1 - Honda S2000 (AP1)
Honda broke a record when it first released the S2000 convertible sports car to the market in 1999. The 2.0-litre VTEC F20C four-cylinder became the world’s highest specific power engine with 89kW per litre when it was released (only beaten by the Ferrari 458 when it was released many years later).
Featuring Honda’s famous VTEC variable valve lift technology, which offered two cam profiles to enhance performance and economy, the engine revved to 9000rpm and produced 186kW/217Nm in JDM spec. While that might not sound like a lot by today’s standards, the S2000 would surely give an ND MX-5 a good run for its money.
An AP2 generation car was later produced with a 2.2-litre four but unfortunately engine redline was dropped in order to create better low down torque. The result was a six per cent increase in torque to 220Nm.
S2000s are still commanding high second-hand market prices despite being up to 20 years old. If you have gotten your hands on an AP1, you’ve done very well.
Worthy Watch: S2000 prototype at the Nürburgring
2 - EK9 Civic Type R
The EK9 was the first Civic to receive the venerable Type R badging, with a pumped up 1.6-litre B16B four-pot, producing 136kW/160Nm at a screaming 8200rpm. The EK9 was a Japanese-exclusive model, so to see one in Australia would be a very rare sight indeed.
Owners didn’t just get a highly strung engine. The EK9 came equipped with bright red seats, a titanium shift knob and a leather-wrapped steering wheel – accessories still found in the newest generation FK8 Civic Type R. What a great package!
3 - Honda CR-X Del-Sol
Although not the most attractive sports car to ever be released, the CRX Del-Sol made up for that with plenty of character and soul (or should I say, Sol).
The Del-Sol was the first production Honda vehicle to feature an engine which produced more than 100hp (75kW) per litre with 79kW/litre and also had a removable ‘targa’ style roof which is now most commonly seen on Porsche 911 Targas, where the roof stored away conveniently in the boot.
The Del Sol featured a 1.6-litre, 16-valve B16A engine which made an impressive 127kW/157Nm at 7000rpm (VTEC kicked in, yo, at 5500rpm). For its time, the CRX Del-Sol gave the competition a good run for its money. The 4AE-GZE supercharged engine found in the E90 Toyota Corolla made just 121kW despite having forced induction.
The top spec model of the Sol was the SRi and featured mod-cons such as cruise control, disc brakes all round and additional front and rear sway bars. You can pick one of these up now for around $5000-$9000 with a lot of kilometres, but hey, they’ll still be fun.
4 - Honda (Acura) NSX R
The company later released an R version of the mid-engine sports car in 1992 which did without sound deadening, air conditioning and other niceties.
Power from the 3.2-litre VTEC V6 engine was lifted from 201kW/285Nm to 206kW/294Nm with peak power at 7100rpm which was then sent through a limited-slip-differential at the rear. NSXs were known for their addictive induction sound which would fill the cabin on wide-open throttle.
The R only built and improved on this sound dynamic to make the car even better than before.
5 - Honda S800
Part of Honda’s sports car genesis, the S800 looks like something James Bond would have driven on a Sunday afternoon with a beautiful woman by his side.
The S800 was the successor to the S600 and was available in either a coupe or roadster body style. The car was the first Honda to reach 160km/h and revved to a screaming 10,000rpm!
While its 50kW motor didn’t produce neck-snapping acceleration, the style, personality and sound of that high revving engine are enough to make it a classic. It is still cherished today by motoring clubs across the globe.
6 - Honda Civic Type R (FK8)
The newest generation Civic Type R is not just flashy body panels and a crazy wing. This car won MOTOR’s PCOTY in 2018, beating the likes of the Nissan GT-R Nismo, BMW M4, Kia Stinger and HSV GTS-R W1.
Packing a 2.0-litre VTEC turbo four-pot, the FK8 Type R is a born and bred canyon-carver, producing a punchy 228kW/400Nm. Like most Type Rs, too, you still get the signature red seats but with the added modern tech, a front limited-slip-differential and adjustable dampers standard. This car will surely become a classic in future years.
MOTOR opinion: Give the Civic Type R a chance