 seems to be a new high watermark for Civic sale prices. We’ve seen Toyota Supras, Mazda RX-7s, and Acura Integra Type-Rs sell for serious money over the last few years but it looks like Civics are building momentum as collector’s items a little more recently.

If there are any other EM1s this mint left out there, I’m sure they too will fetch a pretty penny. But there won’t be many, so if you’re into these, you would probably have better luck finding an Acura Integra which also ran Honda’s venerable B-Series engines, albeit with more displacement. (Only Integra GSRs and Type-Rs also had Honda’s famous VTEC variable timing system, though.)

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If you’re really looking for a bargain, just find a base car and swap the engine with something from Japan. You won’t end up with a museum piece like the car from this auction, but you’ll spend much less than $50,000.

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Objectively speaking $50,000 is an absurd amount of money to drop on one of these. They’re fun, but I mean, a 2020 Civic Si will feel a whole lot faster. Not to mention be much safer.

But car collecting isn’t about rational decisionmaking. A perfect, stock, Electron Blue Pearl 2000 Civic Si is an artifact and a piece of art. If I were cashed up, sure, I might spend a silly stack of bills to be able to look at one every day.

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Here’s hoping there will still enough “modern classics” left for those of us with modest means who want to collect, too.

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik | 1975 International Scout, 1984 Nissan 300ZX, 1991 Suzuki GSXR, 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, 2005 Acura TL

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DISCUSSION

nachotacho
nachotacho

It’s amazing how these and ITR’s are worth so much while their sequels, the EP3 So and DC5 Type S are worth chips in comparison and almost universally mauled within an inch of their death.