EM1 Honda Civic Si Retro Review: Totally Original Time Capsule

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Mint condition EM1 Civic Si is a blast from the past, with nearly 300,000 miles on the odometer to prove it.

This is a 2000 Honda Civic. It’s compact, fuel efficient, cheap to run and looks like something you would find in high school parking lots around the country, any time in the past two decades.

Except it’s not, because this is a 2000 Honda Civic Si, and it’s a very special car. More so now, even, than when it was new. Honda heads know this as the EM1, a car produced for only two years that very well represents the last of the so-called Golden Era Hondas.

In its day, the EM1 was the sport compact car to own. It’s light weight, with a curb weight of just 2,600 pounds, and infinitely tunable, thanks, in large part, to what’s under the hood. You see, the EM1 is packing the B16A2 engine, a 1.6-liter, naturally-aspirated wonder that produces 160 horsepower, 111 lb-ft of torque, and revs out to well over 8,000 RPM.

But it was more than that, because that lightweight package and potent powertrain was released onto market right as the North American tuning scene was blowing up, thanks, in part, to franchises like The Fast and the Furious, which prominently featured modified Hondas, like the EM1, in it’s 2001 debut.

Now, some 20 years after the fact, EM1 Civic Sis are few and far between, most having been raced, modified and generally driven into the ground. All-original, clean survivors trade for commendable cash when they do pop up, much more so than people would assume when they hear about a “20 year old Honda Civic.” So, when a friend reached out and offered the keys for the day to this all-original survivor example, I had to jump on it.

EM1 Honda Civic Si Retro Review All Original Time Capsule Milano Red Jake Stumph

Initial Impressions of the EM1

When I first saw the EM1, I audibly said “wow” out loud. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen such a clean example. The owner, Kevin, who let me test out his EG track car last year, said that all he had to do was give the car a bit of detail work when he picked it up. The single stage Milano Red paint is highly prone to sun fade, after all.

The sixth-gen Civic was a compact car in the truest sense, and makes a contemporary modern Civic look and feel enormous. Everything about this car feels small, light, simple and delicate compared to a modern car. It sits low to the ground, the door handles are tiny, and upgraded Si styling cues, like the 15-inch wheels, look appropriately-sized, which would never work on a modern car.

The interior is in near-mint condition for a 20 year old car, with the only modern addition being an updated stereo head unit to get satellite radio. It’s also very simple, with little to distract the driver from driving, which is refreshing in the year 2019. Though, the Si was always a decently well-equipped car in North America, and, I assume, 20 years ago this would have been a pleasant commuter car, with niceties like power windows, air conditioning and a moon roof, all of which still work.

Sitting in the EM1 is like looking out of a fishbowl. The belt line of the car is very low, the pillars are very thin and the glass is enormous. While modern cars almost require a back up camera to park them without fear of dings or dents, this Civic has all the outward visibility one would ever need, in any situation.

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Jake Stumph is the lead Content Editor for Honda-Tech and several other Internet Brands Automotive websites. He enjoys track days, drifting, and autocross, at least, when his cars are running right.

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